ROME – Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has issued a new letter addressing his allegation that senior prelates have been complicit in covering up alleged sex abuse by ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Headed with Viganò’s episcopal motto, Scio Cui credidi (I know whom I have believed), the letter, dated Sept. 29 — the feast of St. Michael — was released Sept. 27.
It was not a coincidence: St. Michael is considered the protector of the Church, the leader of all angels who battled evil and drove it from the Church.
Viganò threw Francis’s papacy into turmoil last month when he accused Francis of rehabilitating McCarrick from sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict XVI. He accused more than two dozen current and former Vatican officials, as well as a host of U.S. bishops and papal advisers, of being part of the cover-up and called for Francis to resign over the scandal.
The Vatican has known since at least 2000 that McCarrick would invite seminarians to his New Jersey beach house and into his bed. And yet St. John Paul II made him archbishop of Washington and a cardinal in 2001, and McCarrick became a spokesman for the U.S. bishops in 2002 as they sought to address the then-burgeoning sexual abuse scandal that had erupted that year in Boston.
Francis removed McCarrick as a cardinal in July after a U.S. Church investigation determined an allegation he fondled a teenage altar boy in the 1970s was credible. After news broke of the investigation, several former seminarians and priests came forward to report that they, too, had been abused or harassed by McCarrick as adults. The scandal has led to a crisis in confidence in both the U.S. and Vatican hierarchy, since McCarrick’s sexual escapades were apparently an open secret in some U.S. Church circles.
The former apostolic nuncio to the U.S. prefaced his latest letter giving “thanks and glory to God the Father for every situation and trial that He has prepared and will prepare for me during my life. As a priest and bishop of the holy Church, spouse of Christ, I am called like every baptized person to bear witness to the truth … I intend to do so until the end of my days. Our only Lord has addressed also to me the invitation, “Follow me!”, and I intend to follow him with the help of his grace until the end of my days.”
He noted it has been a month since he released his testimony, “solely for the good of the Church,” alleging that Francis and other high-ranking prelates knew of grave sexual sins committed by McCarrick.
He said he chose to disclose the cover-up “after long reflection and prayer, during months of profound suffering and anguish, during a crescendo of continual news of terrible events … The silence of the pastors who could have provided a remedy and prevented new victims became increasingly indefensible, a devastating crime for the Church.”
“Well aware of the enormous consequences that my testimony could have, because what I was about to reveal involved the successor of Peter himself, I nonetheless chose to speak in order to protect the Church, and I declare with a clear conscience before God that my testimony is true.”
Viganò affirmed that some of what he revealed is covered by the pontifical secret, but defended himself saying that “the purpose of any secret, including the pontifical secret, is to protect the Church from her enemies, not to cover up and become complicit in crimes committed by some of her members.”
He called himself a witness “of shocking facts,” and said he believed very grave harm could be avoided “only by divulging the truth.”
“Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my testimony,” the archbishop noted; referring to the proverb “silence is consent,” he said that “if they deny my testimony, they have only to say so, and provide documentation to support that denial.”
“How can one avoid concluding that the reason they do not provide the documentation is that they know it confirms my testimony?”
Viganò noted that Francis’s response to his testimony was, “I will not say a word,” though “he has compared his silence to that of Jesus in Nazareth and before Pilate, and compared me to the great accuser, Satan, who sows scandal and division in the Church — though without ever uttering my name.”
The former nuncio charged that rather than simply saying, “Viganò lied,” the pope has “put in place a subtle slander against me — slander being an offense he has often compared to the gravity of murder.”
“The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building,” Viganò asserted.
He said that “the pope’s cover-up of McCarrick was clearly not an isolated mistake,” noting that Francis “has defended homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults.” He gave as examples Father Julio Grassi, Father Mauro Inzoli, “and his halting of the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor.”
Viganò called on Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and the other American bishops who met with Francis Sept. 13 to state whether the pope refused “to carry out a Vatican investigation into McCarrick’s crimes and of those responsible for covering them up,” saying that “the faithful deserve to know.”
He also appealed to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
Viganò said that Ouellet “had maintained his dignity … at the beginning of Pope Francis’s pontificate.”
“Later, however, when his 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.”
Addressing Ouellet, he said: “before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.”
Viganò closed his letter by encouraging the faithful to “never be despondent” and to have faith and complete confidence in Christ.
“This is a time of repentance, of conversion, of prayers, of grace, to prepare the Church, the bride of the Lamb, ready to fight and win with Mary the battle against the old dragon,” he said.
He referred to an image of the calming of the storm from St. Mark’s Basilica in Venice, which shows Christ both in the boat asleep, with Peter trying to wake him, and also standing behind the apostles and in command of the boat.
“The scene is very timely in portraying the tremendous storm the Church is passing through in this moment,” Viganò said, “but with a substantial difference: the successor of Peter not only fails to see the Lord in full control of the boat, it seems he does not even intend to awaken Jesus asleep in the bow.”
“Has Christ perhaps become invisible to his vicar? Perhaps is he being tempted to try to act as a substitute of our only Master and Lord?”
“The Lord is in full control of the boat,” he concluded. “May Christ, the Truth, always be the light on our way!”
This article incorporated material from the Associated Press.