Pope says devil trying to divide, attack the Catholic Church

Pope Francis on Sunday said that the devil is trying to divide and attack the Catholic Church, as the Vatican wrestles with a series of sexual abuse scandals amid accusations that Francis covered for priests accused of sexual misconduct.

Francis said the church should also be more aware of “its guilt, its mistakes and abuses.”

"[The church must be] saved from the attacks of the malign one, the great accuser and at the same time be made ever more aware of its guilt, its mistakes, and abuses committed in the present and the past," Francis said from his balcony in Rome, Reuters reports.

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He implored Catholics worldwide to pray every day throughout October for the Church to prevail through the devil's assault.

"I renew the invitation to everyone to pray the Rosary every day of the month of October ending it with the antiphon 'Under Your protection' and the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, to repel the attacks of the devil who wants to divide the Church," he said.

Francis's use of the phrase "the great accuser" to describe the devil irritated Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has accused Francis of covering for allegations against former D.C. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, according to the news outlet.

McCarrick was removed from public ministry in August after church officials deemed allegations that he had sexually abused a minor to be credible.

McCarrick has denied all wrongdoing.

The Vatican issued a fiery denunciation of Vigano's allegations on Sunday, calling them "monstrous" and "even blasphemous."

However, the letter also admitted to a detail that is key to Vigano's accusations, that McCarrick had been informally disciplined prior to his ascension to Cardinal.

Vigano alleged that McCarrick had been sexually active with seminarians and was consequently disciplined by Pope Benedict XVI.

According to the archbishop, Francis ignored McCarrick's record of sexual misconduct and promoted him to a powerful position in the church.

The Vatican official who authored Sunday's statement also wrote in the letter that Francis had no role in "the promotion of McCarrick to New York, Metuchen, Newark or Washington."

Last month, a 2006 letter from a top Vatican official to a New York priest indicated that the Vatican as an institution knew of the allegations that McCarrick was pressuring adult seminarians to sleep with him.

It is unclear if Francis himself knew of the allegations.

Francis has refused to confirm or deny Vigano's allegations, saying the letter "speaks for itself" and "I won't say a word about it."