“Team Viganò” versus “Team Francis” one year on

We are seeing the worst ecclesiastical leadership crisis in at least five hundred years play out as a popularity contest.

Pope Francis waves outside St. Patrick in the City Church in Washington, Sept. 24, 2015, while accompanied by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, then the apostolic nuncio to the United States.(CNS photo/Bob Roller)

It was early evening, not much past 6 o’clock EDT on Saturday, August 25th, 2018, when I got a message from a friend, asking if I knew anything about a letter from a nuncio. I didn’t know anything about any letter, but when I saw what my friend was talking about, my first instinct was to chalk it up to late summer sensationalism: Pope Francis was in Ireland for the World Meeting of Families, and the second half of August had already been dominated by headlines from the US side of the Church beat.

Still, I set about seeing what I could see.

It took a while for me to be satisfied of the letter’s authenticity, and then it was apparent that the business must have been coordinated. Archbishop Viganò had lots of scores to settle, and whatever the story was, heads needed to roll on every side of it. I recall shocked disbelief at the idea that Viganò had not kept the correspondence necessary to corroborate his claims. For a while, I had wondered whether the business wasn’t a fraud.

That night, I was working the story for two outlets: reporting for The Catholic Herald, for which I was trying to nail down one potentially significant detail regarding the “sanctions” — and what the erstwhile Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, either knew or didn’t know about them — and preparing a preliminary analysis for the Catholic World Report.

The CWR job was, in essence, to sort through Viganò’s claims and see what had substantial bearing on the circumstances of the Church. The next step was to see what — if anything — was proven, what was demonstrable, and what was going to be tripe in any case. For the purpose of analyzing the claims that first “testimony” contained, the question of Viganò’s motives was largely — though not entirely — irrelevant. The preliminary analysis came to this:

The testimony Archbishop Viganò offers is neither perfectly crafted, nor immune to criticism. In addition to its presumption of motive, it also speculates — not wildly, but — without foundation as firm as one would want with matters of such gravity. Archbishop Viganò’s letter is also intemperate at times. In it, Viganò names several men, at whose roles in the affair he can only guess. Among the men named are Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who, says Viganò, “belong to the homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality,” along with Cardinal Edwin O’Brien and Cardinal Renato Martino. Those claims — without respect to their merit or basis in fact — in the absence of explicit and detailed discussion of their specific pertinence to the narrative, approach slander.

Nevertheless, there were serious, provable allegations in that first letter, which Archbishop Viganò concluded with a call for Pope Francis to resign. In late August of 2018, it seemed that it would be difficult to escape Viganò’s conclusion, should the allegations have been proven correct.

Too many people were ready to take the allegations at face value, and anxious to use Archbishop Viganò’s brief as a cudgel, with which to rid themselves of a pope they never liked and wanted gone for other reasons. Difficult as avoiding Viganò’s conclusion might have been, the transparent use of the former nuncio’s epistolary indictment to achieve that end has come to mean that Francis must not resign, even if he should be proven exactly as guilty of precisely the things Viganò accused him.

Weak popes, incompetent popes, bad popes, even popes who are rotten to the core: these are all par for the course. In the grand scheme of things, who is pope does not matter much. There is broad — though by no means general — consensus, across the spectrum of opinion in the Church, according to which the risk of catastrophic damage to the papal office that a resignation under such pressure would do, was and is too great to countenance.

In any case, many of Archbishop Viganò’s allegations have been proved correct. High-ranking Vatican officials, and at least three popes, either knew of Theodore McCarrick’s character and proclivities, or should have known. Pope St. John Paul II was informed of them before he put Uncle Ted in the See of Washington, DC. Benedict XVI put McCarrick under some sort of semi-secret precept, and when McCarrick called his bluff, Benedict basically folded.

Francis says he does not recall the substance of his meeting with Archbishop Viganò in 2013, in which Viganò alleges he told Francis about McCarrick. Whatever one thinks of that, Francis took McCarrick’s hat and eventually his mitre and his collar. That certainly wasn’t nearly enough, and might not have been even a start. Uncle Ted is a festering canker on the body of the Church’s hierarchical leadership, symptomatic of grave systemic malaise, requiring treatment that must go far beyond a balm or a scrape.

Nevertheless, Pope Francis did what his immediate predecessor failed to do, however inadequate it was as a correction of that, which Pope St. John Paul II directly enabled.

