Why we stay, and the Vigano Testimony

The Church’s current crisis is a crisis of fidelity and a crisis of holiness, a crisis of infidelity and a crisis of sin. It is also a crisis of evangelization.

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)

The Sunday Mass scriptures during this summer of horrors have often been eerily appropriate, beginning with Jeremiah’s polemic against malfeasant shepherds who mislead the Lord’s flock (July 25) and continuing through the story of many disciples’ defection after the “hard words” of the Bread of Life discourse (Aug. 26).

And it’s entirely understandable that more than a few Catholics have choked on the word “holy” these past few months, when asked to affirm it of the Church during the Creed and the Offertory. But while understandable, that still bespeaks a misunderstanding. The reason why is given immediately after the defection story in John 6: 60-66, when the Lord asks the Twelve if they, too, are going to bail on him and Peter answers, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Everlasting life is offered to us sacramentally at every Mass. That is what we believe; that is why we remain in the Church; and that is why we must all bend every effort, from our distinct states of life in the Mystical Body of Christ, to reform what must be reformed so that others may know and love the Lord Jesus and experience the life-giving fruits of friendship with him. The Church’s current crisis is a crisis of fidelity and a crisis of holiness, a crisis of infidelity and a crisis of sin. It is also a crisis of evangelization, for shepherds without credibility impede the proclamation of the Gospel – which, as the other headlines of the day suggest, the world badly needs.

In the immediate aftermath of Archbishop Carlo-Maria Vigano’s “Testimony,” and its statement that Pope Francis knew of the dereliction of Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop of Washington and lifted the sanctions against McCarrick that had been imposed (but never seriously enforced) by Pope Benedict XVI, the polemics within the Church immediately intensified and ricocheted through the media. In this febrile atmosphere, it is virtually impossible for anyone to say anything without arousing suspicions and accusations. But as I knew Archbishop Vigano well during his service as papal representative in Washington, I feel obliged to speak about him, which I hope will help others consider his very, very serious claims thoughtfully.

First, Archbishop Vigano is a courageous reformer, who was moved out of the Vatican by his immediate superiors because he was determined to confront financial corruption in the Governatorato, the administration of Vatican City State.

Second, Archbishop Vigano is, in my experience, an honest man. We spoke often about many things, large and small, and I never had the impression that I was being given anything other than what he believed in his conscience to be the truth. That does not mean that he got everything right; a man of humility and prayer, he would be the first to concede that. But it does suggest that attempts to portray him as someone deliberately making false accusations, someone other than an honest witness to what he believes to be the truth, are unpersuasive. When he writes in his Testimony that he is “…ready to affirm [these allegations] on oath calling on God as my witness,” he means it. And he means it absolutely. Archbishop Vigano knows that, in swearing such an oath, he would be taking his soul into his hands; which means he knows that if he were to speak falsely, he would be unlikely to find his soul again.

Third, Archbishop Vigano is a loyal churchman of a certain generation and formation, bred to a genuine piety about the papacy. His training in the papal diplomatic service would instinctively lead him to make the defense of the Pope his first, second, third, and hundredth priority. If he believes that what he has now said is true, and that the Church needs to learn that truth in order to cleanse itself of what is impeding its evangelical mission, then he is overriding his engrained instincts for the gravest of reasons.

What Archbishop Vigano testifies to knowing on the basis of direct, personal, and in many cases documentable experiences in Rome and Washington deserves to be taken seriously, not peremptorily dismissed or ignored. Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the U.S. bishops’ conference president, evidently agrees, as his Aug. 27 statement makes clear. That is another step toward the purification and reform we need.

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About George Weigel 419 Articles
George Weigel is Distinguished Senior Fellow of Washington's Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He is the author of over twenty books, including Witness to Hope: The Biography of Pope John Paul II (1999), The End and the Beginning: Pope John Paul II—The Victory of Freedom, the Last Years, the Legacy (2010), and The Irony of Modern Catholic History: How the Church Rediscovered Itself and Challenged the Modern World to Reform. His most recent books are The Next Pope: The Office of Peter and a Church in Mission (2020), and Not Forgotten: Elegies for, and Reminiscences of, a Diverse Cast of Characters, Most of Them Admirable (Ignatius, 2021).


  1. After writing 20+ books and receiving 18 honorary doctorates Weigel still doesn’t know when to use the word homosexual.

  2. Thank you Mr. Weigel.I am an 85 and when I said “my morning offering” today, I realized I could not say”the intentions of the pope” because I of course do not know what they are. I hope our Church doesn’t take forever to straighten this out. If I thought I was lonely and miserable before this happened,I now have to smile. Now I am totally heartbroken. Praise God and His Holy Will.

    • Well Joan, don’t despair for the war is over and the battle won and Christ is Triumphant!! But we, stuck in this time sphere must live this through. It is with anger and great sadness that I read of the evil filth that is in the Church. But I also find great peace and optimism knowing that it is only by exposing all the sins that we can be cleansed. The Church will fall and be rebuilt into the Glorious Mystical Body of Christ that it has always been. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive others. I am 71y/o and frankly don’t believe I will seen the great renewal in this life but have faith it is coming. This is a time of great paradox…great angst and great joy. Let us all enter into this time of prayer and penance for the sins of us all and beg our Lord’s forgiveness. Blessings to you Joan and keep the faith!!

