The bishop of Springfield, IL, has joined the growing band of prelates calling for a full investigation into the serious allegations brought by the former papal nuncio to the United States against high ranking churchmen, including Pope Francis.
In a statement Tuesday, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki said that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has “revealed a set of facts and circumstances that are deeply troubling as they relate to the awareness, actions, and inactions at the very highest levels of the Church” regarding the serial sexual abuse by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The written testimony of Archbishop Viganò calls on Pope Francis to “honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests. In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him,” Paprocki notes.
Yet when asked about this exact question aboard the papal plane on his return flight from Ireland on August 26, Pope Francis said, “Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this.”
“Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate,” Bishop Paprocki said.
“Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered,” he said.
“Toward that end, Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised,” he said.
In urging Francis to come forward, Bishop Paprocki echoed another recent public statement by Wisconsin Bishop Robert C. Morlino who registered his “disappointment” in Pope Francis Monday for refusing to confirm or deny the Viganò allegations this weekend, choosing instead the strategy of “no comment.”
While Pope Francis expressly said that such a judgment of the allegations should be left to the “professional maturity” of journalists, Morlino said that in the United States and elsewhere, “very little is more questionable than the professional maturity of journalists.”
“The bias in the mainstream media could not be clearer and is recognized almost universally,” Morlino said. “I would never ascribe professional maturity to the journalism of the National Catholic Reporter, for example. (And, predictably, they are leading the charge in a campaign of vilification against Archbishop Viganò.)”
Bishop Paprocki said he concurs completely with the statement of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who called for “a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.”
The questions raised by Archbishop Viganò “deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence,” Paprocki said.
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter Follow @tdwilliamsrome.