Abp. Vigano’s new testimony has “special appeal” to Card. Ouellet, more criticism of Pope Francis

The strongest words of Viganò’s new testimony are found in the conclusion, where he asks, “Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar?”

Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, is pictured at his residence at the Vatican in this Oct. 20, 2011, file photo. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

While many eyes, at least in the U.S., were focused on the conflicts and testimony playing out before the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Church’s tumultuous summer continued as Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò issued a new, four-page testimony (see below) containing further strong criticisms of Pope Francis and a “special appeal to Cardinal Ouellet”. Posted first by LifeSiteNew’s Diane Montagna, the new statement begins with an explanation of why Viganò decided to release, 33 days ago, his first testimony, stating, “I made it after long reflection and prayer, during months of profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events, with thousands of innocent victims destroyed and the vocations and lives of young priests and religious disturbed.”

He says that while he knew the first document would involve “enormous consequences” because of its strong claims about Pope Francis’ handling of clerical sexual abuse, especially regarding Archbishop Emeritus Theodore McCarrick, “I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true.”

Viganò acknowledges that some of what appears in the first testimony “were covered by the pontifical secret that I had promised to observe,” but argues that the purpose of such a secret “is to protect the Church from her enemies, not to cover up and become complicit in crimes committed by some of her members.” He then states that none of what he asserted in the first testimony has been denied by Pope Francis or any cardinals in Rome, saying that if documentation denying his statements was available it would have been provided by now.

He then reiterates a key assertion from his first testimony:

The center of my testimony was that since at least June 23, 2013, the pope knew from me how perverse and evil McCarrick was in his intentions and actions, and instead of taking the measures that every good pastor would have taken, the pope made McCarrick one of his principal agents in governing the Church, in regard to the United States, the Curia, and even China, as we are seeing these days with great concern and anxiety for that martyr Church.

Viganò points to some of Pope Francis’ recent remarks, made mostly in homilies, as acts of “subtle slander,” as when the pontiff spoke about the great accuser who “who sows scandal and division in the Church”. He also questions why Francis will make such remarks in homilies but then tells journalists he will keep silent about the entire matter. “But how can journalists,” asks Viganò, “discover and know the truth if those directly involved with a matter refuse to answer any questions or to release any documents?” He then points to a growing number of stories suggesting failures by Francis to adequately handle specific situations involving priests accused of or found guilty of sexual abuse:

Many more instances have recently been documented in the press, showing that Pope Francis has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults. These include his role in the case of Fr. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires, his reinstatement of Fr. Mauro Inzoli after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry (until he went to prison, at which point Pope Francis laicized him), and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

More surprising is Viganò’s strongly worded “special appeal” to Canadian prelate and theologian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who has been the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America since being appointed in June 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. Noting he had “always worked in great harmony” with Ouellet, Viganò says it was Ouellet who told “told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick.” Viganò also refers to a lengthy essay about Amoris Laetitia by Ouellet, titled “​Accompanying, Discerning, Integrating Weakness” and published by L’Osservatore Romano last November, saying that the essay, “in which [Ouellet] came out in favor of the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, represents his surrender.” Ouellet, in his essay, wrote that he is “convinced that AL is a prime example of the Ignatian charism in practice,” stating that two “opposing attitudes” must be avoided: a dissenting approach that demands “doctrinal and disciplinary changes in order to modernize things and make them more acceptable to the families of today” and an authoritative approach which does not pay “close enough attention to its pastoral ineffectiveness and to the widening gap with the prevailing culture.”

Viganò ends his appeal to Ouellet by stating, “You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.”

But the strongest words of Viganò’s new testimony are found in the conclusion, where the current situation is compared to the disciples being caught in a storm while fishing on the Sea of Galilee:

The scene is very timely in portraying the tremendous storm the Church is passing through in this moment, but with a substantial difference: the successor of Peter not only fails to see the Lord in full control of the boat, it seems he does not even intend to awaken Jesus asleep in the bow. Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar? Perhaps is he being tempted to try to act as a substitute of our only Master and Lord?

What to make of this latest development? While there has been much speculation about Viganò’s motives for releasing his testimonies, the former nuncio has used remarkably strong language in insisting that love of truth, devotion to Christ, and a desire to see accountability among Church leaders have been his motivations: “I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true.”  While his various claims will undoubtedly add in some ways to the deep polarization within the Church, it’s important to note that the polarization has really been there for years, even decades, and that Viganò’s testimonies have arguably helped break through some of the entrenched stonewalling.

His blunt criticisms of Pope Francis, especially in questioning the pontiff’s own motives and perspectives, are the most problematic, especially since they are by their very nature most removed from the realm of proof and fact. Yet they give voice to a growing swell of frustration and perplexity coming not just from the more “conservative” and “authoritarian” voices in the Church, but increasingly to a wider range of Catholics who are unsatisfied, and even unsettled, by how Francis has been (or has not been) addressing the serious problems rooted in and spreading out from the clergy sex abuse and overall lack of episcopal leadership regarding the same.

