Archbishop Viganò ordered to pay back $2 million to his brother

  Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, former apostolic nuncio to the United States, is seen in a 2016 photo in Washington. (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz) 

An Italian court has ordered Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal nuncio to the United States, to pay back to his brother, the Rev. Lorenzo Viganò, more than $2 million, plus interest, which he had, according to the Italian press, “illegally and illegitimately” taken from him over many years.

The sentence was issued by Judge Susanna Terni after hearing the case in the civil tribunal of Milan in mid-October, but the ruling was only made known last evening and published by the Italian press today.

Advertisement

Late last August, Archbishop Viganò made headlines around the world when he accused Pope Francis of covering up the abuse of the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and called on the pope to resign.

An Italian court has ordered Archbishop Viganò to pay back to his brother, the Rev. Lorenzo Viganò, more than $2 million.

Today, he is in the news for a very different reason. The story began over half-a-century ago when the two priests—Fathers Carlo Maria and Lorenzo, part of a family of eight siblings—inherited a sizable fortune from their father, a steel industrialist in Milan, who died in 1961. The brothers decided to keep their part of the inheritance “in common” and agreed that Carlo Maria would manage it. Father Lorenzo told an Italian daily in 2011 that he had “trusted him blindly,” until his brother’s actions caused him to resort to legal action and demand the division of their inheritance. (Previous reports in the Italian press have said Father Lorenzo is a Jesuit, but this is not true, according to Il Sismografo, a well-informed site for Vatican news.)

According to the court in Milan, by September 2010 the inheritance included several units of real estate valued at around $23 million, plus a sum of money of around $7 million. Much of the money was held in a bank in Switzerland. The court concluded that the former nuncio had benefited from the real estate, keeping all the money that should by right have been shared with his brother, totaling about $4 million.

Father Lorenzo, who spent much of his life in Chicago, suffered a stroke in 1996, after which it seems that the archbishop took total control of his brother’s part of the finances, on the grounds that Father Lorenzo was not able to do so. According to the Italian press, the move was too much for Father Lorenzo, and he decided to take legal action. This led to civil actions by each of the brothers against each other. The opposing civil cases are not easy to unravel, even today. One of the archbishop’s sisters also recently accused the former nuncio of wrongdoing.

The verdict of the civil court in Milan should mark the end of a family feud over money that has lasted many years.

In 2013, Father Lorenzo told Il Giornale, an Italian daily, “My brother has robbed me of several million euros.” He alleged that the archbishop, by then the nuncio in Washington D.C., had cut him off from his rightful income and had even threatened him, using a person said to be an F.B.I. agent. Father Lorenzo also claimed, to his great dismay, that many of his biblical research files had been destroyed by Archbishop Viganò.

Father Lorenzo told the paper he could not believe it when he learned that Archbishop Viganò had sought in a letter to Benedict XVI on July 7, 2011, to persuade the pope not to send him to the United States as nuncio, alleging that he should remain in Rome because he had to take care of his very sick brother who was physically and mentally weak after a stroke. Father Lorenzo told the Italian daily: “It was a lie, he did not have relations with me for years! He wrote something false to the pope.” In the end, Benedict sent the archbishop to Washington, D.C., following a conflict inside the Vatican caused by the fact that Archbishop Viganò had accused one or more Vatican persons of corruption. A subsequent internal Vatican investigation concluded this was not the case.

Il Giornale first revealed these various “civil and penal legal actions” between members of the Viganò family in 2012, including news that the archbishop’s sister Susanna accused him of cheating her out of some real estate, even as he claimed to be conducting a battle against corruption in the Vatican.

Corriere della Sera, Italy’s paper of record, quotes Father Lorenzo as saying in 2013 that the archbishop “sought to get me to write a testimony in favor of my nephew Monsignor Polvani” (who works in the Vatican Secretariat of State), but, “at other times, he wanted to entrust everything to a [limited] company because he said, ‘If I become cardinal it is not good that it be known that we have so much money.’”

According to the Italian press, the verdict of the civil court in Milan should mark the end of a family feud over money that has lasted many years and included accusations and counter-accusations in a fratricidal conflict, and which has ended in a clear judgment against the former nuncio.

