It is time for Archbishop Viganò to meet the press

In this Nov. 16, 2015 file photo, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., listens to remarks at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)In this Nov. 16, 2015 file photo, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S., listens to remarks at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

News that the Holy See is preparing the “necessary clarifications” to the allegations of cover-up and corruption made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò against Pope Francis and more than 30 past and present senior Vatican officials has been widely welcomed in the church.

As the Vatican prepares its response, many reporters in Rome say Archbishop Viganò also has many questions to answer. Since dropping his bombshell letter, however, he has gone into hiding and acted like an insurgent, making intermittent sniper comments or statements to those journalists and news outlets who share his opposition to Francis. Isn’t it time for him to come out of hiding and meet the press?

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Since dropping his bombshell letter, the archbishop has gone into hiding, making intermittent statements to those news outlets who share his opposition to Francis. 

The “clarifications” from the Vatican are necessary to help the Catholic faithful and bishops, especially in the United States, as well as the wider public, to distinguish between the truths, half-truths, falsehoods, imprecisions and insinuations in the letter written by the former papal nuncio to the United States and published simultaneously by what The Washington Post called the “conservative Catholic media.”

The former nuncio has certainly raised some disturbing and important questions. It should be noted, however, that while he denounced “the culture of secrecy,” “a conspiracy of silence,” “the corruption [that] has reached the very top of the church’s hierarchy” and the cover-up of the abuses committed by the former cardinal-archbishop of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, under the previous two popes—John Paul II (1978-2005) and Benedict XVI (2005-13)—Archbishop Viganò kept his most lethal ammunition for Pope Francis.

He ignores the fact that Francis, more than any of his predecessors, has reached out to victims and survivors, meets with them regularly, introduced legislation making it possible to remove bishops for negligence in protecting minors or cover-up of abuse, removed many bishops, sanctioned two cardinals and admitted his mistakes in failing to listen to the victims, as in Chile.

In his letter, Archbishop Viganò downplays the fact that Pope Francis inherited the problem of the abusive cardinal from his two predecessors.

In his letter, Archbishop Viganò downplays the fact that Pope Francis inherited the problem of the abusive cardinal from his two predecessors, and by the time of the pope’s election in March 2013, Archbishop McCarrick was nearly 83 years old. Benedict XVI had accepted his resignation almost seven years earlier and, according to Viganò, had subsequently imposed sanctions on him, which he accused Francis of removing.

It is significant that Viganò gave little or no importance to the fact that it was Pope Francis who imposed severe sanctions on Archbishop McCarrick and removed him from the College of Cardinals at the age of 88, once he received firm evidence that he had abused a minor. Since Francis had already imposed these penal measures on the former cardinal in July, why then did Viganò write his letter a month later?

A senior Vatican official, speaking to America, offered one answer to this question, summarizing what many here think: “If Benedict or Francis had made Viganò a cardinal, he would never have written the letter!”

Apart from that, however, one may ask what was the purpose of this letter? To answer this question, it is necessary to understand that Archbishop Viganò’s letter was but the latest and most lethal—but almost certainly not the last—in a series of increasing attacks over five years by a sector of the more traditionalist wing of the church (including bishops and intellectuals) who claim to align themselves with the teaching of John Paul II and Benedict XVI and strongly dislike Pope Francis’ theology and vision of the church. This sector is closely aligned with persons (many of them Catholics) in the conservative political and economic worlds, particularly in the United States. They have been attacking Francis since the start of his pontificate, using media outlets and reporters friendly to their cause. Indeed, Archbishop Viganò’s letter was crafted with assistance from at least one of those reporters and publicized in a coordinated effort by these news outlets and subsequently by a galaxy of bloggers of a like mind.

These attacks against Francis have become regular and systematic. They spring from this vocal minority’s disagreement with the pope’s leadership of the church.

