Pope Francis has offered “silence and prayer” in response to allegations that he not only covered up but promoted a Washington-based cardinal accused of having sexual relations with “generations of seminarians and priests.”
“With people who lack goodwill, with people who seek only scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within the family: [there is nothing but] silence. And prayer,” the pontiff said Sept. 3 in Rome, AFP reported.
The pope has largely remained silent on accusations that he covered for Washington-based Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for five years, telling reporters on Aug. 26 that he wouldn’t comment but that the accusation against the cardinal “speaks for itself.”
Former Vatican envoy to Washington Carlo Maria Viganò has said he personally alerted the pope that McCarrick, who he said had flouted sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI, had for years been sexually active with priests and seminarians while in Newark, New Jersey, and in Washington, which was made known to the Vatican as early as 2000.
After Pope Francis took office in 2013, Viganó claimed Francis promoted McCarrick, making him “kingmaker” for appointments in the Curia and the United States.
He has called on the media to unearth a cache of Vatican documents that were given to Francis by Benedict that he says will vindicate him.
Following his first accusations against Francis, Viganó wrote another letter taking issue with Francis’s characterization of an encounter he had with Kim Davis, a county clerk from Kentucky who had spent five days in jail for refusing to issue a same-sex marriage license.
Juan Carlos Cruz, a well-known Chilean abuse victim of a Catholic priest, told The New York Times that Francis told him that he knew nothing about Davis before meeting her in 2015, and that Viganó had “snuck her in” to say hello to him. He claimed he was “horrified” and “fired that nuncio [Viganó],” Cruz recounted to the Times.
Viganó said in a letter dated Aug. 30 that Francis not only knew full well who she was, but that he “appeared in favor of” the meeting.
The Vatican press office denied that the meeting took place after it created a firestorm in the media.
“This is the transparency of the Holy See under Pope Francis,” wrote Viganó.