A great deal of other nasty business has come to light over the past year, too, largely despite Pope Francis’s promises — yet unfulfilled — to make a full report on an internal investigation into the Vatican side of McCarrick’s career. McCarrick himself got a secret trial (of sorts) and a public conviction, while Viganò kept writing, and Marc Ouellet — the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops — made himself Viganò’s correspondent, with an open letter written in exquisite curialese that may have given away the store.

Journalists thought that Francis’s only immediate comment regarding the first of Viganò’s letters was a warrant to go get the story (and the Pulitzer that would presumably come with it). On the return flight from Ireland, he said of Viganò’s letter, “[R]ead it yourselves carefully and make your own judgment,” asking that journalists “use [their] professional maturity in doing this.” As things turned out, Francis desired journalists dig up dirt on Viganò, at least as much as he wanted them vetting Viganò’s substantive claims.

In a wide-ranging interview with veteran Vaticanologist Valentina Alazraki of Mexico’s Noticieros Televisa that aired in May of this year, Pope Francis finally broke his silence regarding Archbishop Viganò’s allegations and enlarged on the sense of the remark he made on the plane:

NT: You recall when, eight months ago, they told you: ‘There is a statement from the former nuncio, Carlo Maria Viganò, who says he himself told you, at a meeting toward the beginning of your pontificate, who McCarrick was — and you didn’t do anything. You only said (ipsa voce): ‘I will not answer. You judge. I will answer in due time.” That silence has weighed a great deal, 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: ‘Here something is wrong.’ So, why the silence? The time has come to answer that question, which 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. This case of Viganò, I had not read the whole letter, I’d given it a once-over — and I already knew what it was, and I made a decision: I trust in the honesty of 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 three or four months later, a judge in Milan gave them when he sentenced him.

That “sentence” was a civil — not a criminal — judgment, in Italian court, over a long-standing inheritance dispute between Viganò and his brother, which did not go in the Archbishop’s favor.

NT: The question of his family, do you mean?

PF: Certainly. I kept silent because, [had I spoken] I would have been slinging mud. Let journalists 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: ‘Hold on, study it, that’s all’, and the result was good, better than if I had started to explain, to defend myself.

In sum: Even if Pope Francis believes he is in the right, and that his conduct in office would be vindicated by honest inquiry, he nevertheless – and by his own admission — wanted journalists to do his dirty work. If that temporarily gave Archbishop Viganò the comparative moral high ground, the former nuncio was quick to relinquish it.

Several months after his original letter, Archbishop Viganò used an email interview with The Washington Post to make serious allegations against a high-ranking Churchman, replete with insinuations of that Churchman’s involvement in the unnatural deaths of two men decades ago in his home country. The Washington Post was not able to substantiate the allegations, and refused to publish them, but Life Site News was willing to bring them before the public. One does not simply bandy about allegations of that nature. One must have the goods — and when one does, one’s first call must be to the police — before one calls the press.

If it was not the case a year ago, it certainly is the case now: Archbishop Viganò should be cited to appear publicly, before an ecclesiastical tribunal, to answer for himself, on pain of excommunication. He would have all the rights of an accused person then, including: the right to counsel; witnesses; and compulsory process. That is precisely why it is so highly unlikely — all but unfathomable — that he will be cited.

Meanwhile, scandals continue to erupt, bishops retreat behind promises not even they take seriously, and an overworked, under-funded Roman investigative and disciplinary apparatus follows a trajectory that, unchecked, cannot end in anything but full-blown sclerosis. Promises of responsibility, accountability, and transparency go unfulfilled. The last item in that list — transparency — is little more than a by-word for the cowardly imbecility of Church leadership become a grim laughingstock.

Pope Francis has spoken of “many bishops” disciplined: who are they? We know not even the specific charges on which one of them — McCarrick — was found guilty. Another, Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Guam, was convicted of “some charges” but not of others, was stripped of his insignia and exiled from his island home. Nobody seems to know where he is. Rumors swirl about investigations into “several” US sees, but no one will say which, let alone what the investigations concern.

One looks at the efforts of senior clerics, and shudders to think how closely they resemble the half-hearted, halting attempts at “reform” that preceded the Council of Trent, which, despite its many great achievements, failed to secure its greatest object: the unity of the Church in the West.

If one judges more broadly, by the substance and tenor of the public debate in the Church, we are seeing the worst ecclesiastical leadership crisis in at least five hundred years play out as a popularity contest, a war of personalities, with the impossibly puerile shorthand that comes with such fare: “Team Francis” and “Team Viganò”. This is insane.


