Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, then-apostolic nuncio to the United States, listens to remarks at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' annual fall meeting, on Nov. 16, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Accuser blasts pope silence, 'slander' over cover-up claims

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The former Vatican ambassador who accused three popes and their advisers of covering up for a disgraced American ex-cardinal has challenged the Vatican to say what it knows about the scandal and accused Pope Francis of mounting a campaign of "subtle slander" against him.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò penned a new missive a month after his initial 11-page document sent shock waves through the Catholic Church. It was uploaded to a document-sharing site late Thursday (Sept. 27).

Viganò denounced the official Vatican silence about his claims and urged the current head of the Vatican bishops' office to speak out, saying he has all the documentation needed to prove years of cover-up by the Vatican about alleged sexual misconduct by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

"How can one avoid concluding that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my testimony?" Viganò wrote. "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."

Viganò threw Francis' papacy into turmoil last month when he accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. Viganò accused more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials, as well as a host of U.S. bishops and papal advisers, of being part of the cover-up and called for Francis to resign over the scandal.

Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. church investigation determined an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible.

After news broke of the investigation, several former seminarians and priests came forward to report that they, too, had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults.

The scandal has led to a crisis in confidence in both the U.S. and Vatican hierarchy, since McCarrick's penchant for seminarians was apparently an open secret in some U.S. and Vatican church circles.

The archdiocese of Washington announced Friday that McCarrick, 88, now lives at a Capuchin friary in Victoria, Kan., ending months of mystery about his whereabouts.

In his first denunciation, published Aug. 26, Viganò initially claimed Benedict had imposed sanctions against McCarrick prohibiting him from exercising public ministry, traveling or lecturing on behalf of the church. Viganò has modified his account, however, since the public record is rife with evidence McCarrick lived his ministry free from any real constraints, and it is unclear what type of sanctions were ever imposed.

But the crux of Viganò's claim was that he told Francis of the sanctions against McCarrick on June 23, 2013, and that the pope effectively rehabilitated McCarrick and made him a trusted adviser.

Francis has refused to directly respond to Viganò's claims, though the Vatican is expected to release some "clarifications" soon.

Francis has, however, referred to the issue indirectly in his morning homilies, speaking of the silence of Jesus before the "Great Accuser" — seemingly comparing his own silence to that of Christ and Viganò's accusations to the work of Satan.

Rather than directly responding, Viganò complained, Francis "put in place a subtle slander against me — slander being an offense he has often compared to the gravity of murder. Indeed, he did it repeatedly, in the context of the celebration of the most Holy Sacrament, the Eucharist, where he runs no risk of being challenged by journalists."

Francis refused to take questions about the Viganò accusations during his in-flight news conference returning from the Baltics on Tuesday.

Even though it was released Thursday, Viganò's new document was dated Friday, Sept. 29, the feast of St. Michael, Archangel. It wasn't a coincidence.

St. Michael is considered the protector of the church, the leader of all angels who battled evil and drove it from the church. Viganò has cast himself as the church's protector who at great personal risk dared to break two decades of "omerta" or silence.

He acknowledged that by doing so he violated the pontifical secret — the rule of confidentiality that governs much of the inner workings of the Catholic Church.

"Certainly, some of the facts that I was to reveal were covered by the pontifical secret that I had promised to observe and that I had faithfully observed from the beginning of my service to the Holy See," Viganò wrote. "But 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."

Comments

  1. “Vigano’s accusations to the work of Satan”
    If Francis actually is calling Vigano an agent of Satan, the Pope must be desperate. There is of course the possibility that they are both agents of Satan. Or maybe they are just two control freaks competing for control. It would not be the first time.

  2. Re: “Vigano [says] he has all the documentation needed to prove years of cover-up …” 

    If so, why hasn’t he actually produced it? Documentation that Viganò says he has — but refuses to provide — is logically inseparable from documentation that doesn’t exist at all. 

    Another way of putting it is, I’ll believe it when I see it. Until he produces his “documentation,” Viganò can safely be dismissed as a raging, infantile old man. 

  3. Evidence? I don’t need to show you no steenkin’ evidence.

  4. How do you suggest we safely dismiss your raging infantile comments?

  5. If the Vatican has this information mentioned by Vigano, the failure to release it cannot help Francis’ credibility. If Rome is expected to release some “clarifications” soon, the sooner the better so Catholics can decide if any lingering questions remain afterwards. This aspect is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. It is a matter of transparency and accountability. Catholics have a right to know ALL the facts. (And to hell with pontifical secrecy!)

    SIGNED — Progressive Catholic

  6. Re: “If the Vatican has this information mentioned by Vigano …” 

    A presumption not in evidence. We have no idea whether or not Viganò’s documents exist. 

    Re: “This aspect is not a liberal vs. conservative issue. It is a matter of transparency and accountability.” 

    True, but to date Viganò has been making a lot of accusations — backed by no evidence. He claims that evidence exists, and that he has it … but he refuses to provide it. It doesn’t take being “conservative” or “liberal” or anything else to see that, at this point, Viganò’s kvetching and whining is a little much, and it’s long past time for him to put up or shut up. 

