I have a few words to say on the breaking news about Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s testimony on Pope Francis.
First, I want to remind everyone that I am not a journalist and this is not a newspaper; I’m a blogger expressing my own opinions and fancies and Patheos doesn’t find out what I’m going to say until I say it. I strive to be as accurate as I can be and I strive to correct my own mistakes quickly. For all I know, the news will be updated and clarified before I hit “post” on this blog post or before I get up to read the news before Mass in the morning. These are my thoughts at about midnight on August 25.
For those of you who are just hearing about this, the former Papal Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has published an eleven-page letter wherein he alleges that Pope Benedict XVI placed heavy sanctions on disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick when he found out about McCarrick’s sexual misconduct, similar to what Pope Francis imposed on McCarrick this year, and that Pope Francis knew all about this– but that Pope Francis repealed all these sanctions and took McCarrick into his confidence and let McCarrick choose which bishops to appoint in the United States when he (Francis) became Pope. Viganò alleges a massive conspiracy involving several of his fellow prelates and Pope Francis. Rod Dreher is fairly wetting himself with excitement over on Twitter and claiming that this proves the existence of a “Lavender Maffia.”
The only confirmation of Viganò’s allegations that I have seen so far is that the National Catholic Register says they have confirmed that McCarrick’s abuses were known to Pope Benedict and that “the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature,” though they don’t say exactly what they know, how on earth they confirmed it or what evidence they have. Perhaps this will very soon be confirmed to all be true or exposed as lies, but that’s how it stands at the moment. We have the testimony of Archbishop Viganò and we have an assurance from the Register that Pope Emeritus Benedict knew about McCarrick.
First of all, I have no idea if Pope Emeritus Benedict did impose such sanctions on McCarrick, but it seems odd that McCarrick was saying Mass at a prep school in New Jersey in 2011 if he was under such strict sanctions since the late 2000s. Perhaps I am just misunderstanding what the sanctions entailed. It’s also suspicious to me that everyone knew when Benedict slapped sanctions on Father Maciel but this is the first we’re hearing about McCarrick.
Secondly, Viganò claims that his motive in all of this is to “stop the suffering of the victims, to prevent new victims and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free.” If so, that’s a noble motive. My thought on this, however, is that Viganò himself deliberately quashed an investigation into sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis in 2014, according to a memo written by the Reverend Dan Griffith. Viganò himself ordered the destruction of evidence, according to the memo– he was not a bystander but a co-conspirator. You can read about that in the New York Times here. If Viganò really does care about the suffering of victims, that’s wonderful, but he only began to care suspiciously recently. I hope his conversion is sincere.
Finally, one must remember that Viganò has tried to manipulate the Pope according to his own agenda before. He was the one who organized the famous brief meeting of Pope Francis and Kim Davis which sparked so much media uproar. He was removed from his post by Francis shortly afterwards– true, he was at retirement age, but to my recollection many people also regarded it as His Holiness getting rid of a meddling pest who attempted to make the Pope look like he was taking a stance on American politics.
I am not saying Archbishop Viganò is lying. I have no idea if he is. For all I know his words will be confirmed to be perfectly true at any moment, and God help us if they are. The Church has weathered evil, self-serving and foolish Popes before and by the grace of God she has remained. This could be what we’re seeing now– the downfall of an evil Pope. I have always loved and admired what I known of Pope Francis so I hope with all my heart it’s not the case.
What I am saying is that Archbishop Viganò was implicated in a conspiracy and a cover-up of sexual abuse himself, and that he has attempted to use the Holy Father for his own ends before, and that it’s not outside the realm of imagination that there’s bad blood between Viganò and Francis.
Time will tell just what’s going on here, but this is the context which was pointed out to me, when I was discussing the news with others online, and these are my thoughts at the moment.
(image via Pixabay)