Pope Francis said that he will not address allegations from an old Vatican ambassador to the United States who claimed that the pontiff helped in the rehabilitation of former Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick even though he knew about claims of sexual misconduct.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano wrote an 11-page memo urging Pope Francis to step down regarding the McCarrick issue. Among other information, Vigano claims that Pope Benedict XVI prohibited McCarrick from public ministry and ordered him to conduct a life of prayer and penance, but later Francis re-instated him and covered his actions and made him into “trusted counselor.”
After his two-day visit to Rome, Pope Francis told media that he had read the memo, and believed that it “speaks for itself.”
Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation as cardinal last month, after a U.S. church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.
Since then, another man has come forward to say McCarrick began molesting him starting when he was 11, and several former seminarians have said McCarrick abused and harassed them when they were in seminary. The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the U.S. and Vatican hierarchy, because it was apparently an open secret that McCarrick regularly invited seminarians to his New Jersey beach house, and into his bed.
Coupled with the devastating allegations of sex abuse and cover-up in a recent Pennsylvania grand jury report — which found that 300 priests had abused more than 1,000 children over 70 years in six dioceses — the scandal has led to calls for heads to roll and for a full Vatican investigation into who knew what and when about McCarrick.
Viganò, the papal ambassador — or nuncio — to Washington between 2011 and 2016, identified the Vatican cardinals and U.S. archbishops who were informed about the McCarrick affair by name, an unthinkable expose for a Vatican diplomat to make. He said documents backing up his version of events are in Vatican archives.