[Explore America’s in-depth coverage of Sex Abuse and the Catholic Church.]

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
Frank T
4 weeks ago

So he is a thief, a liar, a homophobe, a misogynist, (kind of like our President).
Only most of the wing-nuts think he is a saint.
Maybe he should resign subito!

A Fielder
4 weeks ago

Don't forget, he is also an archbishop ministering in the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ. How sad.

Vincent Couling
4 weeks ago

Indeed, he does appear to be tainted by corruption on several fronts. Christopher Lamb over at The Tablet writes about the new book by Tornielli and Valente on the Vigano/McCarrick affair which unravels many of Vigano's half-truths, blatant lies and homophobic tendencies ... https://www.thetablet.co.uk/news/11007/new-book-throws-light-on-vigan-a…

"A new book, “Il Giorno del Giudizio” (“The Day of Judgment”), by two experienced Vatican journalists, Andrea Tornielli (whose interviews with Pope Francis were published in 2016 as “The Name of God is Mercy”) and Gianni Valente, helps to untangle Archbishop Viganò’s claims further, placing them into context and going some way to separating fact from fiction."

Mike Macrie
3 weeks 4 days ago

Well one thing we know for sure about Archbishop Vigano is that he did not take the Vow of Poverty !

Larry Mancin
2 weeks 1 day ago

What about Fr. Lorenzo Vigano, S.J.? Doesn't he have the Jesuit vow of poverty?

Tim O'Leary
4 weeks ago

Frank T has no problem calling out the sins of others to hide his own. This seems like a rather mundane dispute of an inheritance between 2 brothers, even if the amount is large. If Vigano acted in bad faith, i'm sure he will be humble enough to go to confession about it. But, will those in the Vatican who are obstructing the investigation into McCarrick and his enablers confess their sins!

F C
4 weeks ago

Tim O'Leary
If you can peer into the souls of Frank T and Vigano the way you say, then you must have a special gift.

Frank T
4 weeks ago

Tim O' is bitter, I guess. Worshipping the antipope comes at an emotional cost.

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 6 days ago

Frank T - One has to claim to be the pope to even get a chance at being an antipope. It is preposterous to suggest that Pope Francis is an antipope.

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 6 days ago

FC - I used the provisional "if" re Vigano, whereas Frank T explicitly charged Vigano with 4 sins, so who exactly is peering into who's soul? Anyway, as I have said many times, I strongly disagreed with Vigano's call to Pope Francis to resign and said I had not made my mind up on the veracity of his more sweeping charges, even though some have been verified on the edges (like the McCarrick informal sanctions was verified by Cardinal Ouellet). What seems clear, based on all the evidence to date, is there was a network enabling McCarrick and some people in the Vatican are resisting any investigation to find out who those members are. The recent article by Fr. Paul Sullins (married ex-Episcopal priest) is the most convincing analysis to date of the problem in the American Church. http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/is-catholic-clergy-sex-abuse-relat…

Vincent Couling
3 weeks 6 days ago

That Fr Paul Sullins, who used to teach at CUA, has written a so-called "report" for the Ruth Institute is all but laughable!

A search of P Sullins in the Web of Science database reveals a handful of book reviews as this sociologist's primary academic contribution to the ISi-accredited peer-reviewed literature. Fr Paul Sullins does not appear to be a credible expert. Writing a homophobically-inclined "report" for the Ruth Institute reveals all ... https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/ruth-inst… ... "The group is largely a vehicle for spreading the Catholic right-wing Gospel of its founder, Jennifer Roback Morse ... The Ruth Institute was originally a project of the anti-LGBT National Organization for Marriage (NOM), created to conduct youth outreach, and to warn young people about the dangers of divorce, sexual promiscuity, and, especially, to recruit them in the fight to block the legalization of gay marriage". In Jennifer's own words, "“If you hear something like ‘You guys just want to pray away the gay,’ you need to stop them right there, and say ‘we think people should pray, but what we think is that gay is a decision. Whether you identify you identify yourself as gay or straight is a decision.” –Jennifer Roback Morse, at the Vox Vitae camp for teens, July 21, 2017"

'nuf said.