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About Christopher R. Altieri 109 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.

42 Comments

  1. I wouldn’t see this as a battle between “teams.” That makes it out to be a power struggle. Rather, I see it as a struggle between Christ Who is Truth and the Father of Lies.

    • Amen Ed.

      I would add that it seems to me quite obvious that Cupich and Wuerl and Austin Ivereigh have, from the very outset of this papacy, papered over this horrible pontificate as nothing more than a popularity contest.

      It was Ivereigh himself – the “journalist-marketeer-for-Francis” who coined and published the term “Team Francis.”

      And it is Cupich and Wuerl et al who never cease dismissing faithful who are appalled by the abusive speech and actions and inactions of “Team Francis,” with pre-packaged smear that “they just don’t like Pope Francis.”

      Yes”Your Eminences,” you appalling clericalist frauds.

      • It must be admitted that to accuse only one man of a behavior common to us all. Attributing only his most foolish words or actions to his fragile humanity as a last resort for excuse, Francis then has only to lean comfortably upon the like-able personality, or perception of one which has been intentionally, or unintentionally, created over a man’s career, or, calling, and then to show no objection if any PR done by respected journals enough people believe to be honest happens to expedite any remaining hinderances to ones duty of representing Jesus to the world, and speaking for Him, and telling other people they must do things seen as exceedingly naughty only yesterday, but to refrain from performing something considered a basic moral obligation even by Barbarians since the sun first rose. We all deal with these problems. Well, perhaps not in every respect. Yet as a “proddy” (I have only lately learned the term from a certain Faith Goldy, who is divinely fair, btw, and like it very much) even I know I must not write too much with anything but an earnest tone here.

  2. What delicts has Vigano committed that he could be bought before a tribunal or what would be the matter of such a trial? We should also remember that many of his claims could receive immediate confirmation or denial or at least his credibility established or not, especially those made in the washington post interview, as he points to specific documents and persons. The fact that those claiming Vigano is lying do not push for looking into it tells us that they know he is telling the truth. Although part of the fault of the lack of any investigation lies with catholic news outlets, who fail to pursue it. Why don’t outlets make requests of the nunciatures and such about the documents mentioned, for example, or ask the persons for any confirmation or denial, or push the holy see to do so. It’s left to what get labeled as “fringe” outlets to do any real investigation but as they are deemed “fringe” people tend to dismiss them. The reason Wapo did not publish some of them was not because they were unsubstantiated- as some of had already received press coverage- but because of the implications, which can be seen in the fact that they did print other assertions that are technically unsubstantiated.

    • Thank you.

      While individual allegations made by Archbishop Viganò may not have been correct or responsible — who am I to judge? — I think that trying to make him testify is disingenuous, punitive, and just plain missing the point that he is speaking his mind and has told the truth in certain circumstances despite the possibility of physical danger.

      We need more freedom to speak the truth, not threats. I am very disappointed by this article.

  3. What better merits irrationality is to deem Archbishop Viganò’s conflict with Pope Francis a “puerile” game. Journalism for integrity sake requires objectivity impartial judgment nonetheless some form of viable critique that doesn’t write off what author C Altieri considers a comic leadership crisis. Then ‘risking’ his integrity to underscore “the greatest leadership crisis in 500 years”. Taking a swipe at John Paul II is unfair since the dead cannot defend. I will citing the degree of knowledge about McCarrick revealed to Pope Francis. The author then is indebted to take a similar swipe at Benedict XVI John Paul’s CDF Prefect. As beloved Cardinal Carlo Caffarra would say “One needs be blind” not to see that we’re engulfed in the most grievous doctrinal crisis of faith the Church has experienced. We’re not talking puerile games here. Archbishop Viganò’s allegations are taken quite seriously by scores of credentialed prelates from Cardinals Mueller, Brandmueller, Burke, Eijk, laity Church historian De Mattei, Philosopher Theologian Josef Siefert among them. And that is because the same as many other prelates eminent Catholics stand by the Archbishop’s integrity not the Pontiff’s. Integrity rises above the puerile.

    • There have been many swipes at the legacy of JP2 from the right. It seems so knee-jerk; I understand that some object to the cult of JP2, but do we have any hard evidence of his knowledge of evil deeds being committed?

