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Cardinal Ouellet: Vigano in ‘open and scandalous rebellion’ against Pope Francis

The Vatican’s prefect for the Congregation for Bishops released a letter Sunday morning refuting charges Pope Francis lifted sanctions against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of Quebec City, concelebrate Mass July 26 at the Basilica of Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre in Ste.-Anne-de-Beaupre, Quebec, on the feast of St. Anne. (CNS photo/Philippe Vaillancourt, Presence)

Vatican City, Oct 7, 2018 / 03:39 am (CNA).- The Vatican’s prefect for the Congregation for Bishops released a letter Sunday morning refuting charges Pope Francis lifted sanctions against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and saying that charges made by a former Vatican ambassador are an “unjustified attack” on the pope “cannot come from the Spirit of God.”

“Your current position seems to me incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, not only because of the confusion that sows in the people of God, but because your public accusations seriously damage the reputation of the Successors of the Apostles,” wrote Cardinal Marc Ouellett, in an Oct. 7 letter addressed to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

“I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered with full knowledge of the facts this alleged sexual predator and therefore of being an accomplice of the corruption that is spreading in the Church, to the point of considering him unworthy of continuing his reform as the first pastor of the Church, is incredible and unlikely from all points of view,” Ouellett added.

The letter, released by the Vatican press office, was written in response to two letters from Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the U.S., which charged that the Vatican had ignored reports from him and others about sexual immorality on the part of McCarrick for several years, until Pope Benedict XVI imposed “sanctions” on McCarrick’s ministry in 2009 or 2010.

Vigano alleged that Pope Francis lifted the restrictions on McCarrick’s ministry after his election to the papacy, and that McCarrick became an adviser to the pope. He then called for the pope to resign.

He also suggested that Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, had direct knowledge of the history of allegations and responses in McCarrick’s case, and urged him to “bear witness to the truth.”

Vigano claims that Ouellet told him in 2011 about sanctions imposed on McCarrick, but added that the cardinal’s “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 [to Pope Francis].”

The cardinal refuted those claims.

“The written instructions prepared for you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your service in 2011 did not say anything about McCarrick, except what I told you about his situation as an Emeritus Bishop who had to obey certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past.”

“The former cardinal, who retired in May 2006, was strongly urged not to travel and not to appear in public, in order not to provoke further rumours about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as ‘sanctions’ decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis,” the letter added.

“After reviewing the archives, I note that there are no documents in this regard signed by either Pope, nor a note of audience from my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, which gave mandate to the Archbishop Emeritus McCarrick to silence and private life, with the rigor of canonical penalties. The reason for this is that, unlike today, there was not enough evidence of his alleged guilt at the time. Hence the position of the Congregation inspired by prudence and the letters of my predecessor and mine that reiterated, through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then also through you, the exhortation to a discreet lifestyle of prayer and penance for his own good and that of the Church. His case would have been the subject of new disciplinary measures if the Nunciature in Washington, or any other source, had provided us with recent and decisive information on his behavior.”

Ouellet acknowledged that he was “very surprised” that a man of McCarrick’s apparent character had been promoted through the Church, to the point of becoming the Archbishop of Washington in 2000. He said that he could “recognize the shortcomings in the selection process that has been carried out in his case.”

He added that the popes who had promoted McCarrick had done so with the best information that was available to them, and that their judgment on episcopal appointments is “not infallible.”

“It seems unfair to me to conclude that the persons in charge of prior discernment are corrupt even though, in the concrete case, some clues provided by the testimonies should have been further examined. The prelate in question was able to defend himself with great skill from the doubts raised in his regard.”

Regarding charges that a homosexual network of clerics has exercised undue influence on the appointment of bishops, Ouellet wrote that “the fact that there may be people in the Vatican who practise and support behaviour contrary to the values of the Gospel in matters of sexuality does not authorize us to generalize and to declare this or that and even the Holy Father himself unworthy and complicit. Should the ministers of truth not, first of all, guard themselves against slander and defamation?” he added.

McCarrick has been accused in recent months of serially sexually abusing two teenage boys, and of sexually coercing and assaulting priests and seminarians during decades of ministry as a bishop. In June, the Archdiocese of New York announced that it had completed the first stage of a canonical process investigating one of those charges, and had found one allegation that he sexually abused a teenage boy to be “credible and substantiated.” McCarrick was subsequently ordered to withdraw from active ministry, and his resignation from the College of Cardinals was accepted.

On. Oct 6, the Vatican announced it would conduct a review of its files pertaining to the McCarrick case.

Ouellet’s letter expressed his hope that “the investigation under way in the United States and the Roman Curia will finally give us a critical overall view of the procedures and circumstances of this painful case, so that such events do not recur in the future.”

