Here’s what the book ‘The Dictator Pope’ says about Pope Francis’ handling of sex abuse cases
September 5, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – In light of the recent allegations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò concerning Pope Francis’ intimate involvement in the abuse scandal of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, LifeSiteNews thought to present to our readers some excerpts of the 2018 book The Dictator Pope, written by Henry Sire.
Regnery Publishing, the publisher of this book, kindly gave us permission to publish the following excerpts. Henry Sire shows on the following pages how Pope Francis has, over the years, compromised his own credibility by showing leniency toward clergymen who have sexually abused children. Sire also shows how the Pope has promoted clergymen to prominent positions who are either homosexual themselves or who have a lax attitude toward the practice of homosexuality.
Below are some excerpts of The Dictator Pope. LifeSiteNews thanks Henry Sire and Regnery Publishing for permission to republish them.
The Dictator Pope: The Inside Story of the Francis Papacy, written by Marcantonio Colonna (Henry Sire)
The existence of a homosexual lobby in the Vatican, which was revealed by the cardinals’ report of December 2012, is a scandal which Pope Francis has taken no steps to correct, and which he has indeed accentuated. One of the most notorious cases is that of Monsignor Battista Ricca, who is prelate of the Istituto delle Opere di Religione. Monsignor Ricca made his career as a member of the papal diplomatic service. After a posting in Bern, he was sent to Uruguay in 1999 and thoughtfully brought with him his boyfriend, Patrick Haari, a louche captain in the Swiss Army. Taking advantage of an interval between the retirement of the nuncio and the arrival of his successor, Ricca, as chargé d’affaires, settled Haari in the nunciature itself, with a job, a salary, and lodging. The new nuncio, arriving in Montevideo in early 2000, tried to get both Ricca and Haari out, but the former was protected by his friendship with Archbishop (later Cardinal) Re, who was at that time sostituto in the Secretariat of State. The ménage was an open scandal to the clergy and to the nuns who attended the Montevideo nunciature, but nothing could be done, even after Haari was brought home from a house of homosexual encounters where he had been beaten up by some rough trade. Not until Monsignor Ricca himself was caught in an illegal and compromising situation by the police, in August 2001, was the long-suffering nuncio able to get rid of his subordinate. After a further posting to Trinidad and Tobago, where he again quarreled with the nuncio, Ricca was finally removed from the active diplomatic service in 2005, when he was given a job in Rome with the status of councilor of a firstrank nunciature. His responsibilities included the management of the cardinals’ guest-house in Via della Scrofa where Cardinal Bergoglio was wont to stay, and where he famously went to pay his bill on the morning after his election. Given that Montevideo faces Buenos Aires across the mouth of the River Plate, it seems unlikely that the then cardinal archbishop was unaware of the goings-on in the nunciature over the water, but that did not prevent him from striking up a close friendship with Monsignor Ricca, which stood the latter in good stead when Bergoglio was elected pope. Within three months of that event, in June 2013, Monsignor Ricca was appointed prelate of the Vatican Bank. The appointment was the subject of a journalist’s question to the pope a few weeks later, in one of his signature press conferences on board an aeroplane, when he was quizzed about this promotion of a notorious homosexual, and it drew from the pope the well-known comment, “Who am I to judge?” In fact, his patronage of Monsignor Ricca fits the pattern which was well established when he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, whereby he surrounds himself with morally weak people so as to have them under his thumb. […]
In June 2017 Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, the secretary of Cardinal Coccopalmerio, was caught by the Vatican’s Gendarmeria hosting a homosexual drugs party in his luxurious apartment in the Palazzo del Sant’Uffizio. He had been using his car with Vatican number-plates in order to transport drugs without being stopped by the Italian police. Cardinal Coccopalmerio, who is one of Pope Francis’s foremost yes-men, had proposed this trusted assistant for a bishopric. Pope Francis’s liberalism has only given more power to the homosexual lobby in the Curia. He supported, for example, Archbishop Bruno Forte’s attempt to insert a relaxation of Catholic teaching on homosexuality into the report of the 2014 Synod of the Family (his insertion was rejected). Perhaps an even more scandalous case is that of the notorious liberal (especially on matters regarding homosexuality) Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who, incredibly, is president of the Pontifical Council for the Family and whom Pope Francis has recently made president of the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, the body which John Paul intended as the watchdog of the Church’s teaching. One of Archbishop Paglia’s claims to fame is his commissioning of a prominent Argentinian homosexual artist to create a mural in his cathedral church that has been described as “homoerotic” and includes the archbishop himself in a net of nude or semi-nude bodies. […]
