The New York Times has reaction to the recent bombshell—and some of the backstory behind it, as well:
In a remarkable break from the usual decorum among the bishops, American Catholic leaders are in open conflict over the explosive allegations from a former Vatican diplomat that Pope Francis knew about, and ignored, accusations of sexual abuse against a now-disgraced American cleric.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, a Pope Francis appointee, said that the pope’s opponents were using the accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò to advance a larger agenda.
“I do think it’s about limiting the days of this pope, and short of that, neutering his voice or casting ambiguity around him,” Cardinal Tobin said in a phone interview on Monday. “And it’s part of a larger upheaval both within and without the church.”
Some conservative American bishops swiftly came to Archbishop Viganò’s defense. Cardinal Raymond Burke, the ultraconservative former archbishop of St. Louis who is now based in Rome, said that after the truth of Archbishop Viganò’s accusations is established, “then the appropriate sanctions must be applied.”
The battle lines were being drawn even before Archbishop Viganò issued his stunning 11-page letter calling for the pope’s resignation over allegations that he covered up an abusive cleric, former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick.
Two weeks ago, Archbishop Viganò privately shared his plan to speak out with an influential American friend: Timothy Busch, a wealthy, conservative Catholic lawyer on the board of governors of the media network in which Archbishop Viganò ultimately revealed his letter.
“Archbishop Viganò has done us a great service,” Mr. Busch said in a phone interview Sunday night. “He decided to come forward because if he didn’t, he realized he would be perpetuating the cover-up.”
Mr. Busch said he believed Archbishop Viganò’s claims to be “credible,” and that he did not know in advance that the archbishop would choose to publish his attack in the National Catholic Register, which is owned by the Eternal Word Television Network, where Mr. Busch is on the board of governors.
Mr. Busch said leaders of the publication had personally assured him that the former pope, Benedict XVI, had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s account. Details and accuracy of that confirmation have not been externally verified.
He added that the letter was not about “left versus right wing,” but about the sex abuse scandal.
Nonetheless, Archbishop Viganò’s extraordinary 11-page letter, filled with personal attacks, has brought simmering ideological differences among American Catholics out into the open. Divisions in the church are quickly coming to a head, with many conservatives lining up to defend Archbishop Viganò and progressives rallying around Pope Francis, wrapping ideological competition and political maneuvering into what is quickly threatening to be the church’s biggest scandal in decades.
Meanwhile, Fr. Z. has this:
The blog of long-time Italian Vaticanista Aldo Maria Valli has his personal account of how Archbishop Viganò gave him his Testimony, which is rocking the Church from the depths to on high.
The Archbishop came in sunglasses and a baseball cap. He asked that my first reading of the document take place in his presence, so, he said, “if there is something that doesn’t convince you, we can talk about it right away.”
I read everything. There were 11 pages. He was amazed at my speed and looked at me: “and so?”
I said: “It’s powerful. Backed up. Well written. A dramatic summary.”
He asked: “Will you publish it?”
“Monsignore, you realize that this is a bomb? What should we do?”
“I entrusted to you. Think about it.”
“Monsignore, you know what they’re going to say? That you want to get even. That you are consumed with rancor for having been sacked from the Governorate and other positions. That you are the snitch (corvo) who leaked the Vatileaks documents. They will say that you are unstable, in addition to being a conservative of the worst kind.”
“I know, I know. But that makes no difference to me. The only thing that makes a difference is to bring the truth to the surface, so that a purification can begin. At the point where we are now, there is no other way.”
I was worried. Within myself, at heart, I had decided to publish it, because I knew that this man trusted me. But I asked: “What effect will this have on simple souls? On good Catholics? Don’t we risk to do more harm than good?”
He noticed that I asked the question in a strong voice and the archbishop responded: “Think about it. Weigh it, with calm.” We shook hands. He took off his sunglasses and looked me directly in the eyes. The fact that he didn’t pressure me, that he didn’t seem anxious to see me publish it all, made me trust him even more. Was it a maneuver? Was he manipulating me?
At home I spoke with Serena and with my daughters. Their advice has always been important for me. What to do?
These were days of questions. I reread the memo. It was backed up with evidence, but obviously we were dealing with Viganò’s version. I think that the readers will understand this. I will offer the Archbishop’s version, after which, if someone has arguments in an opposite sense, he can propose other versions.
My wife reminded me: “But if you publish this they will think that, by the very fact of publishing it, you are on his side.
Are you okay with that?”