Archbishop Charles Chaput is asking Pope Francis to call off the synod of bishops in Rome on the concerns of young people in the church, set for this October.
“I have written the Holy Father and called on him to cancel the upcoming synod on young people. Right now, the bishops would have absolutely no credibility in addressing this topic,” the archbishop said at an Aug. 30 conference at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, according to a report by the website LifeSiteNews.
In its place the archbishop suggested that the pope “begin making plans for a synod on the life of bishops,” the archbishop said.
Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokesman Ken Gavin confirmed the archbishop sent his letter to the pope but Gavin offered no additional comments.
The conference at which the archbishop spoke was the Cardinal’s Forum, an academic panel discussion sponsored by the Cardinal John Foley Chair of Social Communications and Homiletics and the Cardinal John Krol Chair of Moral Theology, both at the seminary.
The archbishop, who is set to participate in the synod on youth, was one of three panelists speaking Thursday night on the topic “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” which is the theme of the long-planned synod set for Oct. 3-28 in Rome.
Hundreds of bishops and young people representing youth from across the globe will engage in discussions at that meeting. Typically at such synods the pope is present at some of the conferences. After the synods’ conclusion the bishops make recommendations that are meant to advise the pope as he formulates pastoral policy to address the specific issues.
Pope Francis had previously confirmed Archbishop Chaput, who is chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, as one of only five American bishops to attend the synod, all of whom were elected by their peers in the USCCB.
They include, in addition to Archbishop Chaput: Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, USCCB president; Los Angeles Archbishop Jose H. Gomez, USCCB vice president; Bishop Frank J. Caggiano of Bridgeport, Conn., member, USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Los Angeles Auxiliary Bishop Robert E. Barron, chairman, USCCB Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
Calls for reform in the Catholic hierarchy have risen throughout the summer as the clergy sexual abuse scandal has intensified, with bishops across the globe coming under scrutiny for their role in covering up, if not participating in, cases of abuse of children and young adults.
Among Catholic clergy and laity, confidence in the credibility of Catholic bishops has eroded due to a number of recent high-profile scandals.
These include the case of former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick sexually abusing seminiarians, the Pennsylvania grand jury report on 70 years of clergy child sexual abuse in the state and the explosive letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alleging the cover up of McCarrick’s abuse by bishops in the United States and in the Vatican.
In a story that broke Aug. 31, Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas echoed Archbishop Chaput’s comments by calling for an extraordinary synod to address the issues of clergy sexual abuse and accountability by bishops.
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