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Bishop Lopes: I don’t believe bishops who plead ignorance of McCarrick

Bishop Steven Lopes of the Ordinariate (CNS)

Bishop Steven Lopes, the ordinary of the US ordinariate, has said he doesn’t believe his fellow-bishops who profess ignorance of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s wrongdoing.

In a homily delivered on Sunday 19 August, Bishop Lopes said that one kind of response to the McCarrick revelations was “not good enough. It’s the parade of cardinals and bishops who have rushed to the television cameras, clutching their pectoral crosses, saying, ‘I knew nothing.’

“I don’t believe it, and I am one of them.”

Bishop Lopes said that “as one of the youngest bishops in the conference, you do get an interesting perspective”.

He also said he had rumours when he was a seminarian and McCarrick was named Archbishop of Newark. “He would visit the seminary often. And we all knew.”

It was not clear whether this was a reference to the American seminary in Rome, where Bishop Lopes studied, or the Newark diocesan seminary. McCarrick is known to have regularly visited both.

Bishop Lopes added: “Now granted, rumour is not the same as accusation. An accusation has a who, a what, a where, a when and a how. A rumour usually doesn’t. But nevertheless, what this speaks to was the failure of apostles – to live the integral moral life, certainly; but also to act, also to respond, also to safeguard the flock entrusted to their care. That’s the problem.”

Bishop Lopes said that Catholics “have every right to be angry, have every right to be asking, what are these apostles set over us supposed to be doing?”

Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City has expressed his shock at the McCarrick story and “the silence of so many bishops who knew about him”.

Bishop Lopes also said there was a sense of “chaos and confusion” over the Pope’s change to the Catechism entry on the death penalty, and that his priests had communicated the refrain, “Not this again. Didn’t we live through this in Anglicanism? Now we’re going to find it in Catholicism.”

But the bishop said this sense of alarm was mistaken, as the media had misrepresented the Pope’s change. “The Pope does not say, for example, ‘Capital punishment is an intrinsic moral evil.’ Had he said that, we’d have a problem.” The Pope’s remarks were about capital punishment under modern social conditions, Bishop Lopes said, rather than about what Catholics are obliged to believe.