———-

Here is the full text of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s letter

 

Tit. Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio

Scio Cui credidi
(2 Tim 1:12)
Before starting my writing, I would first of all like to give thanks and glory to God the Father for every situation and trial that He has prepared and will prepare for me during my life. As a priest and bishop of the holy Church, spouse of Christ, I am called like every baptized person to bear witness to the truth. By the gift of the Spirit who sustains me with joy on the path that I am called to travel, I intend to do so until the end of my days. Our only Lord has addressed also to me the invitation, “Follow me!”, and I intend to follow him with the help of his grace until the end of my days.

“As long as I have life, I will sing to the Lord,
I will sing praise to my God while I have being.
May my song be pleasing to him;
For I rejoice in the Lord.”
(Psalm 103:33-34)

*****
It has been a month since I offered my testimony, solely for the good of the Church, regarding what occurred at the audience with Pope Francis on June 23, 2013 and regarding certain matters I was given to know in the assignments entrusted to me at the Secretariat of State and in Washington, in relation to those who bear responsibility for covering up the crimes committed by the former archbishop of that capital.

My decision to reveal those grave facts was for me the most painful and serious decision that I have ever made in my life. I made it after long reflection and prayer, during months of profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events, with thousands of innocent victims destroyed and the vocations and lives of young priests and religious disturbed. The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church. Well aware of the enormous consequences that my testimony could have, because what I was about to reveal involved the successor of Peter himself, I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true. Christ died for the Church, and Peter, Servus servorum Dei, is the first one called to serve the spouse of Christ.

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. 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. I was a witness, not by my choice, of shocking facts and, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states (par. 2491), the seal of secrecy is not binding when very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. Only the seal of confession could have justified my silence.

Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my testimony. “Qui tacet consentit” surely applies here, for if they deny my testimony, they have only to say so, and provide documentation to support that denial. How can one avoid concluding that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my testimony?

The center of my testimony was that since at least June 23, 2013, the pope knew from me how perverse and evil McCarrick was in his intentions and actions, and instead of taking the measures that every good pastor would have taken, the pope made McCarrick one of his principal agents in governing the Church, in regard to the United States, the Curia, and even China, as we are seeing these days with great concern and anxiety for that martyr Church.

Now, the pope’s reply to my testimony was: “I will not say a word!” But then, contradicting himself, he has compared his silence to that of Jesus in Nazareth and before Pilate, and compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church — though without ever uttering my name. If he had said: “Viganò lied,” he would have challenged my credibility while trying to affirm his own. In so doing he would have intensified the demand of the people of God and the world for the documentation needed to determine who has told the truth. Instead, he 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. When he did speak to journalists, he asked them to exercise their professional maturity and draw their own conclusions. But how can journalists discover and know the truth if those directly involved with a matter refuse to answer any questions or to release any documents? 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.

Moreover, the pope’s cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake. Many more instances have recently been documented in the press, showing that Pope Francis has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults. These include his role in the case of Fr. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires, his reinstatement of Fr. Mauro Inzoli after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry (until he went to prison, at which point Pope Francis laicized him), and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.

In the meantime, a delegation of the USCCB, headed by its president Cardinal DiNardo, went to Rome asking for a Vatican investigation into McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo and the other prelates should tell the Church in America and in the world: did the pope refuse to carry out a Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up? The faithful deserve to know.

I would like to make a special appeal to Cardinal Ouellet, because as nuncio I always worked in great harmony with him, and I have always had great esteem and affection towards him. He will remember when, at the end of my mission in Washington, he received me at his apartment in Rome in the evening for a long conversation. At the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate, he had maintained his dignity, as he had shown with courage when he was Archbishop of Québec. Later, however, when his work as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops was being undermined because recommendations for episcopal appointments were being passed directly to Pope Francis by two homosexual “friends” of his dicastery, bypassing the Cardinal, he gave up. His long article in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he came out in favor of the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, represents his surrender. Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.

*****
Finally, I wish to encourage you, dear faithful, my brothers and sisters in Christ: never be despondent! Make your own the act of faith and complete confidence in Christ Jesus, our Savior, of Saint Paul in his second Letter to Timothy, Scio cui credidi, which I choose as my episcopal motto. This is a time of repentance, of conversion, of prayers, of grace, to prepare the Church, the bride of the Lamb, ready to fight and win with Mary the battle against the old dragon.

Scio Cui credidi” (2 Tim 1:12)
In you, Jesus, my only Lord, I place all my trust.
“Diligentibus Deum omnia cooperantur in bonum” (Rom 8:28).
 
Image

To commemorate my episcopal ordination on April 26, 1992, conferred on me by St. John Paul II, I chose this image taken from a mosaic of the Basilica of St. Mark in Venice. It represents the miracle of the calming of the storm. I was struck by the fact that in the boat of Peter, tossed by the water, the figure of Jesus is portrayed twice. Jesus is sound asleep in the bow, while Peter tries to wake him up: “Master, do you not care that we are about to die?” Meanwhile the apostles, terrified, look each in a different direction and do not realize that Jesus is standing behind them, blessing them and assuredly in command of the boat: “He awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Quiet! Be still,’ … then he said to them, ‘Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?’” (Mk 4:38-40).

