Pope Francis Meets With American Catholic Church Leaders to Discuss Sex Abuse

Pope Francis meets U.S. Catholic Church leaders and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a private audience at the Vatican, Sept.13, 2018.
Vatican Media via Reuters

The pope met today in the Vatican with a small delegation of American Catholic Church leaders, amid the sexual abuse crisis that’s dominated conversation about the U.S. church.

The USCCB headquarters in Washington, D.C., released a short statement more than three hours after the meeting saying the pope had “listened very deeply from the heart” as they spoke to him in “a lengthy, fruitful and good exchange” about how the U.S. church had been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse.”

No details were given on what exactly was discussed at the meeting or what the U.S. church plans to do. The USCCB statement said, “We look forward to actively continuing our discernment together, identifying the most effective next steps.”

The private meeting held in the tiny state’s Apostolic Palace included the three top officials from the body that runs the U.S. Catholic Church, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops: Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, the president, Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, deputy president, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, secretary general. Accompanying them at the meeting was Boston Cardinal Sean O’ Malley, who is president of the Vatican’s Commission for the protection of minors.

The Vatican did not provide any further information, but did release still photos and a brief video clip after the meeting.

The meeting had been requested by Cardinal Di Nardo following the damaging release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report in July that, since 1947, hundreds of priests in the state sexually abused more than 1,000 children — and the news that a now-demoted cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, rose through the ranks within the church, despite officials in the Vatican and in the U.S. knowing about sexual allegations against him dating back to 2000.

McCarrick was removed as a cardinal by Pope Francis in July after a church investigation found recent allegations believable. But, the case has continued to fuel criticism directed at the pope after a statement written by a high-ranking Italian Vatican official called for the Pope’s resignation over the mishandling of the McCarrick case.

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SOURCE: ABC News, Phoebe Natanson