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A Papacy in Denial

What sex abuse?

March 17, 2023  0


All week, we've been examining Pope Francis' pontificate from different angles and focusing on specific topics.

But in tonight's In-Depth Report, Church Militant's Kristine Christlieb looks at Pope Francis' track record on clergy sex abuse.

In March 2013, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elevated to the Throne of St. Peter, clergy sex abuse victims were hopeful — maybe this pope would be responsive to their cries for justice.

Within a year, Francis appeared to be making moves in that direction.

He established the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in March 2014 and named Boston's Cdl. Seán O'Malley — known as the sex abuse fixer — as president. 

Two months later, he invited six sex abuse victims to the Vatican for a private audience.

Things looked promising — except to sex abuse victims in Francis' home country of Argentina, where the pope's record of protecting clergy sex abusers, particularly his protection of celebrity priest Fr. Julio César Grassi, was making headlines.

Grassi had established a network of orphan homes where he abused abandoned children.

He was sentenced and convicted in 2008, but while the conviction was being appealed, Bergoglio commissioned an investigation and had its findings (in support of Grassi) distributed to higher court judges.

When questioned by a French journalist in 2016, the pope denied his not-so-subtle effort to influence the proceedings.

Then, in 2018 — the Summer of Shame — the world learned one of the Church's most powerful cardinals, Theodore McCarrick, was a sex abuser, and both Francis and his sex abuse fixer Seán O'Malley had known about McCarrick but kept quiet.

When questioned by journalists about how much he knew in this matter, Francis refused to answer.

In the 10 years of Francis' pontificate, he's shown if he can't deny, ignore, or diminish the extent of clergy sex abuse, he'll just lie about it.

Since he left Argentina in 2013, Pope Francis has never returned to his home country. Some believe it's because he would not be well received.

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