Francis’s packed August schedule includes a daunting trip to Ireland

Pope Francis is back to work this coming week, after a month of “staycation” in the Casa Santa Marta. His schedule was reduced, and his General Audiences were suspended for the month of July. The Pope was not, however, given over entirely to rest and relaxation.

Major scandals were on his desk in July, the biggest of which by far was the ongoing McCarrick Affair. For the first time since 1927, the Pope accepted the resignation of a member of the College of Cardinals. Last time it was the French Jesuit, Louis Billot, and the catalyst of the resignation was a contretemps over the Frenchman’s political activities in support of the radical reactionary group, Action Française.

That said, Billot had repeatedly asked to be allowed to resign: he was never comfortable in his red hat, and had principled reasons apart from his interest in the French monarchist-integralist movement. This time, the circumstances are rather different.

McCarrick is accused of sexual offences against many victims – some of them minors and others seminarians and priests – over a period of nearly 50 years, during which he rose to the pinnacle of power and prestige in the Church.

Whatever the outcome of any canonical or civil investigations, the story has already refocussed the world’s attention onto the abuse crisis.

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