When a retired Vatican diplomat called for the Pope to stand down, alleging that he was complicit in covering up abuse, many felt Francis would be forced to defend himself equally publicly. Instead, in a move which has infuriated his opponents, he has chosen to say nothing
On Sunday 26 August 2018 at 4.30 a.m., about the time when Pope Francis rises each day to spend two hours in silent prayer, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s “testimony” exploded into the public arena.
In an 11-page dossier the former papal ambassador to the United States calls on the Pope to resign. He alleges that the Pope had turned a blind eye to ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct, ignoring the canonical sanctions placed on McCarrick by his predecessor and making the former Archbishop of Washington a trusted adviser. Viganò’s dossier devotes several pages to a vitriolic description of the “homosexual network” that he blames for the sexual abuse crisis and its cover-up by the Pope and his closest collaborators.
Later that morning the Jesuit Pope, who was in the middle of an awkward two-day trip to Ireland overshadowed by the angry fallout from the sexual abuse crisis, paid a short visit in the pouring rain to the shrine of Our Lady of Knock in County Mayo, the site of an 1879 Marian apparition. Unlike the apparitions in Lourdes and Fatima, the Mary seen by a group of local people in Knock said nothing; she was, they reported, “deep in prayer”.