Pope praises US archbishop who steps down in sex abuse crisis

Satan working overtime to destroy Church says Pope

Francis held talks with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo and other senior members of the bishops' conference just 48 hours after ordering an investigation into Vatican archives concerning former archbishop of Washington Theodore McCarrick, who resigned in July.

The president of the USA bishops' conference welcomed Pope Francis' pledge to fight attempts to cover up cases of sexual abuse and to stop offering special treatment to bishops who have committed or covered up abuse.

"Out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry now underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future", Cardinal Ouellet said.

Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, stated unequivocally October 7 that now-retired Pope Benedict XVI never imposed sanctions on then-Cardinal McCarrick, so it is untrue that Pope Francis "invalidated" them, as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former nuncio to the United States, claimed.

Wuerl had originally resigned on his 75th birthday, November 12, 2015, as is the custom among Catholic bishops.

In a glowing letter of support, Francis made clear that he accepted Wuerl's resignation reluctantly, at Wuerl's insistence, and believed he was not guilty of trying to hide abuse.

Vigano had issued an 11-page letter where he accused more than 20 Vatican and American church officials of covering up for Carrick. Most of the victims were boys, of which half were 13 or less years.

Francis ordered McCarrick to retire to a life of prayer and penitence after American Church officials said as part of a separate investigation that allegations that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy nearly 50 years ago were credible and substantiated. But Francis kept him on, as popes tend to do with able-bodied bishops who share their pastoral priorities.

Ouellet did acknowledge that McCarrick had been "strongly exhorted" not to travel or appear in public, and to live a discreet life of prayer given the rumors against him.

Two men received settlements starting in 2005 from two New Jersey dioceses after they alleged McCarrick sexually molested or harassed them.

Archbishop Vigano implied that Francis still rehabilitated McCarrick from the "canonical sanctions" and made him a trusted counsellor.

"On behalf of my brother bishops in the United States, I welcome the statement of October 6 from the Holy See which outlines additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault".

In his letter, Pope Francis said Cardinal Wuerl's choice to step down reflected the "heart of the shepherd" who seeks church unity over "sterile division sown by the father of lies", the devil, who "wants nothing more than that the sheep be dispersed". As prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Ouellet meets weekly with Francis to discuss nominations, and presumably would have come to understand if McCarrick had Francis' ear.

He said he could not believe Archbishop Vigano had arrived at such a "monstrous" and "blasphemous" conclusion given that Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick's career rise in the previous decades. "Come out of your hiding place, repent for your rebellion and return to better feelings toward the Holy Father rather than fostering hostility against him".

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