Wednesday, August 29, 2018, #2

“I do not act for revenge. I just want the truth to emerge.” —Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, in an interview with Italian journalist Also Maria Valli, published today in Italy (see translation below)

“Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick, and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised.” —Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, USA, in a statement on the case issued today

Day 5, August 29, 2018 (continued)

Press Round-Up

Three main themes:

(1) The Background of Vigano’s Letter: new additions to the cast — Tosatti, Badilla, Warsaw, Busch…

(2) Defending Francis: What arguments are being used to defend Francis against Vigano’s charges? The case of Tornielli

(3) Legal Consequences: The Sovereignty of the Holy See in light of this case

The most important point below would seem to be the question Vigano asks: “What happened to the white box filled with documents that Benedict XVI handed over to Pope Francis in March of 2013, after his election?” Vigano asks journalists to ask Vatican officials for some explanation of the contents of that box.

Interviewed by the RAI Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli, the accuser of the Pope defends his declarations (link)


La Repubblica

29 August 2018

VATICAN CITY – Three days after the publication of the dossier against Francis it is the former nuncio to Washington Carlo Maria Viganò in person who speaks on the blog of the RAI’s Vaticanist Aldo Maria Valli: “I do not act for revenge. I just want the truth to emerge.”

Monsignor, how are you?

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano: Thank God very well, with great serenity and peace of conscience: it is the prize of truth. Light always wins over darkness, it can not be suppressed, especially for those who have faith. Therefore I have a lot of trust and hope for the Church.

How do you judge the reactions to the publication of your memorial?

Vigano: As you know, the reactions are opposed. There are those who no longer know where to draw the poison to destroy my credibility. Someone even wrote that I was hospitalized twice with compulsory treatment (TSO) for drug use; there are those who imagine conspiracies, political plots, plots of all kinds, etc., but there are also many articles of appreciation and I have seen messages of priests and faithful thanking me, because my testimony was for them a flicker of new hope for the Church.

What is your answer to who in these hours objects that you would have reasons of personal rancor against the Pope and for this reason he would have decided to write and spread the memorial?

Vigano: Perhaps because I am naive and always think about the good for people, but above all I recognize that it is a gift that the Lord has given me, I have never had feelings of revenge or resentment in all these years when I was I test from so many slanders and falsehoods on my account.

As I wrote at the beginning of my testimony, I had always believed that the hierarchy of the Church would find in itself the resources to heal so much corruption. I also wrote it in my letter to the three cardinals instructed by Pope Benedict to investigate the Vatileaks case, a letter that accompanied the report I gave them: “Many of you,” I wrote, “you knew, but you kept silent. At least now that you have had this task from Benedict, have the courage to report with fidelity what has been revealed to you of so many situations of corruption.”

Why did you decide to have your testimony published and distributed?

Vigano: I spoke because now corruption has reached the top of the Church hierarchy.

I appeal to journalists: Why do not they ask what happened to the case of documents that, we have all seen, was delivered to Castelgandolfo by Pope Benedict to Pope Francis? Everything was useless?

It would have been sufficient to follow my report and the transcript that was made of my deposition before the three cardinals in charge of the investigation of the Vatileaks case (Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi) to start doing some cleaning in the Curia.

But do you know what Cardinal Herranz replied to me when I called him from Washington, given that it had been a long time since this Commission was appointed by Pope Benedict without ever being contacted?

Then we used to speak using the familiar “tu” form and I said: “Do you not think I have something to say about the question of my letters, published without my knowledge?”

He replied: “Ah, if you really want to.”

What responds to those who claim that she would be the “leaker,” or one of the “leakers,” at the origin of the Vatileaks case?

Vigano: I the leaker? As you saw with my testimony, I usually do things in the light of day!

I at the time had already been in Washington for some months and I certainly had other things to think about.

On the other hand, it has always been my habit to immerse myself completely in my new mission. So I did when I was sent to Nigeria: I did not read the Italian news anymore. So much so that when, after six years, I was called back to the Secretariat of State by St. John Paul II it took me a few months to realize where I had fallen back, even though I had been in the Secretariat of State for eleven years from 1978 to 1989.

What do you answer to those who say that you were removed from the Governorate office you held, and that this also causes feelings of rancor and a desire for revenge?

Vigano: As I have already said, rancor and revenge are not feelings that are part of my make-up. My resistance to leaving my job at the Governorate was motivated by a deep sense of injustice for a decision that I knew did not correspond to the will that Pope Benedict himself had manifested to me.

