In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, a former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s allegations of sexual abuse, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. from 2011 to 2016, wrote that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.
Archbishop Viganò said in his written statement (see full text) that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor,” claiming that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.
The Nature of McCarrick's Sanctions
Central to the debate is the nature of the "sanctions" imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict, to what extent did McCarrick flout those sanctions if they existed, and what freedoms did he enjoy under Pope Francis.
- Why Didn’t Uncle Ted Come To Dinner?, by Rod Dreher. The American Conservative 08/30/31:
Every year from 1989-2016, The Catholic University of America put on their annual “American Cardinals Dinner.” Basically, it was a Mass, followed by a black-tie banquet to raise money for CUA every year. They try to have it in a different city each year, and get as many American Cardinals to show up as possible, along with the hosting bishop and the papal nuncio.
Anyway, from 2001-2006, Cardinal McCarrick attended each and every dinner in his capacity as Archbishop of Washington DC and as a Cardinal. However, something interesting happened in 2007: he stopped attending the dinners. Even Donald Wuerl would attend, as Archbishop before he was even made a Cardinal, but McCarrick stopped attending from 2007-2012. Then, as if out of nowhere, he started attending the Dinner again in 2013 (the year Francis became pope, and the dinner was back in DC). He attended subsequent dinners in 2014 and 2015. The dinner was canceled in 2016 because of the Papal Visit to DC (the dinner usually takes place in the spring), and I haven’t seen any evidence of dinners in 2017 and 2018.
All of this information is publicly available at: http://cardinalsdinner.cua.edu On the sidebar, there’s a list of their previous dinners, along with photo galleries that prove McCarrick was not there during those years.
- 08/30/18. Bishop: ‘We All Knew’ of McCarrick’s Abuse :
In an interview released on Wednesday, Bishop Steven Lopes castigated his fellow bishops and cardinals for denying that they knew of disgraced cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of seminarians and adolescents before it was revealed this year.
"I’ll tell you what response I think is not good enough. It’s the parade of cardinals and bishops who have rushed to the television cameras clutching their pectoral crosses, saying, ‘I knew nothing,’" Lopes said in a recording posted on Twitter by Matthew Schmitz, senior editor of First Things. "I don’t believe it, and I am one of them. I don’t believe it."
- 08/30/18. Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency: The Archdiocese of Washington has confirmed that seminarians were permitted to serve as assistants to Archbishop Theodore McCarrick while the archbishop was being investigated for the alleged sexual abuse of a teenager.
- 08/31/18. Further Questions Emerge About Benedict XVI’s Sanctions on McCarrick, by Edward Pentin. National Catholic Register:
Speaking to the Register Aug. 30, Archbishop Viganò reiterated what he said in his testimony, that shortly before leaving Rome to begin his post in Washington in 2011, he “certainly” received a verbal instruction from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to inform McCarrick of the sanctions.According to Pentin, Cardinal Bertone, Paronlon and other Vatican officials declined to respond on the matter of Vigano's testimony. That being said, Pentin publishes the comments given to the Register in July from a reliable source close to Benedict:
After arriving in Washington, he said he received “some instruction” from the same congregation, adding that his “memory isn’t helping me now” but that he believes it was a written instruction. The instruction would be found in the archives in the nunciature in Washington, or could be obtained from the Congregation for Bishops, he said.
“What I don’t know,” he added, “is if Sambi also communicated in writing the measures taken by Pope Benedict to both McCarrick and Cardinal Wuerl. Certainly, he did so in person, summoning McCarrick to the nunciature, as I have stated.”
The source said the allegations of abuse of seminarians by McCarrick, now 88, were “certainly something known” to Benedict. And, he said, “Certainly, it was known that McCarrick was a homosexual, that was an open secret, all were very aware of that.” (However, it is important to note that there is no evidence that Church authorities either in the Vatican or in the U.S. were aware of any allegations of sexual abuse of minors by McCarrick until long after Benedict had resigned as Pope.)
