Pope defends late pope against ‘unfounded accusations’

Pope Francis has come to the defence of the late Pope John Paul II who was accused in a recent documentary film of ignoring allegations of abuse by priests and protecting them by transferring them.

Francis said that the former pope, who was born Karol Wojtyla in Poland, is “these days the object of insulting and unfounded insinuations.”

The Catholic Church leader defended the late pope on Sunday before the faithful in St. Peter’s Square in Rome.

Francis did not say, however, to which accusations he was referring.

In March, a documentary film caused an uproar in Poland, as the movie accuses Wojtyla of knowing about allegations of priests’ abuse in the 1960s and 1970s, when he was archbishop of Krakow.

The film says Wojtyla protected perpetrators by transferring them.

Italian and Vatican media, however, related Pope Francis’ statement to remarks made by the brother of Emanuela Orlandi, who disappeared almost 40 years ago.

The Papal State’s judiciary has been investigating the case since January.

Prosecutors want to pursue suspicions and lead that Orlandi, the daughter of a Curia employee and a Vatican citizen, was abducted or murdered.

The teenage girl never returned home on June 22, 1983, after a music lesson in Rome’s old town. A body was never found.

After a meeting with the Vatican’s chief prosecutor, her brother, Pietro, once again spoke out about the case on a TV programme on Tuesday.

He said that he was convinced that Pope John Paul II as well as Benedict XVI and Francis knew or know what happened at that time.

However, a statement that left room for interpretation caused a stir.

Orlandi said that he had heard that Wojtyla had gone out every evening with two friends, both of whom were Polish priests, and certainly not to “bless the houses.”

On Friday, he clarified in another broadcast that he had never accused Pope John Paul II of paedophilia.

He alleged that his words had been instrumentalised to make headlines out of it.

AFP