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Gerard O’ConnellSeptember 02, 2018
Father Thomas Rosica with Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi during the Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 2015. (CNS/Paul Haring)Father Thomas Rosica with Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi during the Synod of Bishops in Rome, October 2015. (CNS/Paul Haring)

Father Thomas Rosica, C.S.B., and Federico Lombardi, S.J., former director of the Holy See Press Office, issued a statement on Sept. 2 that challenges Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s version of his meeting with Pope Francis in October 2015 to discuss his controversial encounter with Kim Davis. The statement contradicts Archbishop Viganò’s account of his meeting with the pope, in which he said Francis had never reproached him for organizing the meeting with Ms. Davis.

Father Rosica, C.E.O. of Salt and Light Media Foundation, has acted as Father Lombardi’s aide for English-language media.

Archbishop Viganò arranged the pope’s controversial meeting with Ms. Davis on Sept. 24, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The encounter created a media frenzy in the United States that threatened to overshadow the pope’s historic visit in September. Ms. Davis, a county clerk in Kentucky, had been briefly jailed for refusing to sign the marriage licenses of homosexual couples seeking to register their marriages in the midst of a national debate in the United States about same-sex marriages.

The statement contradicts Archbishop Viganò’s account of his meeting with the pope, in which he said Francis had never reproached him for organizing the meeting with Ms. Davis.

The pope’s meeting with Ms. Davis raised many questions in U.S. media about the pope’s intentions and was viewed by social conservatives in the United States as a papal stamp of approval for Ms. Davis. The Vatican furiously sought to downplay the encounter, with Father Lombardi saying the meeting by no means indicated papal support for Davis and insisting that the only private audience Francis held in Washington was with his former student: a gay man and his partner.

According to Archbishop Viganò’s account, Pope Francis was so upset by what had happened that he asked Cardinal Parolin to summon the nuncio to Rome.

Archbishop Viganò wrote in a recent statement released to lifesitenews.com that in his hour-long meeting with Pope Francis on Oct. 9 “to my great surprise...the pope did not mention even once the audience with Davis!”

He added that immediately after his meeting with the pope, 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.”

At which point, according to Archbishop Viganò’s account, Cardinal Parolin replied, “‘It’s not possible because with me he was furious about you.’”

Father Rosica said the archbishop told them that he never intended to harm the pope with his idea to have Ms. Davis at the nunciature.

Father Lombardi and Father Rosica say Archbishop Viganò failed to mention in his account that he had invited them to meet with him in his Vatican apartment on the evening after his audience with Francis. At that time he seemed “shaken” and offered a very different version of what the pope said.

Father Rosica, who kept notes of the meeting, said the archbishop told them that he never intended to harm the pope with his idea to have Ms. Davis at the nunciature. When Father Rosica asked Archbishop Viganò if the visit had been arranged and approved by the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Conference at that time, Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., and the cardinal archbishop of Washington, Donald Wuerl, “He did not answer.” The question was relevant as it was widely rumored that the U.S. bishops had not approved the pope’s meeting with Ms. Davis.

Father Rosica quoted verbatim the former-nuncio as telling them (speaking in Italian): “The Holy Father in his paternal benevolence thanked me for his visit to the USA but also said that I had deceived him [in] bringing that woman to the nunciature.”

Archbishop Viganò added, “The pope told me: ‘You never told me that she had four husbands.’”

Father Lombardi confirmed Father Rosica’s record of the meeting as “reliable.”

Father Lombardi: “As nuncio, he should have known better about this situation.”

He recalled that Archbishop Viganò had spoken the night before the Davis meeting with Pope Francis and his collaborators and obtained their consensus. But to Father Lombardi’s mind this “did not detract from the responsibility of the initiative of the meeting with Kim Davis and the consequences were mainly of Viganò himself, who had evidently desired and prepared them.”

Father Lombardi commented, “As nuncio, he should have known better about this situation.”

Father Lombardi stated that the meeting between Pope Francis and Ms. Davis “was organized by the nuncio who inserted it in the context of the pope's many and quick greetings at his departure from the nunciature.”

He added, “This certainly did not allow the pope and his collaborators to realize the significance of this meeting.” The former Vatican spokesman said that it was for this reason that “I insisted on this context when I answered the questions that had been asked to me when the meeting had become public.”

