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Report: Pope Knew of McCarrick’s Crimes but Considered Them Unimportant

Pope Francis looks on during a mass for the Cardinals and Bishops who have died over the course of the year at the Saint Peter's Basilica at the Vatican on November 3, 2018. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

French author Frédéric Martel alleges in a new book that Pope Francis had been informed that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had been having sexual relations with seminarians and priests but considered this fact “insufficient to condemn him.”

Mr. Martel, an openly gay man and LGBT activist, is the author of the upcoming bookIn the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality, Hypocrisy, to be released on February 21, the opening day of a major Vatican summit on clerical sex abuse.

In the new exposé, Martel accuses the Catholic Church of hypocrisy for opposing gay marriage and adoption when so many of its own clerics are active homosexuals.

In addressing the relationship between the pope and then-cardinal McCarrick, Martel seems to confirm an August 25, 2018 report from the former papal nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who said he had informed Pope Francis of McCarrick’s crimes in 2013, shortly after the pope’s election. The pope proceeded to lift sanctions that had been imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, Viganò stated, and reinstated him in a position of influence in the Vatican.

On October 7, the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops confirmed allegations that Pope Benedict XVI had indeed curbed McCarrick’s activities due to concerns about his behavior.

“The former Cardinal,” wrote Cardinal Marc Ouellet, “had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him.”

In a 2014 article in the Washington Post, journalist David Gibson said that McCarrick was “one of a number of senior churchmen who were more or less put out to pasture during the eight-year pontificate of Benedict XVI.”

This changed radically under Pope Francis, the article declared.

“But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick’s) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix, and busier than ever,” Gibson wrote.

“Francis, who has put the Vatican back on the geopolitical stage, knows that when he needs a savvy back channel operator he can turn to McCarrick,” Gibson wrote.

Observers have deemed Mr. Martel’s revelations about Pope Francis to be “friendly fire,” in the sense that throughout his book he adopts a positive tone toward the Francis papacy and would never intentionally hurt him.

During his four years of research for his book, Martel claims to have met with a number of Vatican officials, including Jesuit Father Antonio Spadaro, the Director of La Civiltà Cattolica, on several occasions, and Martel includes an interview with Spadaro in his book, along with an interview with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the director of the Vatican’s Synod office.

So far, Pope Francis has not responded to allegations that he had been informed of McCarrick’s misdeeds in 2013.

When journalists asked the pope whether these allegations were true and when he had learned the facts about McCarrick, the pope neither confirmed nor denied the report.

Francis encouraged journalists to investigate the case, but has persistently refused to answer their questions.

Pope Francis has convoked the presidents of all the world’s Catholic bishops’ conferences to come to the Vatican for a summit on clerical sex abuse. The 3-day summit will begin on February 21.

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