Pope Francis said the devil is trying to divide and attack the Catholic Church, as the Vatican deals with multiple sexual abuse scandals and accusations that Francis covered for priests accused of sexual misconduct.
“[The church must be] saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and, at the same time, be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past,” Francis said on Sunday from his balcony in Rome, as Reuters and others reported.
His words are still reverberating.
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Many on Twitter pushed back on his message, saying the church needs to assume the guilt for the abuse of children at the hands of priests.
“SO it’s not the Pedophiles, the cover-ups, the Inquisition, The Crusades, and every other crime against humanity that the Catholic church has committed over the last 1000 years,” tweeted one. “IT’S THE DEVIL … NOOOOOOOOOW It Makes SOOOO Much sense … what Was I thinking…”
SO it's not the Pedophiles, the cover-ups, the Inquisition, The Crusades, and every other crime against humanity that the Catholic church has committed over the last 1000 years. IT'S THE DEVIL…NOOOOOOOOOW It Makes SOOOO Much sense….what Was I thinking…
— Panda Man (@ShoelessJayhawk) October 9, 2018
Another one tweeted, “Catholic priests who can’t keep their hands off children is what is dividing the Catholic Church.”
Catholic priests who can't keep their hands off children is what is dividing the Catholic Church.
— Tell Em That It's Human Nature (@Oclark38) October 9, 2018
And yet another wrote simply, “Yes, and you are cooperating with that devil.”
Yes, and you are cooperating with that devil.
— 梁政 (@1iang2heng) October 9, 2018
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Pope Francis also implored Catholics around the world to pray every day throughout October for the church to win out over the devil’s assaults.
“I renew the invitation to everyone to pray the Rosary every day of the month of October, ending it with the antiphon ‘Under Your Protection’ and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, to repel the attacks of the devil, who wants to divide the church,” he said.
The sex abuse scandal has been roiling the Catholic Church worldwide.
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, it was reported in August.
The ex-cardinal was reportedly sexually active with seminarians and was punished by Pope Benedict XVI.
Archbishop Viganò claimed that the pope was aware of this situation, ignored it, and reinstated Cardinal McCarrick as a high-ranking member of the 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.”
In August, McCarrick was removed from public ministry after church officials deemed credible the allegations that he had sexually abused a minor. McCarrick has denied all wrongdoing.
The Vatican denounced the charge that the pope knew of the McCarrick allegations on Sunday, calling them “monstrous” and “even blasphemous.”
However, the letter also admitted to a detail that is key to the accusations by Viganò, noted Reuters — “that McCarrick had been informally disciplined prior to his ascension to cardinal.”
The Vatican official who authored Sunday’s statement also wrote that Francis had no role in “the promotion of McCarrick to New York, Metuchen, Newark or Washington.”
Francis has refused to confirm or deny the allegations, saying the letter “speaks for itself.”
“I won’t say a word about it,” he said.
See more in the video below.