WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump expressed sadness over the ongoing sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church and tacitly defended the Pope’s handling of the crisis, in an exclusive Oval Office interview with The Daily Caller.
“It’s so sad to watch,” Trump said when asked for his thoughts on the issue, lamenting “the numbers, the length of time, you know, going back 70 years, I think it’s having a really negative impact on the Catholic Church. … “To me it’s one of the sadder stories ’cause I respect so much the Catholic Church. And to me it’s a very sad story.”
The sexual abuse scandal arose in recent weeks after the release of a Pennsylvania grand jury report detailing decades of abuse within the state over the previous decades. The report implicated dozens of priests in sexual abuse and the highest levels of Church leadership in the U.S. in covering up these abuses. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Says ‘Conflicted’ Mueller Is Leading ‘An Illegal Investigation’)
The report has led to calls for leaders like Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl to resign for allegedly knowing about the sexual misconduct of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. A recent letter by the former Vatican representative to the U.S. Carlo Vigano then alleged that Pope Francis himself was made aware of McCarrick’s misconduct in years prior.
The president however defended the Pope’s handling of the crisis saying “the Pope is handling it, I guess the best anyone can handle it. How is he going to handle it?” and demurred on whether the Church leadership in the U.S. should resign over the scandal. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: Trump Critical, But Says Nike’s Kaepernick Deal ‘Is What This Country Is All About’)
“I’m surprised at McCarrick, everyone knew him and so incredible to see these things. It’s devastating for the Catholic Church.”