Vatican official Carlo Maria Viganò says Pope Francis helped cover-up child rape allegations about former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The Italian Archbishop claims the Pope repealed sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the late 2000s, despite Francis knowing about McCarrick’s history of abuse years before they became public.
In an astonishing 11-page statement, Viganò calls on Pope Francis to resign due to being complicit in the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic church:
“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example to Cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
Nytimes.com reports: The Vatican has said it will have no immediate reaction to the letter.
In a detailed, 7,000-word letter published Sunday morning by several conservative Catholic outlets, including The National Catholic Register and Lifesite News, Archbishop Viganò alleges that much of the Vatican hierarchy was complicit in covering up accusations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually abused seminarians.
Last month, Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal McCarrick, the first such resignation in living memory, after The New York Times and other news outlets published accounts of the alleged abuse and an internal investigation by the American church deemed credible an accusation that he had sexually abused a minor.
But Archbishop Viganò alleges that Francis’ predecessor, Benedict XVI, had already punished Cardinal McCarrick for his abuse of seminarians and priests. The archbishop writes that Benedict banned the American cardinal from publicly celebrating Mass, living in a seminary and traveling to give lectures.
The National Catholic Register, which has been a preferred platform for some of Francis’ most aggressive critics, reported that it had independently confirmed the allegations, but it did not publish any on-the-record corroboration and asserted, without attribution, that Pope Benedict “remembers” telling his second-in-command, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, “to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.”
Cardinal McCarrick led several public Masses throughout Benedict’s papacy, but Archbishop Viganò alleges that the penalties were known about within the hierarchy and that he had personally informed Francis of them in June 2013.
He said that Francis had failed to apply the sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and had instead rehabilitated and empowered him to help choose powerful American bishops. Archbishop Viganò despises those bishops, and he complained in the letter of being deprived the voice typically given to a papal nuncio in choosing them.
“He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” Archbishop Viganò writes of Francis, calling for the pope’s resignation.
“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
At a 2013 reception in the library of the Apostolic Palace in the Vatican shortly after Francis was elected pope, Archbishop Viganò was effusive with praise for Francis, calling him “a man you may talk to with an open heart” and saying his audience was “extremely nice, extremely warm.”
But in the letter, he said he had received an icy reception from Pope Francis. And he said the pope had told him on June 23, 2013: “The bishops in the United States must not be ideologized, they must not be right-wing.” Francis then added, according to Archbishop Viganò, “They must not be left-wing, and when I say left-wing I mean homosexual.”
It was then that Francis asked his opinion of Cardinal McCarrick, to which Archbishop Viganò said he had replied: “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”