The case for Viganò’s case against the Vatican

What emerges from Marco Tossatti’s pages is the image of an archbishop concerned above all else with the supernatural purpose of the Church, with the good of souls, with his standing before God, with what is due to God.

One of the greatest difficulties facing those who wish to reveal hidden corruption is that of providing irrefutable proof to verify their allegations, allegations often rest on a mix of personal observations, claims of anonymous sources and circumstantial evidence—all easily fabricated and, for that reason, easily impugned. Of course there are factors which can help us evaluate credibility: Do allegations accord with indubitable facts, or at least with what can plausibly be surmised from them? Have investigations tended to prove a whistleblower more or less correct? Was the whistleblower in a position to know the fact and does he have a character which can be trusted?

It is on this last point that Marco Tosatti builds his case in Viganò vs. The Vatican: The Uncensored Testimony of the Italian Journalist Who Helped Break the Story, a book which includes complete copies of the public statements made by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò from August to November of 2018, together with Tossatti’s account of how and why the archbishop chose to make such information public.

What emerges from Tossatti’s pages is the image of an archbishop concerned above all else with the supernatural purpose of the Church, with the good of souls, with his standing before God, with what is due to God. The regularity of this emphasis in Viganò’s statements is a welcome contrast to the emphasis on such issues as psychological harm done and the creation of mistrust found in the statements of even many orthodox clergymen committed to rooting out sexual abuse. Far from being the disgruntled careerist depicted by his adversaries, he is a man who puts the good of the Church over power and influence. On one occasion he turned down an offer from Pope Benedict XVI to be made prefect of the Congregation for Economic affairs (which would have brought an elevation to cardinal) because he believed that acceptance would put an end to his efforts to implement much needed reforms in the governance of Vatican City.

In contrast to this Viganò’s critics are shown to be responsible for a series of obfuscations and cover-ups, with Tossatti calling attention to many instances in which there is documentation which strengthens Viganò’s side of the case.

Does this mean that we should take all Viganò says at the final word? Obviously not. Human memories are notoriously imperfect. Even the most reasonable presuppositions can distort how even the most objective and honest of us interpret what we see and here. Unfortunately both Viganò’s sympathizers and his critics often link their assessment of him with the question of whether his allegations meet the standard of “proof beyond a reasonable doubt” necessary for a criminal conviction. Many of his statements are more like what criminal courts would consider “probable cause” for a search warrant. Some might have the substantiality which would justify an arrest and indictment. And, yes, some may be no more than the type of plausible speculations with which detectives begin investigations. Ordinarily such evidence should not be made public. Under current circumstances public pressure is needed to bring the truth to light.

It is also necessary to be clear about what Viganò is and is not trying to reveal. In some cases he is revealing the Vatican’s cavalier dismissal of allegations which ought to be investigated rather than affirming the truth of the allegations themselves. He has in such cases pointed out that he doesn’t know if the allegations are true and provides details of circumstantial evidence which gives the allegations the mix of plausibility and dubiousness which would lead to an investigations by any responsible police department (and which could not be impeded without risk of being charged with obstruction of justice). The catch-22 is that if Viganò gives the details and names necessary to verify that ecclesial officials obstructed investigations he can be accused of slandering the accused, while if he refuses to provide such information his statements can be criticized as too vague to be either credible or verifiable.

Another unfair ground of criticism is the fact of Viganò’s alignment with those who have theological concerns about the current pontificate. Like Benedict XVI, Viganò sees a strong link between rejection of definitive Catholic teaching (particularly on sexual morality) and the sexual abuse crisis. It makes sense that, as an administrator and diplomat, he would choose to focus on administrative reactions to sexual abuse while theologians, canon lawyers, church historians and philosophers to address points of theology and church law.

Using the moral misdeeds of the heterodox to undermine their credibility in conjunction with theological apologetics has been common throughout Church history. Saint have engaged in the practice, as well as in “politically manipulating” circumstances for the sake of the Church’s well-being. Saint Cyril of Alexandria, a father and doctor of the Church, knew that the heretical Nestorians’ failure to arrive at the time scheduled for the Council of Ephesus was due to the impediment of conditions beyond their control. He used the technicality to open and complete the conciliar proceedings before the appearance of the Nestorians needlessly complicated matters.

