US bishops have ‘lengthy, fruitful’ meeting with Pope

Pope Francis meets U.S. Catholic Church leaders Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Archbishop of Los Angeles JosŽ Horacio G—mez, Cardinal Sean Patrick OÕMalley, Archbishop of Boston, and Monsignor Brian Bransfield, General Secretary of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, during a private audience at the Vatican. Vatican Media/Handout via REUTERS

Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the conference of Catholic Bishops of the United States said in a release that the meeting he and  three other American prelates had with Pope Francis earlier on today  to discuss the continuing clergy sexual abuse scandal resulted in a “lengthy, fruitful, and good exchange.” DiNardo also said that during the meeting they told the Pope how the church in the U.S. had been “lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse,” and that the pope “listened very deeply from the heart.”

Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, the conference vice president; Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, head of the papal commission on clergy abuse; and Msgr. Brian Bransfield, the conference’s general secretary participated in the meeting.

On August 14, two days after the report documenting decades of abuse and cover-up in Pennsylvania DiNardo requested a meeting with the Pope. That report was released a few days after the Church in the United States was in shock after CardinalTheodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington was forced by Pope Francis to resign his place in the College of Cardinals because of revelations of sexual harassment and abuse of several seminarians.

DiNardo had invited the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation or investigation, of how McCarrick’s abuse had not been reported earlier. The head of the Church in the United States renewed his call for a meeting with the Pope after Archbishop Vigano released a letter in which he asked for the resignation of the Pope.

Also today it was announced that Pope Francis had accepted the resignation of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, Bishop Michael Bransfield, and appointed Baltimore Archbishop William Lori as the diocese’s apostolic administrator. Archbishop Lori said that he had been asked “to conduct an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment of adults against Bishop Bransfield.”