      I am no fan of Catholic leftism, homo clergy or the current pontiff, but we are always being led by people who claim to have information: Vigano, Bella Dodd, the 300 page dossier presented to Benedict and Fr. Greeley about homosexual priests in Chicago. Never has anybody viewed any evidence. How are we to know who to believe?

      • Agreed Ken John Paul II has been targeted by many, too many on the right. The criticism is often described as his enabling, which is a ‘loaded’ term with many interpretations. It appears he was sandbagged by the Curia, German prelates and others in favor of Bergoglio insisting he retire as they did later with Benedict [see Comacchio Ferrara Archbishop Luigi Negri a close friend of Benedict]. He may, it appears to have had a softer perhaps idealistic approach than Benedict XVI who was more realist. Also some expect perfection from Roman Pontiffs. Although a good desire usually unrealistic. I believe he deserved sainthood only by the suffering he endured and that needed example of real sacrifice to priests. And by his faithful expression of doctrine especially Veritatis Splendor. Pope Francis has systematically misrepresented John Paul and is in process of eradicating his legacy. To me that speaks to the immense value of that legacy and the difference between the two as night is to day in that order of reference.

  4. Insane…absolutely.

    Also UTTERLY PROFANE.

    And REPULSIVE.

    And it seems that many “Catholic” media “journalists” are very determined to to everything in their power to ensure that this gravely sinful carnival is never treated as anything other than a popularity contest.

    A prime example: “Crux,” and its lead “journalist” John Allen, and his obituary lauding the recently deceased Cardinal “His Eminence” Godfried Danneels, the former leading Bishop of Belgium.

    Readers may have learned that in 2010, the Belgian press, including De Standaard and De Nieuwsblad (if I spelled that correctly), reported that Cardinal Danneels had tried to cover up the incestuous homosexual abuse of the predator Bishop Roger
    Vangelhuwe, a man who systematically groomed and raped his own nephew…for years. This is what McCarrick did to James Grein…with the extra added feature of abusing your own family’s little boy.

    And it is the Vangelhuwe family themselves who were asking the Belgian bishops for justice against their own uncle. And yet, Danneels personally intervened, and with the Belgian bishops, refused to help the Vangelhuwe family bring their uncle to justice in the Church. After being stonewalled by Danneels et al, they realized that the only way they could get justice was to secretly record Danneels trying to persuade them to let the matter drop. Danneels stooped so low as to blame the victim (who was a child and a teen when he was raped by his uncle Bishop Roger Vangelhuwe, but when “counter-accused” by Danneels was already a mature, married man and if I recall correctly a father with his own children).

    Summing up, Danneels was covering up for a Bishop predator just like McCarrick (who raped the little boy and teen son of the Grein family, who were his close friends), except that Danneels’ pal Bishop Vangelhuwe took the betrayal one demonic step further.

    So Danneels was protecting “the Belgian McCarrick,” his friend the predator Bishop Roger Vangelhuwe.

    And despite this, John Allen wrote a warm, glowing appreciation to Danneels on his death, recounting how personally accommodating Danneels was whenever Allen sought time for an interview, and how charming, urbane, intelligent and ”self-deprecating” Danneels was.

    And “Crux” continues the popularity contest narrative about Pope Francis, having hired the Argentine journalist Ines San Martin, who has now just published yet another hackneyed “narrative” that bids us all to pretend that there is nothing more than a popularity contest going in, which is not “journalism,” but a not so subtle form of “gaslighting.” Or to put it in plain terms, it is a participation in clericalist abuse and corruption.

    As to popularity contests, it is worth noting that the label “Team Francis” was coined and marketed by Mr. Austin Ivereigh himself, the number one promoter of Pope Francis (and also a promoter of Cardinal Danneels). So it seems that the desire for a “popularity contest” is, to the observant, exactly what “Team Francis” wants, and has wanted, from Day 1. And let us all recall that in Day 1, in 2013, when Pope Francis was introduced to the world, he stood on the balcony in St. Peter’s with none other than “His Eminence” Cardinal Danneels, 3 years after Danneels was retired in disgrace after the Belgian press exposed Danneels for covering up for the incestuous homosexual predator Bishop Vangelhuwe.

    It is beneath the dignity of Christian disciples to allow “journalists” and “churchmen” to reduce this mortally sinful criminality to a popularity contest.

    • Absolutely correct.

      I think that public discourse has degenerated into lazy discussions of “both sides of the aisle” such that no one seems interested in Truth, who is a Person, not a politically moderate position that no one believes in.