As already said, we need not—and to a considerable extent should not—take Archbishop Viganò’s statements as the conclusive end of an investigation rather than as the foundation for the beginning of one. Even leaving aside the question of the Pontifical Secret (which I leave to experts) there is room for reasonable debate about the archbishop’s prudence in proceeding as he has. But Tossatti’s book makes clear that Viganò is a sincere and devoted man of the Church, a man who was in a position to know what he is talking about, a man with whom disagreements must be charitable and respectful and a man whose claims need to be taken seriously.

 

Viganò vs. The Vatican: The Uncensored Testimony of the Italian Journalist Who Helped Break the Story
By Marco Tosatti
Sophia Institute Press, 2019
Paperback, 144 pages


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About James Baresel 4 Articles
James Baresel is a freelance writer. He holds a Master of Arts in philosophy from Franciscan University of Steubenville and a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Cincinnati.

8 Comments

  1. God bless Archbishop Vigano. He sacrificed his career and put his life at risk by exposing the corruption and cover-up under Pope Francis. Most of his claims have been confirmed as true, including by Mccarrick’s own secretary. The leadership of our Church needs to be purged of the morally, doctrinally and sexually corrupt, starting at the very top. Let’s be honest, if Francis had been an ordinary bishop he would have resigned a long time ago in the face of such accusations.

    • Well, the problems faced by the pope and the church are enormous and growing very rapidly indeed, daily news are flooding the papers and the social media about the sexual indecent acts of the clergy. People are greatly concerned, the image of the church is getting tarnished, many Insider priests are daily coming up with new stories of immoralities of their colleagues, a new chapter has opened involving nuns, accusing male priests of sexual harassment. All this must be investigated and throughly done, to reestablish peoples confidence in religion, the pope must act now.

  2. At times in this life there may arise occasion when action deemed unprincipled in accord with protocol is necessary for defense of a higher principle. While journalist Tosatti may wish to appear fair minded, as he should in Archbishop’s Viganò’s unprecedented seeming act of disobedience hurling charges at the Pontiff that were not proved [perhaps inappropriate calling him a liar] the Archbishop conscientiously believed that was the only means to expose a devastating corruption within the Church. Circumstantial evidence can convict in civil court and here the evidence was more than sufficient. The allegation regarding the Pontiff’s previous sufficient knowledge of former Cardinal McCarrick relates to adult homosexuality within the Church apparently circumstantially evident by appointment of McCarrick and since the allegations further appointments by the Pontiff of similarly tainted prelates to high level positions. That coincides with a new paradigm reevaluation of homosexuality at the revamped John Paul II Institute [advocates Fr Chiodi, Cardinal Paglia] the current agenda for the German Synod. The goal indicated is normalization of adult homosexual relations – that doesn’t seem to exclude clergy particularly among high ranking appointments. Archbishop Viganò likely perceives what some theologians call the Homosexualization of the priesthood in process. We clergy must respectfully insist the Pontiff respond to the allegations and clarify precisely what is Vatican policy on homosexuality as well as doctrine related directly to the Holy Eucharist.

    • Agreed, Father, but so far Francis has stonewalled any and all requests for “clarification,” and there’s not the minutest indication that he’s going to change his stance. Indeed, he continues to pack the College of Cardinals and his episcopal appointments in general with prelates who share his progressive vision, and who similarly stonewall at the local level. We can continue to “respectfully request” from Francis, but all we can apparently expect in response is contempt and backhanded dismissals. He’s much more inclined to take counsel from a Swedish teenager on climate change.

      • Glenn I agree. There’s not much a small fry presbyter like myself can do except preach write the truth reinforce the faith and point out the errors. The task for effective [respectful] confrontation is with the world’s Bishops. They are invested with Apostolic authority to defend the faith but remain overwhelmingly hesitant. Edward Pentin NCR wrote an excellent article citing Journalist Historian Mersoli on the latter vexing phenomenon.

  3. Mr. Baresel’s article appears to me to be very reasonable and unbiased. What is needed is an investigation of the accusations that Archbishop Vigano has made. Accusations that were made over a year ago and so far all we hear is silence.

  4. Thank God for Archbishop Viganò. Pope Francis is corrupt and a fraud. I hope his pontificate ends soon and that his soul is saved.

  5. It seems obvious that what Viganó and the rest of us want is a serious investigation. He has stated that he possesses documents which further prove his allegations, which I assume he would hand over to proper investigators.

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