Cardinal Bertone, in order to send me away, had committed a series of serious abuses of authority: he had dissolved a first commission of three cardinals that Pope Benedict had appointed to investigate the serious accusations made by me as secretary general and by the vice-secretary general, monsignor Giorgio Corbellini, abuses committed by Monsignor Paolo Nicolini; in place of this commission of cardinals he created a disciplinary commission, changing the composition the institutional commission of the Governorate to make it up. Before even creating this commission, he had summoned me to tell me that the Holy Father had appointed me nuncio to Washington; despite all that, the said disciplinary committee decided on July 16, 2011 to dismiss of Monsignor Paolo Nicolini but he abusively annulled that decision, preventing it being published. In doing so, he had prevented me from continuing in the work of ending the corruption in the management of the Governorate.

How do you respond to those who say you were fixated on becoming a cardinal and claim you now attack the Pope because he did not make you a cardinal?

Vigano: I can say with all sincerity before God that I actually renounced becoming a cardinal.

After my first letter to Cardinal Bertone, which I sent to the Pope to do what he thought best, Pope Benedict called me and received me at the audience on April 4, 2011 and he immediately told me these words: “I believe that the task in which you could best serve the Holy See would be president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See instead of Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.

I thanked the Pope for the trust he showed me and added: “Holy Father, why do not you wait six months or a year? Because, if you promote me now, the team that has trusted me to heal the situation at the Governorate will be immediately dispersed and persecuted” (as indeed happened).

I also added another topic. Since Cardinal De Paolis had recently been appointed to heal the delicate situation of the Legionaries of Christ (Cardinal De Paolis had consulted me before accepting this assignment), I told the Pope that it was better for him to continue to hold an institutional position that gave greater authority to his person and his action with the Legionaries.

At the end of the audience the Pope told me again: “However, I remain of the opinion that the place where you can best serve the Holy See is as President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs.” Cardinal Re can confirm this news.

So I renounced the cardinalate for the good of the Church.

How do you answer those who involve your family inheritance, calling it a multi-year battle with large economic interests?

Vigano: On March 20, 2013, my brothers had prepared a press release, to which I then opposed the publication in order to avoid involving the whole family. Since now the accusation of my brother Don Lorenzo continues to be repeated, namely that I lied to Pope Benedict when I told him of my concern about leaving because I had to take care of my sick brother, I decided to make public the statement. From reading it, it becomes evident that I felt a serious moral responsibility to take care of and protect my brother.


The interesting fact about this article is that it reveals that Tosatti called Vigano and suggested that it was time, in light of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, for Vigano to make a statement. In this sense, it seems possible that the idea to issue the “Testimony” came from Tosatti, and that Vigano took up the idea and prepared the text in the middle days of August out of a sense of shock at how many cases of sexual abuse had been revealed.

Journalist who helped pen pope bombshell says author wept (link)

Wed, 29 Aug 2018

NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press

ROME (AP) — An Italian journalist who says he helped a former Vatican diplomat pen his bombshell allegation of sex abuse cover-up against Pope Francis says he persuaded the archbishop to go public after the U.S. church was thrown into turmoil by revelations in the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Marco Tosatti said he helped Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano write, rewrite and edit his 11-page testimony, saying the two sat side-by-side at a wooden table in Tosatti’s living room for three hours on Aug. 22.

Tosatti, a leading Italian critic of Francis, told The Associated Press that Vigano had called him a few weeks ago out of the blue asking to meet, and then proceeded to tell him the information that became the basis of the testimony.

Vigano’s document alleges that Francis knew of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct starting in 2013, but rehabilitated him from sanctions that Pope Benedict XVI had imposed. The claims have shaken Francis’ five-year papacy.

Vigano called for Francis to resign over what he said was complicity in covering up McCarrick’s crimes. There is ample evidence, however, that the Vatican under Benedict and St. John Paul II also covered up that information, and that any sanctions Benedict imposed were never enforced.

Vigano has kept largely quiet since the bombshell testimony Sunday, and his whereabouts are unknown. As a result, Tosatti’s reconstruction provides the only insight into how the document came about.

Tosatti, a longtime correspondent for Italian daily La Stampa but who now writes largely for more conservative blogs and newspapers, said after their initial meeting a few weeks ago, Vigano said he wasn’t prepared to go public.

They had been acquaintances, not friends, and Vigano said he needed to settle some personal matters before proceeding.

[The lines below seem to be the moment when Vigano conceived of writing and publishing his “testimony.”]

But Tosatti said he called him after the Pennsylvania grand jury report published Aug. 15 alleged some 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses abused more than 1,000 children over the past 70 years, and that a sequence of bishops had covered it up.

Tosatti said he told Vigano: “I think that if you want to say something, now is the moment, because everything is going upside-down in the United States.

