“Two high-ranking cardinals close to Pope Francis,” writes Matthew Cullinan Hoffman at LifeSiteNews today, “stopped an investigation of a seminarian accused of abusing multiple adolescents who serve at Pope Francis’ masses.”
This, Hoffman says, according to “extensive reports in the Italian media as well as statements made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò that were published by LifeSite earlier this year.”
The main victim, who goes by the pseudonym “Marco,” was 13 years old when the abuse, perpetrated by an older, favored seminarian, began. According to Marco:
During the night, when there weren’t any of the superiors in the corridors, he would enter into the bedroom, get into my bed, and begin to touch my private parts. The first time I was 13 years old[.] … That act of aggression was my first introduction to sex, it was something horrible and was wrong, but it became normal. It even happened one time behind the altar of St. Peter’s Basilica. The fear petrifies you. In the end you accept everything but you feel guilty.
The two cardinals who are alleged to have helped cover this up are highly placed in the Vatican. The first, Angelo Comastri, serves as the vicar general of Vatican City.
The second, Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, is a name so familiar in stories like these that it is difficult to understand why he’s not rotting in a cell somewhere.
According to Viganò, just like the McCarrick case, the pope was informed of the accusations by the primary witness, but refused to act:
“After evidence [of the sexual abuse] was collected by Don Stabellini, the case was immediately covered up by the then-bishop of Como, Diego Coletti, together with Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Vicar General of Pope Francis for Vatican City,” said Viganò. “In addition, Cardinal Coccopalmerio, then President of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, who was consulted by Don Stabellini, strongly admonished him to stop the investigation.” …
“The signs I see are truly ominous,” wrote Viganò in July. “Not only is Pope Francis doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse, he is doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers.”
The pope, who chose Coccopalmerio to make the initial push on Communion for the divorced and remarried in the wake of Amoris Laetitia, knows exactly what kind of man he is. Still, he refuses to do anything.
Pope Francis knows that it was Coccopalmerio who intervened in the case of Fr. Mauro “Don Mercedes” Inzoli, who had been found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) of molesting children and abusing minors in the confessional. According to reporting by Michael Brendan Dougherty, he “even went so far as to teach children that sexual contact with him was legitimated by scripture and their faith.” Inzoli was suspended a divinis during the tenure of Pope Benedict. Coccopalmerio helped convince Pope Francis to return him to the priesthood two years later, with the instruction that he should live “a life of humility and prayer.” He did not. He even participated in a conference on the family before he was ultimately convicted by a civil court for eight offenses. More than a dozen others were outside the statute of limitations.
Pope Francis knows that it was Coccopalmerio’s personal secretary, Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, who was discovered by Vatican police in a “drug-fueled homosexual” orgy in a posh apartment in the CDF building — typically reserved for senior curial officials — in 2017. Though they have never been proven, the pope also knows whether the allegations are true that Coccopalmerio, who wanted to make Capozzi a bishop, had personally requested that the pope grant the apartment instead of it going to a CDF staff member — citing an unspecified “urgent need.”
The pope also knows whether Coccopalmerio was present at — and presided over! — that same drug-fueled homosexual orgy, as was alleged by additional Vatican sources in 2018.
Pope Francis knows that Cardinal Coccopalmerio — whom he has treated as his personal canonical adviser — is believed to have “promoted an attitude of indulgence at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith toward priests who were responsible for sexual abuse.” He knows the truth of the allegation that it was specifically through his intercession that “several priests who were working in the disciplinary section responsible for handling cases of abuse were dismissed from the CDF.” These appear to have been the priests Francis fired, without explanation, over then-CDF prefect Cardinal Müller’s objections.
Pope Francis knows the influence that Coccopalmerio had in his decision to intervene directly to stop a plan that would have established a permanent criminal tribunal for bishops implicated in sexual abuse, since the CDF does not have jurisdiction in such cases.
The present case, under media scrutiny and the additional testimony of Viganò, has at last led to a Holy See criminal trial of the accused seminarian (now priest) and the former rector. Pope Francis is said to have permitted the prosecution even though the statute of limitations is over — a fact for which he will undoubtedly receive undue credit.
The question remains: why did it take so long in the first place? Why was the investigation “buried,” as has been alleged in an interview by the judicial vicar of the Diocesan Tribunal involved in the case?
Why, after his interview, was that judicial vicar “removed from his position”? Why did he allegedly “voluntarily resign” from his teaching position as well?
Why does everything that happens around this Vatican look like the mafia-lite workings of a tin-pot Latin American dictatorship?
So here we find ourselves, the dirty, leering grin of Coccopalmerio still haunting our minds from previous stories, and we are forced to ask yet again: why does Pope Francis refuse to take action against the perverse monsters he counts as advisers and friends?
There are, I’m afraid, no answers that could ever satisfy.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.