The Vatican is preparing to issue a response to an explosive dossier of allegations that Pope Francis covered up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse of priests and seminarians.
A statement released by the Pope’s council of nine cardinals said it was “aware that in the current debate” of recent weeks the Holy See is about to issue “necessary clarifications”.
The council also expressed their “full solidarity” with the Pope after Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò released an 11-page dossier calling on Francis to resign and accusing him of being informed about McCarrick’s behaviour. The former papal ambassador to Washington claimed he was told Francis knew about sanctions placed on McCarrick by Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010.
But the document – an unprecedented attack on the papacy from inside the Vatican – was coloured by claims about “homosexual networks” inside the Church and included a slew of accusations against Francis’ allies. Furthermore, the restrictions placed on McCarrick were unenforced, and Archbishop Viganò has admitted they were “private”.
When asked about the allegations, Francis said he would not say a “single word” about them, but that did not rule out an institutional response from the Holy See. Archbishop Viganò writes that the Vatican was aware of McCarrick allegations in 2000, but despite that was named Archbishop of Washington and made a cardinal in 2001. He continued to be an influential power-broker in the Church after his retirement in 2006.
The statement from the C9 today also said it had asked the Pope to reflect on the “work, structure and composition” of the council given the “advanced age” of some of its members.
Five of the council include cardinals who have reached or passed the retirement age of 75: Francisco Errázuriz Ossa, 84, Laurent Monsengwo, 78, George Pell, 77, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, 75, Giuseppe Bertello, 75.
After allegations that Archbishop McCarrick was accused of abusing a minor emerged this summer, Francis authorised McCarrick's removal from ministry and the removal of his red hat.