Pope meets top US cardinal in shadow of abuse scandal

Pope Francis meets U.S. Catholic Church leaders at the Vatican

Francis' use of the term "the great accuser" to describe Satan hit a raw nerve with one of the pope's harshest conservative critics, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican's former ambassador to Washington.

The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick.

"(The church must be) saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past", Pope Francis said, according to Reuters.

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as "dear brother", Cardinal Ouellet said, "I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion". But he wrote: "You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people.

The cardinal, president of the USCCB, is in Rome for the Synod of Bishops.

"Repent of your revolt", the cardinal wrote before asking, "How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope's) name in the canon of the Mass?"

Cardinal Marc Ouellet's letter was issued Sunday, a day after Francis authorized a "thorough study" of all Vatican archives into how McCarrick rose through church ranks despite allegations he sexually preyed on seminarians and young priests.

Six weeks after Archbishop Vigano threw the papacy into turmoil over his claims about ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the head of the Vatican's bishops' office said there was no evidence in his files backing the archbishop's claims that Francis annulled any sanctions against McCarrick.

The Vatican itself explained October 6: "The Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues".

Pope Francis speaks with the media onboard a plane during his flight back from Tallinn after the final leg of his visit to the Baltic states, Estonia.

"I imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information that he would have gathered on that occasion about many persons and situations". I presume that they are not preferred by you or by those friends who support your interpretation of the facts.

"In the meantime, because grave indications emerged during the course of the investigation, the Holy Father accepted the resignation of Archbishop McCarrick from the College of Cardinals, prohibiting him by order from exercising public ministry, and obliging him to lead a life of prayer and penance", the statement said.

"It is false to present the measures taken in his regard as "sanctions" decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and revoked by Pope Francis", Ouellett said in an open letter to Vigano. After re-examining the archives, I can ascertain that there are no corresponding documents signed by either Pope, neither is there a note of an audience with my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, giving Archbishop Emeritus McCarrick an obligatory mandate of silence and to retire to a private life, carrying canonical penalties.

Cardinal DiNardo yesterday "welcomed" the "additional steps Pope Francis is taking to ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault".

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