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Letter from Rome

Why Pope Francis was right to halt the US bishops

Letter from Rome

Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the USCCB General Assembly, listens during a press conference at the annual U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Nov. 12 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski/AFP)

Published: November 19, 2018 04:17 AM GMT

Updated: November 19, 2018 11:10 AM GMT

The moral credibility of Catholic bishops in the United States is in tatters. Even the men who head the country's nearly 200 dioceses have admitted this.

But don't be fooled into thinking that this deficit of trust happened all of a sudden.

Certainly, revelations earlier this year surrounding the immoral sexual behavior of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the publication last summer of a grand jury report highlighting decades of abuse cover-up in several Pennsylvania dioceses have further strained the Catholic people's confidence in their pastoral leaders.

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But the crisis of episcopal credibility in the United States is tied to something that is deeper and even more damaging than the spasmodic — and, at times, appalling — way the bishops, as a body and as individuals, have reacted to clergy sex abuse. The genesis of this broken trust between U.S. Catholics and their bishops goes back to at least three or more decades.

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