      • I do agree with you Mary..anyone at any given time will fall including those who have consecrated their lives to. Jesus…to the Church…such is the frailty of human beings. I don’t like what some of our clergies have done but the Church is now exposing it and finding solutions to this upheaval. That doesn’t make the Catholic Church is weaker but bravely facing its shortcomings. I for one will remain Catholic because my focus is to God and not to those who are serving the Church. In time things will sorted out I believe as this is the Rock that Christ build. Nothing can prevail over it.

    • +Joan I’ve been praying for the intentions of all people throughout the world whose intentions are in union with the will of God. Just an idea.

  3. His testimony will be largely ignored because (1) he is retired so without authority; (2) he is pointing out the actions of Pope Benedict, who secular society opposes for his clear stance on moral issues; and (3) the media will want to quickly bury a story about Pope Francis, who the media believes supports a more liberal view on moral issues.

  4. To me – a layman – this is first of all, a crisis of trust. Meaning – the betrayal of trust, and that is the foundation upon which the whole Church is built.

    I will continue to go to Mass, I will donate to the parish every week, I will donate to the Edmundites as I have for 12 years, but I will not donate to The Bishop’s annual appeal.

    • Dear Terence, I hope you realize that by donating to your parish, you *are* in fact donating to your Bishop/Diocese. Every parish is taxed a portion of their weekly donations by the Diocese.

      • I know that – I am referring to the Bishop’s annual appeal, for which we find envelopes in the Church year round.

    • The Foundation of the Church is Jesus Christ in whom we place our fervent trust. Terence and Jan, I really do know the frustrations now and the impulse to speak with our purses BUT the money that goes into each Diocese Bishop’s annual appeal goes for many different causes and ministries within the Diocese and within your own Parish. You can see a list of where that money goes within your own Diocese. Withholding donations from the Bishop’s Appeal will not affect the Bishop but will curtail needed funds to help the very people who are in the greatest need. Each of us should make ourselves aware of how this money is spent and who benefits from it. That is OUR responsibility. Without that knowledge the withholding of your money likely will punish the wrong people. As for the Bishop himself, he too may be innocent and underserving of punishment and hurting the innocent only adds more to the crimes already committed. We need be vigilant and prudent in all we say and do lest we fall freely into the dirty hands of Satan. Love God first and always.

  5. opm

    Archbishop Fulton Sheen stressed our Lord’s statement in John 6:70 – Jesus answered them: Have not I chosen you twelve; and one of you is a devil.
    In his heart Judas had abandoned Christ, but stayed on in the Apostolic College for his own profit. He “came out” at the Last Supper.
    Any cleric who is a modern Judas commits a grave sin when celebrating Holy Mass.
    Why cannot bishops be compelled to swear on the bible that they are innocent.
    May God help us all who are staying, because we have nowhere else to God. Jesus is our eternal life

  6. When there’s doubt of identity at sea during war the noble raise their true colors. As said on First Things I thank George Weigel for his knowledgeable affirmation of the integrity of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. The Archbishop’s indictment of the Pontiff is perhaps not yet proved beyond a reasonable doubt, although the propensity of circumstantial evidence, witness of Archbishop Vigano and former Nunciature Counselor Msgr Jean-Francois Lantheaume reach at least Moral Certitude. Welcome voices are now heard defending Vigano’s integrity one a kindly man when as pastor on the Jicarilla Res then Archbishop of Phoenix Thomas Olmsted filled in as interim for Gallup visited and shared his deep knowledge of the faith.

  7. Thank you. I am very disappointed in Cardinal Cupich’s response to this crisis as evidenced in Catherine Harmon’s article; “Cardinal Cupich: “The Pope has a bigger agenda.” If the cardinal were more reflective as Mr. Weigel is, he would not say what he is saying. When I read the articles side by side I see misdirection and smoke and mirrors in Cupich’s response and a thoughtful, cautious, and measured response in Weigel’s piece. The biggest agenda the pope should have at this moment is to clean up this mess. To suggest otherwise is questionable.

  8. Dear Mr. Weigel,

    I. Our Lady of Fatima revealed ” Truths ” to Sister Lucia in 1917; among which are the following which help us to more ” fully ” appreciate the ” current ” crisis in the church.

    a). ” That which afflicts the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Heart of Jesus is the fall of religious and priestly souls. The devil knows that religious and priests who fall away from their beautiful vocation drag innumerable souls to Hell….
    The devil wishes to take possession of consecrated souls. He tries to corrupt them in order to lull to sleep the souls of laypeople and thereby lead them to final impenitence. ” ( Sister Lucia of Fatima to Father Agustin Fuentes, Dec 1957 )

    b). ” In her letter, Sr. Lucia spoke about a ” diabolical revolt ” that was being ” promoted by the powers of darkness ” with ” errors ” being made against God, His church, Her doctrines and dogmas. She said the Church was going through ” an agony at Gethsemane ” and that there was a ” worldwide disorientation that is martyring the Church.” ( Letter to Pope Paul VI in 1968 )

    c). ” Father, a time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family. And those who will work for the good of the family will experience persecution and tribulation. But do not be afraid, because Our Lady has already crushed his head. ” ( Sister Lucia to Cardinal Caffarra 1983 )