The cardinal’s letter including some strong charges against Vigano’s letter. He wrote that Vigano’s accusation regarding Pope Francis is “a political set-up without a real foundation that can incriminate the Pope, and I reiterate that it deeply hurts the communion of the Church.”

The cardinal added that because of his own experience with the pope, he “can not question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and especially the charism and peace that inhabit him by the grace of God and the power of the Risen One.”

He added that Francis “treats people and problems with much charity, mercy, attention and seriousness, as you yourself have experienced.”

Because of this, Ouellet wrote, Vigano’s charges against the pope’s character “seemed to me really too sarcastic, even blasphemous!”

He urged Vigano to “repent of your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him. How can you celebrate the Holy Eucharist and pronounce its name in the canon of Mass? How can you pray the holy Rosary, Saint Michael the Archangel and the Mother of God, condemning the one she protects and accompanies every day in her heavy and courageous ministry?”

“I understand how bitterness and disappointment have marked your path in service to the Holy See, but you cannot end your priestly life in this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion, which inflicts a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, worsening the division and bewilderment in the people of God!”

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  1. Where are his supporting documents? He has access to everything….

    I suspect him a stalking horse put out to see what documents Viganò might have by way of refutation…to save Francis from some later blunder…
    a) one hopes Viganò has such documents…
    b) he holds back on release awaiting bigger fishermen…

  2. How long must we endure the misuse of a perfectly good wod? “Refute” means to *prove* the falsity of a claim, which Oullet has certainly failed to do. In fact, he has corroborated one of Vigano’s Central claims, which is that sanctions were in place against McCarrick under Benedict, and were lifted by Francis.

    The word you’re looking for, CNA, is “rebut”.

  3. The statement by Cardinal Oullet is evidence of utterly debilitating clericalism animating so many Bishops, such that they think that “the scandal” is primarily about unity around the pontificate of Pope Francis.

    That is small potatoes…

  4. “The wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without a trace of partiality or hypocrisy.” I find these qualities to be far more clearly present in Cardinal Ouellet’s letter than I ever did in either of those by Archbishop Vigano.

  5. I have read Cardinal Ouellet’s letter in full, and it is a beautiful example of the fraternal correction which many people are calling for in the Church.It is the letter of a brother calling a brother back into communion.

    • No, Sister, we are calling for the “fraternal correction” of those who have tolerated and abetted the homosexual infiltration of the Church, such as Cardinal Ouellet and Pope Francis. Not Archbishop Viganò.

      • Fraternal correction (and as a religious I have some experience of it) is aimed at communion. As Fr. Henri Lacordaire said, “I do not seek to convictmy adversary of his error but to be united to him in a higher truth.” Is that what you desire? If it is not, then your fraternal correction is not done in Our Lord who prayed, “Father, may they be one in us.”

        • Sister Gabriela, when the issue is that horrifying abuse is being committed, when a network of homosexuals is devastating the Church by committing or covering up the abuse and causing scandal that drives people from the Church and diminishes the Church’s moral authority, when a number of shepherds seem to be inviting the wolves in to feast on the sheep, and when the Pope is not doing anything to stop it – just exactly what higher truth are you thinking will make all of those things okay?

          • Dear Leslie, Thank you for your comment. I think some basic theology will clarify the matter for you. Abuse is both a crime and a sin. I leave the criminal aspect to the professionals in law for I have no training in that area. Concerning sin, if I am not mistaken, the IV Council of Constantinople defined sin as the sickness of the spirit. St. Augustine understands it in this way: “Lovers of the world, however, who are kept from good works by some evil desire, lie sick and lifeless, and it is this sickness that deprives them of any strength to accomplish good works.” St. Teresa of Jesus understands sin in the same way, describing a soul in mortal sin as being paralyzed and unable to move. Augustine goes on: “The paralytic was like that. When his bearers could not bring him in to the Lord, they opened the roof and lowered him down to the feet of Christ. Perhaps you wish to do this in spirit: to open the roof and to lower a paralytic soul down to the Lord.” As we read in the Gospel, “When he saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” It was the faith of the bearers which brought about the forgiveness of the paralytic. And what was the first effect of this unmerited forgiveness? “he said to the one who was paralyzed—“ I say to you, stand up and take your bed and go to your home.” Immediately he stood up before them, took what he had been lying on, and went to his home, glorifying God.” The faith of the bearers brought about the forgiveness of sins, and the result was obedience and praise. Isn’t this what we long for? May we have that same efficacious faith!
            You asked what higher truth there can be. In a conference by Fr. Andrew Apostoli, CFR, he told us about one of his penitents, who had been deeply involved in a homosexual lifestyle. The man came to find the higher truth that we are called to an unimaginable intimacy of love with Our Lord. As St. John wrote: “And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.” As the man was dying of AIDS contracted during her previous way of living, he said to Fr. Apostoli, “I have found the perfect lover: Jesus.” Jesu dulcis memoria!
            O hope of every contrite heart
            o joy of all the meek,
            to those who fall, how kind Thou art!
            how good to those who seek!
            But what to those who find? Ah this
            nor tongue nor pen can show:
            the love of Jesus, what it is
            none but His loved ones know.

