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Chicago cardinal: Pope won't get distracted by abuse allegations; needs to focus on climate change

Cardinal Blase Cupich responded to accusations that he and Pope Francis ignored abuse allegations against priests. He says it's time for the pope to focus on greater priorities, like climate change. (Image source: YouTube screenshot)

Amid calls for Pope Francis to resign over allegations that he allowed the cover-up of a systemic sex abuse scandal, a cardinal in Chicago has come to the pontiff's defense saying the pope has greater priorities — like climate change.

He said what?

Responding to scathing accusations against the Pope and himself that they ignored sexual allegations against priests, Cardinal Blase Cupich told Chicago's WMAQ-TV on Tuesday, "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 down a rabbit hole on this."

In an 11-page letter dated Aug. 22, former ambassador and Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said Pope Francis knew of the abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who resigned last month. Vigano called on the pope to resign, saying he had done "evil."

Cupich went on defend Pope Francis further, telling WMAQ, "The record shows, whenever there's actionable information, Pope Francis acts."

"Quite frankly," Cupich added, "[people] also don't like [the pope] because he's a Latino."

Anything else?

The WMAQ interview is one of roughly a dozen Cupich has granted in response to Vigano's letter.

Speaking to the Chicago Tribune on Monday, Cupich insisted he learned of the allegations against McCarrick just moments before the public found out, saying, "It was stunning to me."

The cardinal went on to say, "My record in 20 years as a bishop will show that whenever I have information about anybody who misbehaves, not only with children, but with adults, I've always acted out."

Cupich told the Tribune, "I think the pope has always acted in a way that is filled with integrity and honesty, and I continue to believe that."

Vigano criticized Cupich in his letter, saying the cardinal has "ostentatious arrogance" and was "blinded by his pro-gay ideology."

Cupich admits to citing a 2011 study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, which concluded that homosexual priests were not more likely to commit sexual abuse than heterosexual priests.

He explained to the Tribune:

If you say that this is about homosexuality, then in the end what you're really saying is that people who are gay are more prone to abuse children than straight people are, and that's an injustice. The research does not bear that out. And I've said time and time again. Well, people are saying, "Well, you know, you had so much of this abuse that was male-on-male." That's true. But it was due not because homosexuals are more prone to injure kids, it was due to opportunity and also situational factors.
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