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When it comes to Viganò, Pope Francis continues to deflect and distract

When Pope Francis told journalists to look into the “testimony” of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, he really meant we should look into Viganò.

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

When Pope Francis told journalists in essence to look into the “testimony” the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, released last summer, we all thought he meant that we should look into the allegations it contained. It turns out, Pope Francis meant we should look into Viganò. He wanted journalists to “discover” that Viganò was in the middle of an ugly family squabble.

A Milanese judge eventually decided against Archbishop Viganò in the civil dispute with his brother (who is also a cleric) over a good chunk of family money. Don’t take my word for it, though. Here are the Pope’s ipsissima verba (in the Catholic World Report’s English translation from the official transcript):

NT: Do you remember when they told you, 8 months ago: there is a statement from the former Nuncio, [Archbishop] Carlo Maria Viganò, who says he himself told you who McCarrick was — at an audience at the beginning of your pontificate — and that you did nothing? You only said: “I will not answer. Judge for yourselves. I will respond in due time.”

That silence has weighed a lot, because for the press and for many people, when one is silent, it is like between husband and wife, isn’t it? You catch your husband and he doesn’t answer you and you say, “There’s something wrong here.” So, why the silence?

The time has come to answer that question that we asked you on the plane. More than eight months have passed, Pope Francis.

PF: Yes, those who made Roman law say that silence is a way of speaking. In that case I had seen the letter — I had read a little of it — but had not read the whole letter, so I made a choice: that I should trust the honesty of the journalists. And I said to you, “Look, you have everything here, study and draw the conclusions.” And this you did, because you did the work, and in this case it was fantastic. I took great care not to say things that weren’t there, but then, three or four months later, a judge in Milan gave them when he sentenced him.

Journalists were going to look into Viganò anyway, but for the record: the dispute over family money between the former nuncio and his brother — also a cleric — was not a secret. Televisa’s Alazraki did the job, though, asking Francis, “You’re talking about [the business with] his family?” Francis replies:

Clearly. I kept silence, because [otherwise] I would have had to throw mud. Let it be journalists, who find out. And you discovered it, you found that whole world. It was a silence based on trust in you. Not only that, but I also told you: “Take [Viganò’s dossier], study it, that’s all,” and the result was good — better than if I had started to explain, to defend myself. You judge evidence in hand.

There is another thing that has always struck me: the silences of Jesus. Jesus always responded, even to his enemies when they provoked him, “You can do this, that,” to see if he fell for their provocation. He answered in those cases. When it became fierce, however, on Good Friday, before the fury of the people, He fell silent. At one point Pilate himself said, “Why don’t you answer me?” That is, in the face of a climate of fury there cannot be any response. That letter was a fury, as you yourself have realized from the results. Some of you even wrote that it was paid for. I don’t know [about that] – I haven’t seen any proof of it. (Sp. Esto no me consta.).

I’ve never bought into the whole Viganò as Knight in Shining Armor narrative. In fact, I’m on record as finding comparison of the former nuncio to Joe Valachi far more apt than comparison of him to Frank Serpico. Still, one wonders at this point whether perhaps Francis rails against gossip for the same reason the televangelist Jim Bakker used to rail against sexual impropriety. It has often seemed to me that, in his fervorini following the Readings of the Day at Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, he is preaching to himself at least as much as he is to the congregation.

His scriptis, it is important to realize that Viganò was never accused of criminal theft, that inheritance law is particularly intricate even by the byzantine measure of Italian civil law courts, and family squabbles notorious for bringing out the worst in the squabblers. The internecine fighting of a wealthy and prominent Italian family makes for a good soap opera treatment, but it is ultimately a red herring.

As I’ve said here and elsewhere, Viganò could be a living saint: but, if his recollection is not accurate, then he would still have done grave injustice to the person of the Holy Father and serious damage to the Office of Peter, along with incalculable harm to the faith and to the People of God. If, however, the former Nuncio’s recollection is accurate, then he could be the devil himself, and he still would have given Pope Francis a report of McCarrick’s depraved character, which Francis still should have taken seriously, and apparently didn’t.

Pope Francis, by the way, went on to say that he could not remember whether Viganò had mentioned Uncle Ted to him. Francis seems to have a tough time remembering lots of things. He can’t remember what he told the Argentinian woman who wrote to him seeking counsel on her irregular marital situation and her relationship with the Church.

