Pope meets top US cardinal in shadow of abuse scandal

Pope Francis

The Pope held talks with Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo and other senior members of the bishops' conference just 48 hours after ordering an investigation into Vatican archives concerning former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick, who resigned in July.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican-based Congregation for Bishops, issued a public three-page letter on October 7 censuring the former Vatican nuncio to the United States Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, for attacking Pope Francis. But Ouellet said the "exhortation" to live a discreet life of prayer stopped short of binding canonical sanctions, precisely because the rumors lacked proof.

The Vatican said that Pope Francis has made a decision to combine the information from that investigation "with a further thorough study of the entire documentation present in the Archives of the Dicasteries and Offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick".

Vigano had issued an 11-page letter where he accused more than 20 Vatican and American church officials of covering up for Carrick.

Pope Francis has refused to comment on the Vigano accusation.

The McCarrick scandal has thrown the USA and Vatican hierarchy into turmoil, given it was apparently an open secret in some United States church circles that he would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed. Adult priests and seminarians also claimed that McCarrick harassed them.

He accused Francis of knowing about sexual misconduct by a former US cardinal with male adult seminarians but not doing anything about it. But it wasn't until past year that it was informed of an accusation that he had molested a minor - a far more grave canonical crime than merely sleeping with adult seminarians.

The Archdiocese of NY has already conducted a formal investigation into one allegation that Archbishop McCarrick serially sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s, and announced in June that the allegation had been found credible.

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VATICAN CITY - The devil is alive and well and working overtime to undermine the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis says.

He said the sanctions included a prohibition from traveling or lecturing for the church or celebrating Mass publicly. It is false to present the measures taken in his regard as "sanctions" decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and revoked by Pope Francis. "This mistake would lead us to let down our guard", Francis wrote in a Vatican document in April.

A month after Pope Francis wrote an open letter to all Catholics regarding the "the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years" within the church, he has now laid the blame of that abuse at the feet of the devil itself.

Ouellet pointed out that the June 2013 meeting occurred as Francis was meeting with all his ambassadors for the first time and was gathering an "enormous quantity of verbal and written information" about the church.

Ouellet said in all his meetings with Francis about bishop nominations, he never heard him once refer to McCarrick as a trusted counselor.

McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

He said he could not believe Archbishop Vigano had arrived at such a "monstrous" and "blasphemous" conclusion given that Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick's career rise in the previous decades. But he wrote: "You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people.

Secondly the letter mentions "friends" of Mgr Viganò who share his opinions and calls the former nuncio's accusations a baseless "political manoeuvre" and appeals to him to come out "of hiding", repent and retrieve "better feelings towards the Holy Father".

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