VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Francis, in his first public comment after the release of an explosive report on the Vatican’s mishandling of the case of ex-U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, on Wednesday again vowed to put an end to sexual abuse in the Church.
“Yesterday, the report about the painful case of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was published. I renew my closeness to the victims of every abuse and the commitment of the Church to uproot this evil,” Francis said at his weekly general audience.
He then closed his eyes and prayed silently.
The 450-page report said the late Pope John Paul II promoted McCarrick in 2000 despite rumours of his sexual misconduct, one of a series of failings by popes and officials who let him rise through the ranks regardless of repeated allegations against him.
The report also said that in 2008 former Pope Benedict overruled proposals from top aides that McCarrick undergo a Church investigation “to determine the truth and, if warranted, impose an ‘exemplary measure'”. He was instead given a verbal warning and told to keep a low profile.
Francis’ words also followed an independent inquiry in London on Tuesday that said the Roman Catholic Church in Britain betrayed its moral purpose over decades by protecting those who sexually abused children rather than caring for their victims.
Last week in Poland, the Vatican disciplined an elderly cardinal who was accused of sexually abusing a minor, the latest of several clerics to be caught up in a widening scandal in the homeland of the late Pope John Paul II.
(Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Alex Richardson, William Maclean)