Ex-nuncio says Pope Francis knew of McCarrick’s abuse reports, failed to act

The former apostolic nuncio has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then apostolic nuncio to the United States, speaks Nov. 16 during the opening of the 2015 fall general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Edward Pentin / National Catholic Register

In an 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.

Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor,” claiming that the former archbishop of Washington advised the pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.

Archbishop Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover up of Archbishop McCarrick’s abuse to resign.

On June 20, Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on the order of Pope Francis, prohibited former Cardinal McCarrick from public ministry after an investigation by the New York archdiocese found an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor was “credible and substantiated.” That same day, the public learned that the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey had received three accusations of sexual misconduct involving adults against McCarrick.  Since then media reports have written of victims of the abuse, spanning decades, include a teenage boy, three young priests or seminarians, and a man now in his 60s who alleges McCarrick abused him from the age of 11. The pope later accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.

But Viganò wrote that Benedict much earlier had imposed sanctions on McCarrick “similar” to those handed down by Cardinal Parolin. “The cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living,” Viganò said, “he was also forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”  Viganò did not document the exact date but recollected the sanction to have been applied as far back 2009 or 2010.

Benedict’s measures came years after Archbishop Viganò’s predecessors at the nunciature — Archbishops Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi — had “immediately” informed the Holy See as soon as they had learned of Archbishop McCarrick’s “gravely immoral behaviour with seminarians and priests,” the retired Italian Vatican diplomat wrote.

He said Archbishop Montalvo first alerted the Vatican in 2000, requesting that Dominican Father Boniface Ramsey write to Rome confirming the allegations. In 2006, Viganò said, he personally, as delegate for pontifical representations in the Secretariat of State, wrote a memo to his superior, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, proposing an “exemplary measure” be taken against McCarrick that could have a “medicinal function” to prevent future abuses and alleviate a “very serious scandal for the faithful.”

He drew on an indictment memorandum, communicated by Archbishop Sambi to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in which an abusive priest had made claims against McCarrick of “such gravity and vileness” including “depraved acts” and “sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist.”

But, according to Viganò, his memo was ignored and no action was taken until the late 2000s — a delay which Archbishop Viganò claims is owed to complicity of John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s respective Secretary of States, Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone.

In 2008, Archbishop Viganò claims he wrote a second memo, this time to Cardinal Sandri’s successor as sostituto at the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Fernando Filoni. He included a summary of research carried out by Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and specialist in clerical sexual abuse, which Sipe had sent Benedict in the form of a statement. Viganò said he ended the memo by “repeating to my superiors that I thought it was necessary to intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal’s hat from Cardinal McCarrick.”

Again, according the Viganò, his request fell on deaf ears and he writes he was “greatly dismayed” that both memos were ignored until Sipe’s “courageous and meritorious” statement had “the desired result.”

“Benedict did what he had to do,” Archbishop Viganò told the National Catholic Register Aug. 25, “but his collaborators — the Secretary of State and all the others — didn’t enforce it as they should have done, which led to the delay.”

“What is certain,” Viganò writes in his testimony, “is that Pope Benedict imposed the above canonical sanctions on McCarrick and that they were communicated to him by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Pietro Sambi.”

The National Catholic Register has independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.

In 2011, on arrival in Washington D.C., Archbishop Viganò said he personally repeated the sanction to McCarrick. “The cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach house, but he said this as if it had no importance,” Viganò recalled in his testimony.

In his written statement, Viganò then outlined his understanding of how, despite the allegations against him, McCarrick came to be appointed Archbishop of Washington D.C. in 2000 and how his misdeeds were covered up. His statement implicates Cardinals Sodano, Bertone and Parolin and he insists various other cardinals and bishops were well aware, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor as Archbishop of Washington D.C.

“I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” he wrote.
Ed McFadden, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA that Wuerl categorically denies having been informed that McCarrick’s ministry had been restricted by the Vatican.

The second half of Viganò’s testimony primarily deals with what Pope Francis knew about McCarrick, and how he acted.

He recalled meeting Cardinal McCarrick in June 2013 at the Pope’s Domus Sanctae Marthae residence, during which McCarrick told him “in a tone somewhere between ambiguous and triumphant: ‘The Pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China’” — the implication being that Francis had lifted the travel ban placed on him by Benedict (further evidence of this can be seen in this interview McCarrick gave the National Catholic Reporter in 2014).

He said it was “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.”

