There are now credible allegations suggesting Pope Francis knew about and ignored disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s supposed years-long sexual abuse, but much of the press is focused on something altogether different.
Rather than digging deeper into the veracity of the claims made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in his 11-page letter, revealing Francis knew in 2013 about McCarrick’s alleged sexual misconduct against seminarians and priests, many in the press are going after the conservatives searching for answers.
The New York Times, for example, published a headline earlier this week demonizing conservatives for “pouncing” on the leader of the Catholic Church.
Shameful stuff, NYT. pic.twitter.com/NNwpemjCRz
— Tim Carney (@TPCarney) August 29, 2018
In its report, the Times suggested conservatives are now simply using Francis’ alleged knowledge of heinous sexual abuse as a cudgel with which to batter the left-leaning pope:
Just how angry his political and doctrinal enemies are became clear this weekend, when a caustic letter published by the Vatican’s former top diplomat in the United States blamed a “homosexual current” in the Vatican hierarchy for sexual abuse. It called for Francis’ resignation, accusing him of covering up for a disgraced cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick.
Reuters, an international news wire, similarly singled out conservatives for “escalating” a “war” with Francis.
— Reuters Top News (@Reuters) August 28, 2018
And it’s not just some in the media who are turning a blind eye to the allegations against Francis. Some within the Catholic Church, like Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, are apparently outfitted with rose-colored glasses, too.
In an interview this week with WMAQ-TV, Cupich actually said the pope simply doesn’t have time to address the sexual abuse allegations plaguing the Catholic Church and climate change, arguing he should simply focus on the latter.
Cupich on abuse allegations: “The Pope has a bigger agenda. He's got to 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.” pic.twitter.com/CMSSdF6pEc
— Matthew Schmitz (@matthewschmitz) August 28, 2018
“The pope has a bigger agenda,” the cardinal explained. “He’s got to 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.”
And so far, presumably because of Francis’ progressive bent on issues like homosexuality and the environment, among other things, he is treading along relatively unscathed.
The pope told a reporter over the weekend he has no intention of weighing in on the matter of McCarrick’s alleged abuse and his supposed knowledge of it. He told a reporter, “I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself.”
One has to wonder what uproar would have ensued if such deferential treatment would be given to, say, disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein. What if the press — much like they are now with conservatives criticizing the Catholic Church — had demonized whistleblowers like Rose McGowan or Cara Delevingne?
That wouldn’t happen. It shouldn’t.
But that’s exactly what’s going on with the press’s treatment of Francis.
It’s entirely possible the allegations against the pope are untrue, though they come from a reliable source and have been corroborated. Regardless, journalists have a responsibility not to defend those in power, but to hold them to account, no matter what.
That’s a lesson the media apparently learned when President Donald Trump took office last year. But when it comes to Francis, some reporters are reverting back to how they treated Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama — with kid gloves and rose-colored glasses.