'I will not say one word': Pope Francis stays silent over claims he covered up sex abuse

Pope Francis at the closing mass of his Ireland visit at the Phoenix Park in Dublin. (Getty Images)

By Christopher Lamb

Pope Francis says he will “not say one word” in response to explosive allegations from a retired Vatican official claiming the pontiff covered up sexual abuse and should resign.

Talking to reporters on board the papal plane returning to Rome from Dublin, the Pope dismissively said Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’s testimony “speaks for itself” and he urged people to read the material carefully and judge for themselves.

In the 11-page memo – released on Sunday during the Pope’s trip to Ireland – the former Vatican ambassador to the United States says he warned Francis about allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse by former Archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick.

The document was an unprecedented broadside against a pope from a senior figure inside the Church and included a long list of US and Vatican officials of being told about McCarrick’s behaviour.

“I will not say one word on this,” he told reporters during his in-flight press conference. “I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have sufficient journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.”

Pope Francis arrives to attend the closing Mass at the World Meeting of Families at Phoenix Park

Last month the Pope accepted the 88-year-old McCarrick’s resignation as a cardinal while authorising his removal from public ministry after allegations he had abused a child along with forcing adult trainee priests to share his bed. He is now facing a church trial.

The archbishop details how top figures in the Vatican were years ago informed about allegations against McCarrick’s and that Benedict XVI placed restrictions on him in 2009 or 2010.

But the document – which was released selectively to conservative Catholic websites – is being read in Church circles as part of an attack by those unhappy with Francis’ papacy with one commentator describing the document as exposing the “putsch” against the Pope.

Church observers also highlighted errors and inaccuracies in the text along with citing 2014 legal documents that showed Vigano had quashed an inquiry into sexual misconduct and abuse cover-up into a prominent US prelate, Archbishop John Nienstedt.

The Pope, who repeatedly apologised for abuse in the Church and its cover-up during his recent visit to Ireland, is not planning to shift his refusal to comment on Vigano’s claims.

One of his advisers, Fr Antonio Spadaro, pointed out that Francis never defended himself against claims he collaborated with Argentina’s military dictatorship, which turned out to be unwarranted.

“He *knows* that sooner or later the truth will surface,” Fr Spadaro tweeted.