Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Finally – After Two Month Wait, US Bench Gets "Summit" with Francis

(Updated 7pm ET with further developments.)

Around 8.30pm Rome time this Tuesday, the Holy See Press Office released the following statement to the accredited outlets:
This Thursday, 13 September 2018, the Holy Father will receive in the apostolic palace His Eminence Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, president of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States of America, together with His Eminence Cardinal Seán Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

With them will be H.E. Mons. José Horacio Gómez, Archbishop of Los Angeles, vice president of the same episcopal conference; and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, Secretary General [sic].

The audience will take place at noon.
Suffice it to say, it's about time – as Whispers reported in the side-feed on Friday....
To clarify that report, while the formal ask from the USCCB Executive was indeed received on 20 August, an informal request for an audience had been pending before Francis from the time of McCarrick's departure from the College. In that light, during an early August conference call with the bench's top brass, DiNardo vented that he was still waiting for a meeting with the Pope to be scheduled, according to Whispers ops apprised of the talks.

On another front, a proposal that the traveling group be comprised of all the US cardinals – a repeat of the April 2002 "summit" of the entire top rank with John Paul II – was reportedly nixed by the conference president. However, as O'Malley's already been a participant in the Executive's frequent phone sessions over recent weeks in his role as Francis' point-man on abuse, his addition to the group comes as little surprise; the Boston prelate is already in Rome this week for the periodic meeting of the Pope's Council of (Nine) Cardinals on Curial reform.

*  *  *
This morning, the bench began its first major gathering since the crisis' eruption – the usual two-day September meeting of the Administrative Committee in Washington.

Comprised of some 30 prelates – the five-man Executive, standing committee chairmen and representatives of the 15 regions – the talks were expected to "put flesh on the bones" of the action plan DiNardo and his top team have gradually rolled out over recent weeks. Accordingly, the planned sprawling agenda for the Admin was scrapped at the session's start this morning, that the meeting would be devoted to crafting the national response.

Given the executive's proposed design of an all-lay board, which theoretically would have authority over bishops in terms of investigating allegations of abuse or cover-up by members of the hierarchy, any shift of the kind would require a two-thirds vote of the entire body of bishops at November's plenary in Baltimore, as well as the recognitio (approval) of the Holy See for it to take force. In practice, that means that any proposals would have an informal sign-off from Rome before being presented to the bench for its final debate and vote; as some will recall, in 2002 the Vatican's confirmation of the Dallas Norms was held up amid the Curia's concerns over due process for accused clerics, requiring a mixed commission of Roman officials and USCCB representatives to negotiate the nuances before the "zero tolerance" standard was approved as particular law for the US.

With the Nuncio to Washington, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, just returned from his annual summer break, more developments on several fronts are expected over the coming days.

SVILUPPO: Again run first in these pages' side-feed, Whispers ops report that the traveling party is already in flight....

...and in no less of a seismic development, the following broke after 6pm Eastern: