Thousands of individual Catholic women have signed an open letter to Pope Francis, demanding the pontiff respond to allegations that he ignored sexual misconduct claims against a former cardinal.
What are the details?
The letter, published by the Catholic Women's Forum on Thursday, had garnered nearly 15,000 signatures by Friday morning. Its opening paragraph references the pope's own words:
"You have said that you seek 'a more incisive female presence in the Church,' and that 'women are capable of seeing things with a different angle from [men], with a different eye. Women are able to pose questions that we men are not able to understand.'"
"We write to you, Holy Father, to pose questions that need answers," the letter states.
Specifically, the letter demands that the pope address the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, whose 7,000-word statement last week accused Pope Francis of covering up allegations of sexual abuse toward the now-disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. The cardinal was removed from his position within the church earlier this year after an internal investigation discovered credible evidence that he had sexually abused at least one male teenager. McCarrick denies the accusations against him.
The pope refused to comment on the accusations made by Vigano when asked by the media.
"I will not say a single word on this," he said.
What does the letter say?
The women's letter to the pontiff says, "To your hurting flock, Pope Francis, your words are inadequate. They sting, reminiscent of the clericalism you so recently condemned. We need leadership, truth, and transparency. We, your flock, deserve your answers now."
The letter goes on to ask the pope to answer whether or not he had been warned about Cardinal McCarrick and if so, when. It then issues the plea, "Please do not turn from us...We need to know we can trust you to be honest with us about what happened. The victims who have suffered so greatly need to know they can trust you. Families, who will be the source of the Church's renewal, need to know we can trust you, and thus trust the Church."
Signers of the letter include professors and faculty from Catholic universities such as Notre Dame; senior fellow Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review Institute; founder and president of Culture of Life Africa, Obianuju Ekeocha; homeschooling mothers and mothers of seminarians.