VATICAN CITY – Cardinal Daniel DiNardo has called a September 13 meeting between Pope Francis and leaders from the church in United States “lengthy and fruitful.”
The cardinal, who is archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, travelled to Rome together with Archbishop José Gomez of Los Angeles, the vice president of the USCCB, and USCCB General Secretary Msgr. Brian Bransfield.
Also present at the meeting was Cardinal Séan O’Malley of Boston, who serves as president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and is a member of the C9 Council of Cardinals charged with advising the pope on the governance of the universal church.
Cardinal DiNardo requested the meeting with Pope Francis to discuss the ongoing sexual abuse scandals which have rocked the church in America, in particular the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo had previously pledged to investigate the case of Archbishop McCarrick to “the full extent of the USCCB’s authority.”
Following a private audience with Pope Francis this morning, Cardinal DiNardo released a brief statement through the U.S. bishops’ conference.
“We are grateful to the Holy Father for receiving us in audience. We shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States — how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse. He listened very deeply from the heart. It was a lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.”
The meeting follows a series of calls by commentators for the Pope Francis to release files held on Archbishop McCarrick in Rome and at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C.
While the statement did not specify if McCarrick’s case or Vatican files related to it were discussed during the meeting, Cardinal DiNardo has previously called for greater transparency by church authorities on matters of sexual abuse, and especially in the case of Archbishop McCarrick.
Cardinal DiNardo’s statement said he, together with Cardinal O’Malley, Archbishop Gomez, and Msgr. Bransfield, looked forward to continuing to work together with Pope Francis on resolving the crisis facing the church in the United States.
“As we departed the audience, we prayed the Angelus together for God’s mercy and strength as we work to heal the wounds. We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together identifying the most effective next steps.”
Earlier this week, Pope Francis announced a special meeting with all the presidents of the world’s bishops’ conferences to discuss sexual abuse in the church. That meeting is expected to be held in February of next year.