Pope Francis has never said what happened to the letter Juan Carlos Cruz wrote him. One wonders what happened to it, especially since the Pope reportedly received it some three years before he claimed never to have received any proof evidence against Bishop Juan Barros. In the absence of a paper trail, “I don’t recall,” is usually enough to keep a formal indictment at arm’s length from heads of state (from ones, at least, who are subject to the law), but Pope Francis is not subject to any earthly judgment. He doesn’t have to run for re-election, either.


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About Christopher R. Altieri 110 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, writer, and editor based in Rome, Italy. He spent more than a dozen years on the news desk at Vatican Radio. He holds the PhD from the Pontifical Gregorian University, and is the author of The Soul of a Nation: America as a Tradition of Inquiry and Nationhood.

19 Comments

  1. Earth to Pope Francis: a family inheritance squabble has nothing whatsoever to do with Cardinals who are homosexual predators and the protection racket that some hierarchy in the Catholic Church have been operating. But the politics of personal assassination matters little to some so it seems.

  2. Valachi was a Mafia criminal informing on high echelon Mafia. Serpico was a police investigator who informed on corruption within the NYC police department. Your analogy is the reverse of the facts. Cardinal Carlo Viganò’s character as we all know has been affirmed as exemplary by many high ranking prelates who know him personally. As a fellow priest I feel obliged to at least place trust in Cardinal Viganò’s integrity. And to speak if I might on his behalf. Furthermore his testimony had corroboration by Msgr Lantheaume who was close to the events and was himself aware of the McCarrick cover-up. It seems weighted against the Cardinal for you to say at this stage, “If his [Viganò’s] recollection is not accurate, then he would still have done grave injustice to the person of the Holy Father and serious damage to the Office of Peter, along with incalculable harm to the faith and to the People of God”. True. Although it’s a serious hypothetical of which you have no evidence. And then in the same context justify your criticism of the Pontiff’s motives and conscientious integrity, perhaps correctly insofar as his explanation of the silence. An otherwise good article seems marred by excess in demonstrating fair mindedness.

  3. High, middle, or low; LibRad, TradRad, Common Pewsitte, folks are getting nervous. Being Catholic – even for Fr James Martin – comes down to who and how one sits on Peter’s Chair. It is Catholicism’s distinguishing Mark, for that where authority (and power) is found. If that seat of power is neutralized Catholicism ceases. In the end, every RadTrad will walk across Fr. Martin’s bridge, if need be, to maintain the power.

    • Popes come and go. The Holy Sacraments remain and the seat of Power is in the Soul of the Church, the Holy Spirit. It is messy because SHE (the Virgin) is crushing His Head! In human studies I learned that the only way out of something is through it, not around it. Does anyone doubt at this point that we are “going through it”?? If we had gone around it, we would only meet it again.
      A very important time has come on our watch. Rise up!!! Faith, Hope and Love.
      We always have the Holy Eucharist, I will be at adoration today.

      And, what in the world does a family squabble have to do with any of this?? Pathetic jab.

      • I must agree with you, Lynda. But as Fr Peter Morello has said “Silence is not an option when truth is compromised”. Bergoglio is compromising the truth, no doubt about that. He seems to be putting himself into a corner the more he speaks. The more he is in the corner, the more pressure on him. He CANNOT continue this way in his “pontificate” (if it can be called one). I think there is hope! Good Catholics must keep praying for a resolution. When are the Vigano Testimony’s going to be addressed? The pressure is building!

    • There have been forty anti-popes. Yet, there is a blog (Where Is Peter? or something) devoted entirely to the proposition that it is a metaphysical impossibility that whoever wears white (oops) and lives in the Papal Apartments) (oops) and is called “your Holiness” (oops) or gives Apostolic Blessings (oops) is not pope.

  4. Pope F now wants us to believe “he doesn’t remember?”

    Yes your Supreme Humbleness, of course we can all imagine a Pope “not remembering” a Nuncio telling him that a world famous Cardinal in the Nuncio’s assigned country is under a sanction from the previous Pope. Details…details…

    But smooth move Your Holiness, “remembering” to smear the man you are otherwise forgetting about.

    Yes, we are all very grateful to you Supreme Gaslighter for responding to our intensive interest to know the details of the family probate decision about the Viganò estate.

