Pope Francis was aware that a prominent U.S. cardinal was a serial sexual abuser five years before accepting the cardinal’s resignation, according to a former top Vatican official who has called upon Francis to resign.
In an 11-page letter given to conservative Roman Catholic media outlets during the Pope’s visit to Ireland, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said he had told Pope Francis in 2013 Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had faced extensive accusations of sexually abusing lower ranking seminarians and priests.
McCarrick became the first cardinal in living memory to resign his position in the church leadership, after a review concluded claims he had sexually abused a 16-year-old boy were credible.
As the child sex abuse scandal has continued to rock the Catholic church since reports were first published in 2002 by The Boston Globe, McCarrick was one of the highest ranking officials to be implicated.
Vigano informed Francis of the allegations against McCarrick in June 2013, according to his letter, which was reported by the U.S. publication National Catholic Register.
The archbishop approached Francis with the matter shortly after he had been elected pontiff.
“He knew from at least 23 June, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator,” said Mr Vigano, who served as the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States at the time.
“Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses, and resign along with all of them.”
Vatican officials declined to offer an immediate comment on the letter Sunday.