On August 22, an explosive letter was released by former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States (and retired bishop) Carlo Maria Vigano. The letter alleges that Pope Francis knew about, and intentionally lifted, sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI against known sexual predator (and now former cardinal) Theodore E. McCarrick.
Not too long later, when Pope Francis was asked by journalists whether or not Vigano’s assertions about his attempt to protect McCarrick were true, the pontiff told members of the media that he would “not say a single word”, and that they should draw their own conclusions instead.
The pope’s decision to remain silent frustrated a number of Catholics, who are wanting answers. There appears to be an orchestrated cover-up of the sexual predations of high-ranking Church officials.
Now though, it would appear that not only is Pope Francis not talking, but a progressive Chicago cardinal is pouring gasoline on the fire.
Yesterday, in a controversial sit-down interview with a Chicago NBC affiliate, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich affirmed and defended Pope Francis’ much-criticized decision to refrain from commenting on Vigano’s 11-page letter. The ex-nuncio’s controversial testimony has since drawn significant public support from a number of bishops, who believe the charges against the pope (and several bishops and cardinals) are credible enough to warrant further investigation, and comment from the pope.
But in yesterday’s interview, Cardinal Cupich asserted that the news media needs to “go on, and press him for information”--meaning Vigano--adding that for Pope Francis to address Vigano’s allegations against him would be “in some way inappropriate.”
“The Pope has a bigger agenda,” Cupich went on to say. “He’s got to get on with other things—of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”
The Chicago cardinal also levied accusations of racism against Catholics who are calling for answers from Pope Francis.
“Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino,” said Cupich. It should be noted that Pope Francis was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, to parents of Italian descent.
Cupich also seemingly attempted to downplay the gravity of the latest scandals in the Catholic Church, when it came to the topic of sexual abuse in general. “It’s not just about the Catholic Church. Let’s look at all the agencies and institutions that deal with children on a day-to-day basis,” he said.
The issue in question for many Catholics, raised by Vigano in his letter, is what exactly Pope Francis knew, and when he knew it, in relation to the charges of sexual abuse against former cardinal and bishop of Washington D.C., Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick is said to have abused minors, seminarians, and priests over the span of decades.
McCarrick’s public fall from grace ultimately began in June, when a church panel substantiated allegations that he had sexually abused an altar boy 47 years ago.
Then last month, as the result of McCarrick’s tendered resignation from the College of Cardinals--due to the credible and disturbing charges leveled against him--Pope Francis ordered McCarrick to a “life of prayer and penance”, suspending him from further public exercise of his ministry. The pope also asked that the cleric remain in seclusion “until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”
Since then, a number of priests, former priests, and former seminarians have come forward, detailing their own stories of sexual abuse and coercion at the hands of high-ranking clerics.