Father Lombardi, who was then the Vatican press officer, observed that Archbishop Viganò “now affirms that he had made an agreement with Kim Davis that he did not speak of the meeting before the pope returned to Rome, but only afterwards.” He asked, “I wonder if this aspect—that the meeting would have been made public by Kim Davis after the trip, had been really discussed by Viganò with the pope's collaborators since this would have provoked many reactions”

He concludes, “It seems to me only that the meeting had been planned as being a private one with the pope for a person who was presented to him as worthy of appreciation, even if there was much discussion about her.”

Father Rosica reports that during the October 2015 meeting in Rome, Archbishop Viganò “expressed great concern that no media should know that he had been summoned to Rome to meet with the pope.”

“No one is to know when I am leaving on early Monday morning on a flight to the USA because I have an episcopal installation in a U.S. diocese.”

But, Father Rosica responded, “The media already knows your return flight.”

According to their statement, Fathers Lombardi and Rosica then showed him what the media had reported, and Father Rosica informed Archbishop Viganò that “a journalist has a tape recording of you or one of the monsignors at the nunciature who phoned Kim Davis at her hotel the evening before her meeting with the pope.”

Archbishop Viganò was shocked at this and even more so when Father Rosica played the recording of a person at the nunciature telling Ms. Davis: “A vehicle will pick you and your lawyer up at the hotel tomorrow morning and bring you to the nunciature. Change your hairstyle so people will not recognize you so quickly.”

According to Father Rosica, the archbishop told them “not to make any statements to the press without checking with the nunciature first,” and “when we left him, he seemed troubled and thanked us for our visit.”

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Francis Clinch
5 years 9 months ago

Now Is a good time for the Archbishop to quit stirring this pot.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 9 months ago

Good reporting. I would still like to see the written summary Vigano gave the pope and Parolin re Kim Davis, since this is still the memory of two men against that of another and these things can be open to interpretation years later. Kim Davis is now an outcast and there used to be a time when Pope Francis was not afraid of bad publicity by meeting an outcast. Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well who had many past husbands. But, that was before twitter. Glad to see the journalist work on this but it is a side story to the main event - the McCarrick affair.

Vincent Couling
5 years 9 months ago

MSW over at NCR offers some really invaluable insights into this Vigano affair ... https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/vigan-s-latest-statement-part-concerted-campaign-attack-papacy ... some excerpts ...

"Viganò's latest statement part of concerted campaign to attack papacy. ...

The proper name for this kind of thing is "sandbag." After many people spent months deciding every moment, every venue, every text, every encounter of the papal trip, at the end of a dinner Viganò springs this idea on the pope: Let's have you meet with Davis. He then goes on to say that he explained to the pope who this woman was. And, the pope asked him to clear it with the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, because the pope intuited there might be a political difficulty. Viganò says Parolin was asleep by the time he got to the hotel where he was staying and so, instead, he briefed the cardinal's two principal assistants, Archbishops Angelo Becciu and Paul Gallagher. They signed off. The meeting happened. Viganò goes on to rant about how all hell broke loose when the meeting became publicized.

Notice anything strange about the account? Viganò speaks about this proposed meeting with three non-Americans: the Argentine pope, the Sardinian sostituto and the British foreign minister. Wouldn't it have been wise to check in with an American prelate? Viganò did not mention it in this latest dossier of his, but the fact is that he had consulted with at least one U.S. prelate before the meeting with Davis took place, and he was urged not to do it. I did not know about the meeting until the story broke a few days after the pope had left the U.S. At that time, I spoke with Cardinal Donald Wuerl who, as Archbishop of Washington, had been intimately involved in the planning of every detail of the pope's time in the capital city. That conversation was on background but I have asked the cardinal's permission to put it on the record now given Viganò's latest statement, and he agreed to do so.

Back in 2015, when this all transpired, Wuerl told me then that Viganò had asked him about the advisability of a meeting between the pope and Davis and Wuerl had advised against it. Viganò also told Wuerl that he had asked Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then-president of the U.S. bishops' conference, and that he also had advised against it. NCR has asked Kurtz to confirm this but has not received a response.

It should not surprise that Wuerl — and almost any American bishop — would advise against having the pope meet Davis. Viganò may think she was a "prisoner of conscience" but that misstates her case. ...

