After a top Vatican official accused Pope Francis of covering up sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, demands for his resignation have been growing louder. However, the Pope seems to remain uncaring toward the accusations, giving no indication of leaving his prestigious post.
It was during the Pope’s recent visit to Ireland that the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vignano, first revealed to the media that Pope Francis had aided in covering up a major sexual abuse scandal involving the retired Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Several U.S. church officials were also said to have been involved in this shameful cover-up.
Vignano had released an 11-page document detailing how the Pope had known about the sexual abuse for several years, yet chose to remain silent on the issue, allowing the accused to go scot-free. The Pope has declined to comment on the document and instead asked the media to make a judgment on the issue by themselves.
“I read that statement this morning. I read it and I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you [the reporter] and all of you who are interested: Read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves. I will not say one word on this. I think the statement speaks for itself and you have sufficient journalistic capacity to reach your own conclusions,” Reuters quotes the Pope.
The accused, McCarrick, had been forced to resign from his position last month and was also stripped of his title. Aged 88 years, he is said to have sexually abused a minor nearly 50 years ago and is also accused of forcing male seminarians to sleep with him.
Calls for resignation
As news of the Pope’s involvement in suppressing the abuse spread over the media, people started demanding him to step down from his position.
One U.S. organization that has been strongly urging the Pope to leave the church has been the Freedom From Religion Foundation, an atheist group that also includes several former Catholics. Recently, the organization ran a full-page ad in The New York Times arguing their case in the backdrop of the Pennsylvania Catholic Church abuse scandal.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all. Six dioceses, three hundred predatory priests, a staggering 1,000-plus victims. No bishops indicted. The pope’s response? All words, no action — except, insultingly, to call on the faithful to ‘pray and fast,’” Fox News quotes the advertisement.
Given the large number of sexual abuse scandals that have been plaguing the Vatican recently, several Catholics are struggling with their faith. CBS News quotes a Catholic woman as saying that she was “not ashamed… but when other people of other faiths, when they’re looking at you, when they’re talking to you, that’s all they know is what they’re seeing on the news.”
Pope Francis has also received support from various quarters that say there is a conspiracy within the Church to shorten his tenure. However, the fact remains that the Pope stands accused of a very grievous crime of having repressed sexual abuse cases.
And unless he can prove without a doubt that he is innocent, many believe the most responsible thing to do would be to step down. They ssay that by continuing to occupy the tile of Pope, Francis is only insulting the highest position of the Catholic faith.