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Texas Bishop Calls for ‘Thorough Investigation’ into Allegations Against Pope Francis

Pope Francis (C) leads a canonisation mass for Joseph Vaz in the Sri Lankan capital Colombo on January 14, 2015 . Hundreds of thousands of Sri Lankans crowded the Colombo seafront to take part in a vibrant open-air mass by Pope Francis, in one of the biggest public gatherings the …
MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP/Getty

The bishop of Tyler, Texas, has called for an in-depth investigation into what he deems “credible” allegations by the former Vatican nuncio to the United States against a number of high-ranking prelates, including Pope Francis.

In an open letter to all priests and faithful of his diocese, which he had read at all Sunday Masses over the weekend, Bishop Joseph E. Strickland said that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s recent letter claiming that Pope Francis had rehabilitated Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite knowing he had abused priests and seminarians, “raises grave allegations and calls for the resignation of numerous high ranking prelates including Pope Francis.”

The accusations carry particular weight because Archbishop Viganò served as the papal nuncio in the United States from 2011 to 2016 and had access to privileged information regarding the inner workings of the Church.

“Let us be clear that they are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible,” Bishop Strickland wrote.

“Using this standard the response must be a thorough investigation similar to those conducted any time allegations are deemed to be credible,” he said.

While not having the authority to launch such an investigation himself, the bishop said he would lend his voice “in whatever way necessary to call for this investigation and urge that it’s [sic] findings demand accountability of all found to be culpable even at the highest levels of the Church.”

The bishop said he had directed all priests of his diocese “to include this notice in the masses on August 26, and post it on their websites and other social media immediately.”

Bishop Strickland’s summons for an investigation was echoed by the bishop of Tulsa, who stated Sunday that Viganò’s allegations are a “good place” to start investigations into clerical sex abuse and cover-up.

In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa said an investigation into sexual abuse and cover-up was necessary to “restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church” and that Archbishop Viganò’s statement is “a good place to begin the investigations.”

Asked about the accusations on the papal plane returning from a weekend trip to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, Pope Francis refused to deny the archbishop’s claims, saying he would not utter “a single word” about the accusations and suggesting, rather, that journalists read the statement and draw their own conclusions from the report.

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