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Pope Francis speaking with Reuters Senior Correspondent Philip Pullella, July 2, 2022.Philip Pullella/Twitter

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VATICAN CITY (LifeSiteNews) — Pope Francis has stated that there must be “zero tolerance” to sexual abuse within the Catholic Church but remained silent on his own record regarding the protection and cover-up of abuser clerics.

Speaking to Reuters on July 2, in an interview released July 8, Pope Francis stated that “we have to fight against every single case.”

“As a priest, I have to help people grow and save them. If I abuse, I kill them. This is terrible. Zero tolerance,” he said.

The Pontiff made the comments as part of a longer interview which is being released in segments. LifeSiteNews has already reported on the papal comments to Reuters regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Francis ruling out a possible papal resignation, his defense of the controversial Vatican-China deal, and his announcement that women will join the committee appointing Catholic bishops.

In his latest released comments, Francis said that after the explosive exposé of the Boston sex abuse cover-up, the Church “started zero tolerance slowly and moved forward,” a direction which he said was “irreversible.”

Francis’ personal record responding to abuse

While Pope Francis spoke of a “zero tolerance” policy towards abuse, his personal record on the matter has been more permissive. 

The Pope has blamed the sex abuse crisis of minors on the “plague of clericalism” – while not mentioning clerical homosexuality – but has not commented on his own handling of clerics accused of abuse, including ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta. 

The much awaited McCarrick report, released in November 2020, revealed that, contrary to Francis’ statements, he had been informed of the immoral behaviour of Theodore McCarrick but did not act upon them. 

As LifeSite’s Dr. Maike Hickson wrote: “Pope Francis did know about the sex abuse allegations against McCarrick and that the Vatican had taken steps, from 2006 on, to remove him from the public, by telling him to move into a more remote residence and to hold back in his public appearances and travels. Pope Francis chose not to follow up.”

Pope Francis has also come under scrutiny for his relationship with disgraced Bishop Zanchetta, who was sentenced recently to four and half years in prison after having been found guilty of sexually abusing two seminarians. LifeSiteNews has provided a detailed timeline of the Francis–Zanchetta relationship. 

RELATED: Examining the timeline of Pope Francis’ alleged cover-up of bishop imprisoned for sexual abuse

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Pope Francis: Don't make Bishop McElroy a cardinal - he knew about McCarrick
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Bishop Robert McElroy (right) is to be made a cardinal in August, despite his inaction on allegations against notorious ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

We all have a responsibility to speak up when serious wrongs are being brought to our attention, but McElroy didn't.

SIGN this petition to demand Pope Francis not reward a bishop who failed to report allegations against McCarrick

The Bishop of San Diego was told about serious sexual wrongdoing by McCarrick in 2016 when psychotherapist Richard Sipe, who had interviewed numerous victims of McCarrick, sent him a detailed letter, but McElroy sat on that information and is now being made a cardinal.

Appointing him to the College of Cardinals is not only an insult to those who suffered clerical sex-abuse, but also to those who are intent on ridding the Church of such evil.

This decision to make McElroy a cardinal must be reversed, and the only way to make that happen is with pressure from the laity.

SIGN and SHARE this petition to stop the appointment of Bishop McElroy to the College of Cardinals

Sipe told McElory that numerous seminarians and priests reported sexual advances and activity by McCarrick in a letter that also detailed extensive abuse by other clerics.

"I have interviewed twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick," the psychotherapist told McElroy in the 2016 letter, adding: "None so far has found the ability to speak openly at the risk of reputation and retaliation."

McElroy, who claims there was no corroborating evidence, could have brought the allegations to the pope, or even to the Papal Nuncio, but instead ended the correspondence with Sipe, himself a clerical sex-abuse victim.

It would take another year for the truth about McCarrick to slowly emerge in public.

SIGN the petition to stop Bishop McElroy being elevated to the College of Cardinals

Turning a blind eye to serious allegations of sexual wrongdoing is reprehensible in any context, but particularly when a bishop, a shepherd of souls, does so.  

He also supports giving Holy Communion to pro-abortion politicians, contrary to the Church's teaching, while he has concelebrated LGBT Masses as bishop and claimed Fr. James Martin's attempt to normalize the LGBT ideology is "fully consonant with Catholic teaching".

The sad truth is that McElroy is not fit to continue as a bishop, let alone become a cardinal.

Please SIGN and SHARE this petition to stop the rot that continues to tarnish Christ's Church. 

We must do what we can to clean up this mess now.

More Information: 

Bishop McElroy was warned about McCarrick - LifeSiteNews

Pope announces 21 new cardinals, including McElroy - LifeSiteNews

Photo: Theodore McCarrick and Bishop Robert McElroy (Lisa Bourne/LifeSiteNews & Diocese of San Diego/YouTube)


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When Zanchetta was summoned to Rome in 2015 after “nude selfies” of him were found on his phone, Francis accepted the bishop’s claim that he had been the subject of a phone hack. 

Following numerous signed sworn testimonies from priests in Zanchetta’s Orán diocese, confirming the existence of the selfies on Zanchetta’s phone and his “strange attitude” towards seminarians, the bishop abruptly left his diocese for “ill health.”

He was soon moved into Francis’ Vatican as an advisor to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See (APSA), ranking third in the Curial department and having jurisdiction over various properties owned by the Holy See. Francis specially created the position for Zanchetta. 

When a civil trial was begun against Zanchetta in his native Argentina, it was delayed as the CDF refused to send requested files from its own canonical trial of the bishop. After waiting several months, prosecutors decide to proceed with Zanchetta’s trial in February, without the documents the Vatican was asked to provide. 

New measures responding to sex abuse received with ‘resistance’ 

Francis told Reuters that regarding new Church measures to prevent sexual abuse, “there is resistance, but with each new step there is growing awareness that this is the way to go.” Reuters did not mention whether the pontiff gave any further information about this statement.

In 2019, the 85-year-old Pontiff issued a motu proprio responding to clerical sex abuse, entitled “Vos estis lux mundi,” making the cover up of sex abuse a crime under Canon Law. However the document was nevertheless lacking in that it did not condemn consensual acts of homosexuality by members of the clergy 

Despite the reported purpose of dealing with sex abuse, the motu proprio was not received well by all. Writing in First Things Phil Lawler stated that “the motu proprio institutes different procedures, but does not guarantee different results.”

Speaking to German television in early 2019, Cardinal Raymond Burke said that Pope Francis’ response to abuse was “more confusing than anything.”


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