Pope’s Appointments to Rome Summit Reveal Rift in American Church

Pope Francis leads a prayer in Saint Peter's basilica in the Vatican, as part of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, on September 1, 2015. Pope Francis on September 1 called on priests to pardon women who have abortions, and the doctors who perform them, during …

The Vatican has released the full list of participants for the upcoming synod on young people underscoring a growing rift within the Catholic Church in the United States.

On the one hand, the U.S. bishops elected four staunchly conservative bishops to represent the Catholic Church in America, while Pope Francis appointed two progressive bishops named in recent allegations of serious mishandling of the clerical sex abuse crisis in the country.

The episcopal conference chose Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, LA Archbishop José Gomez, LA auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron, and Bridgeport’s Bishop Joseph Caggiano, all of whom are known for their orthodox Catholic doctrine.

Two of the four—DiNardo and Gomez—traveled to Rome last week to ask Pope Francis to initiate a full investigation into the serial sex abuse of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the numerous allegations of misconduct that appeared in an 11-page report by former Vatican ambassador Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Pope Francis, on the other hand, used his authority to name two American prelates who have loyally defended him against charges of mishandling the McCarrick case: Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich and Newark Cardinal Joseph Tobin.

Cardinal Cupich made headlines recently by stating that the pope had more important things to do than answer allegations that he had knowingly rehabilitated the abusive Cardinal McCarrick, such as protecting the environment and migrants.

In a television interview with NBC News, Cupich commented on the bombshell statement by Archbishop Viganò, former papal nuncio to the United States, that alleged a series of misdeeds by high-ranking Catholic prelates, including Pope Francis himself.

“The pope has a bigger agenda. He’s gotta get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church,” Cardinal Cupich said.

“We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this,” he added.

The Viganò report also named Cardinal Cupich suggesting that McCarrick had been behind his appointment as archbishop of Chicago.

In his communiqué, Viganò referred to Cardinal Cupich as a man “blinded by his pro-gay ideology” who was appointed as archbishop outside of normal Church protocols because of the powerful backing of three influential cardinals, including McCarrick.

“The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark,” Viganò alleged.

“Regarding Cupich, one cannot fail to note his ostentatious arrogance, and the insolence with which he denies the evidence that is now obvious to all: that 80% of the abuses found were committed against young adults by homosexuals who were in a relationship of authority over their victims,” the archbishop wrote.

Cardinal Cupich denied being aware of having benefited personally from the patronage of Cardinal McCarrick.

“Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants pastoral bishops, and I work each day to live up to that expectation in collaboration with many fine lay and religious women and men, my brother priests and brother bishops,” he said.

In his NBC interview, Cardinal Cupich also raised the specter of racism, suggesting that people who believe allegations against the pope “don’t like him because he is a Latino.”

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