Pope: Great Accuser Has Been Unchained and is Attacking Bishops'

Clay Curtis
September 13, 2018

The letter comes as Francis prepares for a Thursday meeting with a delegation of U.S. church leaders - including the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, and Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, the Vatican's top adviser on clergy sex abuse - to discuss the best way to handle the clergy abuse scandal.

Francis has yet to respond to Vigano's accusations, but the pope's Council of Cardinals reported this week that the Vatican will soon provide some "clarifications" regarding recent events.

The advocacy group BishopAccountability.org says church data shows that 6,721 clerics have been "not implausibly" or "credibly" accused of sexually abusing minors in the United States between 1950 and 2016 and that there were about 18,500 victims.

Francis has refused to comment directly about Vigano's claims, but almost every day over the past two weeks his homily at morning Mass has seemed somewhat related to the scandal.

DiNardo followed up his request for a full-fledged Vatican investigation into the McCarrick affair with a request for answers about allegations that a string of Vatican officials - including Francis - knew of McCarrick's misdeeds since 2000.

In June, McCarrick was removed from public ministry because of a decades-old allegation of sexual abuse.

As a result the former papal envoy to Washington called for the pope to resign.

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Addressing the congregation at the Vatican yesterday, he suggested the "Great Accuser" - or the devil - was behind Vigano's revelations. Two of those allegations resulted in settlements, the bishops said. "True, we are all sinners, we bishops", he added.

Archbishop Georg Gaenswein, private secretary to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, on Tuesday described sexual abuse against minors by clergy as the Church's "own 9/11".

The credibility of the USA church leadership is now in tatters over the McCarrick scandal and recent revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which found that some 300 priests abused more than 1,000 children since the 1940s - and that a string of bishops in six dioceses covered up for them, including the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

The Americans have called on Francis to launch a Vatican-led investigation into how Theodore McCarrick, a former USA cardinal, climbed the ranks, even as rumours swirled about his behaviour.

"He listened very deeply from the heart", said a statement released after the meeting September 13.

"Neither the lament of the Holy Father nor the formal assurances and commitments pledged by a large part of the hierarchy has been able to contain the evil", he said.

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