Pope 'begs for God's forgiveness' for sexual abuse scandal

Papal visit: Pope Francis travels to Knock Shrine

Papal visit: Pope Francis travels to Knock Shrine

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the retired Vatican ambassador to the US, also alleges that McCarrick had been sanctioned by Pope Benedict XVI over sexual misconduct, that Pope Francis himself knew, and that those sanctions were later repealed by Pope Francis anyway. "I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely ... read the statement carefully and make your own judgment", he said.

Vatican officials yesterday declined immediate comment on the statement, which was published by the National Catholic Register and several other media outlets in the U.S. and Italy.

Pope Francis in Ireland Sunday "begged for God's forgiveness" for the child sexual abuse scandal rocking the church but faced accusations by a former Vatican official that he had personally ignored allegations against senior clergy.

"I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay", he said.

"He [Pope Francis] knew from at least June 23, 2013, that McCarrick was a serial predator", Vigano said in his statement, adding, "although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered him to the bitter end".

The former apostolic nuncio's 11-page written statement raised questions about the conduct and appointment of several US cardinals and bishops, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, and Cardinal Edwin O'Brien, archbishop emeritus of Baltimore.

Archbishop McCarrick, he added, was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance". It was the first resignation of a Cardinal in connection with sex abuse claims.

Francis accepted McCarrick's resignation as cardinal last month after a US church investigation determined that an accusation he had sexually abused a minor was credible.

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He was one of the highest-ranking church officials accused of sex abuse in a scandal that has rocked the 1.2 billion-member faith since reports of priests abusing children and bishops covering up for them were reported by the Boston Globe in 2002.

Vigano also said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl was aware of reports of sexual abuse by his predecessor McCarrick.

But the bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas, told his parishioners he thinks the allegations are "credible".

He and the Pope have always been on opposite ideological sides, with the Pope more a pastor and Archbishop Vigano more a cultural warrior.

In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa said an investigation into sexual abuse and cover-up was necessary to "restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church" and that Archbishop Viganò's statement is "a good place to begin the investigations".

Nienstedt was forced to resign over complaints about his handling of sex abuse cases.

This is not the first time that Archbishop Vigano has been openly critical of Pope Francis.

Pope Francis concluded his 32-hour visit to Ireland with a Sunday Mass at Phoenix Park in Dublin, with hundreds of thousands of people braving wet and windy weather to attend.

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