Moreover, he added, McCarrick had “become the kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States, and the most listened to advisor in the Vatican for relations with the Obama administration.”
Viganò claimed that the appointments of Cardinal Cupich to Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark “were orchestrated by McCarrick” among others. He said neither of the names was presented by the nunciature, whose job is traditionally to present a list of names, or terna, to the Congregation for Bishops. He also added that Bishop Robert McElroy’s appointment to San Diego was orchestrated “from above” rather than through the nuncio.

The retired Italian diplomat also echoed the National Catholic Register’s reports about Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and his record of cover-up in Honduras, saying the Pope “defends his man” to the “bitter end,” despite the allegations against him. The same applies to McCarrick, wrote Viganò.

“He [Pope Francis] knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator,” Archbishop Viganò stated, but although “he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end.”

“It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media,” wrote Viganò.

The former U.S. nuncio wrote that Pope Francis “is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren,” and urged him to “acknowledge his mistakes” and, to “set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”

In comments to the media Aug. 26 Viganò said his main motivation for writing his testimony now was to “stop the suffering of the victims, to prevent new victims and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free.”

He also said he wanted to “discharge my conscience in front of God of my responsibilities as bishop for the universal Church,” adding that he is “old man” who wanted to present himself to God “with a clean conscience.”

“The people of God have the right to know the full truth also regarding their shepherds,” he said. “They have the right to be guided by good shepherds. In order to be able to trust them and love them, they have to know them openly, in transparency and truth, as they really are. A priest should always be a light on a candle, everywhere and for all.”

This article was originally published by the National Catholic Register. It has been updated by CNA.

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  1. This is blockbuster news. The Pope was cooperating with known abusers, elevating them to great power. Letting them pick cardinals. This Pope is in big, big trouble, and now the question is whether he will have to resign. Now we have another trail to follow into the Vatican. It appears Sodano and Bertone were doing some covering up as well. Benedict appears to have done something about McCarrick, , but Bertone and or Sodano were blocking things. It’s going to be a messy fall

  2. “The future of the Church can and will issue from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment or from those who merely criticize others and assume that they themselves are infallible measuring rods; nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith. . . . The future of the Church, once again as always, will be shaped by saints, by men, that is, whose minds probe deeper than the slogans of the day, who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality.”
    Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI from Faith and the Future 2009 Ignatius Press

  3. The dam is starting to break!

    Lord God please remove this current Pope and some of his corrupt bishops too.

    Lord Jesus have mercy on us and on the world!

  4. Really, who is surprised? These are men supporting James Martin. They have no Cathoic intergrity, form the pope on down. Please, if I am wrong, explain it to me to otherwise.
    The Church as an organization is crippled right now. And the man at the top is part of the problem.

  5. Onw wonders what Pope Francis’ response to Archbishop Vigano’s accusations will be:
    A. “He’s lying.”
    B. “It’s all a misunderstanding.”
    C. “I don’t know what he’s talking about.”
    D. “Who am I to resign?”

  6. Well, let’s see: Bergoglio has never directly answered any criticism, spurned all dialogue, and ridiculed those he sees disagreeing with his opinions (call them “teachings” if you’re a fanatic). He has preached error, allowed his officials and advisers to spout heresy, and punished the faithful for their traditional piety. The only exception in this whole execrable history was his about face in the Chilean sex abuse scandal which seemed mostly about salvaging his standing in public opinion. He was able to weasel out of that one by plausibly claiming ignorance and naïveté. That’s unlikely to work this time.

    Ten to one he lets the Ivereighs, Martins, and Rosiccas go on the attack smearing Archbishop Viganò, while says nada about it. Who can hold the corrupt man to account but God?

  7. Archbishop Vigano’s full statement can be read or downloaded in pdf format here.

    Vigano Testimony

    You really should read the entire statement. This is the kind of testimony many, many more bishops should be providing Catholics for the good of the Church.

  8. Hmmm. He does not quite implicate JPII, but…what did JPII know? Was he informed? Did he refuse to believe, as he did with Maciel (as is my understanding)?
    I’ve begun to wonder over the past week if the Lavender Mafia has blackmail-worthy intel on Pope Francis, and perhaps that explains some of his appointments.

    • Is God blackmailing him to be a moral relativist? Is God blackmailing him to be a process theologian who believes God is still evolving? Is God blackmailing him to praise the world’s most notorious abortionists?

