Indications of a U.S. Department of Justice probe into RICO violations grow stronger, Team Francis digs in and is mocked for stupidity, and the calls for a full-blown investigation and calls for Pope Francis to resign increase.
The calls come amidst breaking news that he dismissed Cdl. Gerhard Müller, former head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, over disagreements on how to handle homosexual predators.
Maike Hickson, writing for LifeSite, reported today that a reliable and well-informed source in the Vatican says, "Cardinal Müller [as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] had always decidedly and most sharply followed up on these abuse cases, and that is why he was dismissed, just as his three good collaborators were also dismissed."
According to the source, Muller opposed Pope Francis' decision not to laicize convicted sex abuser Msgr. Inzoli, a decision the Pope came later to regret after an Italian criminal court found him guilty of abusing five male teens and sentenced him to nearly five years in prison.
The source also claims Pope Francis, against the recommendation of Cardinal Müller, chose to give a Vatican apartment to Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, who became the center of a scandal that rocked Italy last year when he was busted for a drug-fueled gay orgy in the Vatican apartments.
The source made clear that Pope Francis repeatedly bypassed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in its recommendations to laicize predator priests, choosing instead more lenient sentences, violating his own zero-tolerance policy.
But what's clear is that in the face of increasing pressure and calls for him to step down, Pope Francis appears to be digging in and his supporters are continuing along as though nothing has happened.
Look at this headline in the Chicago Tribune from just today, a public recognition that none of this is going away as long as Francis remains Pope. And it is fitting that the Chicago Tribune would tout that headline, since it is home to Cdl. Blase Cupich.
Chicago Cdl. Blase Cupich had a sit-down interview with NBC Chicago yesterday that could only be described as a public relations train wreck. He was adamant about ignoring the bombshell statement of Abp. Viganò, who is accusing the Pope of participating in the cover-up of sexually abusive clerics.
Cupich dismissed the explosive claims and said, on to more important things.
Cardinal Blase Cupich: "The Pope has a bigger agenda. He's got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We're not going to go down a rabbit hole on this."
Multiple leaders and authors, both Catholic and non-Catholic, went on the attack against Cupich over his various comments.
Leon Wolf, editor of The Blaze, tweeted, "So, you know, I'm not Catholic, so how they run their church is not really my business. But this interview by Cardinal Cupich is the most tone deaf response to a crisis I have ever seen. It's hard to even process the stupidity that went into saying stuff like that on camera."
Catholic author George Neumayr tweeted, "Satire can never quite catch up to reality. Cardinal Cupich's let's-get-back-to-global-warming quote minimizing the scandal sounds like it was cobbled together by a team of Onion writers. But it wasn't. It is real as a rabbit hole."
And canon lawyer Dr. Ed Peters called for Cupich's immediate resignation, saying, "With these words Cdl. Cupich demeans all clergy sexual abuse victims as ranking behind environmental issues and insults as racists all persons asking for the simple truth about what P. Francis might have known concerning his cardinals. Cupich should resign. Immediately."
In a further attempt to obscure the focus and turn attention to the Pope's accusers, Cupich actually pulled out the race card.
Cardinal Blase Cupich: "Quite frankly, they also don't like him because he's a Latino."
What makes Cupich's "Latino" claim so ridiculous is that Pope Francis is not really Latino. His father was a full-blooded Italian immigrant to Argentina and his mother was only half Argentinian — her father was Argentinian, but her mother was born in Italy.
That makes Jorge Bergoglio three-quarters Italian, underscoring why no one really thinks of Pope Francis as being "Latino."
The Chicago cardinal is scheduled to give a talk at a symposium in October titled "Discovering Pope Francis" to take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
But he will do it under the cloud on a Pennsylvania-style investigation of his archdiocese announced by Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan last week.
At the press conference, Madigan made clear she wouldn't put up with any stonewalling from the Chicago archdiocese, saying she would use the help of law enforcement where necessary.
Another cardinal named in Viganò's testimony, Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey is also digging in dismissing Viganò's claims as full of "factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology."
Tobin was recently named by Pope Francis to the Youth Synod in Rome where he will take a leading role at a Vatican event critics say will only further the LGBT agenda of the faction of the Church to which Tobin belongs.
And Cdl. Donald Wuerl, who many are looking to see if he will come crashing down, is nowhere to be seen.
After canceling his regular appearance at the opening Mass for Catholic schools in the archdiocese of Washington, D.C., openly confessing his presence would be a distraction — the word on the street is that he's departed for Rome.
And Church Militant has confirmed he will not be offering his regularly scheduled Sunday Mass at Immaculate Conception Cathedral in Washington, D.C. this weekend.
Meanwhile in San Diego, Bp. Robert McElroy, implicated in Viganò's testimony as part of the homosexual network, had harsh words for the former papal nuncio, saying of Viganò's testimony: "In its hatred for Pope Francis and all that he has taught, Archbishop Viganò consistently subordinates the pursuit of comprehensive truth to partisanship, division and distortion."
Viganò himself has responded to his critics, insisting he has no political motives and is only acting for the sake of the truth.
In comments given yesterday to Dr. Aldo Maria Valli, Viganò said, "I spoke because now corruption has reached the top of the Church hierarchy.
