(CNS) -- A pair of open letters to Pope Francis asking him for answers to charges
of cover-ups by him and others over abuse allegations against retired Archbishop
Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington were sponsored by the Catholic Women's
Forum, a project of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a Washington-based
to one of the letters declares, "This letter reflects the personal initiative
of the individual Catholic women signing this letter, and is not sponsored by
any group or organization." The letter and invitations to sign it, though, are
posted on the Catholic Women's Forum's website.
first letter, titled "Letter to Pope Francis from Catholic Women," is dated
Aug. 30, four days after publication of an 11-page letter by Archbishop Carlo
Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States, making charges
against Pope Francis and other church leaders.
second letter, from a group called Catholic Men United for Christ, is dated
Sept. 5. "Specifically," the second letter said, "we request that you answer
the questions posed by our sisters in their letter to you."
questions posed in the women's letter include, "What did Archbishop Vigano
convey to you in June 2013 about then-Cardinal McCarrick? When did you learn of
any allegations of sexual abuse or sexual misconduct with adults by
then-Cardinal McCarrick? When did you learn of Pope Benedict's restrictions on
then-Cardinal McCarrick? And did you release then-Cardinal McCarrick from any
of Pope Benedict's restrictions?"
letter added, "Please do not turn from us. You've committed yourself to
changing clerical ways in the church. ... We need to know we can trust you to
be honest with us about what happened. The victims who have suffered so greatly
need to know they can trust you. Families, who will be the source of the church's
renewal, need to know we can trust you, and thus trust the church."
early Sept. 7, the women's letter had 39,051 signers. Among those signers on
the letter's homepage are author and speaker Mary Beth Bonacci, National Review
Institute senior fellow Kathryn Jean Lopez, talk show host Teresa Tomeo, and
Janet Smith, a professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
letter, which had 6,381 signers since it was posted, said, "We plead for
justice for the victims of abuse. We add our voices to those of the bishops who
have called for an investigation of the church hierarchy, both in our own
country and in the Vatican. This investigation should be carried out by
faithful laymen and women. Further, we encourage other groups to make their
voices heard by writing more letters of this nature."
the men's letter signers were Scott Hahn, a permanent deacon who is a professor
at the Franciscan University of Steubenville in Ohio, and Al Kresta, president,
CEO and a host on Ave Maria Radio.
In response to a query from
Catholic News Service, Catholic Men United, using an email account
ascribed to a "John Bishop," said, " The letter is
an organic initiative from roughly a dozen Catholic laymen from several
dioceses. Several of the primary leaders have chosen to remain
anonymous. The letter is intended to be an expression of the faithful
sign it, and we do not wish to direct attention to any particular
Ethics and Public Policy Center, active since 1976, offers nine main programs,
of which the Catholic women's forum is one.
best-known scholar to Catholics is George Weigel, who writes a syndicated column
called "The Catholic Difference" and wrote a biography of St. John Paul II.
Rick Santorum, a former U.S. senator from Pennsylvania and a onetime
presidential aspirant, was a fellow at the center for six years.
Francis calls for women to be a more 'effective presence' in the church and in
the world," says the Catholic Women's Forum on its website's homepage, adding
it "responds to this call" by "amplifying the voice of Catholic women -- leading
female Catholic professionals, scholars, and other experts -- on crucial issues