    Now…back to your post-Christian carnival…with “home movies” produced by His Feline Excellency Zanchetta.

  5. Its really simple. Francis is an out and out liar.

    Interestingly the Lord calls the devil the father of lies.

  6. “There is another thing that has always struck me: the silences of Jesus. Jesus always responded, even to his enemies when they provoked him, “You can do this, that,” to see if he fell for their provocation. He answered in those cases. When it became fierce, however, on Good Friday, before the fury of the people, He fell silent. At one point Pilate himself said, “Why don’t you answer me?” That is, in the face of a climate of fury there cannot be any response. That letter was a fury, as you yourself have realized from the results. Some of you even wrote that it was paid for. I don’t know [about that] – I haven’t seen any proof of it. (Sp. Esto no me consta.)There is another thing that has always struck me: the silences of Jesus. Jesus always responded, even to his enemies when they provoked him, “You can do this, that,” to see if he fell for their provocation. He answered in those cases. When it became fierce, however, on Good Friday, before the fury of the people, He fell silent. At one point Pilate himself said, “Why don’t you answer me?” That is, in the face of a climate of fury there cannot be any response. That letter was a fury, as you yourself have realized from the results. Some of you even wrote that it was paid for. I don’t know [about that] – I haven’t seen any proof of it. (Sp. Esto no me consta.).”

    Yes, remain silent. Don’t say that maybe the Vigano letter was paid for. Don’t say that because…you don’t know…there’s “no proof”…just like with…

    This joke isn’t funny anymore. As long as the focus is on following Bergoglio’s words…and not money trails…it’s hopeless. The Papal Foundation $25 million? This is why on a certain level Bergoglio does indeed laugh about accusations of heresy.

    No surprise that the Jesuits in the exhibit at the Gregorian of “Unbelief” include among their featured unbelievers a woman (a witch) who is “a practitioner of chaos magic.”

    St. Michael the Archangel…defend us in battle…

  7. Pope Francis realizes he cannot refute Vigano’s testimony about McCarrick, because we can now say with certainty that Vigano was and is telling the truth. So instead he tries to attack Vigano’s character, which sadly says more about the Pope’s character than Vigano’s.

  8. Peronist shell game.
    It gets worse and worse every day with Pope Francis.
    Please God, send us a true reforming Pope ASAP!

  9. George Weigel has stated in an ewtn interview on 5/30 that Vigano told him about the conversation with the pope not too long after the meeting, in 2013. So, either Weigel is lying too or Vigano is clearly telling the truth. The only other option is that Vigano already had some grand conspiracy in mind already as of 2013, and was spreading around falsehoods to establish this, which is an absurd idea.

  10. As an ordinary, every day Catholic, who are we to believe ?
    At the end of the day we have to trust ourselves to do the right thing.
    One day we are told Pope Francis is a great Pope, next day he is not so good !!!.
    Trust in the good Lord and he will look after us.

  11. So the author compares Vigano to Joe Valachi. Well, I hope CWR has the good sense to never carry any more of Christopher R. Altieri’s articles anymore.

  12. The Liturgy of the word seems appropriat here; “In a shaken sive do you the rubbish is led behind, so you the defects of a a man appear in his talk” “As the kindle test the work of the potter so too the test of a man is in his conversation. Ecclesiasticus 27:4-7.

    And again the words of Jesus; For a man’s words flow out of what fills his heart. Lk6:39-47. 8th Sumday Year C Roman Missal

  13. From “CALLING THE POPE A LIAR”
    by Philip Lawler 5/31/2019

    https://www.firstthings.com/web-exclusives/2019/05/calling-the-pope-a-liar

    It is no small thing to call the pope a liar. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has done just that, in straightforward language. “What the Pope said about not knowing anything [about Theodore McCarrick’s misconduct] is a lie,” he told LifeSite News.

    On the other hand, it is no small thing to claim that an archbishop, a veteran member of the Vatican diplomatic corps, had lied about the pope as part of a political conspiracy to undermine his authority. Such charges have been leveled against Viganò by the pope’s most stalwart public defenders and perhaps—depending on how one interprets some unusually convoluted papal utterances—by the pontiff himself.

    Someone is not being forthright here. The unedifying charges and countercharges have aggravated a scandal that already plagues Catholicism, and the faithful have waited far too long for a restoration of confidence that Church leaders are telling the truth.

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