“A lay board appointed 15 years ago by the U.S. Conference of Bishops to investigate the priest sex abuse scandal is seeking to be reappointed and given the power to probe high-ranking members of the Catholic Church in the United States, according to a bombshell letter obtained by Sneed.
The nine-member panel — which included Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke; President Barack Obama’s former CIA chief and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta; powerful Washington, D.C., attorney Robert Bennett; and New Mexico Supreme Court Justice Petra Jimenez Maes — worked together last week by phone to hammer out its request, a copy of which is included below.
Burke, on behalf of the group, sent the letter to U.S. Conference of Bishops president Cardinal Daniel DiNardo on Friday.
The letter cites recent claims by a retired top Vatican official that Pope Francis himself knew about sexual misconduct allegations against the former archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, but that Francis restored him to public ministry anyway. McCarrick resigned in July after an abuse allegation lodged against him was deemed “credible.”