Cardinal Blase Cupich has scheduled a closed-door meeting with Chicago priests this week, NBC 5 has learned, to discuss the current crisis facing the church.
The invitation for the meeting, planned for Wednesday evening, was sent to all priests in the Chicago Archdiocese. It will take place a day before Pope Francis plans to sit down Thursday with key American bishops who have requested a meeting on the sex abuse crisis.
Though Cupich's meeting isn't mandatory, a second email was forwarded on Tuesday instructing attendees to print out the invitation and bring it with them, as the meeting is considered a private conversation with the Cardinal.
"One of my major concerns in this moment of suffering for many in the church is you," Cupich's letter to Chicago priests read in part.
Cupich wrote in the letter that he will be available "to discuss any issues or answer any questions you wish to raise with me."
Since it was revealed earlier this summer that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed after allegations of abuse, there have been unanswered questions of who knew what when.
The meeting with priests follows a report detailed by the Chicago Sun-Times of an earlier meeting the Cardinal held with seminarians.
Two weeks ago, Cupich sat down with Chicago media after an explosive letter from Archbishop Carlo Vigano in which Vigano alleged Pope Francis, Pope Benedict and Pope John Paul II were aware of the McCarrick allegations.
Pope Francis' reported Thursday meeting with leaders of the U.S. Bishops Conference will be the first official sit-down with this group of American bishops since McCarrick's removal.
The Vigano letter isn't the only thing creating controversy within the church. A Pennsylvannia grand jury released a 900-page report last month investigating priest abuse, prompting other attorney generals, including in Illinois, to request similar investigations.
Last week, Cardinal Cupich was briefly in Rome to speak at a training for new bishops. It remains unclear if the Cardinal met with Vatican leaders on the crisis, but he has said "I stand ready to do my part."
This past Sunday, Cardinal Cupich spoke at St. Clement Parish in Lincoln Park.
Though NBC 5 was not allowed inside the service, several parishioners said after that he did not say the word "abuse" but did talk about the difficult times the church is facing.