He said ‘OK.'”

The two then met at Tosatti’s Rome apartment. Initially, Tosatti thought Vigano would give him an interview, but then Vigano decided to put his thoughts on paper.

“He had prepared some kind of a draft of a document and he sat here by my side,” Tosatti told the AP from behind his desk, pointing to the wooden chair to his right. “I told him that we had to work on it really because it was not in a journalistic style.”

Tosatti said he persuaded Vigano to cut claims that couldn’t be substantiated or documented “because it had to be absolutely waterproof.” Tosatti said Vigano was “deadly serious” the whole time, and that both emerged physically and emotionally exhausted.

Tosatti said Vigano was well aware of the implications of the document and what it took for a Holy See diplomat to reveal secrets he had kept for years.
“They are brought up to die silent,” Tosatti said of Holy See diplomats. “So what he was doing, what he was going to do, was something absolutely against his nature.”

But he said Vigano felt compelled to publish out of a sense of duty to the Catholic Church and to clear his conscience.

“He enjoys a good health but 77 is an age where you start preparing yourself … he couldn’t have a clear conscience unless he spoke,” Tosatti said.

Document in hand, Tosatti then set out to find publications willing to publish it in its entirety: the small Italian daily La Verita, the English-language National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews and the Spanish online site InfoVaticana.

All are conservative or ultraconservative media that have been highly critical of Francis’ mercy-over-morals papacy.

The English and Spanish publications translated the Italian document and all agreed on a Sunday morning embargo, coinciding with the second and final day of Francis’ trip to Ireland, where the Catholic church’s sex abuse and cover-up scandal dominated his trip.

Tosatti said Vigano didn’t tell him where he was going after the article came out, knowing that the world’s media would be clamoring to speak with him.
As Tosatti accompanied Vigano to his door, he bent down to kiss Vigano’s ring — a sign of respect for Catholic bishops.

“He tried to say ‘No.’ I told him ‘It’s not for you, it’s for the role that you (play) that I do it,'” Tosatti said. “He didn’t say anything. He went away, but he was crying.”


The following brief note states — without offering evidence — that Archbishop Vigano consulted with Dr. Michael Warsaw, Chairman of the Board of EWTN/National Catholic Register, and a consultant member of the Vatican’s dicatery for communication, and with a lawyer, Timothy Busch.

WEDNESDAY 29 AUGUST 2018 (link)

The “Tosatti-Viganò” Text: The lawyer assisting C. M. Viganò is an employee of the Catholic network EWTN whose President is a consultative Member of the dicastery for communication

(by the editor of The Seismograph) [That is, Luis Badilla]

The anti-Pope operation of the “Tosatti-Viganò” papyrus, in its preparation, even included the legal assistance of a lawyer, consulted in advance by Carlo Maria Viganò two weeks ago.

The US professional consulted by Viganò belongs to the legal staff of the US agency EWTN / Catholic National Register, a Timothy Busch.

Of this American network, founded by the late Mother Angelica, Dr. Michael P. Warsaw is the Chairman of the Board and Executive Director, and also, among other things, a Consultor-Member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication. [Note: This would mean that he has a certain role in the Vatican, which would mean that the preparation of the Vigano document had the consutation of a man who also has a role as a Vatican official, even if only of a consulting nature.]

EWTN includes various elements: the ACI group (ACI Prensa, ACI Press, ACI Digital), Catholic News Agency and CNA Deutsche. EWTN television reaches nearly 300 million telespectors in over 145 countries.

At this point maybe Mr. Warsaw should give some explanations.


Statement from Bishop Thomas John Paprocki Regarding the Testimony of the Former Apostolic Nuncio

By Bishop Thomas Paprocki, Springfield, Illinois, USA

SPRINGFIELD – The former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has revealed a set of facts and circumstances that are deeply troubling as they relate to the awareness, actions, and inactions at the very highest levels of the Church.

Archbishop Viganò has provided his written testimony stating that Pope Francis “must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests. In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him.”

When asked about this aboard the papal plane on his return flight from Ireland on August 26, Pope Francis said, “Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this.”

Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate.

Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered.

Toward that end, Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick, and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised.

In this regard, I concur completely with the statement of Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, who yesterday “reaffirmed the call for a prompt and thorough examination into how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement. The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence.”



The New York Times weighed in yesterday with a fairly comprehensive story by Vaticanist Jason Horowitz. The remarks by Chilean abuse victim Juan Carlo Cruz about the Kim Davis visit to the papal nunciature are the first time, to my lnowledge, that Pope Francis has spoken about that event. If true, the remarks are evidence that Pope Francis did in fact meet with Davis, despite suggestions by Vatican spokesman at the time that such a meeting had not occurred at all, implying that Davis and her lawyer had invented the entire story.