  5. “There is broad — though by no means general — consensus, across the spectrum of opinion in the Church, according to which the risk of catastrophic damage to the papal office that a resignation under such pressure would do, was and is too great to countenance”.

    I cannot disagree more with Mr. Altieri’s statement in this regard. If Pope Francis is guilty of protecting a sexual predator, then his REFUSAL to resign under such circumstances would do catastrophic damage to the office of the papacy. The fact that we had corrupt and immoral Popes before, far worse than any in most recent memory, who stayed in office and refused to resign, is no justification for the current Supreme Pontiff to do act the same. In fact, that is moral relativism at it’s worst. It would also not create a precedent to coerce a Pope to resign, because any Pontiff who keeps his hands clean and stays faithful to his oath of office would have nothing to fear.

    If an ordinary Bishop were accused of covering up for and protecting his subordinates accused of sexual offences from prosecution, he would be expected to do the honorable thing and resign. Canon law encourages, and frankly pressures, a pastor to resign from office when his ministry becomes “ineffective … even through no grave personal negligence”. 1983 CIC 1740, etc. If such a high standard is expected of a Bishop, should we not expect even more from the Successor of St Peter and Vicar of Christ?

    Either Pope Francis was grossly negligent in his choice of friends, advisors and appointments (not only in McCarrick, but also in Zanchetta, Maradiaga, Cupich etc) or he deliberately protected Clerics who either covered up sexual abuse or perpetrated it themselves, simply because they share his ideological outlook. Either way, are these the qualities the faithful should expect from their Pope?

    I will continue to pray for Pope Francis out of respect for the office of the Papacy, but I have lost respect for him as a man.

  6. All of this sounds so much like the alt right conservative attacks on everybody and anything not in ideological alignment with themselves in the United States today. the nastiness and self-righteous vindictiveness of Donald Trump and Steve bannon seems to be playing out around the entire world right now.

    • Mr. (or Ms.?) Dorf:

      You are posting a “superficial, polularity contest” comment, in an article denouncing the propagation (and participation in) superficial, popularity contest comments.

      Mr. Altieri correctly calls this behavior insane…

    • Are these the same “alt right conservative attacks on everybody and anything” that Cardinal Cupich referred to with his “going down the rabbit hole” statement? You know – when he prioritized global warming over legitimate concerns over integrity, transparency, and truth in the hearts of many faith-filled people. Methinks the “nastiness and self-righteous vindictiveness…playing out around the entire world right now” is not limited to any ideological “Team” – Francis or Vigano – and certainly not Donald Trump! To think otherwise suggests something about the speck in the other’s eye vs. the plank in my own.

  7. Lots of mistakes in this analysis. First of all, there is lots of doubt whether JP II was even informed of the accusations against McCarrick. Some allege that Sodano blocked that information from getting to JP II. This would make sense, because there are numerous allegations during both Benedict’s and JP II’s papacy that lots of things were intercepted before getting to either pope. Robert Bennett of the American Abuse review panel has some interesting things to say in that regard.

    Furthermore, we have plenty of evidence that this is the way the lavendar mafia worked – they got into staff jobs where they could control the flow of information to those at the top. Cupich was an aide to the American nuncio as a young man, and it is alleged that he kept info from getting to the nuncio. Bernardin became secretary of the USCCB, and used that mechanism to bypass what the bishops as a whole wanted. Parolin is currently accused of similar things.

    Assuming that this information did make it to the Pope, it is extremely unlikely that JP II would have deliberately appointed a homosexual. They hated him, and Benedict, and he was so obviously not advancing their causes when he could have easily. So the likelihood that he knew and approved is almost zero. JP II is known to have endured years of the communists and Nazis accusing his priests of such things, in a dirty way of getting rid of good men. He may have also been aware of liberals – who hated his guts – of using similar tactics. So even if he heard about the McCarrick allegations, some think he may have tended to discount them There is a big difference between discounting something and simply not believing what were, at the time, outrageous allegations, and believing them and going forward anyway. McCarrick seems to have played the role of faithful, even conservative bishop entirely on the side of JP II. There were no public complaints at all. McCarrick made conservative sounding statements from time to time. Don’t discount the degree to which these guys played orthodox bishop. No one said anything about McCarrick until James Grein made his allegations, then it all spilled out.

