Pope Francis Refuses to Speak on Claims That He Covered up Abuse, Archbishop Viganò Calling for Pope's Resignation

Conservative broad shot at a comparatively liberal pope

Just as Pope Francis wrapped up his mission to Ireland, Carlo Maria Viganò, once a top-ranking Vatican diplomat to the United States, claimed the pope himself was guilty of covering up abuses in the church. The August 26 letter asked for the pontiff's resignation. Viganò is a known vitriolic critic of Pope Francis. The timing of the letter was clearly thought out. It was made to derail efforts by Pope Francis to win back the once devoutly Catholic Ireland. The allegations, according to critics, were unsubstantiated and made with the intention to unseat a sitting pope.

When questioned by journalists, Pope Francis dismissed the contents of the letter, saying that the merits of Archbishop Vigano's testimony speak for itself. He urged everyone who is interested in this matter to go through the text carefully and then judge for themselves.

If Archbishop Viganò is to be believed, the Vatican hierarchy actively and passively participated to cover up accusations of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually abusing seminarians while in office. The letter said the pontiff had full knowledge of abuses done by the American priest many years before such criminal activities became public. The letter went on to say that not only has Francis desisted from taking punitive action against the Cardinal, he actually gave the latter increased powers to select powerful American bishops. Reporters questioned Francis on whether they was any kernel of truth to the Viganò’s claim that the pope was aware of McCarrick's abuse in 2013. The pontiff was also questioned as to whether Benedict had sanctioned this disgraced cardinal, as the letter claimed.

The letter, a staggering 7,000 words in length, was a barely hidden fanged attack on Francis and his allies in the Vatican. It was published by multiple conservative Catholic outlets known to harbor antagonistic attitudes against the pope. The publication ratcheted up the caustic rivalries which were always present inside the Catholic Church. Conservatives are angry with the present pontiff on the latter's inclusive approach and pastoral outlook. They claim that Francis, by concentrating on various social issues, has diluted the core doctrine of the church. Such actions, the conservatives warn, may result in the church withering away in the future. Pope Francis has found support from a number of American bishops, including Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the Chicago archbishop.


Follow the Conversation on Twitter