Pope Francis gives his speech during his weekly general audience, at the Vatican, Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

Sex abuse scandal: Pope seeks prayers to fight ‘devil’

Vatican said Pope Francis had asked for Catholics worldwide to unite and pray the Rosary each day during October

Pope Francis asked Saturday for daily prayers to protect the Catholic Church from what he says are “attacks by the devil,” in his latest response to the clerical sex abuse and coverup scandal roiling his papacy.

A Vatican statement appeared to be an indirect response to accusations that Francis himself, and a string of Vatican officials before him, were complicit in covering up the sexual misconduct of a now-disgraced American ex-cardinal.

The Vatican said Francis had asked for Catholics worldwide to unite and pray the Rosary each day during October “to protect the church from the devil, who is always looking to divide us from God and from one another.”

At the same time, Francis asked for prayers so the church becomes ever more aware of its “guilt, errors and abuses committed in the present and the past and is committed to combat it without fail to prevent evil from prevailing.”

Francis identified the devil as the “Great Accuser, who roams the earth looking for ways to accuse.”

The Vatican wouldn’t say if Francis was referring to its former ambassador, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has thrown the papacy into turmoil by accusing Francis of rehabilitating ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI over reports he slept with seminarians.

READ MORE: Pope begins purge in Chilean church over sex abuse scandal

READ MORE: Priests molested 1,000 children in Pennsylvania, report says

Vigano accused more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials, as well as a host of U.S. bishops and papal advisers, of being part of the coverup and called for Francis to resign over the scandal.

Francis has said he won’t respond to Vigano’s claims, but ever since Vigano’s 11-page accusation was published Aug. 27, Francis has referred repeatedly to the “Great Accuser” who attacks the church and seeks to sow division within it.

In a Sept. 11 homily with visiting bishops in the pews, Francis said: “These days, it seems as if the Great Accuser has been unleashed and has it in for bishops. It’s true, we’re all sinners, all of us bishops.”

Francis added that the Great Accuser “looks to reveal the sins, so that they are seen, to scandalize the people” and said the strength of the bishop against the Great Accuser is prayer.

Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible. After news broke of the investigation, several former seminarians and priests came forward to report that they, too, had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults.

Vigano’s claims — coupled with new revelations of abuse and coverup in the U.S. church — has led to a crisis in confidence in both the U.S. and the Vatican hierarchy, since McCarrick’s penchant for seminarians was apparently an open secret in some U.S. and Vatican church circles.

U.S. bishops have said the Vatican is preparing “necessary clarifications” to Vigano’s claims, but they haven’t yet been released.

Vigano, for his part, has assumed that Francis’ repeated references to the devil and “Great Accuser” are directed at him.

In a new missive issued Friday, Vigano blasted the Vatican’s official silence over his original claims and accused Francis of mounting a campaign of “subtle slander” against him with his references to Satan in his morning homilies.

Vigano’s new document was dated Friday, Sept. 29, the feast of St. Michael, Archangel. St. Michael is considered the protector of the church, the leader of all angels who battled evil and drove it from the church.

Vigano has cast himself as the church’s protector who at great personal risk broke two decades of Vatican “omerta,” or silence, to reveal the truth about McCarrick and his protectors for the good of the church.

Francis, in his Saturday prayer request, also cited St. Michael in urging prayers be directed to the saint “who protects us and helps us in the fight against evil.”

He quoted a famous prayer to St. Michael that exhorts the saint to protect the faithful “against the wickedness and snares of the devil” and asks for God to rebuke him and “cast into hell, Satan and all the evil spirits who prowl through the world seeking the ruin of souls.”

Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

BC Ferries confirms Northern Sea Wolf ready for summer season

The plan is to have the Northern Sea Wolf assume the mid-coast service as of May 18

Historic building in Alexis Creek destroyed by fire overnight

“If it hadn’t been a heavy rain last night we could have lost many houses in the area”

Gas prices spike in northern B.C. ahead of the long weekend

Fuel went up 17 cents overnight in Prince Rupert

OP-ED: Striking a balance with the oil tanker moratorium

Dennis Patterson, Senator for Nunavut, on protecting Canada’s environment and economy with Bill C-48

Dashcam captures close call between minivan, taxi at busy Vancouver intersection

To make the footage more nerve-wracking, a pedestrian can be seen standing at the corner

Waste not: Kootenay brewery leftovers feed the local food chain

Spent grains from the Trail Beer Refinery are donated to local farmers and growers, none go to waste

Deck collapses in Langley during celebration, 35 people injured

Emergency responders rushed to the Langley home

B.C. mom wages battle to get back four kids taken from her in Egypt

Sara Lessing of Mission has help from Abbotsford law firm

VIDEO: Fire guts Peachland home

Crews are still on scene pumping water onto the blaze in the Okanagan neighbourhood

$6K raised in one day’s time for family of woman gunned down in Penticton

GoFundMe launched for family of Darlene Knippelberg, to pay for funeral costs and other expenses

B.C. mountain biker sent home from hospital twice, despite broken vertebrae

Released in Maple Ridge to go home with three fractured vertebrae

Seven tips to travel safely this Easter long weekend

An average of three people are killed, and hundreds more injured, each Easter long weekend in B.C.

Seattle’s 4-20 ‘protestival’ enjoys tolerance, some support – and B.C. could do the same

Seattle’s Hempfest a large-scale occasions with vendors, prominent musical acts and thousands of attendees

Most Read