Pennsylvania Attoney General Josh Shaprio has alleged knowledge of the abuse of more than 1,000 people at the hands of Catholic priests in Pennsylvania stretched all the way to the Vatican.
‘We have evidence the Vatican had knowledge of the cover-up, he told NBC’s Today on Tuesday, but clarified: ‘I can’t specifically speak to Pope Francis’.
The allegations come just two weeks after a grand jury of 23 released their report on sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Church after a two-year investigation.
‘They found that there was not only widespread sexual abuse, rape of children, but they found that there was a systematic cover-up that went all the way to the Vatican,’ Shapiro said.
While Shapiro declined to directly name Pope Francis as having anything to do with the cover-up, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano – the former papal representative to the US, made a series of explosive allegations towards the pope last week.
In his 11-page ‘testimony’, Vigano, 77, who was a papal nuncio in Washington between 2011 and 2016, said Benedict XVI imposed canonical sanctions against McCarrick in the late 2000s.
McCarrick was forced to leave his seminary and live a life of penance after former Vatican ambassadors in Washington, now dead, reported him for ‘gravely immoral’ behaviour with seminarians and priests.
Vigano claimed Francis asked him about McCarrick when he took office in June 2013, but that the pope ignored his warnings.
He said the pope ‘knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator’.
‘He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end,’ he wrote.
During a press conference on board an airborne plane Sunday, the leader of the Catholic church would not comment when an American reporter asked him what his thoughts were in response to Vigano’s allegations.
The Vatican’s retired ambassador to the United States claimed despite the allegations, the pope rehabilitated McCarrick, but Francis brushed it off, simply saying the text ‘speaks for itself’.
‘It’s an act of trust,’ he added. ‘I won’t say a word about it.’
Vigano’s extensive publication called for the pope’s resignation, just a month after McCarrick handed his in – making him the second person ever to lose his Cardinal status.
The Vatican expressed ‘shame and sorrow’ after the release of the Pennsylvania report, and decried the abuse as ‘criminally and morally reprehensible.’
Since the report was released, more than 730 phone calls have come in to the state’s clergy abuse hotline, CNN reported.
The report identified more than 300 ‘predator priests’, and notes: ‘there may be more indictments in the future’, as investigations continue and more victims come forward.
Pennsylvania attorney General Josh Shapiro says the Vatican knew about the systemic cover up of child abuse within the Catholic Church, but ‘couldn’t speak specifically to Pope Francis (pictured)’