Pope’s alleged cover-up pivots on when or if sanctions were imposed
The archbishop of Washington on Monday “categorically denied” ever being informed that Pope Benedict XVI had sanctioned his predecessor for sexual misconduct, undercutting a key element of a bombshell allegation that the current pope covered up clergy abuse.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl issued a statement Monday after the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States accused Pope Francis of effectively freeing ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from the sanctions in 2013 despite knowing of McCarrick’s sexual predations against seminarians.
Wuerl would have presumably known about the sanctions since McCarrick lived in his archdiocese.
The claims of the former Vatican ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, have thrown Francis’ papacy into crisis.
The core of his cover-up charge against Francis rests on what sanctions, if any, Benedict imposed on McCarrick and what if anything Francis did to alter them, when armed with the same knowledge of McCarrick’s misdeeds.
Vigano, who was Vatican ambassador from 2011-2016, said he had been told that Benedict imposed sanctions on McCarrick starting in 2009 or 2010, after a decade’s worth of allegations of misconduct had reached the Vatican.
By that time, two New Jersey dioceses had settled complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct against McCarrick lodged by two former seminarians. It was apparently common knowledge that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house, and into his bed.
“The cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance,” Vigano wrote of the Benedict sanctions.
The problem is the historic record is rife with evidence that McCarrick lived a life devoid of any such restriction in those years.