    II. ” We’re clearly in a well-plotted endgame now. According to the men behind Pope Francis’s election–ominously scandal ridden figures like Cardinal Danneels, Cardinal Murphy-O’Connor, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick–the timeline was estimated at just four or five years to ” make the Church over again. ” ( The St. Gallen Mafia’s ” LGBT ” Youth Synod by Julia Meloni, July 3, 2018 )

    a) Please read the following two essays written by a brilliantly devout and very young Catholic American thinker–Julia Meloni, to more ” fully ” appreciate both the prophecy of Fatima regarding the current attacks against the Church caused by the heresy of MODERNISM.



    b). And now you know why Arch-bishop Vigano could remain silent no longer.

    III. Some Recommendations for the Catholic lay faithful

    a). Understand that the Sacraments are ” FIRE PROOF “. ( Joe Gill, June 2018 )
    b). Get bulletins posted at all parishes and invite all to the National Rosary on October 7, 2018
    c). Write and speak to your Priests and Bishops ( with humility and charity and firmness of purpose ) to CANCEL this October’s Youth Synod.
    d). Write and speak to your Priests and Bishops to work for a thorough and relentless investigation of wrong doing.
    e). Write and speak to your Priests and Bishops to work for the resignations of those justly found guilty of wrong doing.
    f). Write and speak to your Priests and Bishops urging them to have the Holy Father and the Roman Curia give praise and thanks to our Lady of Fatima for forewarning us of the dangers and future attacks coming from the heresy of MODERNISM ( ” truth is no more immutable than man himself, since it evolved with him, in him, and through him ” Pope St. Pius X )
    g). Write and speak to your Priests and Bishops urging them to hold parish meetings/seminars for the faithful explaining what the heresy of MODERNISM is and how it has attacked the Church so effectively with Satan’s help; just like COMMUNISM did and still does.
    h). Pray and write to Arch-Bishop Vigano thanking him for his great sacrifice and love for the Church and his flock.

    Pray for Our Lady of Guadalupe’s Intercession,
    Jim Gill

  9. We will keep praying for all concerned, Pope, Cardinals, Bishops, priests and all who have been hurt by the church. The Holy Spirit is our comforter in these troubling times. Come Holy Spirit, direct guide and enlighten us.

  10. I’ve been thinking about Maximilian Kolbe, who perished in an Auschwitz starvation bunker, sacrificing himself for another man. The Nazi regime was on its last legs, but Maximilian and his fellow prisoners didn’t know this. For all they knew, Hitler’s Reich would prevail for decades, or centuries. Surely, many around him, Christian and Jew, had lost their faith, and some were colluding with the Nazis. Yet, it was as if God had said to Maximilian: “I want YOU to be heroic.” Maybe that’s what God is asking of me too in these times.

  11. For the first time we have a compsssionate loving pope who puts love before rules and doctrine so if Francis goes so do I. For the first time somrone who puts US before the institution. I do not hold credibility in Viagos ugly accusations. Be is ultraconservative and detests gays and has never liked this pope. Rumormongering to suit his needs.

    • If you have children, be sure to tell them, “Go right ahead and run into the street, and play with matches, and steal, and injure people, because I am a compassionate loving Mama who puts love before rules.”

      And if someone abuses your child, at whatever age, and someone in authority covers it up and this endangers others, be sure to say to the covered-up, “oh, I’m so glad you’re a loving person who puts love before the rules.”

      Bluntly, if you are idolizing Pope Francis instead of loving The Lord in His Church, you would be small loss.

    • Charlotte, you’re clearly a hate-monger more favorable to protecting a sexual predator & those willing to cover for his evil and not protecting innocent children and seminarians all under the guise of “love & compassion”… Get a grip.

  12. I do not have a great intellect. I listen to both sides but still don’t know who to believe.
    Praise be to God,I just hang on to Jesus and Mary and Joseph and keep praying.

  13. Mr. Weigel’s astute observations are valuable and need be taken very seriously. I am grateful to see his voice in support of the character of Archbishop Viganò’s character and by extension his veracity.

  14. God Help Us ALL! We are being tricked by the men who are supposed to be leading your flock. But you did say evil is among all of us and why not in the highest of places? God makes the true beauty and the devil makes things pretty….beware and be on guard always….never trust all of your leaders, they are only human but this is a secret that has been taking place over and over time and time again…Keep close to the original ROCK…Peter…the Catholic church…no matter what…the Lord will never condemn you for listening to what he told you to do from day one….the men who deceived you will pay in a long inferno for this terrible deadly crime that is taking place in our sacred church.

3 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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  2. Por qué seguimos y el testimonio de Viganò - El Pueblo Católico
  3. The Church’s current crisis is a crisis of fidelity and a crisis of holiness, a crisis of infidelity and a crisis of sin | Deaconjohn1987's Blog

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