Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Vatican defends Pope against 'blasphemous' cover-up claims

Pope Francis talks as he meets youth and the Synod Fathers at the Pope Paul VI hall in Vatican Pope blames devil for Church divisions, scandals, seeks angel's help
Steven Clarke | 10 October, 2018, 16:26

Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, conference vice president, also is in Rome for the synod, and the two US leaders were expected to meet privately with Pope Francis Oct. 8 as questions continue over the handling of years of allegations of sexual misconduct by former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington.

However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote October 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet's letter was issued Sunday, a day after Francis authorized a "thorough study" of all Vatican archives into how McCarrick rose through church ranks despite allegations he sexually preyed on seminarians and young priests. It is false to present the measures taken in his regard as "sanctions" decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and revoked by Pope Francis.

Francis has refused to comment on the Vigano accusation.

"The congregation's decision was inspired by prudence, and the letters from my predecessor and my own letters urged him, first through the apostolic nuncio, (Archbishop) Pietro Sambi, and then through you (Archbishop Viganò), to lead a life of prayer and penance for his own good and for the good of the church", Cardinal Ouellet wrote in an open letter to Archbishop Viganò.

"I conclude, therefore that your accusations are a political frame job devoid of any real foundation", he was quoted as saying by AFP.

The McCarrick scandal has thrown the US and Vatican hierarchy into turmoil, given that it was apparently an open secret in some USA church circles that he would invite seminarians into his bed.

Ouellet did acknowledge that McCarrick had been "strongly exhorted" not to travel or appear in public, and to live a discreet life of prayer given the rumors against him. "I have never heard Pope Francis allude to this self-styled advisor during his pontificate regarding nominations in America, though he does not hide the trust that he has in some of the Bishops".

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The Vatican was informed about the seminarian complaints as far back as 2000.

Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined that an allegation that he groped a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

"I imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information that he would have gathered on that occasion about many persons and situations".

Francis' use of the term "the great accuser" to describe Satan hit a raw nerve with one of the pope's harshest conservative critics, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the Vatican's former ambassador to Washington.

McCarrick escaped being sanctioned because "at that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged guilt". However, the cardinal added, "I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past".

He said he could not believe Archbishop Vigano had arrived at such a "monstrous" and "blasphemous" conclusion given that Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick's career rise in the previous decades.

"You can not end your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a painful wound" on the church and divides its people, he ended his letter.

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