Vatican Tells US Bishops Not to Vote for Abuse Reform

by Trey Elmore  •  •  November 12, 2018   

'At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items'

You are not signed in as a Premium user; you are viewing the free version of this program. Premium users have access to full-length programs with limited commercials and receive a 10% discount in the store! Sign up for only one day for the low cost of $1.99. Click the button below.

BALTIMORE ( - The U.S. bishops are being told not to vote on any of their proposals to confront the homosexual abuse crisis. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), read the Vatican's directive during the opening minutes of the bishops' semi-annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, taking place this week.

"At the insistence of the Holy See, we will not be voting on the two action items," DiNardo said, who is reportedly "disappointed" by the directive.

Church Militant consulted a canon lawyer on the announcement, who offered the following analysis:

At the Eleventh Hour: Cardinals DiNardo and O'Malley, Archbishop Gomez and Msgr. Bransfield traveled to Rome months ago and met with Pope Francis to ask for his help. Instead of giving concrete help during or following that meeting, Francis did not offer any assistance at all. Now he sends them this order through his ambassador at the eleventh hour. It's embarrassing for a pope to be acting this disrespectfully of the bishops in such grave matters.

It appears to contradict the public position taken to date by the Holy See: Until now, the Holy See has acted as if the plague of sexual crimes committed against minors was a limited geographic concern, not something affecting the global Church. Which is it, regional or global? If only limited in scope, then the USCCB should be given the power to discern as a body, in application of Vatican II's principle of subsidiarity whatever particular legislation it wants to promulgate to address the grave and urgent concern subject to approval of the Holy See.

Pope Francis places higher value on global union among bishops than urgent concrete action for the United States: While it is not entirely unreasonable for Pope Francis not to want one conference of bishops to issue particular legislation that grossly differs from other nations' particular law, the whole point of the power of the USCCB to issue particular law is so that the group can handle particular problems. So the order can be argued to confirm that in the eyes of the Holy See, the problem is truly a global one that requires a uniform global response.

Perhaps Francis is afraid of an investigative body composed of laity having powers that currently inure only to the Holy See (Secretariat of State, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Congregation for Bishops, etc.): It appears that numerous congregations of the Roman Curia must have communicated grave objections to the cardinal secretary of state against the creation of any precedent of such a lay-led investigative body conducting inquiries into the conduct of bishops.

The shut-down order gives the appearance that Francis himself is shielding predators who may be lurking among the bishops: It would not have taken much for Francis or the cardinal secretary of state to have dispatched a top canonist or two to Baltimore to work with the administrative committee of the USCCB to flesh out some sort of improved reporting and accountability mechanism regarding bishops accused of sexual abuse or cover-up of abuse. The order given by the papal legate to the conference is not only extreme and unhelpful to the conference of bishops, but damaging to the papacy itself!

No reference was given by the Pope to the current applicability of canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law and the Congregation for Bishops: Pope Francis should in the very least have recalled the current applicable legislation where denunciations against bishops can and need to be made to the bishop in charge of the local diocese where the abuse is alleged to have taken place, the apostolic nuncio in Washington, D.C., the Congregation for Bishops, the Secretariat of State of the Holy See — directly. It's not as if there is no mechanism in place right now! Why did Francis not remind all of the bishops and the public at large of this critical truth? Why did he not assuage the USCCB and American lay faithful clamoring for serious action by publicly recalling the mechanisms that are already in place and ordering that they be rigorously followed?

Editor-in-Chief of Catholic News Agency J.D. Flynn tweeted that Chicago Cdl. Blase Cupich proposed taking a non-binding vote on the measures: "We need as a conference to take up this issue without delay....there's urgency here." Flynn reported that DiNardo responded by saying, "We will discuss that tomorrow."

On Sept. 17, Church Militant aired a Vortex episode detailing that Pope Francis had shut down the plans of the U.S. delegation of Cardinals Daniel DiNardo and Sean O'Malley's plans to investigate Theodore McCarrick, the claims of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò and the reform of channels for abuse complaints. The Pope reportedly indicated that none of those proposals would happen and that the matters related to the crisis would be addressed at the two-day long meeting in Rome in February.

Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the papal nuncio to the United States, gave an address Monday following Cdl. DiNardo, saying, "The people of God have rightly challenged us to be trustworthy."

Catholic apologist and author Taylor Marshall tweeted Monday morning, "The USCCB bishops kicking the can down the road on their abuse scandal. I'm glad they took time to fly in, charge hotel rooms, and spend money to do NOTHING. What. A. Waste. We are constantly disappointed by the USCCB."

Raymond Arroyo of EWTN reacted to the move by Rome saying, "The Vatican has pulled the rug out from under an already reeling episcopacy in the US with this demand that they not vote on even a toothless Code of Conduct for Bishops. Now they are starting a day of prayer. 'We'll need it!' One bishop wrote me."

Crux magazine has called this meeting of the USCCB the "highest stakes meeting since Dallas."

Gus Lloyd of SiriusXM's The Catholic Channel, run by the archdiocese of New York, also reacted to the news: "Even the bishops were shocked by this move. Is the pope completely tone deaf?"

This conference has been months in the making following a summer rocked by public exposure of homosexual abuse and corruption among the hierarchy, beginning with the downfall of ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, followed by the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report naming 300 priests as having abused over 1,000 victims since 1947, soon afterwards followed by Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's testimony exposing a "homosexual current" in the Church, of which McCarrick played a major part.

The grand jury report named Cdl. Donald Wuerl, who in October finally had his three-year-old mandatory resignation accepted by Pope Francis.


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines

Loading Comments