Pope Francis has finally broken his silence regarding accusations leveled last August that he had known of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s serial homosexual abuse and yet reinstated him to a position of influence in the Vatican.
“About McCarrick I knew nothing, obviously, nothing, nothing,” the pope told Mexican reporter Valentina Alazraki in a lengthy interview released Tuesday by Vatican News.
“But you know that I knew nothing about McCarrick, or I wouldn’t have kept silent, would I?” he asked.
Last August the former Vatican nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released an 11-page report in which he declared he had personally informed Pope Francis about McCarrick’s misdeeds in 2013 but that Francis had restored him to a position of trust, consulting him regarding the naming of future U.S. bishops.
Pope Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator,” Viganò stated, and yet, “although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own.”
Viganò also said that Pope Benedict had placed a series of sanctions on McCarrick, including a ban on saying Mass in public or giving lectures, whereas Pope Francis set him “free from all constraints.”
Further documentation came to light Tuesday from a separate source confirming the existence of sanctions against McCarrick dating back to 2008.
When journalists confronted Pope Francis about these allegations two days after the Viganò report was published, the pope refused to confirm or deny them.
“I read that statement this morning,” he said, in reference to the report.
“I read it and sincerely I must tell you this, you and all of you who are interested, read the statement carefully and come to your own conclusion. I won’t say a word about this,” he said.
“I believe that the statement speaks for itself and you have the sufficient journalistic ability to draw your own conclusions. This is an act of trust. When some time has passed and you have come to your conclusions, maybe I will speak,” he said.
In his interview released today, Pope Francis said he had in fact already answered the question; however, no news media ever reported this, and there is no record of the pope ever replying to the question.
“I said it several times, that I didn’t know, that I had no idea,” Pope Francis told Alazraki.
In the interview, the pope said that he had not answered the question immediately because he had wanted to imitate the silence of Jesus during his passion, and because he had placed his trust in journalists to find out for themselves what had happened.
“And the result was good, it was better than if I had tried to explain or defend myself,” he said.
Regarding the 2013 meeting with Viganò, the pope said, “I don’t remember whether he talked about this with me, whether it’s true or not. No idea!”