Pope Francis addresses abuse—but not Viganò letter—in first audience after Ireland

Pope Francis arrives to pose for pictures with participants of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo during his general audience in St. Peter's Square Aug. 29 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)   Pope Francis arrives to pose for pictures with participants of the Mexican state of Quintana Roo during his general audience in St. Peter's Square Aug. 29 at the Vatican. (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters) 

At his first public audience since his visit to Ireland, Pope Francis spoke again about “the sufferings” caused in that country “by various forms of abuse” by priests and religious and by fact that “the church authorities in the past” had not dealt with these crimes in an adequate manner, alluding to their cover-up by bishops and religious superiors.

He made no reference, however, to the 11-page letter by the formal papal nuncio to the United States that was released during his visit there, which accused him and, less explicitly, the two previous popes and their administrations of covering up the abuse of seminarians by the former cardinal archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, and called for Francis’ resignation. The Italian news agency ANSA reported last evening that sources close to the pope said that “he has no intention of resigning.” A source close to Pope Francis told America that he is “very tranquil.”

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Sources close to the pope said that “he has no intention of resigning.”

Addressing thousands of pilgrims from many countries in St. Peter’s Square this morning, Aug. 29, Pope Francis spoke of “the great joy” he experienced during his visit to Ireland and his meeting with people from 116 countries for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin. He said he went there “to confirm Christian families in their vocation and mission” and in their calling “to radiate the love of Christ” in today’s world. He spoke at length about families and announced that the next World Meeting of Families will take place in Rome in 2021.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of the sex abuse crisis]

During his two-day visit, he said, “I had to take responsibility for the pain and bitterness for the sufferings caused in that country by various forms of abuse, also by members of the church, and for the fact that the ecclesiastical authorities in the past had not always known how to deal in an adequate manner with these crimes.”

He recalled his meeting last Saturday evening with eight survivors of different forms of abuse—including abuse suffered in the mother and baby homes and in the Magdalene laundries—and revealed that “it left a deep mark on me.”

“I asked the Lord pardon for these sins and for the scandal and sense of betrayal caused,” the pope said.

“At various times, I asked the Lord pardon for these sins and for the scandal and sense of betrayal caused,” the pope said.

Last Sunday, he also prayed for forgiveness for these crimes and sins. He did so not only at the Marian shrine of Knock but also at the beginning of the Mass attended by 300,000 people in a windy and rain-drenched Phoenix Park. He began what the Vatican described as “a penitential act” by telling them that the previous evening he had met with “eight persons who are survivors of the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse.”

“Reflecting on what they told me,” he said, “I wish to implore the Lord’s mercy for these crimes and to ask forgiveness for them.”

Francis then read the following prayer:

We ask forgiveness for the cases of abuse in Ireland, the abuse of power, the abuse of conscience and sexual abuse on the part of representatives of the church. In a special way, we ask forgiveness for all those abuses that took place in different kinds of institutions directed by men and women religious and other members of the church. We also ask forgiveness for cases in which many minors were exploited for their labor.
We ask forgiveness for all those times when, as a church, we did not offer to the survivors of any type of abuse compassion and the pursuit of justice and truth by concrete actions. We ask forgiveness.
We ask forgiveness for some members of the hierarchy who took no responsibility for these painful situations and kept silent. We ask forgiveness.
We ask forgiveness those children who were taken away from their mothers and for all those times when so many single mothers who tried to find their children that had been taken away, or those children who tried to find their mothers, were told that this was a mortal sin. It is not a mortal sin; it is the fourth commandment! We ask forgiveness.
May the Lord preserve and increase this sense of shame and repentance and grant us the strength to ensure that it never happens again, and that justice is done. Amen.

At the public audience today, he said that “the Irish bishops have undertaken a serious journey of purification and reconciliation with those that suffered abuse and have established with the national authorities a series of severe norms to guarantee the security of the young.” He revealed that in his private meeting with the more than 50 Irish bishops he “encouraged them in their efforts to make up for the failures of the past with honesty and courage, trusting in the promises of the Lord and counting on the deep faith of the Irish people, to inaugurate a stage of renewal of the church in Ireland.”