The Man Who Took On Pope Francis: The Story Behind the Viganò Letter (link)

By Jason Horowitz

Aug. 28, 2018

ROME — At 9:30 a.m. last Wednesday, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò showed up at the Rome apartment of a conservative Vatican reporter with a simple clerical collar, a Rocky Mountains baseball cap and an explosive story to tell.

Archbishop Viganò, the former chief Vatican diplomat in the United States, spent the morning working shoulder to shoulder with the reporter at his dining room table on a 7,000-word letter that called for the resignation of Pope Francis, accusing him of covering up sexual abuse and giving comfort to a “homosexual current” in the Vatican.

The journalist, Marco Tosatti, said he had smoothed out the narrative. The enraged archbishop brought no evidence, he said, but he did supply the flair, condemning the homosexual networks inside the church that act “with the power of octopus tentacles” to “strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations.”

“The poetry is all his,” Mr. Tosatti said.

When the letter was finished, Archbishop Viganò took his leave, turning off his cellphone. Keeping his destination a secret because he was “worried for his own security,” Mr. Tosatti said, the archbishop then simply “disappeared.”

The letter, published on Sunday, has challenged Pope Francis’ papacy and shaken the Roman Catholic Church to its core. The pope has said he won’t dignify it with a response, yet the allegations have touched off an ideological civil war, with the usually shadowy Vatican backstabbing giving way to open combat.

The letter exposed deep ideological clashes, with conservatives taking up arms against Francis’ inclusive vision of a church that is less focused on divisive issues like abortion and homosexuality. But Archbishop Viganò — who himself has been accused of hindering a sexual misconduct investigation in Minnesota — also seems to be settling old scores.

As the papal ambassador, or nuncio, in the United States, Archbishop Viganò sided with conservative culture warriors and used his role in naming new bishops to put staunch conservatives in San Francisco, Denver and Baltimore. But he found himself iced out after the election of Pope Francis.

Then in 2015, he personally ran afoul of Francis. His decision to invite a staunch critic of gay rights to greet the Pope in Washington during a visit to the United States directly challenged Francis’ inclusive message and prompted a controversy that nearly overshadowed the trip.

Juan Carlos Cruz, an abuse survivor with whom Francis has spoken at length, said the pope recently told him Archbishop Viganò nearly sabotaged the visit by inviting the critic, Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who became a conservative cause célèbre when she refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“I didn’t know who that woman was, and he snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity out of it,” Pope Francis said, according to Mr. Cruz.

“And I was horrified and I fired that nuncio,” Mr. Cruz recalled the pope saying.

Now, three years later, Archbishop Viganò appears to be trying to return the favor.

Known for his short temper and ambition, Archbishop Viganò has clashed with superiors who stunted his ascent in the church and has played a key role in some of the most stunning Vatican scandals of recent times.

While Archbishop Viganò, who was once criticized by church traditionalists as overly pragmatic, has aligned himself with a small but influential group of church traditionalists who have spent years seeking to stop Francis, many of his critics think his personal grudges are central to his motivations.

After one church leader shipped him out of the Vatican to America, thwarting his hopes of receiving a scarlet cardinal’s hat, Archbishop Viganò’s private 2011 memos — many of them deeply unflattering to the leader responsible for his ouster from Rome — were leaked and splashed around the globe.

Supporters of Archbishop Viganò, who did not return a request for comment, bristle at the notion that his letter calling on the pope to resign represents the fury of a disgruntled excellency. They portray him as principled and shocked by what he sees as the destruction of the church he loves.

Mr. Tosatti said the archbishop had explained to him 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 said the archbishop was also infuriated by a recent article in the Italian press sympathetic to Pope Francis and critical of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI — and felt he needed to retaliate.

Archbishop Viganò is well-versed in Vatican infighting. In 1998, he became a central official in the Vatican’s powerful office of the secretary of state. In the letter, he writes that his responsibilities included overseeing ambassadors out in the world, but also the “examination of delicate cases, including those regarding cardinals and bishops.”

It was then he says he first learned of the abuses committed by Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, the American Catholic leader whose history he says Pope Francis knew about for years — and covered up.

In 2009, Archbishop Viganò, then a bishop, was moved to another job in the Vatican with less influence over policy but with power over some of its revenue.

Known as parsimonious, he turned Vatican City’s deficit into a surplus. But his hard management style prompted complaints, and anonymous emails alleging that he was inappropriately promoting the career of his nephew began making the rounds in the Vatican.