    The statement that “Pope Francis did what his successor failed to do” is weird as well. Pope Francis elevated McCarrick back to a high spot in the Vatican, whereas Benedict removed him from the playing field. Benedict had only rumors as well, so he chose to simply retire McCarrick at 75, and tell him to remain out of public view. Perhaps you can argue over this a bit, but since rumors were all that were floated around at that time, it was a fair thing to do. Benedict seems eager to make McCarrick go away, but was not willing to cause a big fight about it, because the guy was out of the picture, retired, and as far as Benedict was concerned, was not coming back.

    All that changed when the whole story came out, which was much later.

    Pope Francis did not act – until the homosexuality and crimes were totally exposed for all the world to see. Vigano at least claims that he tried to tell the pope about the rumors, but Pope Francis restored McCarrick.

    • I agree with you on this summary.

      Actually- Pope Francis made what they call in tennis “an unforced error.”

      It does semi very clear that if it wasn’t for Pope Francis “re-habilitating” McCarrick, Archbishop Viganò would not have publicized the matter. It was only because of the brazen thuggery and over-confidence of “His Supreme Forgetfulness,” that motivated Archbishop Viganò to tell the inside story. If PF had simply let his pal McCarrick out to pasture, their would have been no cause for action by Viganò.

      An observant analysis…

      I would also amplify the point that Rod Dreher has reported that a group of prominent US Catholics travelled to Rome to warn against elevating McCarrick to Archbishop of Washington, but they refused to do anything more when he was elevated by Pope JP2, so in my book, they are at fault for wittingly or unwittingly abetting the “infantalizing” clericalism that has been adopted as a norm in the Roman Catholic Church.

    • Thanks samton909. I was also disturbed by the suggestion that Pope Francis acted while Pope Benedict failed to do so. Thanks for reminding readers of a fuller context, that Pope Benedict did act, even if we wish that the disciplinary measures against McCarrick had been more forceful and made public. I think it’s pretty clear now that there were prelates like Wuerl and others who continued to run interference for McCarrick so that he could continue with business as almost like usual until Bergoglio came along and made things worse by elevating McCarrick. Then the scandal broke in the news and only then did Bergoglio pull the plug due to the glare of publicity. Whereas Pope John Paul II was known to be a loose administrator whom curialists could easily take advantage of and Benedict XVI, while a true reformer, was no politician and match for fast moving sharks, who is going to believe that a former Jesuit superior with a big control streak didn’t know what was going on? Zero points for Pope Francis as a reformer unless paper thin veneers count.

  8. For ALL, I wonder if Altieri is simply being sarcastic when he casts this catastrophe as isometrics between “Team Francis” and “Team Vigano.”

    In any event, if DAVID’s “fringe” news outlets and FR. MORELLO’s similar outcasts (i.e., “scores of credentialed prelates from Cardinals Mueller, Brandmueller, Burke, Eijk, laity Church historian De Mattei, Philosopher Theologian Josef Siefert among them”) could be cast as the latest and most real “PERIPHERY”–

    Then they all might be canonized even before their toes turned vertical.

  9. Certainly nothing “puerile” about this article. Let’s just say…this article and Altieri himself…pretty transparent.

    When you write a piece like this, I guess the trick is to not go too far to show where you’re really coming from and actually have been coming from all along. Someone might conclude you’re really just a part of the Vatican spin machine…which would also be “puerile.”

    • Not sure how stating, as Mr. Altieri does, “We are seeing the worst ecclesiastical leadership crisis in at least five hundred years…”, can be squared with being part of the “Vatican spin machine”. Anyone familiar with Mr. Altieri’s work knows that he has been a consistent and measured critic of Pope Francis, especially when it comes to the issue of clerical sex abuse. Perhaps his flaw is that he isn’t unhinged, venomous, and irresponsible in his reporting and analysis?

  10. Perplexing [when at first glance one wonders] Chris Altieri does write excellent articles. Perhaps he’s run out of new material because all that the article offers is old hat, and he’s certainly aware of the moral dynamics of his “Team” competition. He’s shown previously he knows how to incite a squabble. Perhaps good marketing in our day requires a bit of wilyness.

    • Commenters to this article even very helpful! With this profound discussion of dark infiltration that both John Paul II and Pope Benedict were up against. St Michael the Archangel Defend us in Battle, be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the Devil……..Seeking the Ruin of Souls!

      More and more of us have to conclude that God has given us a Chastisement ? in this resignation of Pope Benedict and ‘election’ of Pope Francis?