  7. The pope has shown himself to both a liar and a fraud.

    He says he’s going to be silent..and then uses 9 homilies over the last two weeks to slander Vigano!

    No one can question him in the Mass. What a wuss.

    Vigano provides sworn (to God) testimony.

    What has Francis provided as counter evidence?

    The man whose career is now totally shot is Ouelett.

  8. Without perusing earlier news accounts, is Vigano claiming that *he* himself has the necessary evidence? I ask because *this* report mentions Vigano “urg[ing] the current head of the Vatican bishops’ office to speak out, saying he has all the documentation needed to prove years of cover-up by the Vatican.” I’m assuming the reference to “he” refers to the head of the Congregation for Bishops. Was that your understanding, too? (I’m no fan of Vigano. He clearly has an ax to grind.)

  9. Francis has still to respond to Burke et al.

    I believe he is finding out the hard way that stonewalling and passive-aggressive do not cut the mustard.

    On the positive side:

    – this will be the last Jesuit Pope for a few hundred years

    – the next conclave is going to be a LOT more contested

  10. I don’t know about this letter, but in a prior one, Viganò said he (as in, Viganò) had documentation. It just occurred to me that what he might want is for the Vatican to produce their own documentation, expecting it will validate his own (and not just seem like a bunch of stuff he forged) … either because the Vatican’s documents refer to his own, or his own are copies of what they have. 

    Either way, it’s irrelevant. Viganò is yammering about stuff he has but won’t release, or about stuff he says the Vatican has. No matter how you cut it, there’s no substantiation — yet — of anything he says. He might be hoping that, if he keeps blustering and fuming and whining long enough, the Vatican will eventually cough up something to shut him up … and at that point he’ll probably jump up and down, screaming he was right, even if he’s not. It seems Francis and his guys aren’t taking the bait. If I were them, I wouldn’t either. My approach would be theirs — i.e. silence. Responding to crybaby cranks only dignifies their infantile kvetching, and that’s never appropriate. 

  11. Francis will go to his grave not having responded to Burke, Vigano, etc.

    He’s banana republic dictator, but likely less bright.

    I’ll give it to him that he knows how to do photo ops, from his first overly long bow, I knew what we were getting.

  12. Thanks for the perspective. I cannot say you’re wrong, and I hope you are right.

  13. Slightly off topic but only slightly. From friendly atheist:

    Pope Francis suspended Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick after an internal investigation found credible allegations that he abused a minor about 45 years ago, when he was a priest. McCarrick, who became the Vatican’s most senior American to be removed for sexually abusing kids, was hit with four more allegations after his suspension.

    Just yesterday the Archdiocese of Washington announced that McCarrick had been relocated:

    In late July 2018, our Holy Father Pope Francis requested that Archbishop Theodore McCarrick withdraw from all public ministry and events. To that end, Archbishop McCarrick now resides at St. Fidelis Friary in Victoria, Kansas in the Diocese of Salina, with the permission of the Provincial Superior of the Franciscan Capuchin Community responsible for the Friary, Fr. Christopher Popravak, O.F.M.Cap., and the Bishop of Salina, Most Reverend Gerald Vincke.

    Out of consideration for the peace of the community at St. Fidelis Friary, respect for the privacy of this arrangement is requested.
    Rev. Vincke also penned his own letter called “Why I said Yes” in which he explained why he agreed to let McCarrick reside at the facility “to live a life of prayer and penance.”

    I realize this decision will be offensive and hurtful to many people. Archbishop McCarrick is, in many ways, at the forefront of the recent firestorm in the Church. Many of us are confused and angry by what Archbishop McCarrick is alleged to have done several decades ago…

    I had to reconcile my own feelings of disappointment, anger and even resentment toward Archbishop McCarrick. I had to turn to Christ for guidance. Jesus is rich in mercy. He did not come to give us permission to sin, he came to forgive our sins. We know that Christ has compassion and mercy for all who repent of their sins. The cross is a place of love and mercy. It is not a place of retribution. If our actions do not have mercy, then how can it be of the Church?
    Neither the Archdiocese of Washington nor Vincke mentioned what people online noticed rather immediately. If you search for the abuser-priest’s new residence, it’s located right next door to an elementary school

  14. Head right over there with your picket sign.

    Btw, you may have noted that McCarrick was never accused of molesting minors and is now in his 80s.

  15. Bob Arnzen does not believe any claim critical of the church, no matter how well documented and sourced it is.

    In his view, it is impossible for the church to do any wrong, and anyone who dares to point out any failing of the church is an extreme left wing fascist atheist.

  16. If you reread my comment, you will note that I did not (a) deny he was investigated and did not (b) deny he was guilty.

    You should get away from Bilgrimage more often and see the real world.

  17. You’re the one who keeps bringing up Bilgrimage. Me thinks you doth protest too loud.

  18. I’m well aware of that Howard. ‘Bob’ and I have argued back and forth for years….and sometimes we’re actual civil.

  19. I read it to get an impression of what the zanies and the far left are thinking these days.

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