The Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States has purportedly written an explosive letter claiming that Pope Francis knew about sex abuse allegations against disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick for years, but chose to cover for him and elevate his position within the church before accepting his resignation last month.
The extraordinary 11-page ‘”J’accuse,” which came as Francis began the second day of a visit to Ireland that has been dominated by the abuse scandal, was published on Sunday by The National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews and is attributed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
NBC News could not confirm the letter’s authenticity or its claims.
In it, Viganò said “corruption had reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy” as he called on Francis to resign.
“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,” he added.
Viganò, who served as ambassador to the United States between 2011 and 2016, claimed that senior Vatican officials knew as early as 2000 that McCarrick regularly invited young seminarians into his bed, but that they still promoted him to cardinal.
Viganò said Pope Benedict XVI eventually imposed sanctions on McCarrick in 2009 or 2010, ordering him to withdraw to a lifetime of prayer and penance, but that Francis chose to rehabilitate him, “cover” for him and elevate him to be a “trusted counselor.”
The letter appeared to be the first public claim that senior church officials not only knew of allegations against McCarrick but quietly sanctioned him long before he was stripped of his public ministry in June.
The Vatican didn’t immediately comment on the letter or confirm its authenticity.
SOURCE: Saphora Smith and Claudio Lavanga