Pope Francis faced accusations of covering up priestly abuse while he was the archbishop and cardinal in Buenos Aires, a 2017 French documentary reveals. A segment of the documentary, “Sex Abuse in the Church: The Code of Silence,” investigates the pope’s assertion that sexual abuse never happened in his diocese.
Investigative journalist Martin Boudot traveled to Buenos Aires to find out if the pope was telling the truth. Contradicting the pope’s assertion, a group of victims claimed they were sexually abused while Bergoglio [now Pope Francis] was archbishop and told Boudot their cries for justice were ignored.
“Regarding pedophile priests, in his book Pope Francis says there were no cases in his diocese,” said Boudot, prompting derisive laughter from the group.
“He wants people to believe that, but it’s a lie,” said one of the victims. They said they all tried to contact the archbishop after they were abused, but their cries fell on deaf ears.
“He received all the celebrities, like Leonardo DiCaprio,” said one of the women. “And for us, not even a quick letter to say he was sorry.”
Even worse, in one case, Bergoglio tried to influence the Argentinean justice system in an effort to protect Father Julio Grassi, who is serving the remainder of a 15-year jail sentence after being convicted of sexually abusing teenage boys.
The Argentinian church did everything it could to get Grassi acquitted and the trial was spread over 15 years, according to Boudot. In 2010, in fact, the Argentine Episcopal Conference led by Cardinal Bergoglio ordered a counter-inquiry called “Studies on the Grassi Case.”
Boudot said the 2,800-page counter inquiry was actually “a confidential, internal Argentinian Church legal text” that accused the children of “falsification, lies, deceit and invention.” The purpose of the study was to overturn the court’s decision and get Fr. Grassi acquitted on appeal.
“So the pope did commission a counter-inquiry to try to have a priest who had been sentenced for pedophilia acquitted,” Boudot reported. What’s more, Bergoglio is said to have repeatedly sent the “study” to various judges right before Fr. Grassi’s various appeal hearings.
At the center of the counter-inquiry commissioned by Bergoglio was an orphan boy who was allegedly Grassi’s main victim. Now an adult, the man spoke about the case for the first time to Boudot anonymously because he’s still afraid of reprisals. He explained to Boudot that he received threats and people broke into his home and stole evidence he could have used in the trial. “In the end, the courts took action for my safety and placed me in the witness protection program,” he said.
“I’ll never forget what Father Grassi kept repeating at his trial: ‘Bergoglio never let go of my hand.’ Now Bergoglio is Pope Francis, but he has never gone against Grassi’s words. So I’m certain he never let go of Grassi’s hand!” he added.
Unable to get an interview with the pope, Boudot and his team went to the Vatican to see if they could hand a letter with written questions about the Grassi case to the pope during his public audience at St. Peter’s Square.
After managing to hand the letter to a plainclothes Swiss Guard as the pope passed by, one of the reporters got close enough to shout a question to the pope, who had exited the popemobile.
“Your Holiness, in the Grassi case, did you try to influence Argentinian justice?” the woman shouted. Pope Francis glared at her and curtly replied, “no.”
“No? Then why did you commission a counter-inquiry?” she pressed.
With a wave of his hand, the pope replied, “I never did.”