Francis told the pilgrims in St. Peter’s Square today, as he had told journalists on the flight back to Rome, “There is the faith in Ireland, there is a people of faith, a faith with deep roots.” At the same time, he remarked, “there are few vocations to the priesthood.”

“But why is this faith not able [to produce vocations]?” he asked. He provided an answer: It is “because of these problems, these scandals, many things. He told the pilgrims, “We must pray to the Lord to send holy priests to Ireland, to send new vocations.” He invited them to join him in praying for this intention by reciting a Hail Mary to Our Lady of Knock. When they had said the prayer, Francis concluded, saying, “Lord Jesus, send us holy priests!”

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Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

"A source close to Pope Francis told America that he is “very tranquil.”

What a beautiful reflection of Christ this Vicar of Christ is. He has inherited an absolute mess from previous Popes and perhaps he had some failings too in how he handled things, as we all do

Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ. Do we or do we not believe this? Forget about unfailing blind obedience, but we are a universal / Catholic Church. Yes or no? "Et unam, sanctam, cathólicam et apostólicam Ecclésiam."

The USA is a country of addicts: Dopamine is our crack. We live for the next hit of bad news, the next "news alert", the next scandal, and many of us rush to our computers to vent, scream, express rage and do not hesitate to tear down others all in the name of "concerned".

Pope Francis shows a better way as a Jesuit, a man who discerns the spirits and acts only then. We would be a better nation if we lived as he has written in his wise and beautiful "APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION GAUDETE ET EXSULTATE"
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/…

Enough of the rage. We all need to start or perfect our being a holy people starting with ourselves and sharing that holiness with our neighbors. Drop the bona fides of "conservative" or "liberal". Adopt the mantle of Christ first. "He must increase, I must decrease".

"Ut Unum Sint" - St John Paul II
http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_j…

AMDG

Elaine Boyle
2 weeks 6 days ago

I don't believe he's tranquil. Why would he be?!! Therefore, he's lying. He's not a good pope.

Vincent Couling
2 weeks 6 days ago

Elaine, I would suggest that you might be projecting ... in the sense that you have not discerned Francis' interior disposition so much as having told us how you would like him to be feeling based on your own machinations.

If the Holy Father says he is tranquil, then I believe him. He is a Holy man ... certainly not without his share of flaws, limitations and blind spots. I'd say that his greatest blind spot has been allowing all to share their opinions to the extreme point where the disgruntled have been given free reign to sabotage his pontificate! I believe that the time has arrived for him to show a little bit of ruthlessness in dealing with the saboteurs, lest his project of ministering to those on the margins is derailed.

Crystal Watson
2 weeks 6 days ago

I believe he's tranquil - he thinks he's above accountability, so why worry?

Elaine Boyle
2 weeks 6 days ago

I don't believe him. I read that it took PF1 one day to open an investigation against Vigano related to the Nienstedt case. PF1 lurched to "get him", but of course failed because Vigano is innocent and a legitimate Catholic. So, this time around PF1 doesn't do or say anything? He's not "opening a case"? He's tranquil! LOL. It's a lie.

Laurence Ringo
2 weeks 6 days ago

I'm sorry Vincent, did I read your post correctly? Did you really say that this pope,..."has been allowing all to share their opinions "...ALLOWING? I must have missed the memo that stated that the pope and Almighty God had changed positions; your pope is in NO position to dictate anyone's opinions about him.Are you kidding me? You need to free yourself from the pseudo-theological "Stockholm Syndrome " this man-centered, bogus religious system has trapped you in and start thinking for yourself, as Jesus the Christ would have you think, and NOT fallible, sinning men....WAKE UP, CATHOLICS!!! YOUR EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES!!! 😎😆😎

Reyanna Rice
2 weeks 6 days ago

Do you know that to accuse someone of a sin like lying without concrete evidence, not just your surmising that he wouldn’t be tranquil in this situation, is the sin of calumny and it is a mortal sin? Go to Confession before you go to Communion!!!

