Two cardinals blame 'plague of the homosexual agenda' for clerical sexual abuse

Two cardinals claimed Tuesday that homosexuality was to blame for the abuse by clerics in the Catholic Church.

"We turn to you with deep distress! The Catholic world is adrift," U.S. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller wrote in a letter to the heads of the bishops' conferences.

The cardinals rebuked Pope Francis's statement that "abuse of power" was behind the Catholic Church's sexual abuse crisis.

"Sexual abuse is blamed on clericalism. But the first and primary fault of the clergy does not rest in the abuse of power but in having gone away from the truth of the Gospel," they wrote.

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"The plague of the homosexual agenda has been spread within the Church, promoted by organized networks and protected by a climate of complicity and a conspiracy of silence," they continued.

The letter comes as Pope Francis hosts a gathering of bishops to address the abuse scandals that have surfaced in Catholic churches around the world in recent years.

Burke and Brandmüller criticized Pope Francis's approach to the problem, saying the two were "among those who in 2016 presented to the Holy Father certain questions ... (that) have not only not had any response, but are part of a more general crisis of the faith".

The letter comes days after Pope Francis defrocked ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, expelling him from the priesthood.

An investigation by a Vatican watchdog found McCarrick guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over a decades-long period.