His style and rigor on vetting Vatican contracts also bothered some leaders, including Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, and an anonymous report in the Italian newspaper Il Giornale claimed he had designs on the Vatican’s security services.

Cardinal Bertone, who Archbishop Viganò writes in the letter “notoriously favored promoting homosexuals,” banished him to the United States.

Throughout his power struggle, Archbishop Viganò had been writing urgent appeals to Benedict to stay in the Vatican.

He said he needed to stay because his brother, a Jesuit biblical scholar, was sick and needed care, and he accused Cardinal Bertone of breaking his promise to promote him to the rank of cardinal.

In 2012, when he was already in the United States as nuncio, or ambassador, the letters started appearing in leaks eventually pinned on the pope’s butler. The scandal consumed the Vatican and prompted intense blowback.

But Archbishop Viganò’s brother, Lorenzo Viganò, told Italian journalists that his brother “lied” to Benedict that he had to remain in Rome “because he had to take care of me, sick.” To the contrary, he said he had lived in Chicago and was fine and hadn’t talked to his brother in years over an inheritance dispute.

Archbishop Viganò maintained his position as ambassador in the United States after the election of Francis. But in the letter published Sunday, he alleged that the former Cardinal McCarrick “orchestrated” the selection of bishops blinded by a gay ideology that he blames for the sex abuse crisis.

Yet Archbishop Viganò has been accused of covering up misconduct as well. According to documents disclosed as part of a criminal investigation into the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese, he ordered bishops in April 2014 to quash an investigation into accusations that Archbishop John Nienstedt engaged in sexual misconduct with adult men and adult seminarians.

Archbishop Viganò, anticipating the criticism, gave Mr. Tosatti a statement denying those reports.

After angering Francis during the Kim Davis episode, Archbishop Viganò was called back to Rome to explain himself. In a sign of his desire to move back permanently, he refused to give up his Vatican apartment. Reports in the Italian media this week asserted that after removing Archbishop Viganò from his position, Pope Francis also kicked him out of his Vatican apartment.

But Archbishop Viganò returned from his Milan home often enough, joining forces with traditionalists antagonistic to Pope Francis.

And he returned this summer to get working on the letter.

About a month ago, Mr. Tosatti said he received a call from the archbishop asking if he could meet with him in a discreet place. Archbishop Viganò told the reporter his story, but said he wasn’t ready to go on the record.

But when news of decades of widespread clerical abuse in Pennsylvania broke, Mr. Tosatti urged the archbishop to tell his story. On Aug. 22, he returned, this time with a written statement.

Mr. Tosatti said that he saw no documents or other evidence, and after three hours, they finished.

The archbishop asked Mr. Tosatti if he knew anyone who could publish it in English and Spanish. Mr. Tosatti sent the letter to the National Catholic Register, which is owned by a company that runs several conservative Catholic platforms often critical of Francis.

“They are all tied,” said Mr. Tosatti, who said that he alone helped draft and distribute the letter.

Its publication was delayed, not so that it would blow up Francis’ trip to Ireland over the weekend amid the sexual abuse crisis, he said, but so that it could be translated.

After they were done writing it, Mr. Tosatti said he accompanied Archbishop Viganò to the door and bowed to kiss his ring, only to see the hand pull back.
Mr. Tosatti explained that it wasn’t a personal respect he wanted to show, but respect for his office and authority.

“It’s not for you,” Mr. Tosatti recalled telling him as tears welled in the archbishop’s eyes. “It’s for the role you have.”

The archbishop told him, “Now that I have finished, I can leave, and leave Rome too,” according to Mr. Tosatti.

“Where will you go?” Mr. Tosatti recalled asking.

“I will not tell you so that when they ask you, you will not have to lie — and I will shut off my phone,” the archbishop said, according to the reporter, who said that both men suspected the Vatican of tapping their phones.


American Jesuit priest Fr. Thomas Reese writes that Pope Francis needs to offer a more complete response to Vigano’s “Testimony.”

Doubts about Viganò’s accusations aside, Pope Francis needs a better response

Religion News Service (link)

August 28, 2018

By Father ThomasReese, SJ

(RNS) — It is hard to know what to think of the bombshell dropped by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who released a scalding letter on Sunday (Aug. 26) calling on Pope Francis to resign.

Viganò, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, claims in the letter that Pope Francis knew that recently resigned Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused seminarians when he was a bishop in New Jersey but nonetheless didn’t punish the cardinal.

The 7,000-word document also accuses about a dozen Vatican cardinals who served in the papacies of John Paul, Benedict and Francis of being part of the coverup.