The scene is very timely in portraying the tremendous storm the Church is passing through in this moment, but with a substantial difference: the successor of Peter not only fails to see the Lord in full control of the boat, it seems he does not even intend to awaken Jesus asleep in the bow.

Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar? Perhaps is he being tempted to try to act as a substitute of our only Master and Lord?

The Lord is in full control of the boat!

May Christ, the Truth, always be the light on our way!

+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio

September 29th, 2018
Feast of St. Michael, Archangel

About Carl E. Olson 1088 Articles
Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight. He is the author of Did Jesus Really Rise from the Dead?, Will Catholics Be "Left Behind", co-editor/contributor to Called To Be the Children of God, co-author of The Da Vinci Hoax (Ignatius), and author of the "Catholicism" and "Priest Prophet King" Study Guides for Word on Fire. He is also a contributor to "Our Sunday Visitor" newspaper, "The Catholic Answer" magazine, "The Catholic Herald", "National Catholic Register", "Chronicles", and other publications.

6 Comments

  1. Regarding:

    Ouellet, in his essay, wrote that he is “convinced that AL is a prime example of the Ignatian charism in practice,” stating that two “opposing attitudes” must be avoided: a dissenting approach that demands “doctrinal and disciplinary changes in order to modernize things and make them more acceptable to the families of today” and an authoritative approach which does not pay “close enough attention to its pastoral ineffectiveness and to the widening gap with the prevailing culture.”

    Cardinal Ouellet appears to want to have his cake, eat it too, and enter it in the Betty Crocker Contest.

  2. Documents of an ecclesiastical character are often dated to provide them a specific context. In dating his letter September 29th this extraordinarily brave man, Archbishop Viganò, is appealing to the feast of Ss. Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. One cannot help but recall this specific passage in the unabridged prayer to Saint Michael by Pope Leo XIII from, I believe, 1890:
    ““These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions. In the Holy Place itself, where the See of Holy Peter and the Chair of Truth has been set up as the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be”.
    What more need be said?
    May God allow this good man’s voice NEVER be silenced by the cowardliness which possesses a startling swath of the episcopate — not excepting the Bishop of Rome.
    Archbishop Viganò is THE man standing in the room.

  3. “His blunt criticisms of Pope Francis, especially in questioning the pontiff’s own motives and perspectives, are the most problematic…” This is true since we are not used to such strong words in the mouth of an archbishop. However, just as problematic is the lack of direct response by Pope Francis who instructs the press to do their job and investigate and then appears to refuse to be part of the investigation. Not only in this but in matters of doctrine the flock is left befuddled as to the motivations of Pope Francis because of his silence on important matters. If Vigano is completely sincere, he may be trying to nudge another prelate (Cardinal Ouelett)into communicating what thus far no one wants to speak of. Vigano’s actual credibility may be (hopefully) in the fact that he cares little about his perceived credibility because he knows that this is a very hard nut to crack and he is willing to be seen as The Nutcracker knowing that he is really acting as “prince” (of the Church).

  4. Sister Agnes Sasagawa at Japan, in 1973 claimed that Mary said to her: “The work of the devil will infiltrate even into the Church in such a way that one will see cardinals opposing cardinals, bishops against bishops. The priests who venerate me will be scorned and opposed by their confreres… the Church will be full of those who accept compromises and the demon will press many priests and consecrated souls to leave the service of the Lord. The demon will be especially implacable against souls consecrated to God…”
    Our Lady of La Salette, France in 1846 warned of and predicted this sexual abuse crisis that we are now in. She states “Priests, my Son’s ministers, priests, by their evil life, by their irreverence’s and their impiety in celebrating the holy mysteries, love of money, love of honor and pleasures, priests have become sewers of impurity. Yes, priests call forth vengeance, and vengeance is suspended over their heads. Woe to priests, and to persons consecrated to God, who by their infidelities and their evil life are crucifying my son anew! The sins of persons consecrated to God cry to heaven and call for vengeance, and now here is vengeance at their very doors, for no longer is anyone found to beg mercy and pardon for the people; there are no more generous souls, there is now no one worthy of offering the spotless Victim to the Eternal on the world’s behalf.”
    “The chiefs, the leaders of the people of God have neglected prayer and penance, and the devil has bedimmed their intelligence. They have become wandering stars which the old devil will drag along with his tail to make them perish. God will allow the old serpent to cause divisions among those who reign, in every society and in every family. Physical and moral agonies will be suffered. God will abandon mankind to itself and will send punishments which will follow one after the other for more than thirty-five years. “ These events are clearly unfolding.
    A book and web site called, After The Warning To 2038. com, have many prophecies from credible, Catholic sources that are predicting many more future events.

  5. After Archbishop Vigano’s first letter, several U.S. Bishops called for an investigation of the McCarrick matter. Bishop Barron in particular called for an exhaustive investigation heavily involving lay experts seeking to determine who within the hierarchy knew about McCarrick and when did they know. I hope and pray that Archbishop Vigano’s second—and I believe more compelling—letter will motivate the U.S. Bishops to stop waiting on the Vatican and get such an investigation underway. Otherwise I fear that the only investigations we will hear about will be those by state AGs. St. Peter Damian, pray for us.

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