- The Washington Times - Monday, November 11, 2019

BALTIMORE — Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, told a meeting of U.S. bishops Monday that the Vatican’s long-awaited report on Theodore McCarrick has “resulted in great frustration on the part of bishops.”

But the Vatican is not yet ready to make public its investigation into how the longtime sexual abuser rose to such high ranks in the U.S. Catholic church.

Mr. McCarrick was a cardinal and the archbishop of Washington before his retirement and subsequent revelations of decades of abuse. He was defrocked earlier this year.

“A much larger purpose has emerged than was anticipated,” Cardinal O’Malley said Monday during the opening day of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ annual general assembly.

The three-day meeting opened with a number of bishops reporting on the committees they lead, including abortion, evangelization and gun control.

Bishop Frank Dewane of Venice, Florida, reiterated the conference’s call for “common sense measures,” including handgun registration and an assault weapons ban, in order to defeat gun violence and reaffirm the belief that “life is sacred.”

But the bishops appeared divided over specific congressional actions, including handgun licensing, red-flag laws and a national gun registry.

“Although there is not much political possibility of a ban [on assault weapons], there is potential to work on this issue at the states,” said Bishop Dewane, who chairs the Domestic Justice & Human Development Committee.

In a question-and-answer session, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput spoke about growing up in Kansas, saying rural Americans are more comfortable with firearms.

“People in the rural communities think it’s [gun reform] an attack on the Constitution, and people in the cities see people get killed and don’t really care if it’s an attack on the Constitution,” said Archbishop Chaput.

Chicago Archbishop Blase J. Cupich added to not leave out of the conversation the profit incentive of gun manufacturers.

“There is a lot of money involved in this,” said Archbishop Cupich. “How do we have a discussion in society that identifies that motivation of those who are against any kind of reform in gun control?”

Another key issue was how to reach lapsed Catholics. A 2018 study by Saint Mary’s Press found that 35% of young people who leave the Catholic church no longer maintain a religious affiliation. A Pew Research Study released this fall found that for every 1 person who becomes Catholic (not counting through infant baptism), 6.5 people drop the label.

Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert Barron produces online videos on church teaching and pop culture figures such as Bob Dylan and superhero movies. He told the conference to attract younger churchgoers by emphasizing the Catholic church’s record on justice.

“Young people have a problem with the church’s sexual teaching, but they resonate with our outreach to the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the migrant, the unborn, and the imprisoned,” said Bishop Barron.

A report from a pro-life committee of bishops by Kansas City Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann noted that 25% of “pregnant women in need” were Catholic.

“There are many different reactions and predictions as to how the courts may treat abortion in the future,” said Archbishop Naumann, referring to the Supreme Court’s conservative majority. “But whatever judges may do, our pastoral response must face the needs of women facing unexpected or unchallenged pregnancies.”

The conference is expected Tuesday morning to achieve a milestone by electing Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, an immigrant from Mexico, as its first Hispanic president. He will succeed Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who is finishing a three-year term.

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