Is Pope Francis asking the press to help probe the Vatican?

Arturo Kim
August 28, 2018

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican envoy to the United States, on Saturday said he had told Francis of the allegations against prominent USA cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013.

A former Vatican envoy to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote in a letter published in the National Catholic Register that he had told Francis of the allegations in 2013, but that he had responded by lifting sanctions imposed on McCarrick by his predecessor pope Benedict.

The former nuncio claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis".

The Pope "knew from at least June 23 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator", wrote Archbishop Vigano, adding that "he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end".

Francis was asked by a US reporter during an airborne press conference Sunday if Vigano's claims that the two discussed the McCarrick allegations in 2013 were true.

"There are many things in Archbishop Vigano's letter that are very disturbing, but also some unsupported statements and accusations that raise serious doubts", Dr. Peter Steinfels, author and former co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, told the Herald.

The cardinal said that he is eagerly awaiting an audience with Pope Francis to "earn his support" for the USA bishops' plans to "seek out these answers, make reporting of abuse and misconduct by bishops easier, and improve procedures for resolving complaints against bishops".

"To survivors of abuse of power, conscience and sexual abuse, recognising what they have told me, I would like to put these crimes before the mercy of the Lord and ask forgiveness for them", he said at a church service attended by more than 100,000 people at Dublin's Phoenix Park. Similar allegations were made against McCarrick by other men who were seminarians studying for the priesthood.

Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as cardinal last month after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

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He has been accused of sexually abusing children since the church's sex abuse scandal broke in 2002, following which the Vatican has asked the retired archbishop of Washington, D.C.to cease public ministry.

In July, McCarrick resigned as cardinal after he was removed from official duties in June.

The Irish Catholic Church has been rocked by revelations of paedophile priests, sexual abuse in Catholic-run orphanages, and the exploitation of women in mother-and-baby homes.

Vigano called for the Pontiff to resign over his failure to act.

Barry Coburn, McCarrick's civil attorney, said the allegations in the Vigano letter are "serious".

Some Catholic scholars question the motives behind Vigano's inflammatory accusations, but also say the claims are deeply serious as scandal continues to wrack the Catholic Church.

Wuerl served as bishop in the Pittsburgh diocese for 18 years.

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Leo Varadkar delivered a strong warning to the Pope to take action against clergy involved in child abuse and in keeping it secret.

The letter was released during the Pope's two-day trip to Ireland.

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