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Cardinal Wuerl greets Pope Francis in 2015, US Air Force photo (public domain) via Wikipedia Commons

On Monday, (Chicago based) Cardinal Blase Cupich responded to a scathing letter by former top church official in a controversy that has the so-called whistle-blower calling for the pope’s resignation.

Carlo Maria Vigano penned a letter leveling substantial accusations against top Catholic leaders. His criticism begins with Cardinal Theodore McCarrick — and accusations he sexually abused seminarians for decades. Vigano said Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, Pope Francis knew about it, and that Vigano personally told him but the Holy Father ignored his claims.

The pope said only, “I will not say a single word about this.” He called on journalists to make their conclusions and said “It’s an act of trust.”

“The pope knows we have a bigger agenda. We have to speak about the environment, about the poor, we have to reach out to people who are marginalized in society. We cannot be distracted at this moment,” Cupich said.

In his letter released over the weekend, Vigano wrote that (Popes) Francis and Benedict were aware of sexual abuse by McCarrick, the former cardinal who led churches in the Washington region from 2001 to 2006.

McCarrick resigned in July and was stripped of his title of cardinal after U.S. news outlets reported that he had abused seminarians. Vigano also said that other Catholic figures, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington, were aware of the abuse.

Wuerl said through a spokesman that he was never told that the Vatican had barred McCarrick from celebrating Mass.

“This letter has everything to do with factions in the church that are vying for power and influence,” said Massimo Faggioli, a professor of theology at Villanova University who studies the Vatican. “You have a convergence of interests that is making this a huge mess in the U.S. Catholic Church.”

In a statement released Monday, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the allegations must be investigated.

“The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence,” DiNardo, the archbishop of Galveston-Houston, said. “Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past.”

Also named in the letter was Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, N.J., who said in a statement that the allegations had “factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology.” Tobin said there needed to be “scrutiny of the claims” to “help establish the truth.”

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, a leader among conservative Catholics, issued a statement praising Vigano’s “integrity” but said he could not comment on the letter because it had details “beyond his personal experience.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, went further. In a letter to church members, he said that the details in Vigano’s letter “are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible.”

No comment. No contrition. Move the next official up to replace the removed one and carry on. It’s been established; this is the Catholic Church’s pattern for decades. We have 2000 years of history that says the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to police itself, preferring to maintain its own power structure and public image. If the abuse of victims by the Catholic Church is hard to bring to light in countries with strong legal rights, established criminal justice systems, and free presses like the United States and Australia, what horrors lie uncovered in the diverse places where such freedoms do not exist but the Catholic Church does?

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Writer. Mountaineer diaspora. Vet. Managing Editor @ordinarytimemag, Writings found @arcdigi & elsewhere. Writing about food, folks, & faith at Yonder & Home

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