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Unity is the focus of the retreat at Mundelein Seminary as U.S. bishops are being prepped for next month's synod on clerical sex abuse in Rome.
Leading the retreat is the archbishop of Chicago, Cdl. Blase Cupich, who made this clear to media in a November interview.
"Pope Francis asked the bishops, the bishops conference leaders, to schedule a time in which we would have a spiritual retreat to build unity among ourselves as a way of moving forward," said Cupich. "Because, he thought that that was just as important as coming up with a solution."
The division of bishops on how to handle clerical sex abuse was made clear by a vote they took back in November on the final day of their general assembly in Baltimore. The bishops voted 137 to 83 against asking Rome to share its documentation of the investigation into the ecclesiastical rise of now-disgraced Abp. Theodore McCarrick.
Division among bishops was also shown by the number of prelates publically calling for a full investigation into the McCarrick scandal. The public statements of bishops who support the investigation into McCarrick and his enabler bishops show that 89 bishops want the scandal examined. The number is almost identical to those in favor of transparency by Rome in its investigation.
On the first day of their meeting in Baltimore, Rome notified the U.S. bishops that they were not allowed to draft proposals on how to confront the homosexual abuse crisis, which was their primary reason for meeting in November. Individual bishops, nevertheless, did speak up at the meeting. One such prelate was Bp. Thomas Daly of Spokane, Washington, who put forth some possible "reasons" why bishops turned a blind eye to McCarrick's homosexual predation of seminarians and priests.
"Did this come to be," asked Daly, "because we have certain bishops and priests who don't see anything wrong with consensual sex between adults?"
He further noted that Catholic laity want accountability and action from bishops, especially parents, whose sons are contemplating a possible vocation.
"These are faith-filled parents," emphasized Daly, "that are committed to the Church, that are very understanding and patient; but my feeling is, judging from their conversations, they're running out of patience."
Watch the panel discuss outspoken bishops being silenced by so-called unity in The Download—Mundelein Retreat.