Pope Francis did not want to comment the indictment former Nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò published against him; instead, the Pope asked the journalists to judge it for themselves. Thus, in few hours, the Editorial Staff of UCCR took seriously the memorandum by Viganò and his exhortation by the Pope and found out overwhelming evidence belying the key passage of the testimony of the already controversial ex Nuncio, so as to dismiss (or, at least, to scale down considerably) the charges.
However, before we go on, four clarifications are necessary (who is impatient can look onwards).
1) What Viganò’s accusation is: the ex nuncio did not accuse the Pope of having covered an act of paedophilia performed by Card. McCarrick; he accused him of not having listened to him when in 2013 he would have told him about the various reports/rumours on the Cardinal concerning sexual relationships with adults (seminarists) dating back to fifty years before; Viganò also says to have made Pope Francis aware of the fact that, for this reason, Benedict XVI would have «ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance». Viganò writes: although Pope Francis «learnt from me at least on June 23, 2013» about the «crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests»; the Pope would have «covered him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own» and allowed the Cardinal to disobey Ratzinger’s order. We are not dealing with paedophilia, nor does he accuse him of having covered a paedophile, also because the charge of child abuse emerged only in 2018. As soon as the Archdiocese of New York received and deemed “credible” this charge of child abuse towards McCarrick (dated 1977), Francis immediately intervened removing him from the public ministry.
2) Mediatic operation. Beside the contents of the charge, the “Viganò operation” is not the tesimony of the conscience of a “courageous bishop”, as is passed off by the representatives of the traditionalist resistance. It is simply a qualitative leap in their war of hatred against the Pope, after they failed with the anonymous posters and the ridiculous accusation of heresy contained in the “Correctio filialis”. For days, in the blogs of the haters of Francis there were rumours of a “surprise” for the World Meeting of Families, as they had not been able either to silence or to overshadow it mediatically through a parallel meeting (whose honorary guest was Card. Burke), which turned out to be a flop (widely publicised in Italy by La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, Marco Tosatti, Aldo Maria Valli, and Corrispondenza Romana). The 11 pages of accusation by Archbishop Viganò were meanwhile published on the resistance’s blog, starting from LifeSite News (whose founder, John-Henry Westen, had organised the unsuccessful parallel event in Dublin), and few minutes after its publication conservative Bishop Joseph Strickland from Tyler (Texas) distributed copies of the dossier at all Masses. All this shows there is a plan behind it. In Italy the “Papal resignation” operation was entrusted to Marco Tosatti and to Maurizio Belpietro (director of La Verità), which says a lot about the little professionality of this put-on.
3) Viganò and his dark biography. Somebody has criticised us for having reminded the murky past of Msgr. Vuganò (called by us “dark”), and we have been told that this is an argumentum ad personam. As a matter of fact, we highlighted the validity of the charges by the ex Nuncio as they were detailed with dates, names, and meetings, but we also pointed out the absence of proofs and documents to substantiate them. Viganò therefore asks us to trust him, his reconstruction of the facts, his suppositions, his memories, and his version. For this reason, it is important to show that he is not a reliable person at all, and the scandals having involved him prove it (as we shall see at the following point), as was also observed, amongst many others, by the main US Vaticanist, John L. Allen: «Viagnò himself acknowledges that his comments are based on no more than supposition and/or connecting the dots. When anyone hurls around accusations quite so lightly, it’s difficult to know how seriously any one ought to be taken».
4) Viganò destroyed the evidence for the coverage of abuses. The story of Msgr. Viganò is as murky as the petty operation he put in place. In these hours the Vaticanist of Rai1, Aldo Maria Valli, member of the resistance and chosen by Viganò as the depositary of his report, is portraying the ex Nuncio as a “good and holy grandpa”, keen on the truth and with a burning love for his Church, so much so as to make his testimony public in honour of God. Valli keeps, though, silent on the involvement of the holy man Viganò in fraudolent public procurements and false invoicing, on the fact that the ex Nuncio had to pay 180 thousand Swiss Francs to his sister Rosanna, who denounced him for misappropriation of money, on the fact that his brother, Msgr. Lorenzo Viganò, publically stated: «My brother stole from me; he took advantage of my illness to cut me off from the administration of our – I stress our – patrimony». It is omitted the fact that Benedict XVI sent him away to the USA and that he (Viganò) objected to this decision by shamelessly lying to him. In these hours Luigi Bisignani revealed other stains on the life of Msgr. Viganò, including the habit of creating false dossiers to sully his enemies. We did not write what we have only recently learnt: thanks to his role of Apostolic Nuncio in the USA, he intervened to stifle a sex abuse enquiry and to destroy the evidence for the coverage of sexual abuses concerning his conservative friend John Nienstedt, ex Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis (who confirmed the coverage in 2014).
THE LIE OF MSGR. VIGANÒ: THE CHARGE AGAINST FRANCIS COLLAPSES
Taking seriously the testimony of Carlo Maria Viganò, we deduce that the charge against Pope Francis – as we have already said – is to have disregarded the alleged order of Benedict XVI to card. McCarrick to lead a life of silence and prayer because of his immoral conduct when he was a priest. Viganò does not bring evidence for the intervention of the Pope Emeritus; he only says: «I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred». However, he accuses the Pope of having let the prelate lead a public life, celebrate Masses, go to the Vatican, and give advice on nominations. Here Viganò’s words: «It was also clear that, from the time of Pope Francis’s election, McCarrick, now free from all constraints, had felt free to travel continuously, to give lectures and interviews […] he had become the kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the UnitedStates, and the most listened to advisor in the Vatican for relations with the Obama administration». The Pope – here is the accusation by Viganò (underlined in bold in his testimony) – «must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests. In any cases, the Pope learned it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him. He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with Maradiaga».
