The archbishop of Oklahoma City has joined a growing wave of prelates calling for a full investigation into allegations that Pope Francis knowingly rehabilitated a serial sexually abusive U.S. cardinal.
In an August 28 statement, Archbishop Paul S. Coakley said that the 11-page testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganó, the former papal nuncio to the United States, “has sent shock waves throughout the Catholic Church.”
“This document merits, indeed it demands deeper examination and verification of each of its claims,” the archbishop declared. “Like so many, I am deeply troubled by the assertions contained in this unprecedented document.”
Coakley states he has “the deepest respect for Archbishop Viganò and his personal integrity,” adding that his claims “confirm the urgency of a thorough investigation of Archbishop McCarrick’s advancement through the ecclesiastical ranks given his history of alleged abuse, involving seminarians and young people.”
“I lend my voice and support to that of Cardinal DiNardo, President of the USCCB, and so many of my brother bishops in asking for such an investigation,” he said, calling this “a very dark moment in the history of our beautiful, but wounded, Catholic Church.”
Pressure has been mounting against the pope to answer charges that he was personally aware of the serial homosexual abuse of U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and yet chose to reinstate him to a position of prominence, going so far as to make him a personal adviser in naming future bishops.
Last Saturday, Archbishop Viganò released an affidavit 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 counselor.
Nonetheless, when asked about these allegations Sunday, Pope Francis dodged questions from reporters, telling them to read the accusations and make their own assessment of their credibility.
On the papal plane returning from Ireland, a journalist asked the pope outright if allegations were true that the papal nuncio to the United States had explicitly informed him in 2013 of sexual abuse perpetrated by Cardinal McCarrick and subsequent sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis acknowledged having read the statement but refused to confirm or deny the allegations. “I won’t say a word about this,” he said.
Since then, a number of bishops have criticized the pope’s “no comment” media strategy, insisting the allegations are very serious and that Francis has the duty to clarify the facts to provide the “accountability” for which he himself has called.
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