Pope Francis during the customary press conference abroad the papal flight from Dublin praised the faith of the Irish people while dismissing the accusation of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that he covered up for ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
“I have found so much faith in Ireland,” Pope Francis told journalists, “The Irish have suffered so much from the scandals, but they know how to distinguish the truth from half-truths,” he said, reciting the words spoken to him by an unnamed Bishop a few hours earlier. He said that the faith of the Irish remains strong though he conceded that the healing process is ongoing, but the faith of the Irish people remains solid.
Judge for yourself
The press conference was dominated, just like the Pope’s visit, by the sexual abuse of children by clerics and by the letter the Pope’s critic Mgr. Vigano published in conservative Catholic media on Sunday morning.
When asked by journalists about the letter the Pope was very dismissive of it content urging journalists to reach their own professional conclusions.
“I will not say a single word on this,” the Pope said of the letter. “I think this statement speaks for itself, and you have the sufficient journalistic capacity to draw conclusions.”
“When some time passes and you have your conclusions, maybe I will speak,” said Francis. “But I would like that your professional maturity carries out this task.”
In what several commentators described as an attempt to derail the Pope’s visit to Ireland Vigano’s 11-page letter, alleged that over the last twenty years dozens of former and current high-level officials in the Catholic Church did their best to systemic cover-up of allegations against McCarrick. Vigano called for the Pope’s resignation alleging that he had informed the Pope in 2013 of these allegations.
Allegations contradicted by facts
The National Catholic Reporter along with other Catholic news websites said that several of the letter’s accusations appear contradicted by the historical record. Vigano claimed that Pope Benedict had imposed sanctions on Vigano such as not to travel, celebrate Mass in public and not to lecture. But Vigano says he does not know when Benedict took his alleged action against McCarrick, but suggests it happened in 2009 or 2010. He blames the delay on the former pontiff’s action on Bertone.
However McCarrick, for example, was seen celebrating numerous public Masses throughout Benedict’s papacy and continued traveling around the world until the announcement in June that the Vatican had ordered his removal from ministry over an accusation of abuse that had been deemed credible.
During the same press conference the Pope said that he is not planning to follow through on a 2015 proposal for the Vatican to create one tribunal tasked with judging bishops accused of mishandling abuse allegations. He said that he believed it to be more effective to institute tribunals on a case-by-case basis.
He revealed that he took upon himself to judge the appeal by Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who the Vatican announced in March had been found guilty of “certain of the accusations” against him, which included sexually abusing young men decades ago.
“When you see something, speak immediately” was the Pope’s answer to a question how Catholics could work to protect children from clergy abuse. He added, “Many times it is the parents who cover up the abuse of a priest.” He said he knows a person who had been abused for eight years and “for 40 years suffered this wound of silence because her parents did not believe her.”
“Speak, and speak with the right people. Speak with those who can start an investigation. Speak with judges, or with the bishop,” the pope advised. “If you have a good priest, speak with the priest.”
“This must not be covered up,” said Francis.
Caring for gay children
Francis said that parents should not ignore or neglect children who tell them that they are gay as this would be a neglect of their paternity and maternity. The Pope added That the child has the right to a family and so should not be chased away from the family.
“I would say first to pray,” the Pope responded. “Do not condemn. Dialogue. Understand. Make space for the son or daughter; make space so they express themselves.”
“I would never say that silence is a solution,” the pope continued. “Ignoring a son or daughter with homosexual tendencies is to neglect giving them paternity and maternity.”