Though MSW has his own insights at the other NCR ... "Amateur hour at the bishops' conference" ... https://www.ncronline.org/news/accountability/distinctly-catholic/concl…

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 6 days ago

Vincent - how clever of you not to address the details of the manuscript or the stats behind the strength of the correlation in Fr. Sullin's data. Much better to describe these Catholics as a hate group, so you can avoid dealing with the obvious. What horror that they opposed gay marriage (as the Church does) or warned youth of divorce and sexual promiscuity. I believe Obama and Clinton had all expressed the same concern only a few years ago, before it became hate to do it. As Fr. Sullins says "To people who hate the truth, the truth looks like hate.”

Sullins is clear to distinguish the pedophilia from ephebophilia from enabling. He uses data from John Jay Report, the PA Grand Jury and an LA Times survey of priests. Here are his key findings:
1. Clergy sexual abuse has declined 75% since the peak 35 yrs ago, but there is a worrying recent uptick.
2. The share of homosexuals in the priesthood rose from 2x in 1950s to 8x in 1980s.
3. A gay network was reported by 25% priest in 1960s and 50% in the 1980s.
4. Ease of access to boys relative to girls accounts for about 20% of sexual disparity of victims, the % homosexual priests accounts for the remaining four fifths.
5. These figures suggest that had the proportion of homosexual priests remained at the 1950s level, at least 12,000 fewer children, mostly boys, would have suffered abuse.

Quotes from Sullins: "My findings showed that the increase or decrease in the percent of male victims correlated almost perfectly (.98) with the increase or decrease of homosexual men in the priesthood. Among victims under age 8, the correlation was lower but still strong (.77). This indicates that 1) the abuse of boys is very strongly related to the share of homosexual men in the priesthood, but that 2) easier access to males among older victims (ages 8-17) was also an enabling factor."
"The most striking feature of sexual misbehavior by Catholic clergy is not that it is more frequent than in similar institutions or communities—rather, by most comparisons, it’s substantially less common. What is notable is that the large majority of victims are male. In most settings the victims of male sexual assault are generally female, but in U.S. Catholic parishes and schools over the past 70 years, the victims of sexual assault by male Catholic priests have been overwhelmingly male. "

Please read the whole report. It is the best data we have so far. No matter your orientation, you should be able to still see the correlation and want to think how we can come up with ways to solve it, not ignore it.

Vincent Couling
3 weeks 6 days ago

As any statistician will tell you, correlation does not imply causation. While statistical tests can calculate correlations between variables, to argue that a pair of correlated variables implies that the one variable causes the other is fallacious (statistics 101). There, I've addressed the details of the manuscript, which was clearly not peer reviewed.

If you, or Sullins, or Abp Sally Cordileone wish to try and establish causation, then I suggest that you pay close heed to the work of highly respected (and published) professionals such as Professor T G Plante (the Augustin Cardinal Bea, S.J., professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical professor of psychiatry at Stanford University School of Medicine, who has worked clinically and academically in the area of clerical sexual abuse for 30 years and has written about the 2004 study from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy). Here is a link to his article "No, homosexuality is not a risk factor for the sexual abuse of children", which is aimed at the layperson ... https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2018/10/22/no-homosexuality-not-r…

And here is a link to the CNS article "Clergy sex abuse not about gay priests, top psychologist says" https://cruxnow.com/church-in-the-usa/2018/09/10/clergy-sex-abuse-not-a…

Tim, your overt homophobia repulses me to the core. People like you and Sullins seek a convenient scapegoat, and nothing is going to change that. I post here not to dialogue with you ... an exercise in futility, and in wandering down the rabbit holes of Alice in Wonderland ... rather, I post here to provide vulnerable and/or interested readers a counterpoint to your mendacious and harmful perspective/ideology!

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 6 days ago

Vincent - your hate of me is palpable. But, I have no hate for you. It’s not in my DNA. I wish only your salvation.

As to your statement re the data, I agree correlation does not establish causation. It is however, a minimal requirement for causation. I only pointed to the correlation. The question is how to explain it. There could certainly be another causation that explains both the increase in homosexuality and the increase in ephebophilia. It should be investigated by non biased analysis.

Jack Feehily
3 weeks 4 days ago

Where is the data for the number of same sex attracted priests who are sexually active? I've seen nothing but speculations.