          • “Abuse is both a crime and a sin.”

            And then there are the homosexual priests who are not committing civil crimes but are committing grievous sins and canonical crimes. There’s more to this than only abuse; the abusers are nourished in a culture of corruption.

            ” St. Augustine understands it in this way: “Lovers of the world, however, who are kept from good works by some evil desire, lie sick and lifeless, and it is this sickness that deprives them of any strength to accomplish good works.””

            In this case, they may be lacking the strength to accomplish good works, but they seem to have a great deal of strength to do evil.

            Your story about Fr. Andrew Apostoli’s penitent is beautiful. And indeed I hope that those priests who have chosen to commit homosexual sins, either by abuse or with the consent of the other party, experience the same conversion. Meanwhile, however, they are doing untold damage to the church, putting their own souls in danger of damnation, injuring others, and leading astray the sheep they are supposed to be protecting, both by example and by either justifying sin or by remaining silent about it. They must be stopped.

  6. Quellet is running a pan indefectibility and pan infalliblity game on Vigano which will only work if Vigano vanishes into that bizarre endothermic world. Mary does not do heavy work in Heaven on Pope Francis (just review his theory on Jesus saving Judas which he knows via a statue)…in Heaven all prayer is like a underground spring coming through one from God’s love toward mankind in a delight that never stops…it ain’t work. Heavy work is a punishment of the Fall…it is kept out of Heaven as all punishment is…”in the sweat of your brow, you will eat your bread”…that was a curse and does not apply in Heaven. Mary needs no courage in Heaven for the same reason….courage requires threat of pain which is absent in Heaven. Aquinas said “virtue is about difficult things”…in the penal atmosphere of earthy temptations which are not allowed in Heaven. You don’t keep meriting in Heaven because your will is united to God’s just by being with Him and prayer there is delightful in itself whereas here it is often work. Oi veh. We need Ouellet to read Aquinas rather than private revelation which is not binding on Catholics and sometimes has these anthropopathisms as literally true.

  7. “Ouellet wrote that ‘the fact that there may be people in the Vatican who practise and support behaviour contrary to the values of the Gospel in matters of sexuality does not authorize us to generalize and to declare this or that and even the Holy Father himself unworthy and complicit. Should the ministers of truth not, first of all, guard themselves against slander and defamation?’ he added.”

    This is not simply Ouellet using euphemism to refer to sexual sins (no reference to other sins, financial crimes,sacrilege, or scandalizing the faithful?). This is not simply Ouellet attacking Vigano (and everyone else who agrees with Vigano?) or Ouellette backing up Bergoglio with the “Great Accuser” strategy. This is the new baseline, the new normal where we can’t “generalize” (even about individuals verifiably associated with very specific cases, male prostitutes, orgies, cover ups for priest friends, Chile, Honduras, the money of the faithful squandered in parishes and dioceses). This is the new more “merciful” church the Pope of “surprises” had in mind from the beginning along with several others, before he was chosen, back in Argentina, before the balcony and Danneels. This is the take it or leave it phase…nothing really “discerned”…as planned.

    A game of chicken is being played with the faithful. After all, we ALL must repent of these sins, all of us. All of us are “guilty” in this scandal…so maybe we can “generalize” after all?

    Ironically, cynically, they are banking on traditional Catholic belief and sentiment, that people will just hang in there, pray, pay and obey…minus a larger public outcry or even a quiet walkout.

  8. And the worst part (I neglected to add to a previous post?) A resulting headline where the Vatican (official) considers a “charge” against Bergoglio “even blasphemous.”

    This is a horror, an abomination, not simply hyperbole or something badly translated. Place this side by side with Rosica’s statement of recent history.

  9. Cardinal Oellet’s open letter attempting to rebut Archbishop Vigano’s allegations is filled with pious platitudes but very little of substance. A couple of examples will suffice to illustrate the specious nature of Cardinal Oellet’s argument.

    Cardinal Oullet states that after McCarrick’s retirement in 2006, McCarrick ‘‘had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances…”. Cardinal Oullet asserts that it “is false … to present those measures as ‘sanctions’ formally imposed by Pope Benedict XVI and then invalidated by Pope Frances.” Oullet adds: “After a review of the archives, I find that there are no documents signed by either Pope in this regard, and there are no audience notes from my predecessor…. imposing on [McCarrick] … [sanctions] with the weight normally reserved to canonical penalties.”

