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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (LifeSiteNews) – The nephew of Pope Francis’ predecessor as archbishop of Buenos Aires accused the pope of covering up homosexual clerical abuse in a recent interview and blasted Francis for the leadership style “of a despot.”

Speaking with, Dr. José Arturo Quarracino, a teacher and nephew of the late Cardinal Antonio Quarracino, said that Francis protected homosexual priests for years after succeeding his uncle, who led the archdiocese of Buenos Aires from 1990 to his death in 1998.

Dr. Quarracino said that he ran in the same circles as the future pope, Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, while the Argentine Jesuit served as provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in the 1970s.

“From 1995 to 2002, I worked in Bergoglio’s environment,” Quarracino added. “He was chancellor of the Universidad del Salvador, where I worked.”

At the time, Bergoglio, who was appointed archbishop in 1998, “maintained a very Jesuit profile, very pious, very pastoral,” according to Quarracino.

But he affirmed to that Archbishop Bergoglio repeatedly covered up sexual abuse and misconduct “because this often concerned people who were close to him.”

“The case of a priest whom he trusted very much and who was known for his homosexual tendencies was much talked about,” Quarracino said. “Bergoglio ‘helped’ him by sending him to Rome a few years before he became Pope, among other things because this allowed him to learn a lot of confidential information from the Holy See.”

“One must not forget that these kinds of personalities tend to gather information of all kinds, information in which Bergoglio was interested.”

Quarracino also recalled that a civil servant “very close” to Bergoglio continued working at the University del Salvador even after the archbishop was informed that the man distributed pornography to university members.

“In April 2001, a few months after his elevation to Cardinal, an employee of the Universidad del Salvador, of which he was Grand Chancellor, informed him that a person very close to Bergoglio, who not only worked in this house of studies but was also a civil servant, had distributed pornographic photos to members of the university for fun,” Quarracino related. “This person was able to continue working for several years without any problems, while the person who had brought this to Bergoglio’s attention was dismissed without cause a few months later.”

The homosexualism displayed by Bergoglio during his papacy wasn’t publicly visible in Argentina, however, Quarracino said. “That would have made it impossible for him to be elected Pope.”

But there were “known cases of priests who displayed such behavior and could always rely on Bergoglio’s discreet protection,” he said. “He only started doing this openly when he got to the Chair of Peter, for example, when he gave refuge and political and ecclesiastical protection to someone like Bishop Zanchetta.”

Former Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, an early appointee of Pope Francis, was charged in 2019 with sexually abusing two seminarians.

After Zanchetta’s resignation two years before, the pope created a position specially for him at a Vatican agency that oversees the Holy See’s assets and real estate holdings. Pope Francis’ relationship with Zanchetta sparked outrage in 2019 when it was revealed that the Vatican had been notified as early as 2015 about allegations that the bishop attacked seminarians.

The pope has faced criticism for his handling of several homosexual abuser priests as archbishop of Buenos Aires, as well.

Throughout his career, Bergoglio deliberately chose scandal-ridden collaborators “at all levels,” Quarracino said, “apart from the fact that he has always surrounded himself with mediocre, submissive, and servile personalities.”

“Bergoglio’s leadership style is that of a despot who allows neither contradiction nor independent judgment.”

Bergoglio ‘changed his approach’ in Buenos Aires

Quarracino also discussed how Bergoglio, who had cultivated the appearance of piety and orthodoxy, “changed his approach completely” after his elevation as archbishop of Buenos Aires.

“He began by distancing himself from everyone he did not know and who did not belong to his circle of friends, and was known for the fact that no one knew what he really thought, as he always told every interlocutor what he wanted to hear,” Quarracino said.

“First, he got rid of my uncle’s most important collaborators, like Monsignor José Erro, the rector of the Buenos Aires Cathedral, a saintly priest, whom he told by phone to resign and retire without consideration, without thanks,” he noted. “I think he did this to show the clergy of Buenos Aires that the leadership of the Archdiocese was going to change radically. He swept away everything that suggested continuity with the preceding period, even if he was careful to preserve something of my uncle’s legacy.”

Bergoglio’s heterodoxy wasn’t immediately apparent after his appointment, but became clear within a year and a half, according to Quarracino. “But as time went on, he began to show signs of a certain ‘slackness,’ not so much in what he said but in what he did.”

In December 1999, for example, Bergoglio ordered the archdiocese to celebrate a “Mass of the Millennium,” at odds with upcoming Jubilee Year proclaimed by Pope St. John Paul II and celebrated by the universal Church. “I believe he did this to show the ‘world of the powerful’ that he was independent enough to act independently of the universal Church, while respecting the form,” said Quarracino.

Bergoglio’s career had long been marked by conflict. At the time that Cardinal Quarracino pushed to have him named auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires in the early 1990s, the Jesuits had “banished” the former provincial to Córdoba “to keep him away from Buenos Aires.” “The end of his term was marked by great internal divisions between his friends and opponents,” Quarracino told

The promotion “solved Bergoglio’s big problem, namely the enormous conflict he had with many Jesuits who had been his friends and from whom he had distanced himself,” Quarracino said. But as auxiliary bishop, he added, Bergoglio could still be “harsh, even cruel.”

“Auxiliary Bishop Bergoglio knew how to win the esteem of a large part of the young clergy with his simplicity, piety, caring and psychological guidance, which he exercised like no other – often for the better, in some cases for the worse. Towards those who fell out of favor with him, he was often harsh, even cruel. He subtly sidelined the older clergy to promote his friends and young protégés,” Quarracino attested.

“I don’t know the details, but from a distance I think it was his personality that brought him into conflict with his confreres, because he always aspired to power,” he said.