Pope Francis reaches out to hug Cardinal Archbishop emeritus Theodore McCarrick after the Midday Prayer of the Divine with more than 300 U.S. Bishops at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington. Allegations that the most respected U.S. cardinal repeatedly sexually abused both boys and adult seminarians has raised questions about who in the Catholic Church hierarchy knew, and what Pope Francis is going to do about it. If the accusations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick bear out, will Francis revoke his title of cardinal, sanction him to a lifetime of prayer or even defrock him, the expected sanction if McCarrick were a mere priest? (Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via AP, Pool, File)

The approval rating of Pope Francis is at an all-time low amid the sexual abuse scandals associated with the U.S. Catholic Churches.

According to a CNN poll, 48 percent of Americans now say they have a favorable view of the pope. This represents a significant drop since January 2017 where the pope had an approval rating of two-thirds. The year the pope was elected in 2013,  72 percent of Americans gave the pope a favorable rating.

More recently, the pope garnered controversy for allegations that he knew of the serial homosexual predation of U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Despite this knowledge, the elevated McCarrick to a position of distinction within the Catholic Church in America, allowing McCarrick to influence the naming of American bishops.

Former Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released an 11-page affidavit alleging that Pope Benedict placed sanctions on McCarrick in 2009-2010 forbidding him for celebrating Mass in public, traveling, participating in public meetings; however, Pope Francis overturned this sanction and made McCarrick a close personal counselor

The affidavit says “But now that the corruption has reached the very top the Church’s hierarchy, my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths regarding the heart-breaking case of the Archbishops Emeritus of Washington D.C. Theodore McCarrick.”  

Other archbishops have publically criticized the pope for silence strategy about the allegations:

However, I must confess my disappointment that in his remarks on the return flight from Dublin to Rome, the Holy Father chose a course of “no comment,” regarding any conclusions that might be drawn from Archbishop Viganò’s allegations. Pope Francis further said expressly that such conclusions should be left to “professional maturity” of journalists. In the United States and elsewhere, in fact, very little is more questionable than the professional maturity of journalists. The bias in the mainstream media could not be clearer and is recognized almost universally. I would never ascribe professional maturity to the journalism of the National Catholic Reporter, for example. (And, predictably, they are leading the charge in a campaign of vilification against Archbishop Viganò.) – Bishop Robert C. Morlino

According to the CNN poll, the pope’s ratings have fallen even among U.S. Catholics, dropping by 20 points from 83 percent favorability a year and a half ago to 63 percent now.

Mary Hasson, director of the Catholic Women’s Forum of the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, DC, said she is “frustrated” with the “lack of action” on the part of the pope.

In a statement from the Catholic Women’s Forum of the Ethics and Public Policy Center said the following:

To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate. They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now.

Hasson asserted the pope must address the sexual abuse of minors and adults, but also the bishops’ cover-up of such abuse which is a significant aspect that was not addressed in the 2002 Dallas Charter that instituted procedures to protect minors from abusive clergy.

In a recent report by The Guardian, now allegations of cardinals in the Dutch Catholic Church, 29 of 34 Dutch Cardinals, have been accused of alleged cover-ups.

 

 

 

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