It is astonishing the extent to which supporters of Pope Francis maintain the fiction that he is working hard to cleanse the church of clerical sex abuse. At the Synod going on now in Rome, some bishops offered strong words on the topic:

Bishop Frank Caggiano of Bridgeport did not mince words, confronting the issue of sexual abuse in his opening salvo at his first Synod.

“It is a both a crime and a sin that has undermined the confidence and trust that young people must have in the Church’s leaders and the Church as an institution, so that they may again trust their priests and bishops to exercise true spiritual fatherhood, serve as adult figures in their lives and as authentic mentors of faith,” said the Brooklyn native.

“This sin must never again be found in our midst. Only in this way can the youth of the world believe our synodal call to offer them reassurance, comfort, hope and belonging,” he added.

Wonderful, welcome words. But what is Pope Francis actually doing?

From the Catholic News Agency:

Amid a British investigation into sexual abuse, Cardinal Vincent Nichols of Westminster is expected to face questions regarding the way his archdiocese handled allegations of misconduct made against his predecessor, Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

Nichols is scheduled to testify in November before the Independent Inquiry in Child Sexual Abuse, a panel established by the British government in 2014, charged with reviewing sexual abuse and institutional response in the country’s Catholic dioceses, the Anglican Church, and other British institutions.

In his most recent letter, released to media on Sept. 27, former papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano alleged that Pope Francis was responsible for halting “the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.”

Sources close to the case have told CNA the investigation was marked by procedural irregularities long before it reached Rome, and before the election of Pope Francis.

“It was deference, plain and simple,” one Church official in Britain told CNA, alleging that the matter was not handled according to established Church procedures because it involved a senior Church figure.

Supporters of Pope Francis have claimed this is calumny.

But this week on EWTN, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, ousted last year by Pope Francis as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, indicated (with careful phrasing) that Francis intervened to stop the CDF’s investigation of Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, who, as member of the St. Gallen Group, was a key player in getting Bergoglio elected to the papacy:

The entire interview is worth watching. Müller describes a Vatican in which Francis interferes with investigative and punitive proceedings against accused child molesters — if he favors the accused. Müller says in the interview that the Church ought to place the interests of victims first, not clerics who have patrons in high places. This is not the way things have been under Francis.

Müller, by the way, confirmed that 80 percent of the cases the CDF dealt with under his leadership involved priests abusing males — and that the majority of those were not true pedophilia (molestation of pre-pubescents) but rather of adults molesting post-pubescent minors. Just like what we have seen in the US.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said a week ago:

When [Francis] did speak to journalists [about Viganò’s original allegations of cover-up], he asked them to exercise their professional maturity and draw their own conclusions. But how can journalists discover and know the truth if those directly involved with a matter refuse to answer any questions or to release any documents? The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building.

Moreover, the pope’s cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake. Many more instances have recently been documented in the press, showing that Pope Francis has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults. These include his role in the case of Fr. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires, his reinstatement of Fr. Mauro Inzoli after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry (until he went to prison, at which point Pope Francis laicized him), and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

In the meantime, a delegation of the USCCB, headed by its president Cardinal DiNardo, went to Rome asking for a Vatican investigation into McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo and the other prelates should tell the Church in America and in the world: did the pope refuse to carry out a Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up? The faithful deserve to know.

He’s right: Francis refused to approve a Vatican investigation into McCarrick. Why not? What is the pope afraid of? The truth?

Francis’s modus operandi is confusion. Keep clearly in front of you: the words of bishops — especially the Bishop of Rome — on sex abuse are worthless; what counts are deeds.