Pope Francis said on Sunday he would not respond to explosive accusations by a former top Vatican official that the pontiff had covered up sexual abuse, saying dismissively that the document containing the allegations "speaks for itself".
Francis, talking to reporters aboard the plane returning to Rome from Dublin, said he would "not say one word" on the 11-page document, in which the former official says Francis should resign. The pontiff said journalists should read the document carefully and decide for themselves about its credibility.
The official accused the pope of having known of allegations of sex abuse by a prominent U.S. cardinal for years. The document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, was an unprecedented broadside against the pope by a Church insider.
"I read that statement this morning. I read it and I will say sincerely that I must say this, to you (the reporter) and all of you who are interested: read the document carefully and judge it for yourselves," he said.
"I will not say one word on this. I think the statement speaks for itself and you have sufficient journalistic capacity to reach your own conclusions," he said.
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Vigano gave the bombshell statement to conservative Roman Catholic media outlets during the pope's visit to Ireland, which was dominated by the Church's sexual abuse in that country and others around the world.
He accused a long list of current and past Vatican and U.S. Church officials of covering up the case of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington D.C.
McCarrick, 88, resigned last month in disgrace and was stripped of his title after allegations that he had abused a minor nearly 50 years ago and also forced adult male seminarians to share his bed