It might be easy to write Viganò off as a disgruntled employee. He was denied the job he sought under Pope Benedict XVI — president of the governorate of the Vatican City State — and was sent to the United States as papal nuncio, or representative to the U.S. government and the American church. In a 2012 memo to Pope Benedict, which was leaked to the media, Viganò complained that he was being exiled because he had made enemies trying to reform Vatican finances.

Nuncio to the United States is no minor job, but the head of the Vatican government normally becomes a cardinal.

Viganò became even more unhappy with his job as nuncio after the election of Pope Francis, who ignored his recommendations in the appointment of bishops. And although most nuncios to the U.S. later become cardinals, it became clear that he was never going to get a red hat.

It is worth noting that many of the people Viganò accuses are the same people with whom he had conflicts in the Vatican.

Nor is this the first time Viganò has criticized the pope. He joined Cardinal Raymond Burke and others in criticizing the pope’s document on the family, “Amoris Laetitia,” because they thought it diverged from orthodoxy.

Disgruntled employee? Yes. But many whistleblowers are disgruntled employees.

What is more damning are questions about Viganò’s own record regarding the American sex abuse scandal. During legal proceedings against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, a 2014 letter from Viganò was uncovered in which he told an auxiliary bishop to limit an investigation against the local archbishop and to destroy evidence.

Viganò was certainly not known for transparency and accountability while he was nuncio from 2011 to 2016, but now he presents himself as a born-again defender of the abused.

In the letter, Viganò goes after many former and current officials in the Vatican, including the three most recent secretaries of state: cardinals Angelo Sodano, Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolin. Other Vatican cardinals he alleges knew about McCarrick’s abuse include William Levada, Giovanni Battista Re, Marc Ouellet, Leonardo Sandri, Fernando Filoni, Angelo Becciu, Giovanni Lajolo and Dominique Mamberti.

Given how the crimes of Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legionairies of Christ, were ignored during the papacy of Pope John Paul II, some of what Viganò says sounds possible.

But no evidence is presented.

Interestingly, John Paul escapes Viganò’s criticism. Viganò implies that McCarrick’s appointment to Washington and as a cardinal was the work of Sodano “when John Paul II was already very ill.” Yet McCarrick was appointed archbishop of Washington in 2000, five years before John Paul died. Was John Paul a puppet during his last five years in office? And if McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians was so widely known in John Paul’s curia, it is hard to believe that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger did not know. Did he tell John Paul?

Viganò claims that Re told him that, sometime between 2009 and 2010, Pope Benedict told McCarrick to stop living at a seminary, saying Mass in public, traveling and lecturing.

But there is no evidence to support the claim that McCarrick was sanctioned by Pope Benedict. McCarrick continued to celebrate Mass, travel and lecture throughout the papacy of Benedict. And on his many visits to Rome, he stayed at the North American College, the residence for U.S. seminarians.

Anyone who thinks Benedict would tolerate such disobedience doesn’t know Benedict.

Viganò claims that he told Pope Francis on June 23, 2013: “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.” Since Pope Francis allegedly did not listen to him then, Viganò thinks he should resign.

Viganò released his letter as Pope Francis was wrapping up his visit to Ireland. Journalists asked the pope about it during the press conference on the plane headed back to Rome.

“I will not say one word on this,” the pope said, according to a New York Times video. “I think this statement speaks for itself, and you have sufficient journalistic capacity to reach your own conclusions.”

“When time will pass and you’ll draw the conclusions, maybe I will speak,” said Francis. “But I’d like that you do this job in a professional way.”

Of course, many headlines read: “Pope refuses to respond to accusations of coverup.”

The pope was correct to encourage journalists to examine the Viganò document to see what is true and what is not. The press conference was not the place to do a line-by-line critique of the document. Many reporters have in fact examined the document and found its claims wanting.

But what about Viganò’s claim that he told the pope about McCarrick?

Since the pope is the only other witness to this encounter, only he can verify or deny what Viganò said, and refusing to answer that question does not enhance his credibility. The pope’s media advisers should have told him so immediately after the press conference and responded to the reporters with a clarification before they filed their stories.

The answer could have been, “No, he did not say that to the pope.” Or, it could have been: “Yes, he did say that to the pope, but there is no record of the alleged sanctions by Benedict. The pope disregarded the accusations because Viganò had a history of unsubstantiated accusations. And remember, it was Francis who told McCarrick to spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance and took away his red hat.”

Reporters, like most people, like the pope, but they also have a job to do. The Vatican should not make it difficult.

Just as every diocese in the United States needs to do a full and transparent account of clerical sex abuse and each diocese’s response, so too the Vatican must disclose what it knew, when it knew and what it did or did not do.

Nothing less will begin the restoration of credibility to the Catholic Church.