  9. One thing appears pretty clear. If an important churchman is under a cloud, he will get a pass if he supports Francis. We should have known this from the start. I don’t know if McCarrick played an important role in the elevation of Bergoglio or if that is a boast. However, it does appear that Cardinal Danneels of Belgium, who is seriously “damaged goods” in the realm of abuse, not only helped Bergoglio to the papacy but also helped warp the synod on the family and create a perfect template for Francis to change any Church teaching in practice. Look at the men around Francis. Are any of them free from serious rumors of abuse, corruption or acts that mock Catholic tradition? Cardinal Maradiaga of Honduras protected the deeply corrupt Bishop Pineda to the end. Cardinal Errázuriz, like Maradiaga a member of the pope’s “Council of Nine” had to have known about the building Chilean debacle – every newspaper boy on the streets knew bad things were taking place in Chile – and a Cardinal does not?

    The list goes on: Father Martin, the “buff” naked man in the Vatican creche, the “gym Jesus” Vatican Easter stamp, gay parties near the papal apartment etc. Can anyone doubt that one result of the “youth synod” was going to be some kind of affirmation of homosexuality? Homosexual abuse is a problem that Francis simply can’t cope with – it’s as though he has a tin ear. But now a major figure has spoken out in detail. I doubt he will be alone. It’s one thing to employ evasion and double talk – but Vigano has made claims that require answers of “True” or “Lie.”
    Also you can bet that every major newspaper in the Western world will be after more of the ugly truth concerning Francis and associates. The Pope has prospered because of his splendid coverage in the secular press (where most Catholics get their news about the Church) but now he’ll find out that any reporter that can bring down a Pope will bring home a Pulitzer and make millions on a book describing the mess.
    Pray for the Church.

  10. Well, there is something that those concerned about these allegations can do and that is beseech their pastors and bishops to agitate for the removal from office of all those credibly involved in these egregious sins against God.

  11. Sodano was instrumental in defending Fr. Macial Maciel De Gollado also. Resign, Pope Francis after firing some people. This kills your chances for the Nobel Prize. It’s over. You’ve stayed too long at the fair. Bring back Benedict and I’m not even a fan.

  12. We need to look into the background of retiredArchbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. This is a person with an ax to grind. Pope Benedict was well aware of McCarricks crimes and gave him a slap on the wrist. Pope Francis IS doing his best to clean up the mess that past Popes and American Diocese have perpetuated and turned a blind eye to these crimes against children…

    • You obviously have not been paying attention. Pope Benedict put restrictions on McCarrick, since McCarrick was already retired. He basically took away all his rights as a priest. Pope Francis gave them all back, and made him into a close Papal advisor. Even if Vigano has axes to grind, it does not matter, if what he says is true. He has documents to back him up.

    • McCarrick’s numerous crimes included sex abuse of adult seminarians…his going after the teenage altar boys was simply what did him in.

  13. Not a Catholic so isn’t my place to scream.

    I do wonder if the idea of celebecy should be buried and the priesthood opened to those in relationships.

    • There are abusers among those not sworn to celibacy, and in relationships: Protestant ministers; teachers; doctors; the list goes on and on. It is not priestly celibacy that is the problem. It is the choice to do evil.

  14. St, Teresa of Avila wrote: “If anyone should see that her Order is falling away in anything, let her try to be a stone on which it can be rebuilt. The Lord will help in this.” (“Found.” 4, 7) It seems to me that this is what is needed in the Church at this time.

  15. Wildfires take unpredictable directions. Arsonist Bishop Morlino ignited the flames Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò followed up with an abundance of fuel. A Pontiff cannot be deposed or driven out of office canonically. Edward Peters studied the scenario and determined Pope Francis holds all the cards. My impression of the man is that he will not resign. Now that his agenda is exposed what matters is which direction he’ll take. Either he will continue to be evasive, self deprecating, make unfulfilled promises continue as usual or miraculously make serious effort to purge. The former is more consistent with his track record. Or will he now be less shifty more assertive in replacing the Gospels? The good in this is that the lines are now less fuzzy more clearly drawn between heterodoxy and faith in Christ.

    • Personally, I think Pell is one of the genuine good guys the bad guys are taking down. He isn’t the first. Bishop Finn of KCMO was another good prelate the bad guys took down.

  16. Too many old men in arrogant abuse of power.

    Today is Sunday August 26, 2016 and my wife, who still insists the Catholic Church corruption involves a fee priests. Instead, I stayed home and logged on to CWR to get the real scoop. If I am destined for Hell it won’t be because I didn’t try.

