Wednesday, January 2, 2019

#BreakingNews Leaked Letter from Cardinal Ouellet at Vatican to US Bishops Reveals Details on Delaying Abuse Vote

Associated Press and Catholic News Service report that the Vatican delayed the U.S. bishops from taking some measures to address the clergy sex abuse scandal. This is because the U.S. church leaders didn’t discuss the legally problematic proposals with the Holy See enough beforehand. This is according to a leaked letter obtained by The Associated Press.

The Nov. 11 letter from the Vatican’s Cardinal Marc Ouellet shows the primary reason that Rome asked for a delay on the measures that were to be voted on by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at its Nov. 12-14 meeting. 

Ouellet noted in the letter, the draft proposals only arrived at the Vatican on Nov. 8, four days before the U.S. bishops’ meeting began. 

“Considering the nature and scope of the documents being proposed by the (conference), I believe it would have been beneficial to have allowed for more time to consult with this and other congregations with competence over the ministry and discipline of bishops,” Ouellet wrote to DiNardo.

Such back-and-forth, he wrote, would have allowed the documents to “properly mature.”

The measures were a crisis response to the scandal over ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, a once-senior American cleric who is now accused of molesting minors and adults, and new revelations of old sex abuse cases in Pennsylvania.

DiNardo  opened the assembly Nov. 12 by announcing that “at the insistence of the Holy See” the bishops would not be voting on the measures after all. He said the Vatican wanted them to delay a vote until after Pope Francis hosts a global summit in February on preventing sex abuse by priests.

The letter from Ouellet suggests that the Vatican thought DiNardo had tried to intentionally withholding legally problematic texts until the last minute.


“While fully aware that a bishops’ conference enjoys a rightful autonomy ... to discuss and eventually approve measures that are within the conference’s powers, the conference’s work must always be integrated within the hierarchical structure and universal law of the church,” Ouellet wrote.


In a statement Tuesday to AP, DiNardo explained the dispute as a misunderstanding. He said he assumed the Vatican would have had a chance to “review and offer adjustments” to the measures after the U.S. bishops approved them, not before. 
“It is now clear there were different expectations on the bishops conference’s part and Rome’s part that may have affected the understanding of these proposals,” DiNardo said in a statement. “From our perspective, they were designed to stop short of where the authority of the Holy See began.”


DiNardo, in his statement to the AP, “We had not planned, nor had the Holy See made a request, to share the texts prior to the body of bishops having had an opportunity to amend them,” he said.

During a Nov. 12 press conference, DiNardo was asked when the Vatican was actually consulted about the measures. He replied the texts were finalized Oct. 30 and that the delay in finishing them might have been a problem.

“So it’s not surprising, on one level, that people would be catching their breath, perhaps even in Rome,” he told reporters. DiNardo also acknowledged, when pressed by a reporter, that the texts themselves had some legal problems, though he downplayed the severity of them.

In his statement to AP, DiNardo said he had told Ouellet that failing to vote on the texts “would prove a great disappointment to the faithful, who were expecting their bishops to take just action. Though there were canonical precisions mentioned, the emphasis seemed to be on delaying votes and not wanting to get ahead of the (pope’s) February meeting of episcopal conference presidents,” he said.

Ouellet did indeed cite the February meeting in his letter, saying any document “should incorporate the input and fruits of the college of bishops’ work of common discernment.”

But the February summit was announced Sept. 13. If that were the primary reason for Ouellet’s demand to scrap the U.S. vote, he could have communicated that to DiNardo a lot sooner.

Instead, as the Nov. 12 deadline loomed for the start of the U.S. meeting and still no text proposals had arrived in Rome, Ouellet wrote DiNardo an initial warning on Nov. 6 not to vote. Five days later, in his Nov. 11 letter, Ouellet reaffirmed that decision after having finally read the text.

That also undermined DiNardo’s claim to have only received the request to delay the vote the night before the meeting began.
In a report Nov. 13 on the delay, CNS had reported that an official of the Congregation for Bishops, responding on behalf of Cardinal Ouellet, said his office was "working to ensure the best evaluation and accompaniment of the questions raised by the American episcopacy."

At the same time, CNS reported that Andrea Tornielli, a Vatican reporter later named by Pope Francis to be editorial director of the Dicastery for Communication, had written on the Vatican Insider website that "a Vatican source involved in the matter" told him: "It is wrong to think the Holy See does not share the objective of the U.S. bishops to have effective instruments for combating the phenomenon of the abuse of minors and to establish firm points regarding the responsibility of bishops themselves."
Tornielli reported that the Vatican believed the proposal on standards of accountability for bishops "goes beyond both civil and canon law" and the Vatican raised concerns "regarding the generic nature of some passages" and "incoherence between the contents of the document regarding the national commission on the responsibility of bishops and the Code of Canon Law."


Edited from AP and CNS 

No comments: