Pope's visit

Archbishop who claims Pope Francis knew of sexual abuse allegations against a senior cleric as "a man of great interity"

Pope Francis refused to address the allegation on Sunday as he flew back from Dublin to Rome. Picture by Gregorio Borgia/AP

A DIRECTOR at Rome's leading American priest school has described an archbishop who claims Pope Francis knew of sexual abuse allegations against a senior cleric as "a man of great interity".

In a television interview, Monsignor Anthony Figueiredo, director of The Pontifical North American College in Rome, said the latest claims have shaken up the church.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a former Vatican ambassador to the US, said he had told the pontiff of the allegations against prominent US cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013.

However, he said that rather than punish McCarrick, who was forced to resign last month, Pope Francis had lifted sanctions imposed on him by his predecessor Benedict XVI.

In his letter published in the National Catholic Register and several conservative US Catholic publications, Mgr Vigano said "corruption has reached the very top of the Church's hierarchy".

The timing of the release has led to speculation conservative elements in the Catholic hierarchy are using the issue to mount a coup to remove the liberal pontiff.

Pope Francis refused to address the allegation on Sunday as he flew back from Dublin to Rome, saying only "I think that the communique speaks for itself".

Mgr Figueiredo told CBS News that the timing of his letter - while Francis was apologising to abuse victims on a trip to Ireland - was "like an earthquake for the Church".

The cleric said he trusts the word of the 77-year-old.

"I know him personally. I know him as a man of great integrity, honest to the core.

"He's worked for three different popes, and [was] sent to a Vatican position, a diplomatic position as big as the United States, which means he's a trusted man."

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Pope's visit

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