It should be obvious to discern why Viganò championed Davis then as now. His 11-page dossier was filled with anti-gay slurs and complaints about a "lavender mafia" that tried to do him in. I suspect the reason Pope Benedict XVI exiled him from Rome and Francis sacked him early on is because they saw what we can now all see: This is an ambitious, gossipy, mean-spirited little man.

This latest self-revealing dossier comes at the same time that Viganò's magnum opus of last week is falling apart. Edward Pentin at the National Catholic Register, who played a key role in disseminating Viganò's original dossier, now appears to be realizing that perhaps he has been taken for a ride. Now Viganò admits his "memory isn't helping me know" as to whether his instructions were written or not. This from a man so precise? Now he says he doesn't know if the supposed strictures against McCarrick were communicated to Wuerl or not. Another source isn't sure if there was a decree or just a private suggestion that McCarrick keep a low profile.

For this, the pope should resign? The pope should dignify the charges of this man who seems incapable of telling the truth, get down in the mud with this score-settler, and why? Because Fr. Gerald Murray and some conservative Catholic women think Viganò is credible? This man whom we learned during Vatileaks lied about needing to stay in Rome to care for his brother, except that his brother was not in Rome but in Chicago, was not ill but healthy, and had not spoken with his archbishop brother for years. This man whom his sister now calls a "farabutto" or "scoundrel."

I have a better idea. Let's admit it was a huge mistake for Benedict to get rid of the headache Viganò was at the Vatican by making him America's headache, and let's thank Francis — the guy who actually sacked McCarrick — for preserving the dignity of the papacy by refusing to get into the Viganò gutter. And, let's recognize, too, that Viganò is part of a concerted campaign to attack Francis and everything he says must be seen in that distorting light. "

Tom More
5 years 9 months ago

Had the liberal media not learned of the meeting, the pope would have returned to Rome having met with two homosexual men and without being upset with having met with a woman who, God forbid, believes that marriage involves a relationship between one man and one woman. Instead of playing to the media, the pope should have the moral courage to say, "Vigano briefed me on the Davis meeting and I believe a person has to have strong moral convictions to go to jail instead of compromising one's religious beliefs." No one seems to want to address whether or not it was truly Christian to have met with her. Vigano would not have set up the meeting had he not believed that Jesus Christ himself would meet with her. What justification does Francis and his minions have for believing that Christ would have done otherwise.

Vincent Couling
5 years 9 months ago

Good heavens! " ... the pope would have returned to Rome having met ... with a woman who, God forbid, believes that marriage involves a relationship between one man and one woman." This woman married and divorced (a total of 4 marriages!), having the child of a different man while married to one, etc. Sure, who am I to judge, but goodness, the scriptures are pretty clear about Jesus talking about divorce and remarriage, but nowhere ... I repeat, NOWHERE ... does Jesus have anything to say about homosexuality. For Kim Davis to have judged gay men entering into civil marriage (the law of the land, the law she was supposed to uphold as a civil servant) on her so-called Christian principles ... all the while being an adulterer in the eyes of the Magisterium ... isn't that just a tad hypocritical? Nothing prevented her from leaving her job if she had such conscientious objection to the law of the land! Now that would have been putting principle before expediency! This sort of gives the lie to Thomas More's desire that the Pontiff should say "Vigano briefed me on the Davis meeting and I believe a person has to have strong moral convictions to go to jail instead of compromising one's religious beliefs." If one claims to have strong moral convictions, then one should apply those to one's own personal life before demanding this of others ... motes versus beams in eyes and all that.

I don't think that Pope Francis would object to meeting anyone for pastoral reasons ... but to have Vigano deceitfully use the Pope in this way to make a political Culture-Warrior statement is beneath contempt! No wonder Viagno's resignation was accepted so very promptly! That Vigano's case of sour grapes has led him to behave in such a despicable manner towards the Holy Father is beyond comprehension ... and that the ultra-conservatives would sanction such behaviour from a deceitful, mendacious bishop towards the Supreme Pontiff illustrates their partisan politicking for precisely what it is.