Mike Theman
2 weeks 6 days ago

This isn't going away. I'm seeing more and more characterizations of the sex abuse crisis as a homosexual matter, and as more and more attorneys general in the states open investigations into their dioceses and determine that the victims were mostly pubescent and post-pubescent males, I suspect we're going to see even more. Fr. James Martin and his LBGT promotion is also getting a lot of press these days, and that will add to the focus on homosexuals.

A post on Breitbart reported a petition demanding removal of homosexual priests. This all could have been averted if the offenders at the top were removed. But that time has passed, and a wider net shall be cast. "Goodbye, Good Men."

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

you just don't listen. You just don't care about Christ. That is the real travesty here. it's all about you, you, you.
Work on that

Mike Theman
2 weeks 6 days ago

Bill, the Pope has tried "tranquility," presumably hoping that all of this is just going to go away. It's not. He needs to do something big, and I mean really big, to show that he intends to rid the Church of the evil that has infiltrated it and prevent that evil from infiltrating again. "Who am I to judge" is backfiring on him and all of the homosexual priests and bishops. The only answer I can see is to expunge all of the homosexual priests and to allow married (heterosexual) priests. It won't be popular with the leftists, but it will stop the vast majority of the abuses.

Elaine Boyle
2 weeks 6 days ago

PF1 is very slick. I don't trust him.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

Several US Bishops, the USCCB and its lay advisory panel, the National Review Board, over the last few days, have asked Pope Francis to approve a full lay-led investigation into the McCarrick affair. I'm sure he will do it, since he himself has been betrayed by McCarrick, if this photo is anything to go on:
https://cruxnow.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/9e3913836ced86606d976ee1…. Here is McCarrick speculating on Pope Francis's election https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7OW07u-pRI&feature=youtu.be

Mike Theman
2 weeks 6 days ago

Lol

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

Mike - you cannot see into the heart or mind of Pope Francis. It is not helpful to just assume the worst. We are all guilty of errors in judgment and putting faith in people who later let us down. Here is my working assumption, always subject to new facts surfacing: Pope Francis has been very explicit in distinguishing personal challenges with chastity from those he calls a "gay lobby" that he opposes. He strongly reiterated the need for those with "deep-seated homosexual tendencies" not be ordained. He strongly opposes gay marriage and gay adoptions. On the other hand, he wanted to emphasize mercy to all, especially for those who had a past of sexual sins (sins that were not known to be crimes) but were trying to lead a chaste life according to Catholic teaching (he is not so merciful on those he thinks are "right-wing"). So, he erred on forgiveness with a promise of current chastity. As far as I know, all the accusation of McCarrick are in the past. He joked about wanting to shake things up and to create "a mess". Let's give him the benefit of the doubt while he cleans up this mess. At least a few weeks.

Mike Theman
2 weeks 6 days ago

Tim, the whole reason that the Church is in the position it is in is because there has been too much benefit of the doubt and not enough problem solving. Or, if you will, too much emphasis on absolution and not enough emphasis on avoiding the near occasion of sin. This has been going on for years.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

Mike - I know. The slow pace is becoming negligence, if it is not already.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 weeks 6 days ago

“slow pace is becoming negligence”

Dude, do you want him to drop cannon balls of hot tar and oil on his enemies? Stop being such an American. The world does not operate in a New York second. If anything the Holy Father would do well to ignore the USA since we have such a mess in our nation thanks to us. Seriously, would you take advice from a sick patient on how to live a healthy life?

Papa Francisco, we love you, we admire you, and as you always ask us, WE ARE PRAYING FOR YOU. That alone shows he is a holy man.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

Dude - I get it. You love the Pope and hate his flock in America. You think the best strategy is for Pope Francis to ignore any critics and just soldier on as if nothing happened. But, you have really jumped the shark with your comments.