But California Catholics aren't buying McElroy's spin against Viganò, a group planning to protest outside the San Diego diocese pastoral center, demanding that McElroy first, apologize for knowing about Cdl. McCarrick's sexual predation but then saying and doing nothing; second, they want him to publicly admit that homosexuality is directly linked to the sex abuse crisis in the Church; and third, resign if he's taken part in covering up the crimes of predator priests.
While various supporters of Pope Francis' silence attempt to deflect and ignore, there are others who are turning up the heat, as calls for and discussion of the Pope stepping down increase.
A petition for Pope Francis to resign has been launched on the website Complicitclergy.com, and fresh headlines are now appearing in Catholic and secular media calling on Pope Francis to step down.
In an article for American Spectator today, editor R. Emmett Tyrell asks "Should the Pope Resign?" answering his own question in the positive.
And in a recent scathing article in the Boston Herald, Louis Murray, president of Boston Catholic Radio, demands that both the Pope and Boston Cdl. Sean O'Malley resign immediately. And these new calls are on top of similar calls in the past few days from high profile leaders like Laura Ingraham and Hugh Hewitt.
On the question of the legitimacy of Catholics calling for the Pope's resignation, no less than Cdl. Raymond Burke, former chief canonist for the Catholic Church, offers, "It is well within the bounds to call for the resignation of Pope Francis.
In comments to the Italian press and republished in American media, he said, "The request for resignation is in any case licit; anyone can make it in the face of whatever pastor that errs greatly in the fulfillment of his office, but the facts need to be verified."
Other bishops in America, while stopping short of actually calling for the Pope to resign, are calling for a full-scale investigation into Viganò's claims against the Pope, rejecting Francis' out of hand dismissal of Vigano.
Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois is weighing in on the Pope's reaction to the charges of the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, making clear the Pope's non-response doesn't cut it: "Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate. Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered."
And Abp. Paul Coakley of Oklahoma City is lending support to Viganò, saying in a statement issued yesterday that he vouches for Viganò's integrity and, "His claims, yet to be investigated or substantiated, confirm the urgency of a thorough investigation of Archbishop McCarrick's advancement through the ecclesiastical ranks given his history of alleged abuse, involving seminarians and young people."
Church Militant contacted Marco Tosatti, the Italian author who helped Viganò put together his testimony, and Tosatti had his own questions for Pope Francis, saying:
If it is not true, why does he not say so? What is certain it is that a situation of no-answer, of ambiguity, is painful for the Catholics, and contributes to destroying the credibility of the Church, and particularly of the Pope. If he does not make this situation clear, how can he speak about cover-ups?
It's clear none of these men, neither the Pope nor his allies, plan on going anywhere.
They have made clear the plan is to dig in their heels and treat with contempt the charges leveled against them.
What sources in Rome say the Vatican fears the most — and may be the only thing which breaks the current stalemate — is a massive, massive U.S. federal investigation into the Vatican's role in a mostly homosexual clerical sex abuse cover-up in the United States, a possibility that is absolutely being seriously considered by officials at the U.S. Department of Justice.
Pennsylvania attorney general Josh Shapiro has publicly confirmed that a federal RICO investigation is on the DOJ's radar, telling The New York Times Monday that the DOJ has in fact, been in touch with him and going on the record that it was the DOJ that reached out to him first — not the other way around.
That squares with what Church Militant has independently confirmed through our own sources, that the DOJ is actively pursuing the question — again, the greatest fear that Vatican officials have.
Shapiro has made clear that the Vatican was aware of the sex abuse in Pennsylvania and was involved in the cover-up. Yesterday, speaking with Fox News anchor Shepard Smith, he said the following.
[Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro]:
What the grand jury also found was, not just widespread sexual abuse of kids, but a systematic cover-up at the highest levels in Pennsylvania — including bishops and now one cardinal. And as you pointed out in your opening piece here, all of this abuse, all of this cover-up, they lied to parishioners, they lied to the public, they shielded these predators from law enforcement, but then they documented all of it, and they shared those documents with the Vatican. That's absolutely incomprehensible to me. ... As for the Vatican, again, I deal in facts and evidence. The facts and the evidence in this grand jury report clearly show that bishops and other Church officials notified the Vatican of these predator priests. What happened after that, I don't know.
Meanwhile, the unrest of thousands of faithful Catholics continues to mount in the face of Vatican stonewalling and silence. Nearly 2,000 have already signed up for the Silence Stops Now rally to be held in Baltimore, Maryland in mid-November during the U.S. bishops' annual meeting there.
Just as various complicit churchmen are hoping the scandal will go away, Catholics are being encouraged to make a strong showing in Baltimore to let the bishops know a return to business as usual is not acceptable and those cardinals or bishops complicit in covering up sexual predation must step down — along with Pope Francis.
As a closing note, this morning in Saint Peter's Square, just after the conclusion of Pope Francis' general audience, a group of Catholics appeared to be chanting the name "Viganò."
Some have disputed the claim, saying they were chanting "Italo," the name of a bishop who reports say was on the stage with the Holy Father.
Whichever the case, those who keep a close eye on the Vatican are speculating that this has the potential to become another flashpoint in the growing tension over Pope Francis' reign if, whenever he appears before a crowd, onlookers start chanting Viganò — a sign of defiance and demand for accountability.
It's not totally clear exactly what was being chanted, but in the words of Pope Francis, we will leave it up to you to make up your own minds.