J Rabaza
5 years 9 months ago

Vincent, it is really pathetic how Vigano acted as Nuncio, his orchestrating Davis, a smug hypocritical Pharissee, who was no Catholic and not even part of the American Catholic church, to be thrust before the Vicar of Christ. This had nothing to do with Catholicism but cultural wars which is why Vigano was removed as Nuncio. He had abdicated his christian salt. It is all clear now, as Pope Francis suggested to journalists, after a few days of investgations, that Vigano, Pentin, EWTN, Chaput, Burke and the usual suspects (e.g. imposters on these forums using fake names) have malformed consciences. They have struck like the serpent at the heel of the Vicar of Christ. And yet today the Pope continues hammering at these external ritualistic zealots for failing to visit widows, orphans and the most fragile of them all

Disconnect these conservative hypocrites from the internet and what would become of them? Nada. They are a big fat nothing. Clamging gong, noisy cymbal.

Our God reigns. It is better to stop even commenting on these satanic attacks on the Church as they only delight the Devil in dividing us due to his minions

Jong Ricafort
5 years 9 months ago

Guillermo Luaces
Very well said, I've been reading all your comment...oh my i'm a fan of yours precise attack on
those people who still believe Vigano's credibility. Pope Francis cannot be touch by satan and his human
cohorts, he is a Master in the Art of Spiritual War, remember how he uses the media strength to overturn all
this deception by calling it "fake news" a snake tactics of satan back in the garden of eden, where the first "fake news" was uttered and deceived Eve.
May God continue to bless your effort to defend the Pope & Church.

Giorgio Battaglia
5 years 8 months ago

@Vincent In the same passages in which Christ talks about divorce and remarriage, scriptural teaching on marriage is reaffirmed by Him: "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’?" - Matthew 19:4-5 which makes it clear that marriage is only between a male and a female; Christ also condemns fornication so there is absolutely no way homosexual activity could be condoned by Him considering the fact that there is no such thing as "marital homosexual relations" thus making such perverted sexual acts always fornication anyways; as per Old and New Testament biblical teaching, such acts are also explicitly described as being abominable and worthy of death. If this bothers you and you feel that you can pick and choose, you are not Christian but an impostor.

Daniel Montiel
5 years 9 months ago

Watching you people pretend that civil marriage is the same as religious marriage / holy matrimony is almost as bad as your lie that someone who believes that civil marriage is the proper place to apply religious tests - in violation of the US Constitution, let's not forget.
Well, the *scariest* of your positions may be your pretense / assumption that Christ would eagerly or happily meet with someone using both their office and the name of Jesus to illegally discriminate against US Citizens. *sigh* You people do not do well when your nature gets pointed out, do you?

J Rabaza
5 years 9 months ago

His sister, Rosanna, calls him a “scoundrel”, and his brother, Lorenzo, a Jesuit priest biblical scholar, calls him a “liar”.

“Rosanna si sente tradita dai due fratelli e va giù pesante: «Carlo Maria, quello lo sappiamo che è un farabutto”

Viganò e la casa in Svizzera: "Carlo Maria è un farabutto"
Il vescovo anti-Papa accusato dalla sorella in una telefonata

- Stefano Zurlo - Sab, 01/09/2018 - 15:41”

wait for Charles Chaput and Raymond Burke to defend the “farabrutto”

Vincent Couling
5 years 9 months ago

It seems Vigano has long had a reputation of being "difficult" ... as reported in La Croix, "According to the Il Sismografo website, a whole section of the report on the Vatileaks affair, which was requested by Pope Benedict and transmitted under seal to his successor, deals precisely with Archbishop Viganò and certain lies contained in his letters to Benedict XVI." https://international.la-croix.com/news/the-true-the-false-and-the-blurry-in-archbishop-vigans-accusations/8320

Patrick Murtha
5 years 9 months ago

There are those so ready to say, What would Jesus do? And yet, with one point here, we know very clearly what Jesus did. In some of the comment, and, indeed in the article, there is criticism over the fact that the Nuncio asked the pope to meet a woman who had "four husbands." If the pope were offended by such a meeting, which, pray God, he was not, I say there lies a great irony. Did not Christ meet with the Samaritan woman who had "five husbands" and was not even married to man she was then living with? The fact is, Christ desired the salvation of souls, which would require the woman to abandon her own adultery, the person living in sin as a homosexual to abandon his sin as well. This I'm-scandalized attitude is a true hypocrisy. Let the pope rather say the same thing to the gay man, to the sodomites and to the pedophiles, as to the woman with four husbands, "Go and sin no more." That is Christ-like.