In spite of this, Viganò is lying. Widening the very good job by Michael J. O’Loughlin, we have indeed discovered that McCarrick was leading a blissful and untroubled public life well before the Pontificate of Francis (March 2013). On the 29th of March 2011, indeed, McCarrick witnessed in front of the Senate of the United States even «on behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops», with the objective of protecting «the civil rights of Muslim Americans». On June 2011, McCarrick celebrated the Mass for the important ordination of some priests, and on October of the same year he concelebrated with the Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, even in Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, that is the main Catholic place of worship in New York. On December 2011 the Cardinal participated in Meet the press, a very popular TV programme of the NBC, where he accepted two prizes.
On the 16th of January 2012 McCarrick was in the Vatican, where he was received in audience by Benedict XVI as member of a selection of US Bishops, and on the same occasion he concelebrated Mass with Card. Wuerl and other Bishops from the US by the tomb of Saint Peter. On April 2012, Card. McCarrick was again in the Vatican, as member of the Papal Foundation to celebrate the 83rd birthday of Pope Benedict. On the 28th of February 2013 McCarrick was even present at the meeting with Benedict XVI on the historic day of his resignation: in this picture the Pope Emeritus greets him and shakes hands with him, as he did with all the Cardinals. Ironically, on May 2013 (two months after the election of Pope Francis) Archbishop Viganò himself blissfully concelebrated – without any problem or protest on his part – a Mass together with none less than Cardinal McCarrick, before the yearly supper of the Cardinals of the Catholic University of America.
Thus, it is clear that Msgr. Viganò blatantly lied precisely in his main accusation against Francis. Card. McCarrick, contrary to what the former Nuncio states in his testimony, led a public life until the end of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI, by being even present at the Vatican and before the eyes of the Pope Emeritus himself, and he did not start all this only at the moment of the election of Francis.
The solutions are two:
1) Benedict XVI did not intervene to order the American Cardinal to lead an isolated life of prayer, and consequently Viganò is a liar. The accusation against Francis of having disregarded such inexistent order collapses. Viganò lies when he writes he had reminded Francis of the false intervention of the Pope Emeritus, or he lied to Bergoglio, too (since there was no intervention by Ratzinger against McCarrick).
2) Benedict XVI intervened against McCarrick but – as shown by us – allowed the Cardinal, accused of a sexual immoral life, not to obey the authority of the Pope and therefore to celebrate Mass, participate in the life of the US Church and in the life of the Vatican, even on his birthday. Thus the charge against Francis would be scaled down, as it was his predecessor the first to disregard his own order. Viganò remains a liar because he claimed that the Cardinal had disobeyed Ratzinger’s imposition of a private life only when Francis was elected.
The “resignation operation” set up by the traditionalist resistance against Francis risks becoming a boomerang. In any cases, Viganò lies, because Card. McCarrick led a public life throughout the whole Pontificate of Benedict XVI and did not start only with Francis. Viganò might tell, instead, the truth about Ratzinger’s measure towards towards the Cardinal – as unhesitatingly held by the self-styled Ratzingerians –, but then the position of Benedict XVI himself gets more complicated, since he is consequently accused of having let Cardinal McCarrick disobey his very order and – as already said – freely attend the Archdiocese of New York and the Vatican, while he himself was present. For this reason, the comment of Massimo Faggioli is appropriate: «The fact that the traditionalist side accepts the risks of damaging Benedict XVI and John Paul II says a lot about their despair».
UPDATE AT 18:00
The Associated Press revealed the name of the director of the “Viganò operation”: he is called (as we had already suspected) Marco Tosatti and is one of the main haters of Pope Francis in Italy, the same hater who a few months ago utterly invented that Francis had created a secret Vatican commission to modify the encyclical Humanae Vitae. According to the reconstruction and his own statements, it is the journalist Tosatti to have chosen the time and to have put pressure on the former Nuncio in order that he diffuse his testimony.
UPDATE AT 19:00
Catholic sociologist Massimo Introvigne made a decisive reflection of which we were not aware. We quote it entirely: «About “secret measures” by Benedict XVI against McCarrick nobody has ever known anything except Viganò, and against other illustrious clergymen charged with harassment Pope Ratzinger took public and clamorous measures. If then the orders of the German Pope were ignored, it would have been Viganò, as Apostolic Nuncio and therefore as representative of the Pontiff in Washington, to have to resign». In other words: if Msgr. Viganò tells the truth about this alleged order by the Pope Emeritus towards McCarrick to withdraw to a private life, then Viganò himself is liable for the fact that McCarrick disobeyed that order (as we have demonstrated in this article) during the Pontificate of Benedict XVI by freely attending the Vatican. Indeed, Msgr. Viganò was at that time the Apostolic Nuncio in the USA, that is to say the one who had the task of representing and enforcing the (alleged) order given by the German Pope.
The Editorial Staff