More Malicious Accusations against the Vicar of Christ by Carlos Vigano

LifeSiteNews has published the previously-unpublished portion of an interview with Abp. Vigano by the Washington Post (June 10th). The excerpts contain further accusations by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano against the Vicar of Christ and other Church leaders. The Washington Post decided not to publish this section of the interview because it contains unsubstantiated grave accusations against several persons. Yet notice that Vigano (and his supporters in the conservative Catholic media) treat these allegations as if they were fact.

Vigano: “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.”

Patently False.

Pope Francis removed McCarrick from the college of Cardinals and put him on trial; he was convicted and lost his appeal. Francis then laicized McCarrick and confined him to a friary.

Pope Francis held an abuse summit. He revised the rules for dealing with cases of abuse at the Vatican. Francis issued a document effective worldwide, presenting guidelines for dealing with abuse. The document requires reporting of BOTH abuse and cover ups. It also permits Bishops’ Conferences to include the laity as well as experts who might be non-Catholic in the investigation and reporting process.

Arch-schismatic Vigano’s claim that Pope Francis has done “absolutely nothing” concerning those who cover up abuse is clearly false.

Francis also accepted the resignation of Cardinal Wuerl, who was accused of cover ups. Francis commended Wuerl for doing the right thing in resigning, calling this choice one of “nobility”. Vigano and others are presenting this single word as if it were a complement and approval of Wuerl’s entire work as a Cardinal and Bishop, when it referred only to the choice to resign.

“Yet, in accepting his resignation, Pope Francis praised him for his “nobility.” What credibility has the pope left after this kind of statement?”

The Pope was only complementing the choice that Wuerl made to resign; the term did not apply to Wuerl or his work as a whole. And no Vicar of Christ should ever be considered to have lost his credibility, since that credibility is from Christ. We must never treat the Roman Pontiff as if he were a political opponent. Furthermore, the critics of Wuerl, which include Vigano, wanted him to resign. Why complain then, when Francis states that resignation was the better (more noble) path? It is hypocritical for Vigano to say that Francis loses credibility by agreeing that Wuerl did the right thing in resigning.

There’s an attitude in sinful secular society, that when someone is seen as an opponent, one should never give that person any credit, complement, cooperation, or agreement in any way, but instead should condemn them and oppose them at every turn. Such an attitude is unchristian. Christ said we should love even our enemies, and He himself called Judas “friend”. So Vigano is taking a sinful secular attitude by expecting the Pope to treat everyone that Vigano accuses of anything with utter condemnation, and he goes so far as to apply that attitude to the Pope himself.

Vigano then claims that he will cite just one example of Pope Francis not doing anything about those who cover up abuse. What does he cite? The resignation of Wuerl, which Francis praised and accepted, and which Vigano himself wanted. How does that prove Francis is doing nothing about cover ups? It doesn’t.

“Cardinal Wuerl, who covered up the abuses of McCarrick and others for decades, and whose repeated and blatant lies have been made manifest to everyone who has been paying attention… had to resign in disgrace due to popular outrage.”

It is highly likely that Wuerl’s resignation was not a surprise to the Pope, but that Wuerl first sought the advice or will of the Pope. Such is often the case with high-ranking clerics and their resignations. So Francis can be credited with Wuerl’s resignation. And do you really think that Wuerl, after such a long career (with many failings) is responsive to the popular will? No, he did not resign due to popular “outrage” (meaning outrange among conservatives), but more likely due to the will of the Roman Pontiff.

At every turn, Vigano makes unwarranted assumptions, in whatever direction will help him undermine and attack the Pope. That is a grave sin. It is akin to bearing false witness and treating others, not as you would have them treat you, but as if they were hated enemies.

Moreover, Vigano assumes that anyone accused of anything must be guilty, and that all claims to the contrary must be lies. He also makes many assumptions about the interior state of other persons’ minds and hearts, such as assuming that various persons held knowledge, or acted with malice, without any proof. For example, it is not “manifest to everyone” that Wuerl covered up abuse and lied.

Cardinal Wuerl admitted some faults in the past, including that he “had relied on the advice of psychologists to permit priests accused of sexually abusing children to remain in the ministry”, according to the NY Times. And, as various investigations into past abuse in the Church have found, this was a common error. It was formerly the case that psychologists and psychiatrists gave this type of advice, that abusers be treated and returned to ministry. Thus, many Church leaders, decades ago, relied on bad advice. They should have known better, so they are not thereby exonerated. But this should be taken into account.

Concerning Wuerl’s resignation, when you resign from office after a long career, and the only positive thing your boss can say about you is that you resigned, that is not high praise. Francis was clearly unhappy with Wuerl, and glad that he resigned. So how does this result in an accusation against Francis?

Next, Vigano complains that the Abuse Summit focused only on minors. They are the most vulnerable and the most often abused, so of course an Abuse Summit should focus on their plight. What should be a complement is presented as an accusation.

And note that the subsequent document on abuse includes adults who use their authority to take advantage of other adults. Yet Vigano makes the complaint regardless of these facts. His behavior reminds me of politicians, who will complain about what the opposition does, no matter the content of their words or behavior. Everything becomes a source of complaints and accusations.

“I now wish to bring to your attention two recent and truly horrifying cases involving allegations of offenses against minors during Pope Francis’ tenure.”