John Chuchman
2 weeks 6 days ago

Too much money comes from the U.S. for Francis to clean house here.

Tim O'Leary
2 weeks 6 days ago

John - that's not how the world works. Just as there is no underground tunnel from the USCCB to the Vatican (Al Smith days), the vast majority of money collected in the US stays here. In any case, the USCCB is already going to do an independent investigation, with out without the Holy Father. The only need for his OK is to give approval to the resultant sanctions of Bishops, which only he can do. Not only is this the right thing to do - since the US church has already paid $3B to the victims and their lawyers (~30-50% on contingency awards and expenses) - it is in their financial interest to solve this.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 weeks 6 days ago

Bankrupt all of the dioceses. It would be ideal, IMHO. Pay monies to all victims, hang the lawyers (joking... not) and have all the Bishops submit their resignations

He chose the name Francis for a reason...rebuild my church. Rape the financial coffers of the US Church. Have all of the Bishops derobe just like St Francis (I know, a gruesome sight to be sure) and let those who wish to leave the church leave. Those holy priests and laity left behind will be just fine

Bring it on. Im now starting to think the ruination of the organizational church would be a really good thing. Rid us of the cancer for the cancer is us.

Elaine Boyle
2 weeks 6 days ago

"Rid us of the cancer for the cancer is us."

Speak for yourself. The cancer is the homosexual network. These guys have mortally sinned and bankrupted the dioceses. Their sin and corruption is WAY OUT OF LINE mathematically with their % of the population as a whole. No more gay priests. Period.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

“Speak for yourself. The cancer is the homosexual network. These guys have mortally sinned and bankrupted the diocese”

Below you condemn all Popes since Vatican II as well as Vatican II and the post-conciliar Church.
Thus you are a sede-vacantist.
One could argue the problem, the cancer, is ignorant Catholics. Connect the dots

Michael Barberi
2 weeks 6 days ago

The Vigano letter cannot be ignored or minimized in light of the McCarrick scandal and the PA Jury Report. It is one thing to deal with the latter two, but Vigano's letter implicates and/or accuses many high ranking Cardinals in the Curia as well as the past 3 Popes. While Vigano seems to focus on Pope Francis, he glosses over the fact that Pope JP II elevated Bishop McCarrick to Cardinal in 2000 at a time when the sexual abuse crimes of McCarrick were known. Vigano suggests that JP II's Cardinal advisors withheld critical evidence against McCarrick from JP II or that JP II was too ill to understand the gravity of McCarrick's sexual abuse crimes. Vigano also criticizes the irresponsibly long delay of Benedict VI in sanctioning McCarrick after several letters were sent to high Curia officials (e.g., Cardinals) years earlier.

When I read Vigano's letter, I got the feeling that he was offering 'excuses' or 'attempting to minimize the withholding of evidence' about McCarrick to defend two Popes (JP II and Benedict VI), on the one hand, yet on the other hand, he feels morally obligated to call for the resignation of Pope Francis.

Before we jump to conclusions, all of these recent reports, letters, et al, must be thoroughly investigated by a lay-led, impartial and transparent committee with representatives from the Vatican.

Pope Francis should call for such an investigation. Unfortunately, I don't believe that such a committee will investigate all the allegations in the Vigano letter or get to the bottom of all of these issues. If Vigano's letter is true, it will demonstrate that the Church is infected from top to bottom with moral corruption, requiring dozens of resignations, the tarnishing of 3 popes (one of whom is considered a saint) and dramatic reforms. Unless we know the complete truth, it will leave a cloud overhanging Church, the Bishops, the Vatican and Pope Francis. On the other hand, if Vigano's letter is seriously misleading, an exaggeration of facts, and found to be a political and theological attach on Pope Francis, then we will have a different but serious problem to deal with.

Let's pray that the USCCB and Rome will do the right thing.

