News & Politics

Pope Francis Allies Push Back Against Cover-Up Accusations in Sex Abuse Scandal

(Photo by Giuseppe Ciccia / Pacific Press)

Liberal allies of Pope Francis in the Vatican and elsewhere are pushing back hard against allegations that the pope knew of the abuse accusations against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick in 2013 and still used him for official Vatican business.

Former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote an 11-page letter to the pope, listing his cover-up accusations against Pope Francis as well as other high-ranking Vatican officials. Vigano called on Francis to resign. Vigano claims that McCarrick had been sanctioned by Pope Benedict and was forbidden “to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

The letter has had an extraordinary effect on the hierarchy, with the conflict between conservative and liberal voices in the church on public display.

Michael Sean Winters of the National Catholic Register did not seek to hide his contempt for Vigano:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s testimony proves one thing: The former Vatican ambassador to the United States is to the clergy sex abuse crisis what Oliver Stone is to the assassination of President John Kennedy, a trafficker in conspiracy theories who mixes fact, fiction and venom to produce something explosive but also suspicious. When you finish reading this testimony, as at the end of Stone’s 1991 movie “JFK,” you can only conclude that the product tells us more about the author than it does about the subject.

Vigano is certainly correct that Cardinal Angelo Sodano, longtime Secretary of State to Pope John Paul II, was a patron of disgraced former-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Stone recognized the assassination happened in Dallas. But why does Vigno fail to mention the key role played by Cardinal Stanislaus Dsiwisz in protecting McCarrick?

Winters claims that it was Francis who removed McCarrick from the ministry last June. But Francis has been pope since 2013 and Vigano claims that the current pope was aware of McCarrick’s perversions back then.

As for Francis, he’s not commenting on the allegations, but he trusts the media to run interference for him.

As the Daily Caller reports, Vigano has been accused of a “putsch” and of “launching a coup”:

Villanova theology professor Massimo Faggioli, a consistent defender of the pope frequently quoted in the media, accused Vigano of launching a “coup.”

“Doing what Vigano did, timing it exactly when the pope is far from Rome, is technically close to the textbook guidelines for a coup d’etat. A coup which will end like Colonel Tejero’s,” Faggioli wrote in a tweet, referring to the leader of a 1981 failed coup attempt in Spain.

Oh yeah? A textbook written in about 1700? This is the 21st century, your eminence. With modern communications, the pope doesn’t have to be in Rome to maintain complete control.

Sheesh.

In another tweet, Faggioli referred to the archbishop as a “terrorist.”

And Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture director David Gibson told the National Catholic Reporter that Vigano’s letter was filled with “right-wing talking points” and accused conservative Catholic media of orchestrating the archbishop’s attack.

“It’s sort of the Catholic right’s Benghazi,” claimed Gibson.

And so forth.

The accusations need to be investigated. But with Francis in control of the church, it isn’t likely that any semblance of an independent investigation will be forthcoming.

So the existential crisis in the church will continue, with the real possibility that the leader of that church is, himself, part of the sex abuse problem.