Pope Francis

Illinois Bishop Reacts to Memo Concerning Pope's Handling of Abuse Allegations Against Cardinal

An Illinois bishop is speaking out about the explosive memo released over the weekend that claimed Pope Francis ignored allegations of abuse in the Catholic Church.

Springfield Bishop Thomas Paprocki said he believes the allegations published in a memo by former Archbishop Carlo Vigano, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican, deserve further investigation. The memo claims the Pope ignored allegations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused seminarians.

“I think the key issue we have to focus on here is the safety of children, and to provide a safe environment for people in our churches,” Paprocki said.

Cardinal Blase Cupich talks to NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern

Pope Francis spoke about the abuse crisis in Ireland during his weekly audience in Rome on Wednesday, but he did not mention the abuse scandal rocking the church in the United States. The Pope declined to discuss the memo with reporters.

Paprocki said he believes the pontiff should take an active role in looking into the allegations.

“Even at the level of the Pope, even if there are allegations of sexual abuse, he can’t say, and those defending him can’t say, ‘he’s got more important things to do,’” he said.

In an interview Monday, Cardinal Blase Cupich said it would be inappropriate for the Pope to get into allegations made by the former archbishop.

“For the Holy Father to get into each and every one of those aspects is inappropriate,” Cupich said. “He’s got a bigger agenda. He’s got to get on with other things.”

Cardinal Blase Cupich fields questions from NBC 5's Mary Ann Ahern.

Paprocki said he believes Vigano’s allegations need another look.

“I don’t know why he would be saying these things, unless he believed they were true,” he said. “He was in a position certainly to know a lot of things that he’s talking about.”

The head of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference has requested an audience with Pope Francis, but a date has not yet been set for that meeting.

As for Cardinal Cupich, he will be heading to Rome in September for regularly scheduled committee meetings, and it’s likely the crisis will be discussed.

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