Does the Pope want the truth? Thursday’s meeting will tell.

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 12, 2018

As Pope Francis meets on Thursday with leaders of the US bishops’ conference, one question looms more important than all others:

Will the Pope authorize an apostolic visitation of the American hierarchy?

An apostolic visitation—a full investigation, under papal authority—could, if it was conducted rigorously and honestly (and that’s a crucial “if”):

  • unearth the documents that will prove conclusively whether or not Archbishop Vigano’s testimony is accurate, whether or not his criticism of the Pontiff is justified;
  • identify the bishops, in this country and in Rome, who helped advance the ecclesiastical career of ex-cardinal McCarrick—and those whose careers McCarrick has advanced;
  • expose the influence of the “lavender mafia” and the corruption of the Roman Curia; and
  • give American Catholics at least some reason to believe that the Vatican is finally taking action, and the cover-up is ending.

Cardinal DiNardo, in his role as president of the US bishops’ conference, has urgently requested an apostolic visitation, and indicated that he will go to Rome to pursuit of that request. That is a remarkable development: the head of the USCCB is, in effect, calling for an investigation of the USCCB! This is a bold move; one might even call it a desperate move. It’s almost the clerical equivalent of an infantry officer calling down artillery strikes on his own unit’s position. Casualties would be inevitable.

Yet the USCCB wants this investigation. Many American bishops have recognized that the situation is dire, and called for drastic action. Even knowing that a thorough investigation would be painful, a majority of American bishops want to know the truth.

Does the Pope?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: BCLX - Sep. 14, 2018 4:49 PM ET USA

    This is truly a case of "follow the money." The cash that McCarrick allegedly doled out to his Curial friends is but a symptom of the problem. Let's see where all this leads. If that causes some "disruptions" in the hierarchy, so be it. If this is just more business as usual, there will not be much business to conduct going forward.

  • Posted by: james-w-anderson8230 - Sep. 14, 2018 4:47 PM ET USA

    Unfortunately no apostolic visitation now, but a world meeting of bishops in six months. That is a typical ploy in hopes of it blowing over and being forgotten.

  • Posted by: ILM - Sep. 14, 2018 4:39 PM ET USA

    Fix the problem? He is part of the problem.

  • Posted by: Eric - Sep. 13, 2018 10:07 AM ET USA

    My fear is he will spend 18 months "thinking about it" and then appoint one of his cronies, who will conclude that the problem was "clericalism". A report will be written, buried, and then forgotten. Business as usual.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 13, 2018 1:55 AM ET USA

    St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 compares the Church to a human body with different parts. Since the body has contracted a deadly disease, and the opinions on its true nature are strongly divided, anyone caring about the body would want it to undergo a thorough examination with X-Ray, CT Scan, EKG, 3D Ultrasound, Pap smear, MRI, EEG, and all the works.