In a new attack on Pope Francis and the Vatican, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò challenged the Vatican’s version of the lead-up to Pope Francis’ controversial meeting with Kim Davis at the nunciature in Washington, D.C., during the pontiff’s visit to the United States in September 2015. A Vatican source, echoing what several people in Rome are saying, told America: “The archbishop seems to have declared open war on Pope Francis and the Vatican.”
In a statement released to lifesitenews.com, the archbishop claims he had briefed the pope on the Davis case and that at the pope’s request he first got clearance from senior Vatican officials and then from the pope himself before the meeting took place. He claims that after rumors of the meeting created an uproar in the United States, the Vatican tried to cover up the true circumstances of the meeting.
The archbishop’s latest broadside against Pope Francis was apparently provoked by comments made to The New York Times recently by Juan Carlos Cruz, a Chilean sexual abuse victim. Mr. Cruz said that during a meeting with Pope Francis in April the pope told him that he did not know who Kim Davis was and that Archbishop Viganò “snuck her in to say hello to me—and of course they made a whole publicity out of it. And I was horrified and I fired that nuncio.”
The former nuncio charges that “one of them is lying: either Cruz or the pope.”
A Vatican source said: “The archbishop seems to have declared open war on Pope Francis and the Vatican.”
A senior Vatican official declined to comment on this latest salvo from Archbishop Viganò and so far the Vatican has issued no official response.
In his statement to lifesitenews.com, he insists that the pope knew who Kim Davis was because he had offered a one-page brief on her circumstances to the pope and Vatican officials. Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk and a charismatic Christian whose parents were Catholic, had been briefly jailed for refusing to sign for reasons of conscience the marriage licenses of homosexual couples who wanted to officially register their marriages in Kentucky.
According to Archbishop Viganò, at the end of dinner at the nunciature on Sept. 23, 2015, he asked to speak for half-an-hour with the pope because he wanted “to bring to his attention” for his “possible approval, a delicate and easily achievable initiative” that Francis meet “in a completely confidential way” with Ms. Davis. Despite his claimed assurance to the pope of complete confidentiality, Archbishop Viganò says later in his statement that he only secured a promise from Ms. Davis to refrain from speaking to the media until the pope had returned to Rome, but rumors of the meeting had begun circulating among the press even as Francis’ return flight began.
Archbishop Viganò also described Ms. Davis to the pope as “the first American citizen condemned and imprisoned for one week for having exercised her right to conscientious objection.” This description is questionable since others have also been imprisoned, for example during the Vietnam War, for conscientious objection. A source told America that the former nuncio created the problem and made a political blunder in the first place by proposing that the pope meet Ms. Davis.
According to the archbishop’s statement, he gave the pope a one-page memo summarizing the Davis case and reported that Francis “immediately appeared in favor of such an initiative, but added that the meeting would have political implications, and said, ‘I don’t understand these things, so it would be good for you to hear Cardinal Parolin’s opinion.’”
The former nuncio charges that “one of them is lying: either Cruz or the pope.”
Since it was already late in the evening, Archbishop Viganò said he went to the hotel where the pope’s entourage were staying, having alerted senior Vatican officials in advance that he wanted to speak to Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin. He said that when he got there he spoke with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the substitute of the Secretariat of State (or chief of staff), and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, because Cardinal Parolin “had already retired to his room and they did not consider it appropriate to disturb him, since they could easily make him aware of our meeting the following morning.”
He said he gave them the same memo he had given the pope. He reported that Archbishop Becciu “was immediately in favor of the pope receiving Davis privately,” but Archbishop Gallagher, “while showing support for the idea given the importance of defending the right to conscientious objection, said that it was appropriate to verify from the point of view of common law whether there were any reasons that would render the meeting inadvisable; namely, whether the legal proceedings brought against Davis were concluded or were still open.”
He said he put Archbishop Gallagher in contact with nunciature’s canon lawyer “to clarify matters” and when he was told that “there were no procedural obstacles,” the Vatican archbishop “gave an unconditionally favorable opinion that the pope should receive Davis.”
The former nuncio said he informed Francis “of the positive opinion of his two principal collaborators, who had then told Cardinal Parolin about our meeting” and “the pope then gave his consent.” Archbishop Viganò then arranged to have Ms. Davis come to the nunciature without anyone noticing.
“To my great surprise, during this long meeting, the pope did not mention even once the audience with Davis!”
Before the meeting, he said, “I alerted the photographer from L’Osservatore Romano that he should not release the photographs of the meeting without the permission of his superiors” and to-date they “have never been published.” He said he also asked Ms. Davis to “promise me in advance that she would not give any news to the media until after the pope’s return to Rome,” and “she faithfully kept her promise.” He had guaranteed the pope “a completely confidential meeting” and did not say that he informed the pope that Ms. Davis would be free to speak to the press after his return to Rome.
He recalled that “early in the afternoon of September 24, before leaving for New York City, the pope entered as planned into the sitting room where Ms. Davis and her husband were waiting for him. He embraced her affectionately, thanked her for her courage, and invited her to persevere.” He reported that “Davis was very moved and started crying” and was then taken back to her hotel “in a car driven by a pontifical gendarme.”
He recalled that “once the pope returned to Rome” the news of his meeting with Davis broke out in the media.
But the rumor that the meeting between the pope and Kim Davis had taken place was already circulating among the media before Francis left the United States. Reporters were discussing the possibility of asking the pope about it during the press conference on the papal plane, but decided against it at the time because the rumors had not been fully confirmed.
Archbishop Viganò complains that the Vatican Press Office then issued a statement, without consulting him, “stating that the pope had never received Davis in a private audience and that at most he may have greeted her among many other people before departing for New York.” He charges that Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Press Office, and his sometime assistant for English language media, Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., “added to the lies.”
He recalled that the next morning “I received a frantic telephone call from Cardinal Parolin, who told me, ‘You must come immediately to Rome because the pope is furious with you!’”
According to Archbishop Viganò, he was received by Francis on Oct. 9, and in their hour long conversation he said the pope “was very affectionate and paternal. He immediately apologized to me for troubling me with coming to Rome, and he lavished continuous praise on me for the way I had organized his visit to the USA, and for the incredible reception he received in America. He never expected such a welcome.”
Archbishop Viganò said, “To my great surprise, during this long meeting, the pope did not mention even once the audience with Davis!”
After his audience with the pope, Archbishop Viganò said he phoned Cardinal Parolin, and told him, “The pope was so good with me. Not a word of reproach, only praise for the success of his visit to the USA.”
According to the archbishop, Cardinal Parolin replied, “It’s not possible because with me he was furious about you.”