Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone raised the issue with the pope on Saturday during his weekend visit to Ireland.
The core of his coverup charge against Francis rests on what sanctions, if any, Benedict imposed on McCarrick and what if anything Francis did to alter them, when armed with the same knowledge of McCarrick's misdeeds.
The pontiff said journalists should read the document carefully and decide for themselves about its credibility.
"It's an act of trust", he said.
She said: 'I'm sure the Pope was honest in his apology, but it needs to be followed up by action.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who made the accusations, says the Pope knew about sex abuse allegations concerning prominent USA cardinal Theodore McCarrick for years.
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McCarrick, the former Archbishop of Washington who is now 88, resigned last month after a United States church probe found "credible" allegations that he had sexually assaulted seminarians and minors, including an 11-year-old boy.
By that time, two New Jersey dioceses had settled complaints of sexual harassment and misconduct against McCarrick lodged by two former seminarians. He travelled to Rome with the entire USA conference of bishops for their once-every-five-year visit in 2012 and was even on hand for Benedict's final general audience in 2013.
While the pope was in Ireland and meeting sex abuse victims, a former Vatican official made the claims in a letter.
The letter, an extraordinary j'accuse from a one-time Holy See diplomat, also accuses Pope Francis of having initially rehabilitated McCarrick despite being informed of his penchant for young seminarians in 2013, soon after he was elected pope. He said there are documents backing up his version of events in Vatican archives.
In a Facebook post Sunday evening, Bishop David Konderla of Tulsa said an investigation into sexual abuse and cover-up was necessary to "restore holiness and accountability to the leadership of the Church" and that Archbishop Viganò's statement is "a good place to begin the investigations". Zappone has sent him a memo on the topic and how the Church could help which he says he will be studying. He said Pope Benedict XVI eventually sanctioned McCarrick in 2009 or 2010 to a lifetime of penance and prayer.
In June 2013, the former Archbishop contends, Pope Francis asked his assessment of McCarrick during a private audience.
According to Mr Vigano, McCarrick's misconduct was known in the Catholic hierarchy for years, and former Pope Benedict XVI ordered him to seclusion for prayer and penance almost a decade ago. The accusations have created a crisis of confidence in the US and Vatican hierarchy.
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He and the Pope have always been on opposite ideological sides, with the Pope more a pastor and Archbishop Vigano more a cultural warrior.
"May the Lord keep this state of shame and compunction and give us strength so this never happens again, and that there is justice", Francis said.
"Archbishop McCarrick, like any other person, has a right to due process".
His letter also contained a lengthy diatribe about homosexuality and liberals in the Catholic Church. It often reads like an ideological manifesto, naming all of Francis' known supporters in the USA hierarchy as being complicit in a cover-up of McCarrick's misdeeds.
Asked in a follow-up question when he first learned about the abuse allegations against Archbishop McCarrick, Pope Francis responded, "This is part of the statement".
Vigano himself has had his own problems with allegations of trying to hide the truth.
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