Pope to meet US Church leaders after archbishop’s accusations

Pope Francis speaks with the media onboard a plane during his flight back from a trip in Dublin, Ireland. (Reuters pic)

VATICAN CITY: Pope Francis will meet on Thursday with US Catholic Church leaders who want to discuss the fallout from a scandal involving a former American cardinal and demands from an archbishop that the pontiff step down.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), asked for the meeting after Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano last month accused the pope of knowing for years about sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and of doing nothing about it.

The Vatican said in a statement the pope would meet on Thursday with DiNardo, Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley of Boston, and two USCCB officials.

In the 11-page statement published on Aug 26, Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, launched an unprecedented broadside by a Church insider against the pope and a long list of Vatican and US Church officials.

DiNardo has said Vigano’s accusations “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence”.

The accusations shook the US Church, following a damning Grand Jury report in the state of Pennsylvania that found that 301 priests in the state had sexually abused minors over the past 70 years.

Di Nardo has called for the Vatican to help with an investigation into how McCarrick could have risen steadily through the ranks of the US Church although many people knew that he had engaged for years in sexual misconduct with adult male seminarians.