These attacks against Francis have become regular and systematic, as I have seen during my coverage of the papacy for America. They spring from this vocal minority’s disagreement with the pope’s leadership of the church, his ongoing insistence that mercy is at the heart of the Gospel, his commitment to encounter not confrontation and his appointment of bishops that are pastors not cultural warriors. They come from its dissent from his magisterial teaching in “Laudato Si’” (2015), the encyclical regarding climate change and the protection of creation, and in “Amoris Laetitia” (2016), the exhortation about the family. They are also based on these people’s disagreement with his statements (2013-18) on the economy that kills because it prioritizes profit over people, his statements from 2013 onward on immigration, and his condemnation of the possession of nuclear arms (2017) and of the death penalty (2018).

The attacks began soon after Pope Francis’ election because of his alleged “desacralizing of the papacy” and his “Who am I to judge?” response on the return flight from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro in July 2013, when asked about gay priests in the church. The attacks multiplied in connection with the assemblies of the Synod of Bishops on the family (2014-15), with the letter of the 13 cardinals in 2014 and the “dubia” raised by the four cardinals in 2016 regarding his opening the possibility for divorced and remarried persons to receive Communion. Especially since 2014, they have taken the form of almost monthly publication of articles or interviews in the media accusing the pope of departing from traditional church teachings on marriage, the family and homosexuality. The attacks have also come through international conferences in Rome (Archbishop Viganò attended at least one) and highly publicized statements by groups of theologians, bishops and priests accusing him of betraying the church’s magisterium and being guilty of “seven heresies.”

Archbishop Viganò’s letter was the most powerful of these attacks to date because by accusing Pope Francis of covering up the abuse of Archbishop McCarrick and of lifting sanctions imposed by Benedict on him, it sought to undermine his moral authority, destroy his credibility in the eyes of the world and seriously damage the vast public support for him. It cleverly manipulated the sexual abuse question in the interests of their wider agenda outlined above.

It is false to claim that Pope Francis lifted sanctions against Archbishop McCarrick; there is no evidence that there were sanctions as such.

The letter, however, has turned into a boomerang for the minority sector that opposes Francis, because it has thrown the spotlight back on how John Paul II and senior Vatican officials in his pontificate responded to the allegations against Archbishop McCarrick that arrived in 2000 with the letter from the Rev. Boniface Ramsey. It raised the disturbing question as to whether there is a parallel in how the allegations against the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, and those against Archbishop McCarrick were both mishandled under John Paul.

The letter has also brought the spotlight to bear on how Benedict XVI and his senior officials responded to the allegations in 2006 against Archbishop McCarrick by Father Gregory Littleton, and by Richard Sipe in 2008. It brings to center stage the question of Viganò’s own role then and in the following 10 years. He first called for removing the red hat from Cardinal McCarrick and subjecting him to sanctions prescribed in canon law (2008); he then expressed “dismay” at the slow response under Benedict. In the letter, he affirmed that “what is certain is that Pope Benedict imposed the above canonical sanctions on McCarrick,” perhaps in 2009 or 2010, sanctions “similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

Archbishop Viganò and journalists who sustain his position have been forced to admit that Benedict XVI did not impose canonical sanctions on the errant cardinal-archbishop. At most, Benedict or Vatican officials in his name issued “private” instructions or recommendations to keep a low profile and to leave the seminary (something he did at the end of 2007). It is false, therefore, to claim that Pope Francis lifted sanctions against Archbishop McCarrick; there is no evidence that there were sanctions as such.

The former nuncio claimed that Pope Francis knew about the abuses committed by Archbishop McCarrick because he had informed him of this in a private 40-minute audience on June 23, 2013. But it should be remembered that it was Francis, not Archbishop Viganò, who raised the subject of Archbishop McCarrick. This raises the question: If the matter was of the great importance he subsequently claimed in his letter, why then did the nuncio not introduce the subject first, since he asked for the audience? Indeed, the reason he asked for an audience was something quite different; it related to clarification regarding the kind of candidates for bishops that Francis wanted. Viganò did not ask for the audience to report on McCarrick. Why not?

