One man can confirm or deny the central allegation against Pope Francis. The Catholic Church needs that man to step up now.
In an 11-page letter by former US Nuncio (ambassador) Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Pope Francis is accused of ignoring warnings about Cardinal Timothy McCarrick. Viganò claims he personally delivered the warning to Pope Francis in 2013. The pope allegedly ignored the warning and the dossier on McCarrick in 2013. Viganò testified that Pope Francis removed sanctions imposed on McCarrick by then-Pope Benedict XVI despite strong evidence that McCarrick was a lifelong sexual predator.
On Monday, Pope Francis refused to comment on Viganò’s accusations, but other Church officials with knowledge of the case have confirmed Viganò’s testimony. Several liberal bishops and cardinals without direct knowledge have challenged Viganò’s allegations against the current pope.
Therefore, the central question is: did Benedict sanction McCarrick or did he not?
The one man who can definitively answer this question is Pope Emeritus Benedict.
If Pope Benedict confirms that he imposed sanctions on former Cardinal McCarrick as Viganò alleges, Viganò’s key allegation is true: Pope Francis let the monster McCarrick back into the public.
If Benedict denies imposing sanctions against McCarrick, all of Viganò’s testimony comes into doubt.
I’m sure Pope Benedict feels torn. If Viganò’s testimony is false, Viganò will be ruined as a man and as a Church leader.
If, on the other hand, Viganò’s testimony is true regarding Benedict’s actions against McCarrick, then many US and Vatican officials must be defrocked and their cases handed over to federal or local law enforcement. And Pope Francis must resign.
While I understand the terrible dilemma facing Pope Benedict, as a Catholic trying to spread the Word and grow the faith, I must respectfully ask him to step up and settle the matter once and for all.
Every day that Viganò’s testimony goes unanswered by a reliable source, the two sides in the dispute dig in deeper. The anti-Francis faction and the anti-Viganò faction are preparing for all-out war. A war that could split the Church, produce an anti-Pope, and drive millions of Catholics out of the Church.
Compared to that grim reality, Benedict’s discomfort is of little consequence. He left the papacy because of his distaste for such sordid matters. But he has a duty to his faith and to the Body of Christ to settle this now.