Georgette Angelman
3 weeks 6 days ago

Tim writes:”If Vigano acted in bad faith, i'm sure he will be humble enough to go to confession about it.”

Tim you have written novels on this forum fawning over Vigano, which tells us one thing: you are his mister (as opposed to mistress). You are his boy, his toy, his silly disquieted gay lover all because your man did not get a red hat. How are you at fluffing? Wipe the saliva and Vigano’s milk from your mouth and keyboard, Tim. Get an STD test while you are it. PS: Vigano will not include you in her will.

Tim O'Leary
3 weeks 6 days ago

Wow, Georgette (?George) - I have never written anything remotely close to fawning over Vigano and have always included reservations re Vigano's testimony. I just take his allegations seriously enough to want a serious investigation of the enablers of McCarrick and others in the homosexual network in a Church that teaches homosexual acts are gravely sinful. Others want to perpetuate the hypocrisy and the cover-up. But, you show such male homosexual/pedophile rage, complete with the standard fare sexual diseases and perversions, that I can only wonder of your sexual identity/sanity.

Jim Spangler
4 weeks ago

How much of this has been triggered by the current situation between Vigano and the Vatican. I think Vigano is an honest man and is telling the truth about the hierarchy of the Church! May he be filled with the gift of the Holy Spirit and continue to expose the homosexuality and evil ilk of the Church. God bless him!

F C
4 weeks ago

Jim Spangler
You ask a good question. The article tells us the dispute with his brother has been going on for many years and has now been conclusively settled against him by a court of law. On the other hand Vigano's decision to accuse the Pope of corruption is only months old. From this, the answer to your question is most probably: "not much".

It is interesting to note, however, that Vigano, who was also a player in the Vatileaks scandal under Pope Benedict, has been in the thick of personal and professional controversy for many years.

Christopher Scott
4 weeks ago

So it’s obvious Archbishop Viganò didn’t become a whistleblower for the money, he already had lots of it!

Christopher Scott
4 weeks ago

So it’s obvious Archbishop Viganò didn’t become a whistleblower for the money, he already had lots of it!

sheila gray
4 weeks ago

Wow, just wow. This looks very bad. I had no idea that Archbishops had that kind of money! Shows how naive I still am at 66! He should have kept his mouth shut. Karma’s a bit...ter pill to swallow.

Vince Killoran
3 weeks 6 days ago

A "prince" of the Church has some princely assets. How Christ-like.

Douglas Fang
3 weeks 6 days ago

From the beginning, I already said Vigano is a coward and a liar and time will prove. This is exactly as I predicted. Actually, it is worse than I thought. Such a pathetic character. It reminds me of Judas.

Will Niermeyer
3 weeks 4 days ago

What an opportune time for this information to hit the news to totally discredit Vigano. I wonder if the is fake news.

Mike Macrie
3 weeks 4 days ago

I wonder who is the poorest Bishop ?, because they should make him Pope.

Larry Mancin
2 weeks 1 day ago

More Jesuitical maneuvers. They try very hard to cover up for each other.
Where is more information about Fr. Lorenzo Vigano, S.J.? Why is Lorenzo living in Chicago?
What happened to the Jesuit vow of poverty? Where is the reporting about how Lorenzo's siblings refute his accusations. Check out articles in Corriere della Sera to find the truth.

Advertisement

The latest from america

“This generation” of religious leaders whom Jesus takes to task in today’s Gospel resist the new and different.
Elizabeth Kirkland CahillDecember 13, 2018
Archbishop García-Siller keynoted “The Church in America: A Conversation on Immigration,” an event co-sponsored by America Media and the Mexican American Catholic College. Norma Pimentel, M.J., executive director of Catholic Charities of the Rio Grande Valley and Sean Carroll, S.J., executive
J.D. Long-GarcíaDecember 13, 2018
Photo of the Velvet Underground and Nico (Cornell University - Division of Rare Manuscript Collections)
In a new exhibit, we are treated to a kind of shrine to the band’s origins.
Rob Weinert-KendtDecember 13, 2018
I was standing in the dumpster looking for food when I was overwhelmed by the thought that I am feeding my family garbage.
Judy Ann EichstedtDecember 13, 2018