The first bishop of the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter told his flock in a recent homily that he doesn't believe the cardinals and bishops who are claiming they didn't know about sexual abuse allegations against disgraced Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
What did he say?
Addressing the church's handling of the McCarrick scandal, Bishop Steven Lopes told his parishioners, "I'll tell you what response I think is not good enough: It's the parade of cardinals and bishops who have rushed to the television cameras, clutching their pectoral crosses, saying, 'I knew nothing.'
"I don't believe it, and I am one of them. I don't believe it," the bishop reiterated, telling the audience that when he was in seminary, McCarrick often visited the school.
"And we all knew," Lopes emphasized.
Lopes clarified, "Now granted, rumor is not the same as accusation. An accusation has a who, a what, a where, a when and a how. A rumor usually doesn't. But nevertheless, what this speaks to was the failure of apostles to live the integral moral life, certainly; but also to act, also to respond, also to safeguard the flock entrusted to their care. That's the problem."
He added that Catholics "have every right to be angry, have every right to be asking, 'What are these apostles set over us supposed to be doing?'"
Earlier this month, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, expressed his dismay over reports that so many bishops knew of abuses by McCarrick.
"It is almost unbearable," he wrote on the diocese website. "How could a brother bishop disrespect with such callousness the dignity of young boys, seminarians and priests over decades and on one called him on the carpet?
"It is inexplicable to me," McKnight wrote. "This cannot continue, and I hope with God's grace there will be a change of culture among the clergy."
What's the background?
The church has been hit with a series of scandals this summer — accused of numerous and systemic cover-ups of sexual assault allegations against priests — resulting in calls for Pope Francis to step down.
Priests have also vocalized frustration over church leaders' priorities in the wake of hundreds of abuse claims spanning several decades.