(The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily represent those of Religion News Service.)


(3) Legal Consequences: The Sovereignty of the Holy See in light of this case


by David Nussman • • August 29, 2018

Pennsylvania AG says feds considering national investigation in wake of explosive state grand jury report

WASHINGTON ( – Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro suggested that there could be a federal investigation of the Catholic Church for covering up clerical sex abuse.

Shapiro oversaw the production of the recent bombshell report from the Pennsylvania grand jury, which listed accusations against 301 Catholic clergy of sexually abusing an estimated 1,000 children across six dioceses.

The New York Times published an interview with Shapiro on Monday. The interviewer leaned in on Shapiro about the possibility of a federal investigation of Catholic leaders’ cover-up of sexually abusive priests.

Shapiro said, “I have spoken to a representative of the Department of Justice. Beyond that, I do not think it would be prudent for me to comment.”

Questioned further, Shapiro confirmed that the Justice Department’s representative came to him after the release of the grand jury report and that their conversation was “related to the release of our report.”

Church Militant was able to independently confirm that the Department of Justice is taking great interest in the possibility of a nationwide investigation into allegations of Catholic clerical sex abuse.

In the aftermath of the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, there was talk about the possibility of prosecuting the Catholic Church under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).

RICO is a federal law created in 1970 to combat organized crime. It enables prosecutors to go after a criminal organization in and of itself, rather than targeting the specific crimes of individuals connected to it.

Some say the Church leaders who covered up abusive priests were acting like Mafia bosses, but others pointed out that it would be hard to prosecute the Catholic hierarchy under RICO because of specific details in how the law is written. For instance, sex abuse is not listed among the offenses that an organization must be connected with to be prosecuted under RICO.

In the same interview, Shapiro said he had spoken with other states’ attorneys general about the grand jury report, and some of them were interested in doing something similar in their own states: “I have heard from several attorneys general of both parties, from really across the country, trying to understand how we conducted our investigation, asking in some cases general — and in some cases very specific — questions about either the broad structure of an investigation, or a specific priest who might now be within their state.”

Already, there are signs that attorneys general in states like New York, Illinois and Nebraska may be launching their own investigations into allegations of Catholic clerical sexual abuse and coverups by Church officials.

In New York, a spokesperson for Attorney General Barbara Underwood said that Underwood “has directed her Criminal Division leadership to reach out to local District Attorneys — the only entities that currently have the power to convene a grand jury to investigate these matters — in order to establish a potential partnership on this issue.”

In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan said her office was launching an investigation into the archdiocese of Chicago — which is headed by Cdl. Blase Cupich, whom Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò’s groundbreaking testimony mentioned by name. Madigan explained that several priests mentioned in the Pennsylvania report as alleged sex abusers were shipped off to Chicago when the allegations came forward.

In Nebraska, several alleged male victims of Catholic clerical sex abuse came forward to local media, saying they were interviewed recently by the state attorney general’s office. The attorney general could neither confirm nor deny these claims, according to policy.


The following article is an introduction to some of the issues involved in the sovereignty of the Holy See. It was written more than eight years ago, but is still a good point of departure for thinking about this question.

Rethinking the Holy See’s Sovereign Immunity (link)

By Taylor McGowan

26 Feb 2010

Starting Point: O’Bryan v. The Holy See

Soon, the Holy See will be haled back into the U.S. District Court in Louisville, Kentucky to address allegations of negligence concerning the sex abuse scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church.

The 6th Circuit, which remanded the case in November of 2008, held that litigation against the Holy See could proceed so long as it was predicated on an exception to sovereign immunity outlined in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

While American courts have thus far accepted the Holy See’s claim to sovereign immunity, the organization’s ecclesial character and position within the hierarchy of the Church should preclude it from such legal protection.

What is the Holy See?

Although the two are often conflated, the Vatican and Holy See are actually different entities.

The former is a city-state in Rome, while the latter is the preeminent episcopal body of authority within the Catholic Church.

Therefore, when the United States established diplomatic relations with the Holy See in 1984, it recognized a religious organization rather than a state, despite the absence of any typically recognized requirements for statehood.

The international community has treated the Holy See as a sui generis entity (meaning “of its own kind” or independent from any larger body), and the United States in particular has continually recognized the organization’s status as a foreign sovereign and its right to invoke legal immunity under the FSIA.

Why Sovereign Immunity Makes a Difference

The Holy See’s access to sovereign immunity may be a moot point given that it can be held liable under the FSIA for the tortious conduct its agents commit on U.S. soil.

However, even with this exception, the Holy See’s status as a foreign sovereign allows it to proffer defenses are likely to exonerate the top of the Church’s hierarchy from liability.

