LONDON- for the people who are not included in the doctrines and politics of the Roman Catholic Church, the accusations against Pope Francis can be hard to parse-a blend of the sexual abuse scandals that have shocked the church and bitter infighting over its direction.
The way these two factors are related is unclear, as is the credibility of the allegations against the pope. But at a time when the church is handling international crisis, largely over generations of sexual misconduct and cover-ups, the hint that Francis was in any way wrong could pose a threat to his papacy.
What has the pope been accused of?
Carlo Maria Vigano, an archbishop, released a letter saying that “Pope Francis, his predecessors and others in the church hierarchy knew of sexual misconduct by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington, years before it was made public”
Archbishop Vigano said he told Francis in 2013 that the pope’s predecessor, Benedict XVI, had ordered Cardinal McCarrick “to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance” due to the accusations towards him. But Francis, Archbishop Viganò wrote, empowered Cardinal McCarrick, allowing him to help choose American bishops.
Last month Cardinal McCarrick was forced to resign, and Archbishop Vigano said the pope must resign, too.The pope said he would not dignify questions about the claims with a response.
the letter coincided with the pope’s visit to Ireland, where the church struggled effectively to response to revelations of clerical abuse and cover-ups that have severely damaged its authority. After Francis was being criticized for appearing to play down similar allegations in Chile and elsewhere, has worked hard in recent days to be seen as taking them more seriously.