Rorate Caeli

De Mattei: An Exceptional Document - Monsignor Vigano’s Interview to The Washington Post

Roberto de Mattei
Corrispondenza Romana
June 12, 2019

"The bottom line is this: Pope Francis is deliberately concealing the McCarrick evidence."

The extensive interview that Archbishop Maria Viganò gave to Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli in the Washington Post of June 10th is of exceptional importance for several reasons.
The first and most important reason is that this interview indicates the utter failure of the Vatican’s  strategy of ‘silence’, faced with the detailed accusations of the former Nuncio to the United States. Those in charge of the Vatican media were convinced that Monsignor Viganò’s revelations would have been confined to a ‘niche audience’, ready to be forgotten after some moments of emotional excitement. This did not happen..
The Washington Post is one of the most widely read newspapers in the planet, with millions of readers and the Archbishop’s interview was, for almost three days, the second most popular article  on its site. Monsignor Viganò’s voice has had an impact world-wide, shattering the wall of silence and imposing evidence that cannot be ignored or minimized.
The second reason, connected to the first, is that with his interview, The Washington Post recognizes Monsignor Viganò as a historical witness, whose credibility cannot be placed in doubt by anyone.  The Archbishop does not enter into the theological problems arising from documents like Amoris Laetitia, but limits himself to addressing the facts that he knows: the existence of a “corrupt mafia” which “has taken control of many institutions of the Church, from the top down, and is exploiting the Church and the faithful for its own immoral purposes”. This mafia “is bound together not by shared sexual intimacy but by a shared interest in protecting and advancing one another professionally and in sabotaging every effort to reform the sexual corruption”.                                                                    
Regarding the clumsy efforts of the Vatican media to discredit him, by accusing him of having  ambitions of power: “In any case, my motivation is not the point, and questions about it are a distraction. The truly important question is whether my testimony is true. I stand by it, and I urge investigations so that the facts may appear. Unfortunately, those who impugn my motives have been unwilling to conduct open and thorough investigations”.

With these words the Archbishop reveals a love for the truth, which deters him from backing possible errors [made] by the pontiffs preceding Pope Francis. Thus the insinuations, by those who try to get him to turn on Benedict XVI and John Paul II, collapse - as  the article the Vatican Insider dedicated to the case after the release of the interview did.  Monsignor Viganò responded preemptively in a very balanced manner: “I sincerely wish that all documents, if they have not already been destroyed, would be released. It is entirely possible that this would harm the reputation of Benedict XVI and Saint John Paul II, but that is not a good reason for not seeking the truth. Benedict XVI and John Paul II are human beings, and may well have made mistakes. If they did, we want to know about them. Why should they remain hidden? We can all learn from our mistakes. I myself regret not having spoken publicly earlier. As I already said, I had truly hoped against hope that the Church could reform itself from within. But when it became clear that the successor of Peter himself was one of those covering up the crimes, I had no doubt that the Lord was calling me to speak up, as I have done and will continue to do”.

A central point to the interview is the repeated conviction that homosexuality ( and the failure of the Vatican’s response) is a fundamental part of the current problem in the Church, when dealing with the abuses. To the interviewer who asks him: “Can you explain, with as much clarity as possible  how homosexuality as you view it is correlated with abuse?”.

Viganò responds “Let’s keep two arenas distinct: (1) crimes of sexual abuse and (2) criminal coverup of crimes of sexual abuse. In most cases in the Church today, both have a homosexual component — usually downplayed — that is key to the crisis. As to the first, heterosexual men obviously do not choose boys and young men as sexual partners of preference, and approximately 80 percent of the victims are males, the vast majority of which are post-pubescent males. […]. It is not pedophiles but gay priests preying on post-pubertal boys who have bankrupted the U.S. dioceses. […] As to the second arena, the “gay mafia” among bishops is bound together not by shared sexual intimacy but by a shared interest in protecting and advancing one another professionally and sabotaging all efforts at reform. […] Anyway, given the overwhelming evidence, it is mind-boggling that the word “homosexuality” has not appeared once, in any of the recent official documents of the Holy See, including the two Synods on the Family, the one on Youth, and the recent Summit last February.”