      Fr. Peter, need some spiritual direction, yesterday a faithful, holy priest , who has been serving in our diocese for several years, gave a beautiful homily about humility , including examples of Mother Teresa Sisters of Charity, but then inserted example of Pope Benedict being humble enough to resign due to some ‘decline’. (He actually said ‘losing his mind’ but I believe he didn’t mean to phrase it that way.). He also said Pope Francis has shown great humility in his choice of living arrangements and concern for the lowly and poor. (Not an exact quote ). I want to believe that if this faithful priest was aware of just a few of the ‘concerns’ of this Pontificate, such as dismantling the Pontifical Academy for Life, the secret, devastating ‘deal’ with Communist China, and now essentially firing every teacher, professor, administrator at the long standing John Paul II Institute on Marriage and Family, Fr. ___, wouldn’t have praised Pope Francis as an example of what Jesus taught was the ‘greatest virtue’. So where is the breakdown in communication on this, or some level of awareness of what is happening ? Within the vicariate ? The diocese? Would it be okay to email him an article from LifeSiteNews or Crisis Magaine? Thank You for your consideration in this. Heavy on my heart, especially since a devout Catholic friend, with us, was very quick to see no problem, and that I should not have been concerned in the least….

      • Yes Margaret you have every right in accord with canon law even an obligation to raise important issues regarding the faith and when deserving of a correct response. The breakdown is all of those areas mentioned that indicate a half hearted witness to the truth by parish priests and bishops affecting apparently. The priest’s sermon is an either or mishmash reflecting the Pontiff’s dual message of adherence to Apostolic Tradition and radical change repudiating that Tradition. Many clerics lack courage and conviction and skirt the real issues. It’s likened to the lukewarm water Our Lord spits out of his mouth. So do email him and I’ll keep you both in my prayers.

  11. “Perhaps his flaw is that he isn’t unhinged, venomous, and irresponsible in his reporting and analysis?”

    Nothing quite like a straw man.

  12. I’m not looking for “unhinged, venomous” but a linear boring narrative account minus any need to interpret or even be “measured.” Bare bones chronological facts as we know them (and noted what we still don’t know). This would also include more recent names (ex. Msgr. Rossi). The kind of thing that would make Aristotle (who I love) seem like a page turner.

  13. The disorientation of what is happening in the Church under this pontificate is somewhat analogous to the lobotomised minds of Gaia worshipping hippies attending Timothy Leary LSD conventions in the late 60’s. I have decided to divest myself any emotional attachment to the hierarchy and maintain a dispassionate temperance to avoid falling into despair. It seems plain to me we are witnessing the fulfilment of the Akita Propechy given by Our Lady the Queen of Heaven. Therefore I defer to divine providence to address this madness. Thank God for the sacrament of the Eucharist, the body and blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ which helps me overcome this malignant impotence & effeminacy that has inculcated itself within the hierarchy.

  14. Chris Altieri has to be careful! – the moment he even minutely implies that Pope Francis might not be the Antichrist, or that someone attacking him has less than pure motives, the ravenous readership of this site will bring out all the stops (see this section). This is what years of internet propaganda and clickbait does to people – mob mentality with the moralistic hand-wringing unique to Christian websites. It will never cease to amuse me that this site’s base holds the belief that “the gays” or “the lavender mafia” (I always laugh when someone throws this one out there, seriously) are simultaneously inept, stupid, prone to self-destructive behavior and are always being vanquished by the righteous, AND incredible masterminds capable to controlling every office and position the Church (except for Raymond Burke lmao I guess) for generations, which gay grooming gay on an endless parade of limp handshakes and french cuisine.

    I find it fun to speculate that Vigano, in his egotism, expected to be carried to Rome in a triumph after his ‘letter’ (maybe finally accepted by that ‘mafia’ who shunned him), but quickly discovered that all of his powerful friends didn’t really have his back. That’s why you have his increasingly bizarre and silly letters defending himself and making NEW accusations – which bottom-of-the-barrel sites like LifeSite are all too happy to publish, because they care more about outrage and clicks than any semblance of Catholicity.

    • And another self appointed member of Team Francis fires a swath of calumnies against those who do not share his views, while simultaneously ignoring their very real criticism of this Pope’s failures and deficiencies.

      • When “very real criticism” includes non-stop conspiracy theories that come from the sludge-pile of ChurchMilitant… Does “very real criticism” include ludicrous stories of arranged murders by gay Vatican diplomat assassins? We get it, you hate Pope Francis, and that’s fine. But let’s not pretend these stories are anything more than a manifestation of others’ hatred for Francis, or gays, or whatever buzzword triggers ‘traditional’ Catholics (e.g. “liberal,” “marxist,” “lavender mafia”).

