The leader of Catholic Church is keeping his silence amid the clergy’s sexual abuse allegations.
Pope Francis was described Thursday by a top aide as ‘serene’ in the face of the unprecedented public skirmishing breaking out among Catholic prelates over an explosive charge that the pontiff knew about sexual misconduct allegations against a U.S. cardinal but chose to ignore them.
According to Vatican’s secretary of state said Francis is maintaining his grace despite “bitterness and concern” in the Vatican over the accusation leveled against him by a onetime top Catholic envoy, who has demanded the Pope resign.
The Pope’s accuser, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador and a doctrinal opponent of Francis, has gone into hiding after making his claim last Sunday in a scathing 11-page document that was crafted with the assistance of a well-known Italian journalist and a stalwart critic of the Pope.
According to Vigano, Francis ignored misconduct allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The manifesto, which also warned of a homosexual culture in the church, was leaked to several conservative Catholic newspapers and blogs, all determined foes of Francis.
They agreed to publish it on the second and final day of Francis’s trip to Ireland, in a coordinated effort, say Francis loyalists, to cause him maximum damage.
Also, the publication of the letter upended the visit to Ireland, where Pope Francis had hoped to stanch the damage being done to the Holy See by the clerical sex abuse crisis that has roiled the Roman Catholic Church worldwide for decades. Just two weeks before the Ireland trip, the Church was rocked by further clerical abuse allegations with the release of a grand jury report in the U.S. which detailed the abuse of children in six Pennsylvania dioceses over the past seven decades by hundreds of “predator priests.”
In Ireland, Pope Francis met Irish abuse victims and asked for the faithful to forgive the church for its failings. “We ask forgiveness for the times that we did not show [abuse] survivors compassion or the justice they deserve in the search for truth,” he said. And he then added: “We ask forgiveness for members of the Church hierarchy who did not take care of these situations and kept quiet.”
Midweek Vigano reemerged to give an interview to La Verità newspaper, saying he spoke up out of a sense of duty to the Catholic Church and not because the Pope had passed him over for promotion. “I have never had feelings of vendetta or rancor,” he said, adding that there is a “conspiracy of silence” in the Church “not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia.”
Vigano says Francis was aware of the grave allegations of sexual misconduct against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who’s been accused of abusing young priests and molesting seminarians for decades. Unlike his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI, who imposed sanctions on McCarrick, Francis and his circle of advisers chose to rehabilitate the U.S. cardinal, argues Vigano.
The claims are shaking Francis’s five-year papacy.