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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - Catholics at opposite ends of the ideological spectrum are uniting in condemnation of Pope Francis' refusal to answer Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò's allegations that he lifted sanctions on then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, despite knowing the former Washington, D.C. archbishop was a serial sexual predator of young men.
In a CNN article published Sunday, faithful Jesuit Fr. Joseph Fessio, editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, slammed the Pontiff for demonizing those calling him to respond to Abp. Viganò's accusations.
"He's attacking Viganò and everyone who is asking for answers," Fr. Fessio lamented. "I just find that deplorable. Be a man. Stand up and answer the questions."
In later comments to LifeSiteNews, Fessio added that transparency is essential to preserving Francis' moral authority; the Pope's "appearance of criticizing anyone" who questions him "is not good," he said.
Francis was asked about Abp. Viganò's letter alleging corruption and cover-up at the highest levels of the Vatican while returning to Rome from the World Meeting of Families in Dublin last month.
But he refused to answer the allegations. "I will not say a single word about this," he said. "I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It's an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak."
One month later, the Pontiff remains silent, angering Catholics everywhere.
On Tuesday, during a Georgetown University panel discussion on the Church crisis, Catholic leader John Carr, a liberal, told a crowd of hundreds that "Pope Francis has been too slow to understand and act on the moral and spiritual consequences of abuse."
Carr, director of Georgetown's Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, continued: "I have learned silence in the face of attacks may be spiritually defensible but is pastorally harmful," he said. "The 'People of God' deserve leadership that listens, responds and acts decisively, openly and quickly to bring about genuine accountability, reform and renewal."
"The lesson here," he noted, "is that silence makes things worse, and is not an option for any of us."
Father Fessio and Carr are the latest in a line of Catholic leaders faulting Pope Francis for his opaque approach amid what some are calling the worst crisis for the Church since the Reformation.
Reflecting on the Vatican's silence in the wake of the release of the Aug. 14 Pennsylvania grand jury report, Matthew Schmitz, an editor at conservative Catholic journal First Things, said last month that Francis' "response has been disappointing."
"I hope that enough pressure can be created that he does act to investigate these issues," he added, shortly after joining dozens of other young Catholics in penning an open letter to the Pope expressing anger at the hierarchy's cover-up of McCarrick's crimes.
Schmitz's concerns were echoed by Massimo Faggioli, a theology professor at Pennsylvania's Villanova University.
"The silence from the Vatican is disturbing ... someone from the Vatican should say something," he said after the grand jury report was made public.
"I don't think they understand in Rome that this is not just a continuation of the sexual abuse crisis in the United States. This is a whole different chapter," Faggioli warned.