Elaine Boyle
2 weeks 6 days ago

"as well as the past 3 Popes"

Agreed. What this ultimately means is the counciliar church (post Vatican 2) is a TOTAL failure. The post-Vatican 2 church is a fraud and not Catholic.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

“The post-Vatican 2 church is a fraud and not Catholic”

The year is 2018. Vatican II ended several decades ago and every Pope since then has lauded Vatican II.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

“ but Vilano's letter implicates and accuses many high ranking Cardinals in the Curia as well as the past 3 Popes”

Vigano did far worse in throwing people under the bus. The media is focusing on Vigano demeaning Pope Francis but Fr Tom Reese, SJ, states Vigano scorched a bunch of high ranking Vatican bishops including advisors to JPII and B16

“The 7,000-word document also accuses about a dozen Vatican cardinals who served in the papacies of John Paul, Benedict and Francis of being part of the coverup.”...”Viganò became even more unhappy with his job as nuncio after the election of Pope Francis, who ignored his recommendations in the appointment of bishops. And although most nuncios to the U.S. later become cardinals, it became clear that he was never going to get a red hat.

It is worth noting that many of the people Viganò accuses are the same people with whom he had conflicts in the Vatican.”....

then there is this bomb

“Viganò was certainly not known for transparency and accountability while he was nuncio from 2011 to 2016, but now he presents himself as a born-again defender of the abused....In the letter, Viganò goes after many former and current officials in the Vatican, including the three most recent secretaries of state: cardinals Angelo Sodano, Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolin. Other Vatican cardinals he alleges knew about McCarrick's abuse include William Levada, Giovanni Battista Re, Marc Ouellet, Leonardo Sandri, Fernando Filoni, Angelo Becciu, Giovanni Lajolo and Dominique Mamberti....Given how the crimes of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionairies of Christ, were ignored during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, some of what Viganò says sounds possible. But no evidence is presented.”

https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/signs-times/doubts-about-…

All of this Vigano drama reminds me of The Godfather film, particularly the scene where the head of a horse is found on the bed of a film producer who denied a request from Don Vito. So gruesome, so Italian mafia like

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=VC1_tdnZq1A

The Church will prevail.

Interestingly, John Paul escapes Viganò's criticism. ”

Michael Barberi
2 weeks 6 days ago

Bill,

Thanks for going into more detail.

IMO there seems to be a theme running through Vigano's accusations, namely, his hatred for Pope Francis and his vision for the Catholic Church, inclusive of his progressive Bishop and Cardinal appointments.

What Vigano has done was to expose a culture of clericalism and iron-fist philosophy of governance that has existed in the Church for decades and most evident in the post Vatican II era, namely, during the papacies of pope JP II and Benedict XVI. It is finally being exposed for what it is: highly influential polarized groups within the hierarchy that will do almost anything to cover up scandal and protect their own. This causes moral corruption and tarnishes the message of love and charity of Christ.

Consider this question: Does anyone truly believe that a Vigano letter would have been possible under JP II? There was such a fear during his papacy that anyone who even whispered about the possibility of disagreement with the teachings of the magisterium or his governance would be career ending. Now, we see a progressive minority in charge of the Church crafting a new vision for the Church under Pope Francis. The conservative majority (e.g., Burke) see him as a heretic.

The Church needs to clean up this mess, the culture of clericalism and theological bitterness. Have faith in Christ. He will see us through this.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

Michael, we are having an excellent discussion. Thanks for your scholarly contribution.

"Consider this question: Does anyone truly believe that a Vigano letter would have been possible under JP II? "

Very true but here is my overarching question, as a product of a Jesuit education, in all things spiritual: "is this from God? Would the Blessed Mother have done this? "

If the answer is "no" in either case, then I have my answer. What Vigano did was despicable. His own brother calls him a liar, Vigano whined and complained greatly to B16 about being sent to America (Siberia, apparently for him), and yet he adopted the classic political wars that Pope Francis has shunned. Add to this that he did not write his hit piece himself but used a Mafiaso Italian reporter with a well documented history of attacking and undermining the Holy Father, there is no dotted line between this mess and what the Blessed Mother would have done. By all means fire all of the Bishops who are guilty and don't stop there: any Bishop who shows the tell tale signs of clericalism (cappa magna, living in a mansion, believes we should kiss his ring and kneel), fire the rot. The sooner they are ejected from Church leadership and they join SSPX, the holier the Church in America will be.

