Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Papal Nuncio to the U.S., has released a 7,000 word letter that directly threatens to bring down the papacy of Francis I.
Viganò alleges that Pope Francis, Cardinal Wuerl, and a number of the Vatican’s most powerful Cardinals had full knowledge of McCarrick's past sexual abuses when he was restored to active ministry in 2013.
In 2009, three years after McCarrick retired from serving as Archbishop of Washington, D.C., Pope Benedict XVI restricted McCarrick to the seminary grounds where he lived and banned him from saying Mass in public. According to Viganò, it took four years for Benedict XVI to act on a series of memos sent to the Vatican between 2000 and 2008 written by two papal nuncios and Viganò himself.
All these memos warned the popes of McCarrick’s "gravely immoral behaviour with seminarians and priests.” Viganò blames the Secretaries of State serving under John Paul II and Benedict XVI, Cardinals Angelo Sodano, and Tarcisio Bertone, for a long delay in acting. But it was the final memo from containing a statement from Richard Sipe, a specialist in clerical sexual abuse, that moved Benedict XVI to impose the canonical sanctions on McCarrick.
How did it happen, then, that in 2013, Pope Francis removed all these sanctions from then-Cardinal McCarrick?
When Francis I was elected, Archbishop Viganò was serving Secretary General of the Vatican City Governatorate. McCarrick told Viganò that Pope Francis was sending him to China, and a few days later in a private meeting the Pope asked him, “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?” The Archbishop replied, “He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.” In spite of this explicit warning, McCarrick quickly became part of a trusted ‘inner circle’ of advisors to the new Holy Father.
Thus, from the date of the conversation, June 23, 2013, Pope Francis knew that McCarrick was a serial predator.” Viganò adds that Pope Francis “knew that he [McCarrick] was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.”
However, on June 20, 2018, a review board of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York ruled as "credible and substantiated” an allegation that McCarrick had sexually abused a 16-year-old altar boy while a priest in New York. Pope Francis ordered McCarrick to observe "a life of prayer and penance in seclusion” and accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals.
How did such a man as McCarrick ever get appointed to the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in the first place? Viganò reveals that McCarrick’s past was known in the Vatican and the U.S. before being appointed. He names one leading member of the Vatican Curia for allowing McCarrick’s appointment, Cardinals Angelo Sodano, and two others, Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolini, for subsequently protecting him.
Cardinal Sodano, Secretary of State in 2000, had received the memo written that year warning of McCarrick’s history of sexual abuse. For this reason, the nomination of McCarrick was opposed by then then-Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re. When Sodano persisted with the appointment, Cardinal Re wrote a note dissociating himself from the appointment saying McCarrick had been 14th on the list of potential candidates.
The next Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, received copies of memo warning of McCarrick’s behavior in 2006 and 2008, and he did nothing. The current Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, has been well aware of the sanctions imposed by Benedict XVI and the reasons for them but did not object to Pope Francis removing them.
Viganò’s letter is particularly pointed about Cardinal Wuerl: “His recent statements that he knew nothing about it [McCarrick’s past] . . . are laughable. The Cardinal lies shamelessly. . . .” Viganò, as papal nuncio to the U.S., had personally spoken to Wuerl about the matter as well as sent him two letters, which were never acknowledged.
It’s doubtful that Cardinal Wuerl can remain as Archbishop of Washington, D.C. after being exposed as a liar on such an important matter in the life of the Catholic Church. Viganò mentions a number of other U.S. bishops who knew about McCarrick’s background but remained silent.
The looming question is how will this impact Pope Francis? Will he be forced to resign by pressure from the College of Cardinals? Not likely. Or will the swelling outrage of lay Catholics make him realize his total loss of moral authority? Pope Francis has now become the poster boy for official cover-ups of sexual abuse by pedophiles and homosexuals in the priesthood and the religious life.
Many will question Archbishop Viganò’s motivation for releasing such an explosive letter. What makes his statement credible, however, is that he provides factual evidence for all of his accusations. He cannot be dismissed as someone ‘getting even’ for being shoved into the outer circle of Vatican affairs. The Archbishop gave his own reasons at the end of his letter:
“My conscience requires me also to reveal facts that I have experienced personally, concerning Pope Francis, that have a dramatic significance, which as Bishop, sharing the collegial responsibility of all the bishops for the universal Church, do not allow me to remain silent, and that I state here, ready to reaffirm them under oath by calling on God as my witness.”
I see no reason not to believe his word.
Dr. Deal W. Hudson took over Crisis Magazine in 1995, leaving in 2010 to become president of Catholic Advocate. While at Crisis, Hudson led the Catholic voter outreach for President George W. Bush in 2000 and 2004, and later advised the campaigns of both John McCain and Donald Trump on Catholic outreach. In 2014, he began his weekly two-hour radio show, "Church and Culture," on the Ave Maria Radio Network, and launched www.thechristianreview.com in 2015. His books include "Happiness and the Limits of Satisfaction" and "Onward Christian Soldiers: The Growing Political Power of Catholics and Evangelicals in the United States." To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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