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Cardinal Francesco CoccopalmerioAndreas Solaro


September 26, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Benjamin Leven, a German theologian and editor, relates in a new essay how, according to his Vatican sources, it was Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio who at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) promoted the attitude of a lenient approach toward priests who have committed crimes of sexual abuse. Coccopalmerio is also said to have put a word in for child abuser Don Mauro Inzoli. Pope Francis lifted sanctions from the defrocked Inzoli in 2014, returning his priestly faculties. 

Coccopalmerio was president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts — the Vatican’s top canonical official — until April 2018, when his resignation was accepted by Pope Francis. He was made a member of the CDF in 2010. Pope Francis named Coccopalmerio in 2015 to a new board within the CDF that reviews appeals from clergy accused of abuse. Archbishop Viganò detailed in his testimony last month that Coccopalmerio belonged to a homosexualist party in the Vatican. 

In the October 2018 issue of the German Catholic journal Herder Korrespondenz, Benjamin Leven discusses the problem of sexual abuse in the Church, and especially the place of Pope Francis in it. Leven lives in Rome, close to good contacts in the Roman Curia.

In his new essay titled “Francis and the Abuse. The Papal Secret,” Leven recounts the scandalous drug-fueled homosexual party that took place in an apartment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) which was then rented by Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio's secretary.

Leven also confirms a story recently published by LifeSiteNews when he says that it was upon Pope Francis' own intervention that Capozzi had received this specific apartment “which had been meant for another collaborator.” He adds that “respective warnings [concerning Capozzi] were ignored by Francis.” Moreover, “Capozzi was even planned to become a bishop,” explains the author.

Leven continues his report on Coccopalmerio, saying that he “generally spoke against the laicization of a priest as a punishment. The curial cardinal saw this laicization to be a kind of 'death penalty' for a priest.” 

“This position is what” Coccopalmerio “is also said to have taken as a member of the Congregation for the Faith which, since 2001, has had judicial authority responsible for cases of sexual abuse.” Leven adds that this cardinal “regularly proposed mild punishments” at the CDF.

With this statement, Leven reveals that it might very well have been Cardinal Coccopalmerio himself who resisted Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the former CDF head, who has recently told LifeSiteNews that there were some “papal confidants” who thought that he himself had “a lack of mercy” when dealing with sex abuse cases at the CDF.

“The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith acted within the framework of the collegial commission according to the rules of the Church's law and of the Sacramentorum sanctitatis tutela [a motu proprio with regard to the Church's penal law],” as Cardinal Müller also then stated. “A certain group of people,” he continued, “accused the Congregation of too much severity and a lack of mercy with regard to the canonical trials and with regard to the punishments that were imposed (only 20% ended with a laicization, the rest received other punishments (but that was already too much for some of the papal confidants [“Papsteinflüsterer”]!).”

Thus, it might very well be the case that Cardinal Müller indirectly refers here to Cardinal Coccopalmerio as one of those “papal confidants” who reproached him for his putative “lack of mercy.” 

The German editor also recounts how the CDF lost, upon the papal intervention, several priests who were then working in the disciplinary department of the CDF being responsible for abuse cases. “These positions are, according to sources, still not yet filled with replacements,” Leven adds. 

In addition to this information, Leven also reveals that it was Pope Francis himself who halted the plan “to establish a standing criminal tribunal for bishops” who possibly are involved in abuse cases themselves. For, as Leven explains, the CDF has no jurisdiction over bishops; “here, the Pope himself is the judge.” Pope Francis has now “dropped” this earlier plan for such a tribunal, according to Leven.

The author concludes: “Thus, there appears to be an ambivalent picture here: the Pope faces the problem, is also able to intervene, and regularly meets with abuse victims. At the same time, however, he looks away in individual cases and shows himself to be 'resistant toward advice.'”

In another part of his essay, Leven raises the matter of Viganò’s allegations that Pope Francis promoted now-ex Cardinal McCarrick despite knowing of his abuse. Leven reveals that “voices in the Vatican” told him that Viganò's report is true, but that “things are in reality even worse.” Within the Roman Curia, he adds, there is a “large number” of people who are “dissatisfied” or who “have been pushed aside.” If anyone of these sources would be willing to speak, Leven adds, “not one stone would remain on the other.”

The author concludes his essay with the question: “Will the Catholic hierarchy have the strength to purify itself?”

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Dr. Maike Hickson was born and raised in Germany. She holds a PhD from the University of Hannover, Germany, after having written in Switzerland her doctoral dissertation on the history of Swiss intellectuals before and during World War II. She now lives in the U.S. and is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.

Dr. Hickson published in 2014 a Festschrift, a collection of some thirty essays written by thoughtful authors in honor of her husband upon his 70th birthday, which is entitled A Catholic Witness in Our Time.

Hickson has closely followed the papacy of Pope Francis and the developments in the Catholic Church in Germany, and she has been writing articles on religion and politics for U.S. and European publications and websites such as LifeSiteNews, OnePeterFive, The Wanderer, Rorate Caeli,, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Notizie Pro-Vita, Corrispondenza Romana,, Der Dreizehnte,  Zeit-Fragen, and Westfalen-Blatt.