Ut Unum Sint

Michael Barberi
2 weeks 6 days ago

Bill,

Yes, I agree to a point. While Vigano has a dog in this fight, he did some good. By blowing the whistle, he clearly exposed moral corruption that has been going for decades under JP II and Benedict XVI as well as under Francis. Don't misunderstand what I am saying. Vigano implicated all 3 popes. However, I see more hatred by Vigano of Pope Francis. The bottom like is this: a lay-lead impartial, transparent committee inclusive of Vatican officials must investigate all of this stuff. Unfortunately, we will have to wait to see what the USCCB and Pope Francis will do. I hope we will not see a few heads being sacrificed without significant reform.

David Power
2 weeks 6 days ago

Forget about that.Rome will do as it has done for decades and turn a blind eye to justice.Vigano might be a homophobe but he also has history of upturning church corruption.What is almost tragically hilarious is that people who align themselves with the current Pope's supposed ideology are willing to give him a pass on overlooking rape ...if it is the case/

Vince Killoran
2 weeks 6 days ago

I see that some pranksters have highjacked this particular comments page. The comments are not serious or made with good Christian manners.

Harvey Milk, MD
2 weeks 6 days ago

But they are entertaining, no?

My husband came home from work and I told him the Church is finally going through a beautiful purging.
I welcome it. There will always be holy priests and holy lay persons who thirst to serve Christ and serve His people.
With this hardship in America (politically and Catholic church), I think St Francis of Assisi is being channelled through Pope Francis. That is a beautiful thing

The Catholic Faith has been around for 2000 years. it's been through far worse than this hiccup. I was abused by a priest when I was 14 and since then, I sought healing, therapy, spoken candidly about it to Catholic priests, and here I am.
I don't need all of this banter or teeth gnashing. Get rid of dead weight in the Church, the true millstones whomever they may be, flush them into the secular life, and keep moving forward.

Mike Theman
2 weeks 5 days ago

I always wonder what trauma led to a man to adopt a homosexual identity, as it is apparently a very common characteristic among homosexuals. Rape by a priest during adolescence? Yup, that'll mess up a guy's head.

Bill Mazzella
2 weeks 6 days ago

Vigano is a disgruntled archbishop who is miserable because he is out of power. He staged the fiasco with Kim Davis and blindside Francis then. Francis is not perfect but he has no one near a Maciel whose rape of children was ignored by John Paul II. Vigano says he is running for the hills...a traitor forever.

Susan Liang
2 weeks 6 days ago

Forgiveness without true repentance -- a turning away from sin with the help of the Holy Spirit -- is nothing to Christ.

For those who appear shocked at these claimed revelations about criminal acts that are endemic and were in existence well before 2008 when Francis became pope, are all the more evil because of their current pretense of innocence while they likely stood by over the decades as thousands of children's lives were destroyed.

Investigate that!

Vincent Gaglione
2 weeks 5 days ago

May I suggest a Comments section guideline to the editors of this website: those who post are entitled to one “comment” and only one “reply to a comment” per article. As another here has implied, the repetitiveness of some comments and replies here is almost gruesome!

Michael Barberi
2 weeks 5 days ago

I just read in this week's The Tablet that Cardinal DiNardo asked for a meeting with Pope Francis to seek his blessing for the means forward the USCCB just approved....namely, an Independent National Lay Committee to investigate the McCarrick scandal, the accusations in the Vigano letter and the Grand Jury PA Report...with Vatican participation.

This is what we need. Let's see how this will play out.

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