        If you’ve ‘lost respect for Francis as a man,’ does that loss of respect extend, as it does for me, to his two predecessors, who also were blind in choosing their friends and looked the other way towards predators because they shared their beliefs? “Oh, it wasn’t their fault! People hid things from them! If only they listened to what they said we wouldn’t have this problem!” That’s the type of equivocating we get around here from fake Catholics who typically care more about being right/hating someone else than actually being Catholic.

        • I don’t recall mentioning any of those conspiracy theories about alleged murders, so kindly point me to the relevant posts in that respect.

          As for what Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI knew, I think there should be an investigation into how much they knew, and if they did know why they failed to act, but one is deceased and the other is retired, so the buck no longer stops with them. Benedict at least did act against McCarrick, though weakly, which is more than we can say about Francis. Your attempt at whataboutism is therefore a failure. Any failures by Francis’s predecessors does not let him off the hook.

          For you to dismiss very real and verified criticism of this Pontificate, it’s tolerance of corruption, it’s soft treatment of sexual abusers and their enablers, and Pope Francis’s decision to surround himself with people who are deeply compromised (which decision at the very least grossly negligent), as based solely on “hatred” of Pope Francis is an absurdity. The Rabbit Hole is being excavated, like it or not.

  15. This article is poorly written.

    Here is its worst part:
    If it was not the case a year ago, it certainly is the case now: Archbishop Viganò should be cited to appear publicly, before an ecclesiastical tribunal, to answer for himself, on pain of excommunication.

    To answer for himself? What is he accused of?

    • How is “poorly written”? Bad grammar? Incomplete sentences?

      Regardless, perhaps you and others are looking at this the wrong way. If Vigano is lying, as many (but not Altieri) insist, then why doesn’t Francis/the Vatican try to bring him to court? Could it be because they actually fear what he not only knows, but could reveal further in a court setting? In other words, Altieri’s point is not, I’m quite certain, a knock on Vigano. Quite the contrary. It raises questions about why so many in the Vatican don’t want Vigano in a setting in which he can call and question witnesses, have access to evidence, etc. And, frankly, if Vigano is telling the truth (and, for the record, I think he is, overall), he has nothing to fear from a trial.

      • “Nothing to fear from a trial”??? Speaking of due process, and providing the innocent the voice to petition for a redress of grievances, I heard a rumor that once respectable professors at the JP2 Institute were just the other day ignominiously sacked by a notorious homosexual. Of course, the Vatican tribunal would be different… or would it? Our Pontiff is a Jesuit from Argentina, and in case you haven’t noticed, he plays by his own rules.

  16. “If it was not the case a year ago, it certainly is the case now: Archbishop Viganò should be cited to appear publicly, before an ecclesiastical tribunal, to answer for himself, on pain of excommunication.”

    Oh please. Does anyone who’s watched this squalid pontificate for the past six years think Archbishop Vigano would get anything close to justice or fair treatment? This is what happens when journalists and commentators make it their M.O. to position themselves in a morally superior middle between two imagined extremes.

  17. I made it about one quarter through this article then realized it was completely biased against Abp. Vigano. I also cannot comprehend at all why in light of Vigano’s testimony Francis “must not resign, even if guilty” of the things that Abp. Vigano is claiming.
    This makes no sense whatsoever. So the writer is in the camp of the Church of Anything Goes, which must not be disturbed. Got it.

  18. Vigano should appear “before an ecclesiastical tribunal, to answer for himself, on pain of excommunication.” Oh, wow, you mean Vigano would be in bigger trouble than McCarrick?- who like all laymen is still a Catholic ‘in good standing’! Give us a break!! Is this a joke? Who runs the tribunal? Francis. Who would control the rules of evidence? Francis. The trial would be secret–Star chamber, anyone? If Vigano comes in from the cold, he knows he is a dead man, and his facts die with him. As long as he lives, the pressure is on Francis and the gay mob. Viva la Vigano. I say let Vigano be excommunicated, and let Francis answer to God.

  19. Some of the hostile comments about this article surprised me – I think that Carl’s second comment especially, indicates the proper way to interpret what Altieri has written.

2 Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. “Team Viganò” versus “Team Francis” one year on -
  2. THVRSDAY EDITION – Big Pulpit

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