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Pope Francis greets then Cardinal McCarrickJonathan Newton-Pool/Getty Images

February 18, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – The much-discussed and soon-to-be-released book In the Closet of the Vatican by Dr. Frédéric Martel contains a passage in which the author confirms a key element of the Archbishop Viganò report, namely, that Pope “Francis was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians.”

Citing conversations he had with the Pope’s “entourage,” Martel claims that for Pope Francis, McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians “was not enough in his eyes to condemn him.”

Marco Tosatti, the Italian Vatican specialist, reported on this passage from the Martel book on February 17. He states in his report:

Pope Bergoglio was really informed by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò of the past of [McCarrick's] predation towards seminarians and young priests, but he did not consider the fact so important. And consequently not only did he relieve him of the restrictions that Benedict XVI had imposed on him (whose existence was confirmed, as well as by Viganò, by Cardinal Marc Ouellet) but he also used him as an advisor for appointments in the United States (the promotion of Kevin Farrell to Camerlengo and entrusting Blase Cupich with the organization of the summit on child abuse are the more recent confirmations, if ever they were needed) and he used him as his personal representative both in the United States (with Obama) and abroad in China, Armenia, Iran and Cuba.

LifeSiteNews has reported in the past on the close collaboration of Pope Francis and McCarrick with regard to foreign policy missions.

Furthermore, Tosatti takes a direct quote from Martel who states that Pope Francis “was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough in his eyes to condemn him.”

Tosatti calls this “friendly fire,” because Martel admires Pope Francis and surely did not intend to undermine Pope Francis' authority or reputation. But by reporting this, Martel actually confirms the key claim of one of the Pope's strongest public critics. Tosatti himself says: “If Martel writes the truth – and there is no reason to believe the opposite, since he is certainly not a conservative homophobe Pharisee moralizing and hypocritical – some considerations are required.” Before going further into Tosatti's considerations and interim conclusions, let us provide some additional information that confirms Tosatti's report on the Martel book is correct.

First of all, Dr. Martel himself confirmed, in an e-mail, the essence of this claim to LifeSiteNews. He said that the Pope knew about McCarrick's homosexual relationships but thought that they were not about “predation.”

Matthew Schmitz, editor of First Things, indirectly confirms the Tosatti article when he wrote on Twitter, later in the day on February 17 that Martel – whom he calls “a liberal writer who clearly admires Pope Francis” – “confirms that Viganò told Francis about McCarrick and that Francis did not think it grave.” Schmitz quotes Martel as writing: “When the pope dismissed the allegations, his entourage indicated to me that ‘Francis was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough to condemn him.’”

Moreover, Damian Thompson, editor-in-chief of the British Catholic Herald, also confirmed the Tosatti story by putting this same quote on twitter, adding: “Today @MarcoTosatti quoted an extraordinary claim from Martel’s book. I won’t comment on anything else, because I’m under embargo, but this is in the public domain. Please read it!”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, in his August 25, 2018 testimony, had stated that he himself had informed Pope Francis shortly after his papal election in 2013 that Pope Benedict  XVI around the year 2000 had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis.” Archbishop Viganò further revealed that Pope Francis “continued to cover him” and even made McCarrick “his trusted counselor” who helped him to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

Finally, let us return to Marco Tosatti's own reflections on the Martel revelation. He points to the problem of “vulnerable adults,” when he says: “The first: even though the seminarians were not under age, if a person hierarchically in a high position, and who can decide the fate of one of his subordinates, sexually harasses him, it is no longer a question of sex between consenting adults: there is a form of violence.”

To this Italian journalist, it seems that “this fact [of abuse of vulnerable adults] does not seem important to the Pontiff. Or at least not so important, at least not to favor and use the abuser until this bond becomes too embarrassing, and then sacrifice him to the public opinion.” Second, Marco Tosatti calls for a final and direct response to the Viganò report by the Pope himself when he says that “it is months and months that the Catholics are waiting for an answer: Did Viganò lie, or not?” For Tosatti, it seems that “according to Martel, and according to the entourage of the Pontiff he has told the truth.”

Will Pope Francis finally answer this question, just before or during the Sex Abuse Summit in Rome on February 21-24?

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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.


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