A former Vatican diplomat, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano who accused the Pope Francis of covering up reports of clerical sex abuse has fled Italy in fear of his life, it is claimed.
In an 11-page letter published on Sunday, the Archbishop said Pope Francis knew about allegations against a US cardinal for five years before accepting his resignation.
Italian blogger Aldo Maria Valli says the archbishop told him before the letter emerged that he had “already purchased an aeroplane ticket”.
Recounting a meeting between the pair, Valli describes what the archbishop told him, writing: “He will leave the country.
“He cannot tell me where he is going. I am not to look for him. His old mobile phone number will no longer work. We say goodbye for the last time.”
Similar claims that the archbishop is concerned about his safety were aired on US Catholic TV network EWTN.
What did the Archbishop’s letter say?
In his letter, Archbishop Vigano said he told Pope Francis that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, had been accused of sexually abusing lower-ranking seminarians and priests over decades.
He said Pope Francis’ predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, had taken action against the cardinal, forcing him to withdraw to a life of “prayer and penance”.
However, he said Francis had lifted the sanctions against him and allowed him to return to full duties.
Pope Francis “knew from at least 23 June 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator”, the archbishop wrote, adding: “He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.”
“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,” Archbishop Vigano wrote.
The archbishop, who served as the Vatican’s envoy in Washington from 2011 until 2016, has produced no evidence of his alleged 2013 conversation with the Pope.
Pope Francis has declined to comment on the claims against him.
“I will not say a word about that. I think the statement speaks for itself,” he told journalists on his plane as he flew back to Rome on Monday.
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