It appears as though there’s some division in the Catholic Church — with news breaking that Pope Francis may have covered up sexual misconduct.
Former Vatican ambassador to the United States (from 2011 to 2016) and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published an open letter on a pair of Catholic websites — National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews — claiming the pope knew of allegations made against the former archbishop of Washington (2001 to 2006), Theodore McCarrick. The ex-cardinal was reportedly sexually active with seminarians and punished by Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Viganò claimed that Pope Francis was aware of this situation, ignored it, and reinstated Cardinal McCarrick as a high-ranking member of the U.S. Catholic Church.
“The pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013, and continued to cover for him,” Archbishop Viganò wrote. “He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor.”
“Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” Archbishop Viganò added.
On Fox News’ “The Ingraham Angle” Monday night, Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo joined host Laura Ingraham to discuss the matter. Arroyo, who is also the managing editor of EWTN, a Catholic television network, explained that Archbishop Viganò is not the kind of person who would fabricate such a claim.
“He’s very well-respected,” Arroyo said of Viganò. “He’s a man of integrity … and he’s been a whistleblower in the past. In 2011, he wrote letters to Pope Benedict about corruption in the Vatican. Those were leaked and became the VatiLeaks scandal. It was his exposés, only meant for the pope’s eyes.”
The VatiLeaks scandal Arroyo referenced occurred in 2012, when Viganò sent letters that Pope Benedict XVI leaked; in them, Viganò asked to not be transferred after exposing Vatican corruption — which cost the church millions of dollars.
Archbishop McCarrick, on whom Viganò’s letter focused this time around, became the first man to resign from cardinal status in about 100 years this past July.
He did so because a church investigation concluded that there was a credible accusation made saying he sexually abused a teenager half a century ago. Defending himself from the accusations, he claimed to have not remembered the incident.
Archbishop Viganò claimed that then-Cardinal McCarrick was placed under sanctions by late Pope Benedict XVI around 2009-2010; Viganò claimed McCarrick was barred from practicing ministry publicly and was sentenced to a life of repentance for his actions because he paid out settlements to men he sexually abused.
Pope Francis did not weigh in on the issue when given the opportunity.
On a Sunday night flight from Dublin to Rome, he told reporters, “I read that statement this morning. I read it and I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves.”
Arroyo told Ingraham this was not a particularly strong response from the pope.
“Many Catholics have read it and they feel like the pope should have done something,” he said. “It looks like an evasive answer. It makes the pope look bad. Meanwhile, bishops around the United States and the world say these are credible charges that deserve investigation.”
These allegations come at a time that the Catholic Church has already been swamped with sexual abuse allegations. Earlier this month, a Pennsylvania grand jury announced that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in the state showed that over 300 “predator priests” had been accused of sexually molesting more than 1,000 child victims in the state over the past 70 years.
To see Arroyo discuss the matter fully on “The Ingraham Angle,” check out the video below:
Tom Joyce is a freelance writer from the South Shore of Massachusetts. He covers sports, pop culture, and politics and has contributed to The Federalist, Newsday, and other outlets.