    • Today is Sunday August 26, 2016

      Today is Sunday August 26, 2018.

      I stayed home

      “Not forsaking our assembly, as some are accustomed; but comforting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after having the knowledge of the truth, there is now left no sacrifice for sins, But a certain dreadful expectation of judgment, and the rage of a fire which shall consume the adversaries.” Hebrews 10:25-27

      If I am destined for Hell it won’t be because I didn’t try.

      Denial is not a river in Egypt.

    • No, here is the problem: too many counterfeit Catholics among laity, college faculty, priesthood, Bishops, diocesan chanceries, Cardinals…and now…a Pope.

    • Let us not be tempted to allow the evil works of others to prevent us from receiving God’s grace in the Sacraments. Instead of committing the equivalent of “spiritual suicide” let’s feast, especially at this time, upon that life-giving grace to strengthen us for the battle ahead; and remember the words of St. Paul regarding the “armor of God”. We’ll be needing it.

    • Huh? You obviously left something out of your post. If I am interpreting correctly you decided not to go to Mass because you are a get about the sins some priests and bishops committed. So you stayed home, telling yourself “thank God I am not as other men are.” If you go to Hell (and, by the way, news flash: predestination isn’t true) it will be because of your own efforts; as for example committing the sin of willfully missing Mass.

      Perhaps your wife decided that the odds were better that she wouldn’t meet an arrogant old man at church than they would be if she stayed home.

  17. The attacks on Archbishop Viganó have already begun. It’s a variant of “tu quoque” in which he is accused of stopping the investigation into Nienstadt (which he did, but probably on the orders of higher-ups). Bergoglio’s thugs snarl, “He himself isn’t pure, so how can he make these accusations against our ‘Holy’ Father?”

    Thus they deflect attention from the truth of what Archbishop Viganó says to his “character.” The accusations themselves get short shrift, while personal attacks take center stage.

    And I expect Bergoglio himself will say nothing. It worked for him with the Dubia (Sept 2016), with the filial correction letter about Amoris Laetitia (Sept 2017), with the recent letter from “First Things” magazine about the death penalty changes in the Catechism (August 2018), and a host of other scandals that have plagued his papacy.

    Maybe that’s because he believes in nada. Like Hemingway’s old waiter in “A Clean Well-lighted Place,” he has only nada inside.

    Fiant dies eius pauci, et ministerium eius accipiat alter. (Psalm 109:8)

  18. Excellent, Mgsr. Vigano.
    It is well worth to read the PDF document, he gives dates, names, places, etc. I believe it is all genuine and I pray this is the beginning of a general cleaning up in our Church. May God help us, let us pray for the Church and all the clergy.

  19. Pope Francis is our “Mahony” in the Vatican. Cardinal Mahony cost his archdiocese a half billion dollars. If Pope Francis stays in office, he’ll cost us considerably more. But the cost won’t be with money.

    It’s time for the Pope to resign!

  20. People!Remember…my fellow Catholic brothers and sisters we all need to pray for Archbishop Vigano because he will come under attack now for being brave enough to expose the darkness of this vile evil that’s found in Pope Francis’leadership!
    Prayer is powerful!
    Holy Mary and all the angels and saints in heaven pray for Archbishop Vigano! Keep him protected from the evil one.

  21. Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.

    NOW can we re-examine the validity of Bergoglio’s election to the papacy? It looks like the homosexual cabal that has hijacked the hierarchy of the Church put their man in power. The allegations of violations of Canon law in Bergoglio’s election gain credibility daily.

  22. The letter also includes an allegation against Wuerl, D.C.’s current archbishop and McCarrick’s successor. He is a close ally of Francis and is already under scrutiny.

7 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Ex-nuncio says Pope Francis knew of McCarrick’s abuse reports, failed to act – Doug Santo
  2. Pope to Priests: Abstain from Molestation on Fridays | ScrappleFace
  3. If Viganò’s “Testimony” is true, Pope Francis has failed his own test – Catholic World Report
  4. Make Heresy Trials Great Again. – Dark Brightness
  5. Cardinal Cupich: “The Pope has a bigger agenda” – Catholic World Report
  6. Fr. James Martin is not thinking with the Church – Catholic World Report
  7. Correspondence confirms Benedict XVI placed restrictions on McCarrick in 2008 – Catholic World Report

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