That Time Pope Francis Went to Bat for Argentine Bishop Caught in Gay Sex Scandal

Scandalous accusations continue to emerge regarding Pope Francis' reign as archbishop of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where, as PJ Media reported last week, he fought to have a priest who had been sentenced for pedophilia acquitted. In his shocking 11-page letter about the sexual abuse crisis in the church, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò last month implicated Pope Francis for protecting a serial molester, former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

When he was Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, Francis was also reportedly involved in an attempt to at first cover up and then minimize a scandal involving a bishop who was caught en flagrante with a 23-year-old male chauffeur in Argentina.

The late Juan Carlos Maccarone resigned as bishop of Santiago del Estero in 2005 at age 64, after a video surfaced of his homosexual encounter with his driver, Alfredo Serrano. Serrano had filmed the tryst out of spite, reportedly because Maccarone had reneged on a promise to get him a job in the provincial public administration.

Maccarone was then the dean of the faculty of theology of the UCA Pontifical University of Buenos Aires, whose grand chancellor at the time was Cardinal Bergoglio. In various interviews with the Argentine media, Serrano said he and Maccarone had been sexually involved for as many as five years, putting him as young as 18 when he started having sex with the bishop. According to Argentine reports,  Maccarone had also previously been criminally investigated while bishop of Chascomús for having sex with a minor.

Serrano is naked in the tape, while the bishop is mostly clothed.  The Apostolic Nunciature reportedly sent the compromising video to the Holy See and upon viewing the tape, Vatican authorities immediately sought Maccarone's resignation.

At first, church officials under Bergoglio insisted that "health problems" had forced Maccarone to resign, but after Serrano sold the tape to a television station and the video went public, that lie was no longer operative.

Then church officials tried to make Maccarone out to be the victim of "political vengeance" because of his work on behalf of the poor. They did this while ignoring the troubling implications of the bishop's immoral behavior.

"Everything points to... political revenge," said Rev. Guillermo Marco, then the official spokesman for Cardinal Bergoglio.

"Sounds like it was put together by some intelligence arm," Marco told a radio station. He made sure to add that he was only giving his opinion. The spokesman apparently didn't have an opinion about bishops having sex with young men.

Argentina's council of bishops released a statement expressing "gratitude" to the former bishop and saying church leaders felt the "pain and confusion of our people."

"We accompany our brother with sympathy, understanding and prayer," said the statement, signed by Cardinal Bergoglio, the general secretary of the episcopal organism, Sergio Fenoy, and the president of the Episcopal Conference, Eduardo Mirás.

The trio said they were grateful for Maccarone's work "at the service of the poor and those who have threatened life and faith" and offered their "affection, understanding and prayer".

Five years later, the scandal blew up again when Maccarone surfaced at a Confirmation Mass at Holy Trinity parish in Rufino, Argentina.

The presence of Maccarone in the confirmation caused   stupor and indignation  in the parish of Santa Fe. The fact came to light when being denounced by a radio station in the town of Rufino. As it was explained, it was the diocesan bishop himself, Monsignor Gustavo Help, who appointed Maccarone to exercise the ministry because he, for reasons of agenda, could not be present.

"Maccarone resigned from the bishopric of Santiago del Estero but not to the ministry. Nor is there any impediment to celebrate the sacraments. Here  there was no conviction or any  civil offense , "Diego Cavanagh's parish priest told FM 106 of Rufino.

Maccarone died in March 2015 at the age of 74 and was honored with a Catholic funeral, officially listed as bishop emeritus.