Pope Francis is being accused of knowing about sexual abuse claims against a disgraced former cardinal, and even covering up the issue — an accusation that comes as news of a widespread child sex abuse scandal has rocked the Catholic Church in recent weeks.
The pope accepted the resignation of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in late July among numerous substantiated sexual abuse allegations.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Vatican ambassador to the United States, claims in a sensational letter that the pope knew about the scandalous allegations against Cardinal McCarrick.
MORE NEWS: Why the riots?
Pope Francis not only knew, the letter claims — he also helped cover up the scandal and even elevated the cardinal’s status in the church.
Archbishop Viganò has called on Pope Francis to resign from his office in the Catholic Church.
“I had always believed and hoped that the hierarchy of the Church could find within itself the spiritual resources and strength to tell the whole truth, to amend and to renew itself,” Viganò wrote. “That is why, even though I had repeatedly been asked to do so, I always avoided making statements to the media, even when it would have been my right to do so, in order to defend myself against the calumnies published about me, even by high-ranking prelates of the Roman Curia,” he continued.
“But now that the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy, my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths regarding the heartbreaking case of the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick,” he added.
Archbishop Viganò says he knew McCarrick from 1998 to 2009 under Pope John Paul II, and also from Oct. 19, 2011, until the end of May 2016 under Pope Benedict XVI.
At one point in the letter, he calls on Pope Francis to resign.
“Even in the tragic affair of McCarrick, Pope Francis’ behavior was no different. He knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” he wrote.
“Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intentions and for love of the Church,” he continued.
“A chorus of voices is rising, especially from the lay faithful.”
“It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media,” the letter goes on.
“A chorus of voices is rising especially from the lay faithful, and has recently been joined by several bishops and priests, asking that all those who, by their silence, covered up McCarrick’s criminal behavior, or who used him to advance their career or promote their intentions, ambitions and power in the Church, should resign,” he added.
Viganò goes so far as to imply that the pope is spreading evil throughout the Catholic Church.
“We need to intervene where evil is spreading; for evil spreads where daring Christians who oppose evil with good are lacking,” he writes.
“If this is rightly to be considered a serious moral responsibility for every believer, how much graver is it for the Church’s supreme pastor, who in the case of McCarrick not only did not oppose evil but associated himself in doing evil with someone he knew to be deeply corrupt,” he continues.
“He followed the advice of someone he knew well to be a pervert, thus multiplying exponentially with his supreme authority the evil done by McCarrick. And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church!” he added.
In mid-July, an explosive report claimed that 49 years ago, Cardinal McCarrick began to carry out a sexually abusive relationship with a victim over the course of 20 years, starting when this individual was 11 years old.
The church had censored McCarrick over the sexual abuse allegations, including one involving a 16-year-old altar-boy in 1971. Pope Francis has been reluctant to speak out about the sex scandals — and he’s not yet publicly responded to Archbishop Viganò’s call for his resignation.
The pope addressed none of the allegations on Sunday. “I will not say a word about that. I think that the communiqué speaks for itself,” Francis said as he flew back to Rome after a two-day trip to Dublin.
Check out this video: