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DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A documentary from last year is now gaining traction because it describes Pope Francis' history of defending sexually predatory priests.
The German documentary Silence of the Shepherds was released in the United States with the title Sex Abuse in the Church: the Code of Silence. The film sheds light on the Catholic clerical sex abuse crisis and the role that Pope Francis played in protecting abusive priests when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires.
It has taken on new relevance in wake of the recent allegations from Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò that Pope Francis removed sanctions against then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick that had been imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. German national TV channel ZDF has recently been rerunning Silence of the Shepherds, owing to its newfound import amid recent news.
The filmmakers met with alleged victims of clerical sex abuse in Argentina, who say that then-Cdl. Jorge Bergoglio ignored them when they presented their allegations involving priests in his archdiocese.
One of the victims was especially outspoken criticizing the Pope, saying, "I don't expect anything from him. I don't believe in him."
For eight months, the filmmakers kept trying to schedule an interview with Pope Francis, but the Vatican did not grant them the opportunity.
The filmmakers present a claim, made by the Pope in the 2010 book Sur la terre comme au ciel (French for On Heaven and Earth), that there were never any problems in his archdiocese with sexually abusive priests. The alleged victims of clerical sex abuse all laughed in disbelief at the idea.
The Pope said in the book, "Now, when it happens, you can never turn a blind eye. You cannot be in a position of power and destroy the life of another person."
He added, "In my diocese it never happened to me."
Then-Cdl. Bergoglio went on to mention the advice he gave to another bishop who was dealing with allegations of priestly sex abuse in a different diocese: "I told him to take away the priest's faculties, not to permit him to exercise his priestly ministry again, and to initiate a canonical trial."
In a piece for LifeSiteNews about the documentary, Maike Hickson commented, "When Bergoglio became Pope Francis in 2013, he appears to have ignored his own advice. This is evidenced in the case of known child molester Fr. Mauro Inzoli, whom the Pope, against the advice of Cardinal Gerhard Müller, reinstated."