Specifically, counsel for the Church will argue that the pope has immunity as head of state and that the negligent American bishops were not employees of the Holy See.

Considering the near inviolability of head-of-state immunity, as well as the ability of the administration in Rome to distance itself from the rest of the magisterium (since they can point to the autonomy of bishops in managing their respective dioceses), the Holy See will probably escape litigation unscathed, despite growing evidence of its complicity in the sex-abuse scandal.

It thus follows that only after stripping the Holy See of its sovereign immunity can these victims hope to hold Church leaders responsible for turning a blind eye to conduct that they could have stopped.

If the U.S. Recognizes the Holy See, Why Debate Its Right to Sovereign Immunity?

Based on principles of sovereign autonomy and equality, sovereign immunity doctrine developed as a way to protect states from the legal intervention of another nation’s courts.

Until recently, these protections were absolute, but developments over the past century have led international law towards a more restrictive construction of sovereign immunity that maintains legal protection for a state’s official public functions but not for its private acts.

This distinction, between public and private acts, is reflected in the exceptions to sovereign immunity contained the FSIA, which emphasizes that sovereign immunity is designed to protect the type of governmental functions that the Holy See does not exercise.

Outside of conducting diplomatic relations, the Holy See’s official public activity is limited to ecclesial matters.

Although Vatican City serves as the sovereign territory of the Holy See and the pope serves as its head-of-state, governance of the city-state is handled by the Pontifical Commission for the Vatican City State and its Cardinal President.

The Roman Curia and the pope focus solely on managing the Catholic Church and ruling over spiritual matters, rather than exercising any temporal power or performing any duties traditionally carried out by foreign sovereigns.

While the Holy See concedes that it is a purely religious body, it nonetheless maintains that its extensive history of diplomatic relations as a member of the international community validate its status as a foreign sovereign.

However, given the current understanding of sovereign immunity in international law, the organization’s contention that its oversight of the Catholic Church should be afforded similar legal protections is extremely tenuous.

What Would Be the Effect of Eliminating the Holy See’s Sovereign Immunity?

Without sovereign immunity, the Holy See would simply be regarded as the head of an international religious organization, and its liability for the sex abuse scandal would be assessed accordingly.

Counsel for the Church, in arguing against this proposition, asserts that exposing the Holy See, a recognized foreign sovereign, to litigation for the negligence of American bishops sets an unwelcome precedent in international law.

Specifically, they contend that opening the Church’s administration to discovery could empower foreign courts to similarly allow discovery proceedings against senior U.S. officials, including the president.

Following this reasoning, the elimination of the Holy See’s sovereign immunity would be untenable as it could set the stage for an even greater erosion of the legal protections afforded to foreign sovereigns, or worse, the complete breakdown of sovereign immunity itself.

Such concerns, however, are overstated.

The Holy See is recognized as a sui generis entity; therefore, eliminating their sovereign immunity is unlikely to have any precedential effect on the analogous protections enjoyed by actual states. Instead, the only significant effect of eliminating the Holy See’s sovereign immunity would be that Church leaders would have to face their accusers without being able to hide behind international law.

Concluding Statements

Given the disconnect between the jurisprudence underlying sovereign immunity and the Holy See’s ecclesial functions, the organization’s status as a foreign sovereign is nothing more than, in the words of Thurman Arnold, a myth.

Hopefully, upcoming court decisions will refine these debates in order to bypass the Church’s unjust deniability (a similar finding in the 9th Circuit has been appealed to the Supreme Court, however the Court is awaiting input from the Solicitor General before it decides whether to grant certiorari).

While questions about the Holy See’s sovereign immunity have so far dominated discussion, the real concern should be seeking justice for those who were harmed by the Church’s silence.

— TaylorMcGowan – 17 Apr 2010


Note to Readers

P.S. If you have any interest in joining one of our upcoming pilgrimages, we have information packets on pilgrimages later this year, and in 2019 and 2020. The pilgrimages visit:

(1) Rome and Vatican City — including inside Vatican City

(2) The Italy of St. Benedict, St. Francis, St. Clare, St. Rita of Cascia, St. Catherine of Siena, and other saints

(3) England in the Footsteps of St. Thomas More, St. John Fisher and Blessed John Henry Newman

(4) Germany in the Footsteps of Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI

(5) Russia: In Search of the Spiritual Renewal of Post-Soviet Russia

(6) Ireland: In Search of the Emerald Isle’s Past, and Future

(Write to us by return email, or via this email. Please note any particular interest; please include your phone number if you would like us to call you to discuss various pilgrimage packages.)

Facebook Comments