There is another point in the interview that deserves to be highlighted: the evaluation by Monsignor Viganò of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s reduction to the lay state. This punishment, states the former Papal Nuncio, “was, as far as it goes, a just punishment, but there is no legitimate reason why it was not exacted more than five years earlier, and after a proper trial with a judicial procedure.” Against McCarrick, in fact, an administrative process was carried out not a judicial one. It is hard not to think that this was done in order to ”manipulate public opinion”: “Condemning McCarrick as a scapegoat with an exemplary punishment — it was the first time in Church history that a cardinal was reduced to the lay state — would support the narrative that Pope Francis was firmly determined to fight against clergy sexual abuse”.
Vigano explains: “According to a statement issued by the Press Office of the Holy See on Feb. 16, 2019, McCarrick was found guilty by the CDF of “solicitation in the Sacrament of Confession, and sins against the Sixth Commandment” with both minors and adults, with “the aggravating factor of the abuse of power.” The penalty imposed was laicization, which Pope Francis confirmed as “definitive.” In this way McCarrick, who has always declared himself innocent, was deprived of any opportunity to appeal the sentence. Where is the due process? Is this how justice is done in the Vatican?
Moreover, having made the sentence definitive, the pope has made it impossible to conduct any further investigation, which could have revealed who in the Curia and elsewhere knew of McCarrick’s abuses, when they knew it, and who helped him to be named archbishop of Washington and eventually a cardinal. Note, by the way, that the documents of this case, whose publication had been promised, have never been produced.
The bottom line is this: Pope Francis is deliberately concealing the McCarrick evidence.
 But let us consider the far more important spiritual dimension, which was completely absent from any declaration about McCarrick or any press conference at the summit. The most important purpose of penalties in the canonical order is repentance and conversion: “Suprema ratio est salus animarum” (the supreme law is the salvation of souls). I believe, therefore, that the mere “reduction to the lay state” is completely inadequate, because it does not provide a remedy and does not express the concern for the most important purpose of punishment, namely, the salvation of McCarrick’s soul. Indeed, unless it is accompanied by other measures, a simple laicization could be considered an expression of contempt for the lay state. The idea that a prelate who misbehaves is punished by being “reduced” to the lay state smacks of clericalism”. I believe, and I am not the only one, that the penalty of excommunication — from which he can be absolved at any time — should also be imposed on McCarrick. As an appropriately dosed medication, it would be imposed to induce him to take responsibility for his sins, to repent, to be reconciled with God, and thus to save his soul”.
These words help us understand an important question. Today, those who are governing the Church advance by hitting with external administration, religious institutes no longer wanted, and dismissing from the clerical state those who might create problems with public opinion.  The reduction to the lay state is conceived as a “dismissal” from the “Church-company” which can occur even without just cause.  It’s all under papal decree, with no possibility of canonical recourse.  What is forgotten, however, is that the Sacrament of Holy Orders, once received never becomes null or void, because of its indelible nature.   No authority can cancel the ontological condition of the priest to whom we must always  show mercy. But above all, we cannot arrive at extreme actions,  such as being reduced to the lay state, with no due process wherein the accused is allowed to have his say and defend himself.
Those who do not listen to reasons, perhaps do not have any [themselves] and are compelled to lie in order to justify their conduct, as happened with Pope Francis who was aware of McCarrick’s abuses, at least from June 23rd 2013, when Monsignor Viganò, in response to the Pope’s precise question, told him of the existence of a bulky dossier against the American cardinal.
Monsignor Viganò is, to date, the only bishop who has publically indicated Pope Francis as the one directly responsible for the terrible crisis afflicting the Church. To the question: “Do you see any signs that the Vatican, under Pope Francis, is taking proper steps to address the serious issues of abuse?”, the Archbishop responds:Not only is Pope Francis doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse, he is doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers.
And to the interviewers who ask: “Do you think asking for the pope's resignation took attention away from your message?” he responds humbly and firmly that: “I can see that it would have been better to address the matter you ask about in the following way, beginning with a point I included in my third testimony: “I am asking, indeed earnestly begging, the Holy Father to face up to the commitments he himself made in assuming his office as successor of Peter. He took upon himself the mission of confirming his brothers and guiding all souls in following Christ, in the spiritual combat, along the way of the cross. Let him admit his errors, repent, show his willingness to follow the mandate given to Peter and, once converted, let him confirm his brothers (Lk 22:32).”

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana