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Former Vatican Official Accuses Pope Francis of Knowingly Reinstating Abusive Cardinal

FILE - In this Sept. 23, 2015 file photo, Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Seton Hall University has begun an investigation …
Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP

In a bombshell report, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States has accused Pope Francis of reinstating Cardinal Theodore McCarrick to a position of prominence despite knowing of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of priests, seminarians, and laypeople, including minors.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page affidavit on Saturday alleging that Pope Benedict had imposed “canonical sanctions” on Cardinal McCarrick in 2009-2010 forbidding him from traveling, celebrating Mass in public, or participating in public meetings, but that Pope Francis later lifted these sanctions and made McCarrick a close personal advisor.

Presenting himself as a whistleblower, Viganò declares that bishops “must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truths we have kept hidden.”

The archbishop concludes by calling on Pope Francis to resign his office as pope.

Now that “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” he says, “my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths regarding the heart-breaking case of the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick, which I came to know in the course of [my] duties.”

Cardinal McCarrick enjoyed a “long friendship with Cardinal Bergoglio” and played an “important part” in his recent election, the archbishop claims, which led the pope to continue using McCarrick as a trusted aide in the naming of bishops even after learning of his misdeeds.

Viganò states that he personally informed the pope of McCarrick’s abuse on June 23, 2013 and yet Francis “continued to cover for him.”

“Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him,” Viganò claims to have told the pope. “He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Nonetheless, Pope Francis “did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with Maradiaga,” Viganò said, the latter being Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, who has been embroiled in scandals.

In past months, the 75-year-old cardinal has faced a series of accusations involving financial mismanagement and embezzlement of funds, protecting a sexually abusive bishop, and covering up a homosexual “epidemic” in his diocesan seminary.

So Pope Francis “knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator,” Archbishop Viganò states, 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 claims that Pope Francis only took action against Cardinal McCarrick when he was forced to do so by the public report of the cardinal’s abuse of a minor, and that he did so “to save his image in the media.”

The archbishop also claims that Cardinal Wuerl, the current archbishop of Washington DC, was “well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick and the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict” and yet ignored the sanctions imposed by Benedict XVI and allowed McCarrick “to reside at a seminary in Washington D.C.”

“In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk,” Viganò states.

Viganò attributes a number of important papal appointments in the United States—including those of Cardinals Blase Cupich in Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin in Newark—to McCarrick’s influence over Pope Francis.

“The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two,” Viganò states.

As other bishops and priests have done recently, Viganò ties both the abuse crisis in the Church as well as coverups by bishops to an extensive “homosexual network” in the Church.

“These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc., act under the concealment of secrecy and lies,” he declares, “and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church.”

As an example, Viganò alleges that former Vatican Secretary of States Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone insistently presented “candidates known to be active homosexuals” for the episcopate and withheld compromising information on candidates from then-Pope Benedict XVI.

Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, two Francis appointees, “belong to the homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality,” Viganò writes.

He also claims that Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich is “blinded by his pro-gay ideology.”

The archbishop ends his report by citing recent words from Pope Francis himself, in which the pontiff said that “everyone is guilty for the good he could have done and did not do” and “If we do not oppose evil, we tacitly feed it.”

“If this is rightly to be considered a serious moral responsibility for every believer, how much graver is it for the Church’s supreme pastor, who in the case of McCarrick not only did not oppose evil but associated himself in doing evil with someone he knew to be deeply corrupt,” Viganò says.

“He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick. And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church!” he states.

Viganò concludes that the only acceptable response is for the pope to resign his office, thereby setting a “good example” for other bishops.

“In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” he says.

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