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Chicago Cardinal Blasé Cupich Facebook / University of Chicago IOP

CHICAGO, Illinois, September 4, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Blase Cupich ordered priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago to read during Mass his statement disputing a television interview he gave saying Pope Francis has a “bigger agenda” than dealing with accusations he covered up sex abuse.

“For the Holy Father, I think to get into each and every one of those aspects, in some way is inappropriate and secondly, the pope has a bigger agenda,” Cupich told Chicago’s NBC 5. “He’s gotta get on with other things of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church. We’re not going to go down a rabbit hole on this.”

Once the interview was released to the public, Cardinal Cupich said it was edited in a deceptive way.

NBC 5 responded by placing more extensive segments of the interview on its website for the public to see, and rejected Cupich’s claim of a “false impression.”  

“We believe our story to be accurate in that Cardinal Cupich was referring to the memo about sexual abuse allegations in question,” the station said.

In that same interview, Cardinal Cupich claimed some papal critics don’t like Pope Francis “because he’s a Latino” and continued his line of denying the clergy sex abuse crisis is related to homosexuality.

“But let’s also be clear that people who want to make this about sex, in terms of homosexuality and all the rest of it, are a diversion from the real issue that we need to attack in the life of the Church, and that is that there are some people who believe that they are both privileged and protected,” he said, adding, “That wall has to come down.”

Cupich also said it’s “on us,” not Pope Francis, to address the sex abuse crisis.

Although Pope Francis has refused to say whether he helped cover up sex abuse, on Saturday he called litter in the ocean an “emergency” that needs to be addressed. He also mentioned migration, as did Cupich in his now-infamous comment.

The sex abuse crisis has hit the Catholic Church in the United States very hard this summer, with the revelation that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick sexually harassed and abused seminarians and priests, and that this was an open secret among bishops and Vatican officials. Then came the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named 300 priests as having sexually abused minors over decades. They were aided by a systematic Church cover-up of their crimes, according to the grand jury report.

The crisis is not limited to the United States, though; Chile and Honduras are reeling from similar scandals.

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, the former U.S. apostolic nuncio, testified that Pope Francis knew of McCarrick’s predation but still made him a trusted adviser on bishop appointments. According to Vigano, Pope Francis removed canonical sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had privately placed on the now-disgraced prelate. Vigano also testified that Cupich owes his rise to power and prominence to McCarrick.

Chicago archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Maselli confirmed to the Chicago Sun-Times that Cupich had instructed his priests to read his statement blasting the media report.

On Monday, Labor Day, two Archdiocese of Chicago priests were arrested in Miami for publicly engaging in oral sex in a car. One of them is the spiritual director to a youth group called Iskali, of which 35 percent of the members are between the ages of 15 and 18, according to its website.

The statement priests were told to read at Mass, titled “Statement of Cardinal Blase J. Cupich on Misleading NBC Chicago Report”:

An NBC Chicago TV report that aired Monday night was edited in such a way that gave the false impression that Pope Francis and I consider the protection of children to be less important than other issues, such as the environment or immigration. Nothing could be further from the truth.

A review of the unedited footage of that interview shows that I was referring to the recent letter by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, not the terrible crime of clergy sexual abuse. I said that it was not appropriate, or even possible for Pope Francis to respond to the letter’s many undocumented allegations, and I endorsed his request that journalists determine their veracity.

I was then asked whether there should be an independent investigation of the Archbishop Theodore McCarrick case, and I endorsed the call of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for a thorough investigation.

The edited report created the false impression that my comment that the pope should not “go down the rabbit hole” of the allegations in the Viganò letter was about sexual abuse. As the unedited footage shows, it was not.

As I wrote in my letter responding to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report: “Whatever words we may use to describe the anguish of reading about these heinous acts, they can never capture the reality of suffering endured by victims of sexual abuse, suffering compounded by the woeful responses of bishops who failed to protect the people they were ordained to serve. … We must resolve to face our failures and hold each other accountable. We must resolve to be clear-eyed about what we have done, what we have failed to do, and what remains to be done. We must resolve to live in the light of humility, of repentance, of honesty — the light of Christ. As your bishop, I pledge to continue holding firm to that resolve. And I ask for you to pray for all victims of abuse.”