Every Pontificate sees innumerable cases of abuse of minors in the worldwide Church. The Pope cannot be held responsible for all these cases. The mere fact that this occurs during Francis’ tenure is unremarkable. And in fact, Pope Francis has done more to deal with sexual abuse during his “tenure” than any other Pope.

Vigano cites an alleged abuse case “at the Pre-Seminary Pius X.” He assumes that the accusation is true. He states that other seminarians, not the victim, wrote to Cardinals and finally to Pope Francis. He assumes that Pope Francis reads every letter written to him. But in fact, the Pope might not have read the letter.

The more likely series of events is that someone else reads the mail sent to the Pope, and he receives a summary of whatever is more important. And sometimes his mail readers may err by not telling him everything he should know. But the number of persons who write to the Pope, in a Church of 1.3 billion persons, must be very great.

So Pope Francis may have been told that there was a complaint of abuse. But what should be his response? Does Vigano think that the Roman Pontiff should investigate every claim of abuse personally? The most likely response by any Pope is to delegate the handling of an abuse complaint to a Church official.

Another problem with these claims is that Vigano had no role in that pre-seminary. So his information is not first hand. He did not live or work there. At one point he claims he “received firsthand information”, but that claim does not apply to the majority of his assertions about the abuse. Almost all is second or third hand (or more distant). Yet he speaks as if every claim that he hears about abuse is factual. That is an unjust and incompetent assumption. As a result, I would have to conclude that Vigano is not qualified to be an investigator or judge over abuse cases. Yet he usurps that role for himself over any and all cases of abuse about which he hears a claim.

Next, there is an absurd set of claims by Vigano about alleged documentation of an abuse complaint:

Vigano: “The relevant documentation, if it has not been destroyed, can be found both in the archives of the diplomatic personnel of the Secretariat of State where I held the position of Delegate for the Pontifical Representations, and in the archives of the apostolic nunciature in Venezuela, where the following archbishops have served as nuncios since: Giacinto Berloco, from 2005 to 2009; Pietro Parolin, from 2009 to 2013; and Aldo Giordano, from 2013 to the present. They all had access to the documents reporting these accusations”

So Vigano states that the documents in question may have been destroyed. Then he goes on to assume, not only that the documents exist, but that, since they would be in the archives of a particular nunciature, they must have been read by each successive nuncio. Vigano makes the absurd claim that all these nuncios “had access to these document” — which were possibly destroyed before these nuncios took office, or, at best, were buried in some archives. As I said, Vigano makes assumptions that are unwarranted and accusatory. This type of behavior toward anyone is patently unjust, as it violates the right to a fair process in any type of grave accusation. The U.S. right to due process of law is not only based on the U.S. Constitution, but also on the moral law. Making ridiculous assumptions about what other persons must have known, with such little basis is gravely immoral.

Vigano: “Particularly egregious is the behavior of Cardinal Parolin who, as Secretary of State, did not oppose the recent appointment of Peña Parra as Substitute, making him his closest collaborator.”

So if the Church’s Secretary of State doesn’t oppose an appointment that Vigano opposes, based on a series of baseless or exaggerated assumptions and accusations, he must be that person’s “closest collaborator”? Such an extreme accusation with so little basis.

And then Vigano extends this accusation to Pope Francis, since Pope Francis did not oppose the appointment that Parolin also failed to oppose — because Vigano wants everyone accused of anything to be assumed to be guilty.

“Coming back to your question. You ask me if I see any signs that the Vatican, under Pope Francis, is taking proper steps to address the serious issues of abuse. My answer is simple: Pope Francis himself is covering up abuse right now, as he did for McCarrick.”

Francis has taken more steps to oppose abuse than any other Roman Pontiff in the history of the Church. Francis is Pope number 259 by my count.

Pope Francis removed McCarrick from the college of Cardinals, put him on trial, and oversaw his conviction and the denial of his appeal. Francis then confined McCarrick to a friary. How is that a cover up? You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. Does not this Commandment apply to the Vicar of Christ? Whosoever falsely accuses any Roman Pontiff, falsely accuses Christ himself.

Vigano has made so many false accusations against the Vicar of Christ, I have to wonder whether Vigano could possibly be in the state of grace and whether he has any faith left at all. I’m not judging his soul, but his grave sins are exceedingly manifest, due to his own decisions to issues these false accusations before the whole Church and the whole world.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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1 Response to More Malicious Accusations against the Vicar of Christ by Carlos Vigano

  1. Alex says:

    Vigano must be expelled.
    There were bad popes in history including those who committed adultery themselves. Even though that didn’t make them “less popes”.
    Pope Francis is rather holy! It is a shame! Only his meekness keeps those wolves inside the flock!

    I have first hand experience what a radical conservative priest could do and how fanatical becomes the crowd of believers for only three years! Let that priest be adulterous but not fundamentalist! It is against anything I know of Jesus’ mercy and forgiveness!
    Latin Mass might be perfect, but it’s reintroduction decades after it was stopped made virtually irreparable damage to the unity of the Church. All radicals are grouped around the Latin Mass pretending they hold the only true sacraments. They won’t tell you that, you need to be from the inner circle to know it. If they know I’m writing it, I guess I will be burned by Inquisition.

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