“Vigano letter responds to Cardinal Ouellet’s charge of rebellion against pope” & related articles

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Catholic  News Agency  CNA

19 October 2018

.- In a new testimony Friday, Archbishop Carlo Vigano charged that Pope Francis has been negligent in his responsibilities to the Church, and responded to efforts to refute allegations he has made in recent months about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and other ecclesiastical leaders.

Vigano also denied charges that he is in rebellion against Pope Francis.

Responding to an Oct. 7 letter from the Vatican’s prefect for the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Vigano said he is not urging anyone to “topple the papacy,” and that he prays for Pope Francis daily — more than he has for any other pope — urging the pontiff to “admit his errors, repent.”

However, Vigano’s Oct. 19 statement also defended his decision to “bear witness to corruption in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church,” which he called a painful decision. He said he believes his further silence would cause damage to souls and “certainly damn” his own.

Responding to the charge that he has created confusion and division in the Church with his testimony, Vigano said “impartial observers” know there was already an excess of both, a situation which he blames at least partially on Pope Francis.

Confusion and division, he said, “is inevitable when the successor of Peter is negligent in exercising his principal mission, which is to confirm the brothers in the faith and in sound moral doctrine. When he then exacerbates the crisis by contradictory or perplexing statements about these doctrines, the confusion is worsened.”

“Therefore I spoke. For it is the conspiracy of silence that has wrought and continues to wreak great harm in the Church — harm to so many innocent souls, to young priestly vocations, to the faithful at large.”

Vigano’s statement outlines the principal claims he made in his original Aug. 25 testimony about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the knowledge he says the Vatican and Pope Francis had regarding of the ex-cardinal’s sexual abuse of seminarians.

Vigano’s latest testimony also summarizes what he considers Ouellet’s main arguments.

“In brief, Cardinal Ouellet concedes the important claims that I did and do make, and disputes claims I don’t make and never made.”

Refuting a claim by Ouellet, that the Holy See was only aware of “rumors” about Archbishop McCarrick and nothing further, Vigano said that “to the contrary, that the Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts,” and has documentary proof in the appropriate archives, where “no extraordinary investigation is needed to recover them.”

“The crimes reported were very serious, including those of attempting to give sacramental absolution to accomplices in perverse acts, with subsequent sacrilegious celebration of Mass.”

The attempted sacramental absolution of an accomplice in a sin of sexual immorality is a “grave delict” in the Church’s canon law, for which a priest can be punished with excommunication.

Vigano conceded a statement from Ouellet’s letter that there were not canonical “sanctions” against Archbishop McCarrick (as claimed by Vigano in his original testimony) but that there were “conditions and restrictions” against him.

He said that he believes “to quibble whether they were sanctions or provisions or something else is pure legalism. From a pastoral point of view they are exactly the same thing.”

The archbishop argued that the public criticism against him following his August testimony was silent on two topics: the situation of the victims and the “corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy.” It is not a matter of politics or “settling scores,” he said, but “about souls.”

He said it is “an enormous hypocrisy” to condemn abuse and feel sorrow for victims, but not denounce the “root cause” of much sexual abuse: homosexuality within the clergy. He also accused homosexual clergy of “collusion,” and called clericalism an instrument of abusers, but not the “main motive.”

“I am not surprised that in calling attention to these plagues I am charged with disloyalty to the Holy Father and with fomenting an open and scandalous rebellion,” for calling attention to “homosexual corruption,” he said.

Vigano ended his testimony by asking any priests or bishops who have access to documents, or who have other knowledge, to testify to the truth of his statements.

“You too are faced with a choice,” he charged. “You can choose to withdraw from the battle, to prop up the conspiracy of silence and avert your eyes from the spreading of corruption” or choose to speak, he said.

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Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

Our Sunday Visitor

10 October 2018

OSV Newsweekly

Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, pictured in 2001 photo, had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops. However, Cardinal Ouellet said, there were never any formal sanctions because, at the time, there was no proof. (CNS photo/Brendan McDermid, Reuters)

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

However, because they were only rumors and not proof, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican nuncio to the United States.

The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano’s letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops’ appointments in the United States.

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as “dear brother,” Cardinal Ouellet said, “I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion.”

Archbishop Vigano’s letters, he said, “inflict a very painful wound” on the church, “which you claim to serve better, aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!”

“Come out of hiding,” Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was published, claiming that it was for his own safety.

“Repent of your revolt,” the cardinal wrote before asking, “How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the pope’s) name in the canon of the Mass?”