But, as mentioned in the Register’s initial report on the testimony on Aug. 25, the Pope Emeritus was “unable to remember very well” how the matter was handled, according to the source. As far as Benedict could recall, the source said the instruction was essentially that McCarrick should keep a “low profile.” There was “no formal decree, just a private request.”
The source also noted that, after he had retired as Archbishop of Washington D.C., McCarrick continued to be “very able” and “influential at high levels — ecclesiastical, cultural and political” and so could ignore the sanctions imposed upon him.
“Effectively, he was able not to hear what he had to hear,” the source said.
But he added that McCarrick “knew better not to appear here in Rome,” although he did continue to visit on occasion and, because of his influence, “continued to say ‘I can do this and that for the Holy See’ even though he had no permission.”
This appears to correlate with this Aug. 29 report in America magazine by Michael O’Loughlin, which lists many of the public Masses, engagements and international travel McCarrick took part in during the years he was sanctioned. Also notable is mention of a low-key 80th birthday celebration in which the cardinal “seemed to be avoiding the media.”
- 08/27/18. Where did retired McCarrick live after alleged Vatican sanctions? Catholic News Agency:
One of the four priests resident in the rectory of St. Thomas’ parish in 2008-2009 recalls being told in December of 2008 that he would have to move out of his rooms in the parish to accommodate a “mystery VIP.”
- 09/02/18. Cardinal Tobin reportedly declined to investigate McCarrick misconduct rumors. Catholic News Agency.
- 09/01/18. Archbishop Vigano recounts papal meeting with Kim Davis Catholic News Agency:
Archbishop Vigano, who was apostolic nuncio to the US at the time of Francis’ visit to the country, issued his Aug. 30 statement in response to an Aug. 28 article in the New York Times [which reported Pope Francis as saying]: “I did not know who the woman [Davis] was and he [Msgr. Viganò] snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity out of it. And I was horrified and I fired that Nuncio.”
In his statement, published by LifeSiteNews Aug. 31, Archbishop Vigano stated that “Faced with the Pope’s reported statement, I feel obliged to recount the events as they really unfolded.”
- 08/31/18. The Viganò report, and what Wuerl didn’t know, by Ed Condon. Catholic News Agency:
As the questions being put to Cardinal Wuerl have become more specific, answers about what he did or did not know [about McCarrick's behavior, before and after retirement] have become more precise, and more tightly circumscribed.
- 08/29/18. Sequestered Viganò Speaks: ‘I Am Not the Crow. I Want Only the Truth.’ OnePeterFive. The following interview is between Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, now world-famous for his explosive testimony, and Aldo Maria Valli, the reporter with whom Viganò originally planned the publication of his allegations against Pope Francis and several high-ranking Vatican cardinals.
- 08/28/18. The Amazing Story of How Archbishop Viganò’s Report Came to Be, by Steve Skojek. OnePeterFive.com.
- 08/28/18. Gänswein: Benedict did not 'confirm' Vigano testimony Catholic News Agency. 08/28/18:
Edward Pentin, a National Catholic Register correspondent, reported Aug. 25 that the Register had “independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.”
Pentin also mentioned a New York Times interview with Tim Busch, a board member of EWTN, in which Busch is reported to have told the Times that “leaders of the publication [the Register] had personally assured him that the former pope, Benedict XVI, had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s account.”
“What Archbishop Gänswein said is entirely accurate,” Pentin wrote. “Any assertion that the Pope Emeritus had seen the entire testimony, and confirmed it, is untrue.”
- 08/28/18. Cupich dismisses Viganò claims as a 'rabbit hole' Catholic News Agency 08/28/18. Speaking Aug. 27 to Chicago’s NBC 5, Cupich said that the pope has “got to get on with other things, of talking about the environment and protecting migrants and carrying on the work of the Church.”
- Transcipt of Cardinal Blase Cupich interview on Vigano Catholic World Report 08/29/18.
- Cupich says interview edited unfairly Catholic News Agency. 08/29/18.
