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Leaked Vatican letter challenges Cardinal DiNardo on US bishops’ blocked vote

January 02, 2019

A leaked letter has provided a new explanation of the Vatican's decision to stop the US bishops from voting on proposed sex-abuse reforms.

In a November 11 letter, Cardinal Marc Ouellet—the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops—instructed the head of the US bishops' conference to postpone votes on the proposed reforms, explaining that the Vatican had not been given adequate time to assess the proposals.

The letter from Cardinal Ouellet was made public by Associated Press on January 1.

The leaked letter conflicts with an earlier statement by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the US bishops' conference. At the November meeting of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, when he announced the Vatican directive to postpone voting, Cardinal DiNardo said that he had learned of the Vatican's decision only the previous day. Cardinal Ouellet indicated that he had given that advice several days earlier, on November 6.

Cardinal Ouellet said that "it would have been beneficial to have allowed for more time to consult" before the American bishops voted on the plans.

The Vatican intervention, blocking much-anticipated action by the American hierarchy, had prompted angry responses from American Catholics. The letter from Cardinal Ouellet, offering a rationale for that intervention, underlined the difference of perspectives between American prelates and officials in Rome.

Cardinal DiNardo told Associated Press that the Vatican had been well aware of the American bishops' plans for several weeks before the November meeting. He said that he did not consider it necessary to share the exact details of the plans with officials at the Holy See, since any proposals approved by the US bishops would be subject to Vatican review before taking effect.


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  • Posted by: FredC - Jan. 02, 2019 9:00 PM ET USA

    The date that Cardinal DiNardo learned (officially?) of the Vatican decision is not so important, but the insinuation by Cardinal Ouellet that DiNardo lied is important. Also important is, "Who leaked the letter? And for what purpose?"

  • Posted by: feedback - Jan. 02, 2019 6:55 PM ET USA

    This "leak" looks as a damage control attempt. It becomes harder and harder to believe anything coming out from the Vatican. I don't care anymore about any "leaks," words and statements until I see actions. Each lie only serves the father of lies.