    Cardinal Oullet’s argument is a red herring. Vigano did not assert that any pope had “formally imposed” written canonical sanctions against McCarrick. To the contrary, in Vigano’s narrative dated August 22, 2018, the sanctions appear to have been informally imposed. Accordingly, Vigano writes: “I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick….” Vigano further writes that “Pope Benedict’s same dispositions were …communicated to me by …Cardinal Marc Oullet…in a conversation….” (Emphasis added.)

    A second red herring is provided to the reader in the following quotation from Cardinal Oullet’s letter: “Furthermore, the fact that there could be in the Vatican persons who practice or support sexual behavior that is contrary to the values of the Gospel, does not authorize us to make generalizations or to declare unworthy and complicit this or that individual, including the Holy Father himself.” The problem with this argument is that there is absolutely nothing in either of Archbishop Vigano two letters that could suggest to a reasonable observer that Vigano has declared “this or that” individual “unworthy and complicit” on the basis that “there could be in the Vatican persons who practice or support sexual behavior that is contrary to the values of the Gospel.”

    I can only guess why Cardinal Oullet has found it necessary to resort to verbal gimmickry to make his case against Archbishop Vigano.

  10. I commend and join with Joseph and GrammarGirl and Paul Ament in their insightful comments.

    Paul A has done a great service to Truth in pointing out the carefully constructed deceptions in Cardinal Oullet’s letter.

    Joseph has correctly objected to the astonishing “papalotry” of Cardinal Oullet, who considers an accusation against a Pope as an act of blasphemy?! This is uber-clericalism, to the point of regarding the Pope as some sort of divinity.

    And GrammarGirl sums it all up: Cardinal Oullet’s letter is nothing other than gaslighting…which is truly the mark of Pope Francis…and has been increasingly so throughout his papacy.

  11. I do not trust Ouellette any more than I do PF. I am just guessing that the numbers of us in open rebellion will continue to grow. I trust our authentic Magisterium, not the ‘everything is up for grabs and progress’ train of thought. I never anticipated that I would find myself as a Catholic realizing I have chosen sides in my own Church?

  12. After reading Cardinal Ouellet’s letter in the English translation, I read it in the original French. The note of tenderness is even more marked in the original language. The two men were friends, as the beginning of the letter says (a part of the letter which seems to be neglected in the comments), and the Cardinal hopes to draw Archbishop Vigano back to their earlier relationship of trust and esteem.

    I want to congratulate the Catholic World Report on their courage and objectivity in printing my comments which obviously run counter to the prevailing outlook of nearly all the commenters.

    • I too read the letter in French, and I respectfully disagree with you, Sister. It is an obvious deflection by a Cardinal who has himself been a disaster for the Church, and complicit in tolerating active homosexuality among the clergy.

      • Dear Timothy, You use the word “obvious.” As I near the end of my 7th decade of life, I confess that I find very few things “obvious.” In fact, only what I see by faith is obvious to me. All else is seen with human sight. To me, it is obvious that each person commenting here was created by God in His image, was redeemed by the blood of Our Lord and is meant to be sanctified by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit. That is true of you and of the Cardinal, and of each person involved in this crucifying affair.
        I will also add something that seems obvious to me. When St. Isaac Jogues was a captive of the Iroquois, they mutilated his hands by gnawing off his thumbs. He escaped and made his way to New York. There, a Dutch Calvinist, learning of his suffering, knelt down, kissed his hands and exclaimed, “Hail, martyr of Jesus Christ!” That is how I see each victim of abuse. These things are obvious to me, though others may deride me for my poor vision.

        • Sister Gabriela,

          You wrote: “To me, it is obvious that each person commenting here was created by God in His image, was redeemed by the blood of Our Lord and is meant to be sanctified by the grace and love of the Holy Spirit. That is true of you and of the Cardinal, and of each person involved in this crucifying affair.”

          That is true of everyone. It does not mean that those who are committing vile sins, covering them up, or failing to protect the vulnerable from predators should not be called upon to change their ways.

          I genuinely do not see what your anecdote about St. Isaac Jogues has to do with what is happening now. Nobody here is attacking the victims of abuse, and claiming that they are martyrs after they have been abused does absolutely nothing to protect others from becoming victims.

          • Dear Leslie, You seek to protect the victims of abuse. So do I, as I explain in my reply to your other comment. However, I also desire to restore to the victims the dignity of which they were robbed. Our Lord said, “Whatever yo do to the least of my brethren, you do to Me.” I believe that this applies to the victims of abuse, and that this identification with Our Lord in His passion gives them a dignity nothing can take from them.

          • That is a very good thing to want.

            Meanwhile, we need to be stopping the ones who are making them victims in the first place.

  13. Friends can easily become enemies when power and position are involved. Since Arcbp. V. never renounced communion with Peter it is big of the Cardinal to be willing to help restore what never was broken. Francis speaks the Marc.

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