He wrote in his letter that when the new pope asked, “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?” he responded “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops, there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

Was that all he told the pope about Archbishop McCarrick? Did he go into any depth about these grave matters (note, he did not use the word “abuse”)? How long did he talk with the pope about this? In the following years as nuncio (2013-16), did he submit any dossier or provide Pope Francis with any new or more substantial information about his abuses? Did he ever raise the matter in his various meetings with Francis—for example,during his visit to the United States in 2015, when the pope stayed with him at the nunciature in Washington? If not, why not? And why, if he was so concerned about the then cardinal’s immoral behavior, did he participate in so many public events in the United States with Archbishop McCarrick?

There are many other questions to be answered, but one stands out above all others: Why did Archbishop Viganò wait to go public with his accusatory letter until almost two years into his retirement and one month after Francis had removed Archbishop McCarrick from pastoral ministry and the College of Cardinals?

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David Vu
2 months ago

The same can be said of this Pope.

William Bannon
2 months ago

Exactly...Francis is still hiding from the dubia in silence which silence he just used again as are certain Vatican figures hiding in silence when the press has tried what Francis mandated to them...investigate. The above author needs to “ swerve” as the young say nowadays.

Paul Mclaughlin
2 months ago

He doesn’t need to respond to the dubia. If you bother to read Church Law, the Exhortation cannot be the means of communicating new teachings. It can add greater clarity to existing teachings, which it does quite well.

Burke is angry little man. He is still crying about the election of Francis and wants a redo. He has proven to be a terrible administrator. And let’s see what The SL files say now that Carlson has agreed to release them, including those from Burke’s tenure.

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
2 months ago

Hail Mary, Full of Grace, protect America Media from trolls. Amen.

John Rysavy
2 months ago

Don’t know how that is helping the discussion with name calling. Sunlight is necessary for all parties!

Frank T
2 months ago

Might it be that Vigano is using the McCarrick Affair to discredit the pope for spearheading change
in the Church? He certainly seems to be in league with those who don't want change of any kind.
This speaks to some sort of power play, I think.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

Seems very probable. Consciences are very subjugated to one’s foundational wounds.

lynne miller
2 months ago

That's what it sounds like to me, Frank! Instead of thinking of what Jesus taught, that group thinks of what will benefit itself, possibly a ploy to become a cardinal.

Trent Shannon
2 months ago

Francis started a reform agenda, and its due to report this year. Vigano and the cabal of isolationist Pharisites are just playing the outrage for mileage to further their agenda, over the lives and bodies of church abuse survivors, to pursue the bogeyman who is mentioned in a total of 4 bible passages and 3 catechisms, because apparently being born that way is an egregious sin (but child abuse and cover ups are nothing of the sort)

Thinking of Vigano I picture a snivelling little man. Maybe that's his aura. Only he's exhausted ammunition. And I get the feeling something to hide other than pride

Douglas Coombs
1 month 4 weeks ago

It is Francis who ended the reform of the Vatican Bank. Vigano found 50 million dollars in one year, taking the Vatican Bank from a 10 million deficit to a 40 million surplus by cleaning things up. Francis talks about change, but his has been one of the most financially and morally corrupt papacies in several hundred years. Francis ended the audit of the Vatican Bank by outside consultants. Pope Francis' eyes and ears at the Vatican Bank is a man who lived openly with his boyfriend in Uruguay and was caught in a broken down elevator with a teenage rent-boy. Of course, the age of consent is 15 in Uruguay, so the Pope dismissed the child sexual abuse as between consenting adults (one of whom was being paid). It smacks of the Wuerl's pay-off of Fr. Zirwas who moved to Cuba where the prostitutes were cheaper with the money he got from the Pittsburgh diocese and was found by his boyfriend having been murdered by one of his gay prostitutes. Cardinal Wuerl reinstated the child molestor Zirwas as a full priest and spoke glowingly of him at his funeral, which was attended by more than one bishop.

Yet, still Francis hasn't accepted his two year old resignation letter.

What a reformer Pope Francis is!!!!

Frank T
2 months ago

I also wonder if American conservatives are putting undue pressure on American Bishops. Money is always needed and even Bishops can be flattered by attention.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

Seems very probable in an institutional church which has turned in on itself.

Trent Shannon
2 months ago

Buying bishops (even popes) to get your agenda met was all the rage in the medieval era. How things have changed and stayed the same...

