ROME: The Vatican says Pope Francis will meet Thursday with the head of the U.S. bishops conference and other top U.S. church officials over the sex abuse and cover-up scandal roiling the Catholic Church.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has said he wants Francis to authorize a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was removed as cardinal in July after a credible accusation he groped a teenager.
DiNardo has also said recent claims of cover-up of McCarrick’s misconduct — including against top Vatican officials and the pope himself — deserve answers.
Vatican spokesman Greg Burke said DiNardo would meet with Francis on Thursday in the Apostolic Palace, along with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Francis’ top sex abuse adviser. Also involved are two officials from the conference, Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez and Monsignor Brian Bransfield.
A top Vatican official says the clerical sex abuse scandal is such a game-changing catastrophe for the Catholic Church that he called it the church’s “own 9/11” on the 17th anniversary of the attacks in the U.S.
Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, a top aide to both retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, told a book presentation Tuesday that he by no means was comparing the scandal to the nearly 3,000 people killed in the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001.
But he said the years-long scandal, and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, showed just “how many souls have been wounded irrevocably and mortally by priests from the Catholic Church.”