Cardinal Ouellet’s letter, written with the approval of Pope Francis, was published the day after the Vatican said the pope had ordered a “thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”

The statement added that “the Holy See is conscious that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues.”

Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope Francis in June 2013 that in “2009 or 2010,” after Cardinal McCarrick had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. Archbishop Vigano later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions “privately” perhaps “due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to obey.”

In his open letter, Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano, “You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013, of the McCarrick case in an audience he granted to you like many other papal representatives he met for the first time that day.”

“Imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information he received that day regarding many people and situations,” the cardinal wrote. “I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him as much as you would like us to believe, given the fact that he was an 82-year-old archbishop emeritus who had been without a post for seven years.”

As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as nuncio to the United States, “they say nothing at all about McCarrick.” However, the cardinal added, “I told you verbally of the situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past.”

Cardinal McCarrick “was strongly exhorted not to travel and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors,” Cardinal Ouellet said, but “it is false to present these measures taken in his regard as ‘sanctions’ decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such documents signed by either pope.”

And, unlike what Archbishop Vigano claimed, there are no documents from Cardinal Ouellet’s predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, saying that then-Cardinal McCarrick was ordered to live a life of withdrawal and silence under the threat of canonical penalties.

The reason such measures were not taken then and were only taken in June by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet said, was because there was not “sufficient proof of his presumed guilt.”

“His case would have been the object of new disciplinary measures if the nunciature in Washington or any other source would have furnished us with recent and decisive information about his behavior,” the cardinal told the former nuncio.

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Archbishop Vigano issues new letter on Pope Francis and McCarrick

Catholic News Agency

27 September 2018

.- Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has issued a new letter addressing his allegation that senior prelates have been complicit in covering up alleged sex abuse by Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.

Headed with Archbishop Viganò’s episcopal motto, Scio Cui credidi (I know whom I have believed), the letter, dated Sept. 29, was released Sept. 27.

The former apostolic nuncio to the US prefaced his letter giving “thanks and glory to God the Father for every situation and trial that He has prepared and will prepare for me during my life. As a priest and bishop of the holy Church, spouse of Christ, I am called like every baptized person to bear witness to the truth … I intend to do so until the end of my days. Our only Lord has addressed also to me the invitation, “Follow me!”, and I intend to follow him with the help of his grace until the end of my days.”

He noted it has been a month since he released his testimony, “solely for the good of the Church,” alleging that Pope Francis and other high-ranking prelates knew of grave sexual sins committed by Archbishop McCarrick.

He said he chose to disclose the cover-up “after long reflection and prayer, during months of profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events … The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church.”

“Well aware of the enormous consequences that my testimony could have, because what I was about to reveal involved the successor of Peter himself, I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true.”

Archbishop Viganò affirmed that some of what he revealed is covered by the pontifical secret, but defended himself saying that “the the purpose of any secret, including the pontifical secret, is to protect the Church from her enemies, not to cover up and become complicit in crimes committed by some of her members.”

He called himself a witness “of shocking facts,” and said he believed very grave harm could be avoided “only by divulging the truth.”

“Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my testimony,” the archbishop noted; referring to the proverb “silence is consent”, he said that “if they deny my testimony, they have only to say so, and provide documentation to support that denial.”

“How can one avoid concluding that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my testimony?”

Archbishop Viganò noted that Pope Francis’ response to his testimony was, “I will not say a word,” though “he has compared his silence to that of Jesus in Nazareth and before Pilate, and compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church — though without ever uttering my name.”

The former nuncio charged that rather than simply saying, “Viganò lied”, the pope has “put in place a subtle slander against me — slander being an offense he has often compared to the gravity of murder.”

“The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building,” Archbishop Viganò asserted.

He said that “the pope’s cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake,” noting that Francis “has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults.” He gave as examples Fr. Julio Grassi, Fr. Mauro Inzoli, “and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.”

Archbishop Viganò called on Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and the other American bishops who met with Francis Sept. 13 to state whether the pope refused “to carry out a Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up,” saying that “the faithful deserve to know.”

He also appealed to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

Archbishop Viganò said that Cardinal Ouellet “had maintained his dignity … at the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate.”

“Later, however, when his work as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops was being undermined because recommendations for episcopal appointments were being passed directly to Pope Francis by two homosexual ‘friends’ of his dicastery, bypassing the Cardinal, he gave up. His long article in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he came out in favor of the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, represents his surrender.”

Addressing Cardinal Ouellet, he said: “before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.”

Archbishop Viganò closed his letter by encouraging the faithful to “never be despondent” and to have faith and complete confidence in Christ.

