Pope Francis declines to confirm or deny he knew of sexual misconduct allegations
© Getty

Pope Francis on Sunday declined to confirm or deny reports that he knew of sexual misconduct allegations against former D.C. archbishop Cardinal Theodore McCarrick years before they became public. 

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano on Sunday released an 11-page letter calling for Francis's resignation, claiming the pope has known for years that McCarrick was sexually abusing minors. McCarrick was removed from the public ministry this summer after church officials deemed allegations that he sexually abused a teenager "credible." 

Francis told reporters that the letter from Vigano, which often veers into rampant homophobia, "speaks for itself," according to The Associated Press.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I won’t say a word about it," the pope said. 

Vigano in the letter claims that he told Francis in 2013 about “a dossier this thick” with information about McCarrick’s alleged misconduct toward young members of the church. 

“The Pope did not make the slightest comment about those very grave words of mine and did not show any expression of surprise on his face, as if he had already known the matter for some time, and he immediately changed the subject,” Vigano wrote. 

Vigano also claims Pope Benedict XVI was aware of the allegations and had asked McCarrick to "withdraw to a life of prayer and penance." 

Church leaders have alleged the Vatican knew about McCarrick's conduct, but it is unclear if the pope was privy to the allegations. 

The Catholic church is at the center of a reinvigorated wave of scrutiny regarding its treatment of sexual abuse by clergy members following McCarrick's resignation and a Pennsylvania grand jury report that documented decades of sexual abuse by Catholic leaders in the state. 

Pope Francis in an open letter last week condemned the "atrocities" outlined in Pennsylvania grand jury's 1,356-page report.

"Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient," the pope wrote. "Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated." 

"We showed no care for the little ones," he wrote, "we abandoned them."  

The report is striking both for the allegations against 300 "predator priests" in the state, and for the report's naming of multiple Catholic leaders that allegedly persuaded victims to drop their allegations or ignored the claims altogether.