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Catholic 'Benghazi:' Factions Forming in Church After Archbishop Accuses Pope

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Prominent liberal Catholic voices have mobilized against Archbishop Carlo Vigano, who accused Pope Francis of ignoring credible sexual misconduct allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Vilano published an 11-page letter Saturday night that laid out his accusations against the pope and several top cardinals.

“He knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intentions and for love of the Church,” Vigano wrote of Pope Francis.

“It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action to save his image in the media,” Vigano continued.

The pope on Sunday declined to either confirm or deny Vigano’s allegations, but said he trusted journalists to properly scrutinize them.

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“It’s an act of trust,” he said. “I won’t say a word about it.”

While the pope has delayed answering what he knew about McCarrick and when he knew it, some of his allies in academia and media have gone on the offensive against Vigano.

National Catholic Reporter columnist Michael Sean Winters slammed Vigano as “a trafficker in conspiracy theories who mixes fact, fiction and venom to produce something explosive but also suspicious.” Winters also questioned whether Vigano actually cares about victims of sex abuse.

“Vigano is a disgruntled former employee. Such people are always a bit angry. They are also often a bit unreliable. He was always a crackpot,” the columnist wrote.

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“But, make no mistake: This is a coordinated attack on Pope Francis,” Winters continued. “A putsch is afoot and if the U.S. bishops do not, as a body, stand up to defend the Holy Father in the next 24 hours, we shall be slipping towards schism long before the bishops meeting in November. The enemies of Francis have declared war.”

Villanova theology professor Massimo Faggioli, a consistent defender of the pope frequently quotedin the media, accused Vigano of launching a coup.

“Doing what Vigano did, timing it exactly when the pope is far from Rome, is technically close to the textbook guidelines for a coup d’etat. A coup which will end like Colonel Tejero’s,” Faggioli wrote in a tweet, referring to the leader of a 1981 failed coup attempt in Spain.

In another tweet, Faggioli referred to the archbishop as a “terrorist.”

And Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture director David Gibson told the National Catholic Reporter that Vigano’s letter was filled with “right-wing talking points” and accused conservative Catholic media of orchestrating the archbishop’s attack.

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“It’s sort of the Catholic right’s Benghazi,” claimed Gibson.

America Magazine, a Jesuit publication known to lean left politically, published an analysis piece that included two paragraphs on “Why some people find [Vigano’s accusations] credible” and 10 on “Why others are skeptical.”

The latter category included evidence, such as “Archbishop’s Vigano’s perceived hostility toward Pope Francis.”

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