Colin Donovan
2 months ago

While some so-called "conservatives" no doubt would like to see the Pope resign, most "Catholics" of all views simply want the truth to come out up and down the hierarchical ladder, with the consequence that future generations will not have to endure what past generations of children, parents, seminarians, clergy and parishioners have had to endure from moral and governance corruption in the Church. If that means that Francis is known to the future as the Pope who reformed the Church on these questions that would be the best outcome, and better than finding the allegations true. For either, the truth must be known, and THAT is what most Catholics want.

john schmidt
2 months ago

It isn't the ordinary Catholics or the Pope that wants to cover this up. It is the conservatives who don't want the reforms he is trying. It sounds like he should have fired a bunch at the beginning.

lynne miller
2 months ago

You've hit the nail on the head, John.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

I agree wholeheartedly!

Patty Bennett
2 months ago

You're absolutely right!

Terry Magyar
2 months ago

The Pope needs to meet the press. Pope Francis is the one being silent. It's Satan that has successfully tempted the Princes of the Church to cover up crimes of sexual abuse. Rome can easily hire profession investigators from the FBI or Scotland Yard. This McCarrick Affair must be investigated !

john schmidt
2 months ago

There is no evidence of any coverup by this Pope. An accusation by a disgruntled employee who was passed over for the Red Hat was made even though he is a conservative trying to derail the reforms of the Church. However, anyone with a problem with the Pope is pushing this line.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

I agree!

James Hickman
2 months ago

“There’s a point where you have to put your faith on the line,” Father Haley said. “You have to put your life at risk. I am willing to die for this. I am willing to stand up for the truth. Someday, this will all come out. The abuse scandal will seem small compared to this.”

Worth a trip down memory lane...see whether this article linked in my comment matches reality. It's from Nov 15, 2004 -- nearly 14 years ago. Warnings and revelations back then align very well with the Testimony of Archbishop Viganò. As the author here claims that Archbishop Viganò is an insurgent two days after the seventeenth anniversary of 9/11 (consider the ways real insurgents have faught against Americans in war) and in the midst of the #MeToo movement, I am saddened that this appears in a magazine named America. We keep hearing a defense of Pope Francis that once the Holy Father knew of the credible reports of abusing a minor, His Holiness removed Archbishop McCarrick from the College of Cardinals. But we assume that His Holiness, since it is not denied even by the Pope, knew that McCarrick was sexually abusing those under his authority, including priests and seminarians. That a media organization in today's culture would attack the whistle blower who is attempting to reveal cover-up culture in a world filled with it shows the true colors of this author and organization. Whether LifeSiteNews has a right-leaning take on theology does not matter if it is true that many in the Church's hierarchy knew of McCarrick's sexual abuse of young adults for decades. Even the left-leaning secular news, including CNN, seems to accept this version of the Testimony. Or there is CBS, which is perhaps more middle of the road, yet still secular press. This is hardly a conservative Catholic conspiracy -- or a new one at that.

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2004/nov/15/20041115-124042-2061r/

CNN: Difficult to find now, but you can search and find that Father Boniface Ramsey was the priest at Chris Cuomo's wedding.

CBS: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y8MRimOkagY

Ron Chandonia
2 months ago

Yet another scurrilous personal attack on a whistleblower who made some very specific charges . . . and no response at all to the allegations in his testimony. If this is the best "liberal Catholic media" can do, it's hardly surprising people turn for the truth to your conservative counterparts.

Stephanie Hampton
2 months ago

Amen!
Vigano has shown gross disrespect for the Pope but also for the Church, timing his "testimony" to coincide with the end of the Family Meeting in Ireland.
Before Vigano's letter, it was only Vatican insiders such as yourself who knew of this anti-Francis. Now they have played their hand.
I have confidence in our Holy Father. Christ called St. Francis to "rebuild my Church"; I think it no coincidence that Bergoglio chose the name.

Although this is a very painful period, I believe that our Church will come out of it a stronger, leaner organization and perhaps even put more of fifty-year-old Vatican II reforms into effect.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

I fully agree

lynne miller
2 months ago

Thank you, Stephanie, very well said!