“This is a time of repentance, of conversion, of prayers, of grace, to prepare the Church, the bride of the Lamb, ready to fight and win with Mary the battle against the old dragon,” he said.

He referred to an image of the calming of the storm from St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, which shows Christ both in the boat asleep, with Peter trying to wake him, and also standing behind the apostles and in command of the boat.

“The scene is very timely in portraying the tremendous storm the Church is passing through in this moment,” Archbishop Viganò said, “but with a substantial difference: the successor of Peter not only fails to see the Lord in full control of the boat, it seems he does not even intend to awaken Jesus asleep in the bow.”

“Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar? Perhaps is he being tempted to try to act as a substitute of our only Master and Lord?”

“The Lord is in full control of the boat,” he concluded. “May Christ, the Truth, always be the light on our way!”

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The man who took on the pope: The story behind the Viganò letter

Letter exposes deep ideological clashes in the church with former Vatican ambassador to the US siding with conservatives

The Irish Times

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano speaks during an anti-abortion youth Mass at the Verizon Center in Washington in 2015. File photograph: Gregory A Shemitz/Reuters

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano speaks during an anti-abortion youth Mass at the Verizon Center in Washington in 2015. File photograph: Gregory A Shemitz/Reuters

Two Wednesdays ago, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò showed up at 9.30am at the Rome apartment of a conservative Vatican reporter with a simple clerical collar, a Rocky Mountains baseball cap and an explosive story to tell.

Archbishop Viganò, the former chief Vatican diplomat in the US, spent the morning working shoulder to shoulder with the reporter at his diningroom table on a 7,000-word letter that called for the resignation of Pope Francis, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.

The journalist, Marco Tosatti, said he had smoothed out the narrative. The enraged archbishop brought no evidence, he said, but he did supply the flair, condemning the homosexual networks inside the church that act “with the power of octopus tentacles” to “strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations”.

“The poetry is all his,” Tosatti said.

When the letter was finished, Archbishop Viganò took his leave, turning off his phone. Keeping his destination a secret because he was “worried for his own security,” Tosatti said, the archbishop then simply “disappeared.”

The letter, published Sunday, has challenged Pope Francis’s papacy and shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its core. The pope has said he will not dignify it with a response, yet the allegations have touched off an ideological civil war, with the usually shadowy Vatican backstabbing giving way to open combat.

The letter exposed deep ideological clashes, with conservatives taking up arms against Francis’s inclusive vision of a church that is less focused on divisive issues such as abortion and homosexuality. But Archbishop Viganò – who himself has been accused of hindering a sexual misconduct investigation in Minnesota – also seems to be settling old scores.

As the papal ambassador, or nuncio, in the US, Archbishop Viganò sided with conservative culture warriors and used his role in naming new bishops to put staunch conservatives in San Francisco, Denver and Baltimore. But he found himself iced out after the election of Pope Francis.

Then in 2015, he personally ran afoul of Francis. Archbishop Viganò’s decision to invite a staunch critic of gay rights to greet the pope in Washington during a visit to the US directly challenged Francis’s inclusive message and prompted a controversy that nearly overshadowed the trip.

Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse survivor with whom Francis has spoken at length, said the pope recently told him Viganò nearly sabotaged the visit by inviting the critic, Kim Davis, a Kentucky clerk who became a conservative cause celebre when she refused to grant marriage licences to same-sex couples.

“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,” Pope Francis said, according to Cruz.

“And I was horrified and I fired that nuncio,” Cruz recalled the pope saying.

Now, three years later, Viganò appears to be trying to return the favour.

Known for his short temper and ambition, Viganò has clashed with superiors who stunted his ascent in the church and has played a key role in some of the most stunning Vatican scandals of recent times.

While Viganò, who was once criticised by church traditionalists as overly pragmatic, has aligned himself with a small but influential group of church traditionalists who have spent years seeking to stop Francis, many of his critics think his personal grudges are central to his motivations.

After one church leader shipped him out of the Vatican to America, thwarting his hopes of receiving a scarlet Cardinal’s hat, Viganò’s private 2011 memos – many of them deeply unflattering to the leader responsible for his ouster from Rome – were leaked and splashed around the globe.

Supporters of Viganò, who did not return a request for comment, bristle at the notion that his letter calling on the pope to resign represents the fury of a disgruntled excellency. They portray him as principled and shocked by what he sees as the destruction of the church he loves.

