ROME — The retired Vatican ambassador who convulsed the Holy See with accusations of sex abuse cover-up is offering his side of the story in a different scandal: a family fight over a multi-million dollar inheritance.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano is trying to explain an Italian court ruling requiring him to pay his brother, who also is a priest, over $2 million. The court’s decision generated headlines given Vigano’s unprecedented call for Pope Francis to resign over alleged failures in addressing clergy sex abuse.
In a statement Monday, Vigano said his brother had originally sought over $45 million from their shared inheritance but said that a series of 10 civil, criminal and administrative cases had ruled against him. Vigano accused his brother of subjecting him to a “judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press.”
Vigano has long painted himself as a champion of transparency and paradigm of righteousness in a sea of corruption in the Catholic Church.
The statement, issued by Vigano’s lawyers, carried that same tone, saying Vigano deeply loved his brother, wouldn’t appeal the court’s decision even though he considered it “wrong and unjust,” and had allocated most of his inheritance to charity anyway.
Vigano first made waves in 2012, when he begged Pope Benedict XVI not to be transferred from his job in the Vatican City administration for what he claimed was retaliation for his efforts to root out corruption. According to letters leaked at the time, Vigano also argued he had to stay in Rome to care for his ailing brother — the same one involved in the inheritance fight — even though the estranged brother lived in Chicago at the time.
Benedict transferred Vigano anyway, making him Vatican ambassador to the U.S. There, Vigano said he sent repeated memos to his superiors in Rome about allegations that now ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the retired archbishop of Washington, had sexually preyed on seminarians.
Vigano revealed those allegations in his explosive claim published in August that Vatican officials had known since 2000 of McCarrick’s alleged misdeeds, but turned a blind eye until Benedict eventually sanctioned him. Vigano accused Francis of effectively rehabilitating McCarrick in 2013 and called for him to resign.
Francis hasn’t responded, though he has indirectly referred to Vigano as the devil and has authorized a limited investigation of Vatican archives into the McCarrick scandal. McCarrick resigned as a cardinal in July after a church investigation found he had been credibly accused of groping a teenager.