- 08/27/18. Archbishop Viganò responds to criticisms of handling of 2014 Nienstedt investigation Catholic World Report. The former nuncio to the U.S. flatly denies assertions that he ordered a stop to an investigation of then-Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
- 08/27/18. DiNardo calls for conclusive answers to questions raised by Viganò's testimony Catholic News Agency.
- 08/27/18Viganò issues new statement, documents to clear his name of false charges, by Diane Montagn. LifeSiteNews.com:
Archbishop Viganò has also released supporting documents to prove his innocence.
The accusations date back to a 2016 New York Times report, alleging that, as U.S. Nuncio, Viganò “quashed” an independent investigation into sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt, who was found innocent by police authorities.
- 08/27/18. On charges of McCarrick cover-up, Francis tells reporters to do their jobs Crux, by Ines San Martin. Crux:
“I read the statement this morning,” Francis said of an 11-page statement released by Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who served as the papal nuncio in the United States from 2011 to 2016.
“I read it, and I will say, honestly … to you [looking at the journalist who asked the question] and all of you who are interested: You read the statement attentively, and you make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this.”
“I believe the statement speaks for itself, and you have enough journalistic capacity to reach the conclusions,” he said.
“It’s an act of faith,” the pope said to a plane full of reporters from different nationalities. “When time has passed, and you have the conclusions, maybe I will say some more. But I want for your professional maturity to do the job,” adding, “It will be good for you.”
After he told reporters to “make your own judgement” over the accusations, an English-speaking journalist asked the pope when he’d first learned about the allegations.
“This is a part of the statement on McCarrick. Study it, and then I’ll speak,” the pope said. “I await your comment on the document … I would like that.”
- 08/25/18. Wuerl denies he was informed of Vatican restrictions on McCarrick Catholic News Agency.
- Who am I to Pope?, by Francis J. Beckwith. National Catholic Register:
I am willing to give the Holy Father the benefit of the doubt that he isn’t abdicating his fatherly role to lead the flock through this challenging time. For in order for members of the press to do their jobs and investigate these matters — to confirm or disconfirm the claims in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony — they must have complete and total access to the evidence mentioned in the letter’s lone footnote: “All the memos, letters and other documentation mentioned here are available at the Secretariat of State of the Holy See or at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C.” As we know from the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report as well as the McCarrick scandals, the Vatican has the power, if ordered by the Pope, to lift any veils of secrecy that do not permit the press to view these materials.
Consequently, if the media make the request to examine the documents and memos cited in Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, the Holy Father cannot refuse without undermining his credibility and by default his papacy.
- Answering Vigano's Critics, by Rod Dreher. The American Conservative 08/27/18:
One of the first truths I learned in covering the abuse scandal in the early 2000s is that the left-right framework is fairly useless as a guide to understanding matters. Conservative prelates like Cardinal Law covered up, as did liberal prelates like Archbishop Rembert Weakland (who used church money to pay off his gay lover). If you decide that the only bad guys are those on the other side, you commit yourself to believing all manner of lies to maintain that fiction.
- Former ambassador Vigano accuses Vatican of covering up McCarrick scandal for years, by Joshua J. McElwee. National Catholic Register 08/26/18:
... at least several of its claims appear contradicted by the historical record.
McCarrick, for example, was seen celebrating numerous public Masses throughout Benedict's papacy and continued traveling around the world until the announcement in June that the Vatican had ordered his removal from ministry over an accusation of abuse that had been deemed credible.
Benedict also did not hesitate to act publicly when another cardinal, Scotland's Keith O'Brien, was accused of improper sexual relationships. In that case, Benedict accepted O'Brien's resignation and his decision not to attend the 2013 conclave that elected Francis.<
- Vigano letter draws fiery rhetoric from pope's opponents, by Heidi Schlumpf. National Catholic Reporter 08/26/18:
Victims' groups and advocates urged the church to stay focused on the safety of children, not partisan church infighting.
Pope Francis should not resign, said a statement from BishopAccountability.org, which maintains a database of documents related to clergy sex abuse.
"Instead, it is to be hoped that Vigano's ‘testimony' will put additional pressure on Francis to take a much more aggressive approach to the Catholic abuse crisis than he has articulated during this visit to Ireland," the statement said.