Despite verbal avowals from Pope Francis that he too is a champion against clerical abuse, this reform of accountability appears to have evaporated with Benedict’s resignation. In fact, for those paying attention, Francis started signaling the new direction immediately by choosing to honor one of the most notorious of the enabling bishops—namely his electoral ally Cardinal Danneels, who appeared with the new pope on the balcony at St. Peter’s Basilica on the night of the election. Anne Barrett Doyle, the co-director of Bishop Accountability, has remarked: “No other pope has spoken as passionately about the evil of child sex abuse as Francis. No other pope has invoked ‘zero tolerance’ as often.” Yet in the name of his favorite theme, “mercy,” Francis decisively broke with the Ratzinger/ Benedict program of reform, reducing the penalty for priest abusers to “a lifetime of prayer” and restrictions on celebrating Mass. In February 2017 it was revealed that Francis had “quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of paedophile priests, applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders.”
A particularly notorious case was Francis’ decision to overrule the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s penalties against the Italian priest Mauro Inzoli, who was found guilty in 2012 by an ecclesiastical court of abusing boys as young as twelve and suspended a divinis, which barred him from performing priestly duties. Inzoli had especially angered Italians for the brazenness of his behavior—he abused boys in the confessional and convinced them that his molestation was approved by God—and his love of an expensive lifestyle, earning him the nickname “Don Mercedes” in the press. But in 2014, following an appeal by Inzoli’s friends in the Curia, Cardinal Coccopalmerio and Monsignor Vito Pinto, Francis reduced the priest’s penalty to a “lifetime of prayer,” and a promise to stay away from children, giving him permission to celebrate Mass privately.
Francis also ordered him to undergo five years of psychotherapy, a medicalized approach favored by bishops at the height of the sex abuse crisis years and demonstrated to have little effect. Inzoli’s two Curial friends were to become significant figures in later altercations between Francis and his critics within the College of Cardinals over Amoris laetitia, Pope Francis’s controversial apostolic exhortation on pastoral matters related to marriage and family life. Cardinal Coccopalmerio, a former auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Martini, is president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts and Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto now dean of the Roman Rota.22 Both these prelates have been key figures in supporting Francis against the critics of Amoris laetitia, who happen to include Cardinal Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. One journalist has commented: “Pope Francis, following the advice of his clubby group of allies in the curia, is pressing to undo the reforms that were instituted by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI in handling cases of abuser priests.”23 This leniency, however, backfired, and after complaints from Inzoli’s home town of Cremona, police reopened the case against him. He was tried and convicted, and sentenced to four years, nine months in prison for “more than a hundred episodes” of molesting five boys, aged twelve to sixteen. Fifteen other offences were beyond the statute of limitations. After Inzoli’s conviction in the civil courts, the Vatican belatedly initiated a new canonical trial. Inzoli’s case is not an isolated one.
Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield wrote that “two canon lawyers and a church official” told her the pope’s emphasis on “mercy” had created an environment in which “several” priests under canonical sanctions imposed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had appealed successfully to Francis for clemency through powerful Curial connections. The unnamed official noted that such appeals had rarely been successful with Benedict XVI. It was rumored that Francis intended to revert competence for sex abuse cases from Cardinal Müller at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Rota and Congregation for Clergy. Instead, Francis merely changed personnel. He summarily removed two Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith staffers in charge of handling sex abuse cases (declining to give any reasons to Cardinal Müller) and then dismissed Müller himself as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in July 2017. According to the Associated Press’s Nicole Winfield, Francis also overruled a request by his own sex abuse commission to create a tribunal of bishops to review sex abuse cases.