Tim O'Leary
5 years 9 months ago

Patrick - I agree. He could have inquired about her faith now, and counselled her to lead a more Christian life. The message "go and sin no more" would have been fine. He should have also counselled the gay couple with the same words.

It does seem that Vigano has been proven correct on one main point. He briefed several Cardinals and the Pope beforehand about the meeting with Kim Davis and received approval for the meeting. That was denied by many until now. There was regret later because of the political fall-out.

Vincent Couling
5 years 9 months ago

Tim, you do your job well ... Vigano would be so very proud of you! Just enough truth (peppered with a hell of a lot of untruth) to make people uncertain!

Pope Francis explained the truth to Juan Carlos Cruz: "I didn't know who that woman was, and he 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." Bringing documents during a horrendously pressurized Papal visit ... everyone tired from lack of sleep and non-stop engagements ... is the way a mischief-maker covers his foxy tracks. Vigano had already planned the whole thing ... the wily fox just needed to give a slyly benign cover for why the meeting with Francis should go ahead ... "According to Fathers Lombardi and Rosica's statement, Father Rosica informed Archbishop Viganò that “a journalist has a tape recording of you or one of the monsignors at the nunciature who phoned Kim Davis at her hotel the evening before her meeting with the pope.”

Archbishop Viganò was shocked at this and even more so when Father Rosica played the recording of a person at the nunciature telling Ms. Davis: “A vehicle will pick you and your lawyer up at the hotel tomorrow morning and bring you to the nunciature. Change your hairstyle so people will not recognize you so quickly.” "

Tim O'Leary
5 years 9 months ago

Vincent - Pope Francis sees the left-wing as the gay wing, so the rest of the left has left, and we are left with the gay heresy. Fathers Rosica & Lombardi confirm the Pope Francis and other were debriefed about Kim Davis conscientious objection (the memo Vigano shared) but the pope was angered because Vigano didn't include her multiple divorce past. But, after initial denials, all now agree (NYT, and these witnesses) there was some briefing prior to the meeting, which contradicts the Cruz summary of a complete denial: "I didn't know who that woman was." Did Cruz lie or exaggerate this?

Dolores Pap
5 years 8 months ago

Tim, reading your many posts, it seems that your universe is consumed by hatred for the 'other' and though I am no longer a practicing Catholic because I can't stand the degree of hypocrisy, and sanctimonious parsing of the the bible to control/condemn women and the LGBT community, your attacks on the US Constitution/Supreme Court with your anti-gay slurs is astounding.
Do you remember that when JFK ran for the presidency, the first question that was asked of him was if he would take his orders from his Church, or would he honor the Constitution that is the bulwark of our nation?

Neither you, nor Kim Davis seem to accept that the rights of citizens, as affirmed by the Supreme Court, must be held paramount, even if they conflict with the 'privately' held religious beliefs..
And for Vigano to undermine the Pope, plus interject himself into US politics is just base, unbecoming, and does more damage to your church and its standings in the public eye..

Vincent Couling
5 years 9 months ago

Oh, Patrick ... unlike Kim Davis, the Samaritan woman was not pretending to be all about valiantly defending the sanctity of marriage!

Tim O'Leary
5 years 9 months ago

I note the Left did the same with Paula Jones and Juanita Broderick when she accused President Clinton of coerced sex and rape, or Norma McCorvey of Roe v. Wade fame, when she became Christian and por-life.

Henry Brown
5 years 9 months ago

That the Pope met with sinners should not shock anyone as we are all sinners
in thought, word and deed.

What I find surprising is that the vitriol is directed at Kim Davis and Vigano
but nothing at the two men who carry out activities not condoned by the Bible

- how dare Kim meet with the Pope !!!!!!
- nice of the Pope to meet with the two men.

The Pope should meet with all and any, sinners and saints.

I will leave it to the righteous among you to explain.

Mary Burke
5 years 9 months ago

Aren't we oppose gay 'marriage' ? He should have been honoured to meet with her! We need to oppose this for the sake of the children, they should never be placed with 2 men.... its tooooooo weird, just saying;)

Giorgio Battaglia
5 years 8 months ago

@Mary Burke Not only weird but also an abominable sin that cries to Heaven for vengeance.

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5 years 8 months ago

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