The Vatican denounced the scandal of child abuse before the U.N. General Assembly Monday but made no mention of the Church’s own crisis with allegations of mishandling abusers pointing to Pope Francis himself.
It “is urgent to promote the protection of children today, as children are regularly victims of armed conflict, violence, various forms of exploitation and abuse, and are exposed to hunger and extreme poverty,” said the head of the Vatican delegation, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, in his address.
“The way we care for every child shows the depth of our humanity and of our appreciation for the dignity and rights of every person,” Gallagher said.
“For its part, the Catholic Church, at all levels, is committed not only to promoting the protection of children, but also to creating safe environments for them in its own institutions, in order to address the heinous scourge of sexual abuse and violence against children,” he added.
Pope Francis is coming increasingly under fire for his refusal to answer allegations that he knowingly rehabilitated serial homosexual abuser Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, elevating him to a position of influence in the Vatican despite his crimes.
On August 25, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released a bombshell report calling for the pope’s resignation and alleging that at least since 2013 Francis was fully aware of McCarrick’s misdeeds entailing decades of abuse of priests, seminarians, and laypeople, and yet lifted sanctions that had been imposed upon him by Pope Benedict XVI.
Pope Francis has refused to confirm or deny the allegations and offered a response of “no comment” when pressed by journalists to say when he learned of McCarrick’s abuse. He has gone on to portray himself as a victim of attacks, depicting his accuser as being in league with Satan.
“Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my testimony,” Archbishop Viganò wrote in reply, referencing the legal principle that silence denotes consent.
If they deny my testimony, he added, “they have only to say so, and provide documentation to support that denial. How can one avoid concluding that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my testimony?”
“The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building,” he said.
The pope has also denied petitions by the U.S. bishops to launch a full investigation into the McCarrick case, eliciting criticisms of stonewalling attempts to get to the bottom of the scandals.
Frustrated with the pope’s inaction, the U.S. bishops conference (USCCB) announced its own lay-led investigation into McCarrick’s abuse, focusing on the four dioceses in which McCarrick worked: New York, Metuchen, Newark, and Washington, D.C.
Unlike the Vatican, however, the USCCB does not have the canonical authority to mandate compliance with such an investigation, so it will depend on the voluntary cooperation of the four dioceses involved.
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