VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Vatican has announced that on Thursday, Pope Francis will meet with leaders of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to discuss the mushrooming fallout from the U.S. Church's clerical sex abuse crisis.
In a statement released Tuesday, the Holy See press office revealed that Francis will meet with USCCB president Cdl. Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, conference vice president Abp. José Gomez of Los Angeles and USCCB general secretary Msgr. Brian Bransfield. Joining the discussion will be Boston Cdl. Seán O'Malley, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
In mid-August, Cdl. DiNardo requested a meeting with Pope Francis to address the crisis. On Aug. 16, he issued a statement pledging he would submit a plan by the U.S. bishops to address the "moral catastrophe" of clerical sex abuse.
His request was followed by weeks of silence from Rome. On Aug. 27, in the wake of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's revelations that Francis lifted penalties against former Cdl. Theodore McCarrick despite knowing of his serial sexual predation, DiNardo declared he was "eager for a meeting" with the Pope. Rome remained silent, but three days later, Francis welcomed Cdl. Donald Wuerl — implicated in the McCarrick scandal by Abp. Viganò and accused of covering up clerical sex abuse by the Pennsylvania grand jury report — to the Vatican.
The Pontiff's handling of other scandals involving homosexual and predator priests is inspiring little confidence that Thursday's meeting with USCCB leaders will spark effective change.
Faithful Catholics point to the fact that in May, nearly 50 Honduran seminarians published a letter asking Cdl. Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga — nicknamed the "Vice Pope" for his close relationship with Pope Francis — to clean up their Tegucigalpa seminary, overrun by a metastisizing homosexual network. To date, Maradiaga has done nothing to clean up the Honduran seminary and the Pope continues to associate closely with him.
Francis has also retained Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio, former head of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, as a close adviser. In June 2017, Vatican police busted Coccopalmerio's secretary, Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, during a cocaine-fueled gay orgy in his Holy See apartment. Reportedly, Coccopalmerio had earlier lobbied the Pope to make Capozzi a bishop.
As prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), Cdl. Gerhard Müller warned the Pontiff not to open the Vatican apartment (occupied by Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger before he became pope) to Capozzi, warning the priest posed a grave threat of scandal. Francis ignored Müller's counsel and gave Capozzi the apartment anyway.
Emerging allegations involving the Pope's treatment of Cdl. Müller are proving especially troubling to faithful Catholics. Last week, LifeSiteNews reported that a highly placed Vatican source revealed that in 2017, Francis fired Müller and three faithful CDF priests for their efforts to uphold Church policy on sexually abusive clergy.
According to the Vatican source: "Cardinal Müller had always decidedly and most sharply followed up on these abuse cases, and that is why he was dismissed, just as his three good collaborators were also dismissed."
The source also shared that Müller "resisted" Pope Francis' 2014 reinstatement of serial sexual predator Fr. Don Inzoli. In 2012, an ecclesiastical court found Inzoli guilty of abusing boys as young as 12 inside the confessional. Following the revelations, Inzoli was barred from performing all priestly functions, but after Cdl. Coccopalmerio — a close friend of Inzoli — appealed to Francis, the Pope reduced the penalty to a "lifetime of prayer."
Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield has revealed that Inzoli isn't the only predator priest shown extraordinary "mercy" under Pope Francis. According to her Vatican sources, "several" priests sanctioned by the CDF have successfully appealed to Francis for clemency.
The Pope's delayed response to Cdl. DiNardo's request to meet over the burgeoning sex abuse crisis in the American Church is eroding confidence in his papacy still further. The same Pontiff who pledged zero tolerance for clerical sex abuse and cover-up is, in practice, cavorting with the most egregious violators of his own policy while delaying and even punishing attempts to uproot perpetrators and concealers of abuse.