Perhaps worse, the commission’s guidelines for dioceses on handling abuse claims were never sent to the bishops’ conferences or even produced on the Vatican’s websites. Francis’s new approach of “mercy” and treating sex abuse as a psychological-medical problem, was criticized by a victimsurvivor on the sex-abuse advisory commission, Marie Collins, who later resigned, citing a Vatican culture of bureaucratic obstruction and inaction. “All who abuse have made a conscious decision to do so,” Collins told the Associated Press. “Even those who are paedophiles, experts will tell you, are still responsible for their actions. They can resist their inclinations.” Questions remain about Bergoglio’s knowledge and involvement in the case of decades of sexual abuse of students by priests at the Antonio Provolo Institute, a school for deaf children in Argentina and Verona, Italy. In 2009, twenty-four former students of the institute came forward with horrifying stories of sexual abuse. Pope Benedict’s Vatican ordered an investigation, and the diocese of Verona officially apologized to the Italian victims, but the Vatican has taken no action since, even though the students sent a letter to Francis in 2014, asking him for an investigative commission. The only response the group ever received from Rome was a note from Archbishop Angelo Becciu, who said the request for a commission had been passed on to the Italian bishops’ conference.
In 2016, two of the priests involved, Nicola Corradi and Horacio Corbacho, were arrested in Argentina. The Provolo Association representing the victims told the Associated Press after the arrests that the Vatican had still done nothing and raised questions about Francis himself. “We have to ask ourselves: the Pope, who was for many years the primate of the Argentine church, did he know nothing about clerical abuse in his country?” A canon lawyer for the group, Carlos Lombardi, told the press, “Either he lives outside of reality or this is enormously cynical...it’s a mockery.” The pope has outraged even his most faithful admirers in yet another sexual abuse case, this one involving Bishop Juan Barros of Chile. On January 23, 2018, the National Catholic Reporter, hitherto a bastion of Francis loyalism, carried an editorial proclaiming: “Pope Francis’s defense of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros Madrid is only the latest in a number of statements he has made in his nearly five-year papacy that have hurt survivors, and the whole body of the church.” The article went on: “Within the space of four days, Pope Francis twice slandered abuse survivors. On the papal flight from Peru Jan. 21, he again called testimony against Chilean bishop Juan Barros Madrid ‘calumny.’ Despite at least three survivors’ public accounts to the contrary, he also again said he had not seen evidence of Barros’ involvement in a cover-up to protect notorious abuser Fr. Fernando Karadima. These remarks are at least shameful. At the most, they suggest that Francis now could be complicit in the cover-up.... The pope’s statements on zero tolerance have been strong, but again and again he has refused to deal decisively with those who provided cover for the abusers.... In a bluntly critical statement, the likes of which we have struggled to find parallel in recent church history, Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley said the pope’s slander against survivors has caused them ‘great pain.’...When it comes to confronting the clericalism that is the foundation for abuse scandal, the pope’s stony countenance is part of the problem.”
When Pope Francis’s friends start making remarks like that, a wheel has come off the Francis bandwagon. Matters got worse, when it was revealed in February 2018 that despite Francis’s insistence that he had seen no evidence of victims coming forward to accuse Bishop Juan Barros of a cover-up, apparently Cardinal Seán O’Malley had in fact handed him an eight-page letter by a victim alleging just that—that Bishop Juan Barros had not only covered up sexual abuse but was an eyewitness to it. A copy of a letter was acquired by the Associated Press. To say the least, Pope Francis has not held the “zero tolerance” line of Pope Benedict when it comes to clerical sexual abuse and has been far more lenient, or irresponsible, in dealing with this ongoing moral scandal within the Church.
Editor's Note: the excerpts are taken from the following pages of The Dictator Pope: pp. 63-65; p. 66; pp. 71-76.