Infuriated

Tosatti said the archbishop had explained to him that, as a bishop, he felt a deep responsibility to the church and that, as a 77-year-old, he wanted to clear his conscience for when his moment came. But he said the archbishop was also infuriated by a recent article in the Italian press sympathetic to Pope Francis and critical of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI – and felt he needed to retaliate.

Viganò is well versed in Vatican infighting. In 1998, Viganò became a central official in the Vatican’s powerful secretary of state. In the letter, he writes that his responsibilities included overseeing ambassadors out in the world, but also the “examination of delicate cases, including those regarding cardinals and bishops.”

It was then he says he first learned of the abuses committed by Cardinal Theodore E McCarrick, the American Catholic leader whose history he says Pope Francis knew about for years – and covered up.

In 2009, Viganò was moved to the Governorate of the Vatican City State, a job with less influence over Vatican policy but with power over some of its revenue.

Known as parsimonious, he turned Vatican City’s deficit into a surplus. But his hard-management style prompted complaints, and anonymous emails alleging he was inappropriately promoting the career of his nephew began making the rounds in the Vatican. His style and rigour on vetting Vatican contracts also bothered some leaders, including secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, and an anonymous report in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale claimed he had designs on the Vatican’s security services.

Cardinal Bertone, who Viganò writes in the letter “notoriously favoured promoting homosexuals”, banished him to the US.

Throughout his power struggle, Viganò had written urgent appeals to Benedict to stay in the Vatican.

He said he needed to stay because his brother, a Jesuit biblical scholar, was sick and needed care, and he accused Bertone of breaking his promise to promote him to the rank of cardinal.

In 2012, when he was already in the US as nuncio, or ambassador, the letters started appearing in leaks eventually pinned on the pope’s butler. The scandal consumed the Vatican and prompted intense blowback.

But Viganò’s brother, Lorenzo Viganò, told Italian journalists that his brother “lied” to Benedict that he had to remain in Rome “because he had to take care of me, sick.” To the contrary, he said he had lived in Chicago and was fine and had not talked to his brother in years over an inheritance dispute.

Viganò maintained his position as ambassador in the US after the election of Francis. But in the letter published Sunday, he alleged the former Cardinal McCarrick “orchestrated” the selection of bishops blinded by a gay ideology that he blames for the sex abuse crisis.

Yet Viganò has been accused of covering up misconduct as well. According to documents disclosed as part of a criminal investigation into the St Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, he ordered bishops in April 2014 to quash an investigation into accusations that Archbishop John Nienstedt engaged in sexual misconduct with adult men and adult seminarians.

Viganò, anticipating the criticism, gave Tosatti a statement denying those reports Wednesday.

After angering Francis during the Kim Davis episode, Viganò was called back to explain himself in Rome, where in a sign of his designs to return to Rome, he refused to give up his Vatican apartment. Reports in the Italian media this week asserted that after removing Viganò from his position, Pope Francis also kicked him out of his Vatican apartment.

But Viganò returned from his Milan home often enough, joining forces with traditionalists antagonistic to Pope Francis.

And he returned this summer to get working on the letter.

Widespread abuse

About a month ago, Tosatti said he received a call from the archbishop, asking if he could meet with him in a discreet place. Viganò told the reporter his story, but said he was not ready to go on the record.

But when news of decades of widespread clerical abuse in Pennsylvania broke, Tosatti urged the archbishop to tell his story. On August 22nd, he returned, this time with a written statement.

Tosatti said that he saw no documents or other evidence, and after three hours, they finished.

The archbishop asked Tosatti if he knew anyone who could publish it in English and Spanish. Tosatti sent the letter to the National Catholic Register, which is owned by a company that runs several conservative Catholic platforms critical of Francis.

“They are all tied,” said Tosatti, who said he alone helped draft and distribute the letter.

Its publication was delayed, not so that it would blow up Francis’s trip to Ireland amid the sex abuse crisis, he said, but so that it could be translated.

After they were done writing it, Tosatti said he accompanied Viganò to the door and bowed to kiss his ring, only to see him pull it back.

Tosatti explained that it was not a personal respect he wanted to show, but respect for his office and authority.

“It’s not for you,” Tosatti recalled telling him as tears welled in the archbishop’s eyes. “It’s for the role you have.”

The archbishop told him, “Now that I have finished, I can leave, and leave Rome, too,” according to Tosatti.

“Where will you go?” Tosatti recalled asking.

“I will not tell you so that when they ask you, you will not have to lie – and I will shut off my phone,” the archbishop said, according to the reporter, who said that both men suspected the Vatican of tapping their phones. – New York Times service

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