ROME (LifeSiteNews) — Faith & Reason co-host Liz Yore said that Francis’ papacy is serving as a protection racket for clergy sexual abuse, even as the Synod on Synodality called on the Church to listen to clerical abuse victims.
Yore, a longtime lawyer who has worked on child abuse cases and helped dioceses craft child protection policies, made her comments at the Rome Life Forum earlier this month. Looking at Francis’ papacy from the point of view of a child protection lawyer, she said it is “especially difficult” to “have endured more than a decade” of it.
She explains her position beginning with the first pubic appearance of Jorge Bergoglio as Pope on the loggia in 2013, observing that Francis was accompanied by heterodox Cardinal Godfried Danneels, who in 2010 dissuaded a bishop’s sexual abuse victim not to go public with his charges and told him to acknowledge his own guilt.
While Yore admits Danneels’ presence on the loggia could have been incidental, she has doubts about it, adding that Francis’ decision to appoint Danneels to a key position in the Synod on the Family was “intentional,” “insulting,” and “symptomatic of the future of [the] Francis papacy.”
Examining the Pope’s actions in light of the Synod on Synodality’s call to listen to abuse victims, Yore notes that Francis has done the opposite by ignoring clerical abuse victims even during his time as cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires. She mentioned several noted instances of alleged protection, the most recent instance being the case of disgraced former Jesuit Father Marko Rupnik, who was credibly accused of sexually and psychologically abusing religious sisters.
“Typically and disturbingly, Francis continues to deal with [abuse victims], as he always does, by imposing his Sankt Gallen Mafia omerta of silence, yet he deploys his Synodal PR machine to churn out hypocritical talking points in hopes of anesthetizing our memory about his own catastrophic record on clergy sex abuse,” the lawyer asserted, adding that Francis has a penchant for allegedly protecting celebrity priests and bishops accused of abuse.
“In Francis’s world, mercy trumps justice, and despite his endless chatter about the preference for the poor, celebrity transcends integrity,” she observed. “This pattern is shockingly obvious, as he has a blind spot for predators who are his friends and famous.”
Using a phrase from the Synod on Synodality, Yore insists that Pope Francis himself is the “structural condition” that protects abusers, and that the Synodal Fathers would “peddle this myth” that clerical abuse needs more study is “demeaning and frankly insulting” in the face of five decades of studies, reports, and scandals.
“While Francis clearly hears the cry of Mother Earth, he is deaf to the cries of clergy abuse victims,” she continued. “While the purported rising of the oceans tug at his heart, his stone cold, heartless dismissiveness, of abused consecrated nuns is chilling.”
Citing an instance of Francis’ alleged protection of abusers while still archbishop of Buenos Aires, she looks at a case involving Fr. Julio Grassi, a priest and TV personality imprisoned after he was found guilty of abusing children under his care at an orphanage. According to Grassi himself, Yore notes, Archbishop Bergoglio “was holding his hand throughout the criminal trial and appeal.” Meanwhile, the archbishop refused to meet with Grassi’s victims, did not explain why he funded a 400-page unauthorized appeal defending Grassi following the priest’s conviction, and did not apologize to the victims when Grassi’s appeal was dismissed.
Yore also looks at the case of Fr. Mauro Inzoli, a priest suspended by Pope Benedict XVI for sexual abuse of minors but reinstated by Pope Francis in 2014. His sentence was also reduced to a life of humility and penance. Inzoli was later found guilty of eight counts of abuse by an Italian court.
Similarly, Francis promoted Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta in 2014, naming him the Bishop of Orán, Argentina. Yore notes that while there were complaints from seminarians that Zanchetta was abusing them, Francis ignored them. Francis moved Zanchetta in the midst of an investigation into financial mismanagement and gave him Vatican citizenship, as well as made him an advisor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), a position created for Zanchetta.
Yore further discussed the Theodore McCarrick scandal, and noted that Francis removed sanctions imposed on then cardinal McCarrick by Benedict XVI, allowing him to travel the world on behalf of Catholic Relief Services, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), and the Vatican.
“In response to questioning about the allegations of McCarrick, Francis again responded in his classic omerta silence that he knew nothing,” Yore said. “Finally, when the walls were closing in, he removed McCarrick from public ministry.”
Finally, Yore discussed the Rupnik scandal, observing that “Francis’ culpability is indefensible.” Rupnik was excommunicated in 2019 after the Dicastery (then Congregation) for the Doctrine of the Faith (DDF) found the accusations against him credible, and he was kicked out of the Jesuits.
That the excommunication was promptly lifted has led to speculation about Francis’ involvement, and Rupnik gave a Lenten homily at the Vatican in March 2020. A September report from the Diocese of Rome regarding a canonical visitation to Rupnik’s Rome-based Aletti Center downplayed the allegations made against Rupnik. The report contradicted the findings of both the Jesuits and the DDF.
“This scandal highlights the stubborn and mind-boggling refusal of Francis to listen, to dialogue, and protect vulnerable victim nuns and to ignore the recommendations of the CDF and the Jesuit order who conducted thorough investigations,” said Yore.
Yore also addressed the appointment of Cardinal Victor Manuel Fernández as secretary of the DDF by Francis in July, noting that the cardinal faced criticism in his native Argentina for his handling of clerical abuse cases.
“Fernández attempted blatant and obvious misdirection play by blaming ‘clericalism’ as the cause of the clergy sex abuse cases is outrageous,” Yore opined.
“Based on my experience with countless clergy sex abuse, the depravity of sex abuse in the Catholic Church is born out of a pattern of criminal predation that has nothing to do with clericalism,” she continued. “Rather, the statistics overwhelmingly point to homosexual priests who groom young boys with alcohol, with drugs, with homosexual porn, with guilt, and blackmail, into the repeated sexual gratification of priests. Sexual gratification, not clericalism, is the motive, the drive, and the criminal pattern.”
Yore further maintained that the inclusion of LGBT ideology in the Catholic Church will exacerbate the problem of clerical abuse, citing a study showing that 80 percent of clerical abuse cases in the United States were homosexual in nature.
“Francis has learned nothing in the last decade of cascading sexual abuse cases laid directly at his feet,” Yore said. “With the stroke of his pen, the Rupniks, the McCarricks, and all of his celebrity pals could have been gone, never to have preyed on children or vulnerable adults, never to have been allowed to paint Church-commissioned artwork, never to have been allowed to conduct a papal-supported homily, never to have had access to the confession [sic], and never to have negotiated a disastrous secret deal with the communist Chinese that destroyed the underground Catholic Church.”
Yore closed her talk referencing Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary general for the Secretariat of the Synod, who said in the Synodal report that the Church emerging from the Synod must reach out, and that the Synod has made spaces for all to feel welcome and included. According to Yore, Grech’s statement should be “footnoted” with a caveat that clerical abuse victims are excluded from such a welcome. She also noted that the Synodal documents do not mention one word that in her mind is “essential to root out predation.”
“The word that they don’t want to acknowledge, the word that they don’t want to dialogue about, that word is evil,” Yore concluded.
“You cannot fight an opponent if you do not identify it. Ignoring evil will make it flourish. Suppressing evil will force it to flourish. This is the miserable and scandalous legacy of the Francis papacy.”