Mike Macrie
2 months ago

It amazes me how Conservative Bishops can criticize Pope Francis when all this sexual abuse and cover ups occurred under their watch. While the American Conference of Bishops was demonizing the Obama Administration over the ACA act,
sexual abuse was going on in their parishes under their noses. It makes you wonder what do they discuss in their meetings. I put no Faith in the American Conference of Bishops, heck I put no Faith in Cardinals as well. The Catholic Church needs to stop sticking their noses in government politics and need to start putting their own house in order.

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

How true! So sad and treasonous of Christ!

Mark Langlois
2 months ago

Let’s stick to facts ...

Richard Neagle
2 months ago

This one true catholic and apostolic church is not up for remodeling by Pope Francis and his modernist cohorts as they see fit. It is his job as
pontiff to maintain the truth , not to change our "interpretation" of it. Truth can't be changed. This Pope has surrounded himself with heretical modernists like Kasper and Marx who a faithful catholic could never trust, so how can we trust him? It will be cardinal against cardinal and bishop against bishop for the foreseeable future , Even middle of the road catholics like Phillip Lawler and Raymond Arroyo are calling time on this diabolical Cardinal Martini inspired modernist agenda. We are as mad as hell and we are not going to take it anymore, and yes if we can rid ourselves of this disastrous papacy through pressuring him to resign due to his gross negligence in promoting McCarrick depite knowing of his gross behavior , then I am all for it.

Marie Cotter
2 months ago

Mr. O'Connell, your reply to this is:
'Was that all he told the pope about Archbishop McCarrick?'
--Was that all??

Peter Kowalski
2 months ago

This article was obviously written by a left-winger......What is going on at the Vatican, is as if St. Peter would tell Jesus that His teachings were wrong. How far would that go?

Jacques DUMON
2 months ago

Why is the Pope staying silent? He only said :"Make yourself your opinion".
Il have read Vigano's testimonial and I made my opinion. IMHO it sounds the truth.
Therefore if Vigano is lying, why doesn't Francis speak and refute the facts he is exposing.
If the Pope was aware about Mac Carrick sexual abuses of children and seminarists as soon as 2013, why did he took him as his number one adviser for the US Church matters ?
Silence is the worst defense when the accusations are so precise.

Josee Turner
2 months ago

What I don't read from this article is an understanding of how demoralizing it is to read the instances of priests abuse of seminarians, young adults and children. One need only perform a minimal search to read of Cardinal McCarrick''s various sexual abuses of young men, and we would not have known of those had it not been for his crime of having a bused a child. This cardinal was a well utilized advisor to the Holy Father. That the Holy Father used him either indicates that the cardinal was properly vetted and pardoned or he was not properly vetted. Either case does not speak well of the Holy Father himself. It is time to take personal resposibility. As a mother of 4 boys, I say it is time to stop excusing serial sexual infidelity. When I think of the case of Msgr Carpozzi, a priest arrested for a homoesexual, drug infested party in the Vatican apartments in the summer of 2017, my inclination to have a lack of confidence in the hierarchy to deal with serial infidelity is supported. May God have mercy on us all.

Josee Turner
2 months ago

What I read in this article is a refusal to understand how demoralized the laity is at reading of the cardinals abuse of our young men, and it would have been kept secret had it not been for the crime of abusing a child. That this man was a trusted advisor to the Pope reflects either poor vetting or pardonned behavior on the of the pope, and that is all on him. As a mother of 4 boys, I am all for cleaning out of serial sexual infidelity. Given the silence on episode of Msgr Carpozzi who was arrested for his drug fueled, homosexual party in the Vatican apartments, I lack confidence that this poison will be removed. A lack of sexual fidelity should not be a conservative vs progressive issue but a Catholic issue. May God have mercy on us all.

Douglas Coombs
1 month 4 weeks ago

Just the type of article one would expect from a magazine that knew about McCarrick's serial sexual abuse and still made him their honored guest at their centennial celebration.

Attack the whistleblower. Excuse the abusers.

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