That statement also criticized how Vigano "picks and chooses," implying that sexual misconduct and cover-up "are liberal problems in the Catholic Church."
"Both liberal and orthodox bishops have covered up the abuse crisis, just as both liberal and orthodox priests have abused children, often using their respective ideologies as cover and even as tools of seduction," the BishopAccountability.org statement said.
- Vigano letter exposes the putsch against Pope Francis, by Michael Sean Winters. National Catholic Reporter 08/28/18
- If Viganò’s “Testimony” is true, Pope Francis has failed his own test, by Christopher R. Altieri. Catholic World Report 08/26/18:
Without regard for the question of motive — and granted that he assumes, rather than demonstrates, Francis’s knowledge of the specific kinds of enormities McCarrick is alleged to have committed — a candid reader must nevertheless admit that, unless Archbishop Viganò is weaving the story up out of whole cloth, it is impossible for Pope Francis to claim he had no knowledge of McCarrick’s behavior prior to this past June, when the Review Board of the Archdiocese of New York deemed an accusation McCarrick committed numerous acts of sexual assault on an altar boy over a period of years — including one in the sacristy of St. Patrick’s Cathedral during preparations for Christmas Mass, 1971, “credible and substantiated”.
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. ...
Nevertheless, if the allegations contained in Archbishop Viganò’s letter are correct, then it is difficult to escape the conclusion the former nuncio reaches in his testimony: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
If there is even a little truth to the allegations, then Francis has failed his own test: he has not practiced what he has preached — transparency and zero tolerance — nor has he tried adequately to become part of the solution, as he supposedly promised to Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and José Andrés Murillo, whom he accused of calumny before praising their courage and resolve when his former position became untenable.
Pope Francis and Priestly Sexual Abuse - a Checkered History
- A friend comments on the related case of Pope Francis' friendship with Cardinal Mahoney of Los Angeles:
Roger Mahony was JPII's man in Los Angeles and retired in March 2011. The most grotesque aspect of his long and dubious record was--surprise--the coddling of priestly abusers and mistreatment of abuse victims. The Archdiocese ended up paying for that to the tune of $660 million in 2007. The settlement sealed thousands of pages of internal church documents.
However, in January 2013 a court ordered that these pages be unsealed.
Somehow, Mahony managed to look even worse following these revelations, and his successor, Archbishop Jose Gomez, publicly ordered Mahony to cease any public ministry.
Pope Francis, on the other hand, has gladly accepted the services of Roger Mahony and used him as a designated papal representative to events he cannot attend.
- Pope Francis Admits ‘Grave Errors’ in Chile Sex Abuse Cases New York Times 04/11/18.
- Five years on, Pope Francis under fire over sex abuse scandals The Local 03/11/18 - a survey of Pope Francis' tarnished history in responding to priestly sex abuse.
- The Pope's 'blind spot' on sexual abuse" CNN.com. 06/29/17.
- Globe-trotting Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is almost 84, and working harder than ever, by David Gibson. 06/16/14:
... Doctors in Rome quickly diagnosed a heart problem — McCarrick would eventually get a pacemaker — and the cardinal was soon back at his guest room in the U.S. seminary in Rome when the phone rang. It was Francis. The two men had known each other for years, back when the Argentine pope was Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires. McCarrick assured Francis that he was doing fine.
“I guess the Lord isn’t done with me yet,” he told the pope.
“Or the devil doesn’t have your accommodations ready!” Francis shot back with a laugh. [...]
McCarrick is one of a number of senior churchmen who were more or less put out to pasture during the eight-year pontificate of Benedict XVI. But now Francis is pope, and prelates like Cardinal Walter Kasper (another old friend of McCarrick’s) and McCarrick himself are back in the mix, and busier than ever.
- Pope quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy, by Nicole Winfield. Associated Press. 02/25/17.
- Former Pope Benedict defrocked nearly 400 priests in two years for child abuse TheJournal.ie. 01/17/14. "Statistics for 2011-12 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009."