The crux of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s indictment of Pope Francis comes toward the end of his Memorandum: “Francis is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren. Indeed, by his action he has divided them, led them into error, and encouraged the wolves to continue to tear apart the sheep of Christ’s flock.”

The remedy he proposes for this intolerable situation is drastic, but logical if his claims are true: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

The fact that Pope Francis refused to answer questions about Viganò’s charges on the flight back from the World Meeting of Families in Ireland is telling. How likely is it that an innocent man would let these multiple serious charges of malfeasance remain unanswered? Certainly possible, but highly unlikely. Notably, just the day before at Dublin Castle, Francis said:

With regard to the most vulnerable, I cannot fail to acknowledge the grave scandal caused in Ireland by the abuse of young people by members of the Church charged with responsibility for their protection and education…The failure of ecclesiastical authorities—bishops, religious superiors, priests and others—adequately to address these repellent crimes has rightly given rise to outrage, and remains a source of pain and shame for the Catholic community. I myself share those sentiments… My predecessor, Pope Benedict, spared no words in recognizing both the gravity of the situation and in demanding that “truly evangelical, just and effective” measures be taken in response to this betrayal of trust (cf. Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, 10). His frank and decisive intervention continues to serve as an incentive for the efforts of the Church’s leadership both to remedy past mistakes and to adopt stringent norms meant to ensure that they do not happen again. More recently, in a Letter to the People of God, I reaffirmed the commitment, and the need for an even greater commitment, to eliminating this scourge in the Church, at any cost, moral and of suffering (emphasis added). 

In the letter from Pope Benedict XVI cited by Francis we read:

All of us are suffering as a result of the sins of our confreres who betrayed a sacred trust or failed to deal justly and responsibly with allegations of abuse… I know that many of you are disappointed, bewildered, and angered by the way these matters have been handled by some of your superiors. Yet, it is essential that you cooperate closely with those in authority and help to ensure that the measures adopted to respond to the crisis will be truly evangelical, just and effective. 

Read more at First Things.