Vatican Corner 09-09-18

On Sunday August 26, 2018 an eleven page letter written by retired Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, now 77 – a lifetime Vatican “ insider ”, was published which made serious accusations against Pope Francis but offered no evidence. In the letter he accused Francis of covering up the sexual abuse charges against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington D.C., who has been accused of sexually abusing lower – ranking seminarians and priests over decades. Viganò said he told Pope Francis about those abuse accusations, but said Francis lifted the sanctions that were already in place on McCarrick by former Pope Benedict. Viganò ’ s letter accused Francis of giving comfort to a “ homosexual current ” in the Vatican and it went on to call for Francis to resign. A theologian and church historian Massimo Faggioli says that an archbishop making public accusations like these is unprecedented in the modern church and you would have to go back to the 15th century to find a similar situation. With regards to the letter, Pope Francis has said he wouldn’t dignify it with a response. Viganò has generally been looked on favorably throughout his career, holding significant posts for Pope John Paul II, Pope Benedict and Pope Francis. But is known for his short temper and ambition and has clashed with superiors. It is not clear what his motivation is for this attack, but it may be to settle old scores. He was an archbishop for many years and may be unhappy that he was never made a cardinal. One cardinal shipped Viganò off to the United States to be the papal ambassador, an appointment he didn’t want. As ambassador and a conservative himself, he was involved in suggesting new bishops, and helped place new conservative bishops in San Francisco, Denver and Baltimore. But after Pope Francis ’ election, Viganò lost his influence for bishop placement. When Francis was visiting the United States in 2015, Viganò had Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk and conservative celebrity who refused to grant marriage licenses to same – sex couples, meet with Francis. This controversial meeting directly contradicted Francis ’ inclusive message and nearly overshadowed the trip. As a result, Viganò was fired as ambassador. Bu t Viganò attack may have more to do with principles than grudges. His supporters see him as someone shocked by what he sees as the destruction of the church he loves. Viganò has explained to a journalist that as a bishop, he felt a deep responsibility to the church and that, as a 77 – year – old man, he wanted to clear his conscience for when his moment came. But he also told the journalist he was infuriated by a recent article in the Italian press sympathetic to Pope Francis and critical of Pope Benedict XVI, and felt he needed to retaliate. Also when the news of sexual abuse charges against former Cardinal McCarrick came out, he wanted to tell his story that Pope Francis knew about it for years and covered up.