Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Letter from a reader

Dr. Moynihan,

Please continue to keep us updated. I appreciate your letters and read every single word. They’re extremely informative and after all of the cover ups and open secrets, we need as much information as possible


As a Catholic mother of three young children, I’m irate and disgusted by all of this madness. “It’s time to drain the swamp,” can be appropriately applied to our situation in the Church.


Please continue to publish your letters and keep us all informed. We need you, for such a time as this, especially because without reporters like you who are exposing the darkness, I wouldn’t be able to remain in the Catholic Church. As it is, I’m hanging on by a thread. The brother of a close friend was molested by a priest in Tucson, Arizona.


Again, because I know good Catholics like you are willing to fight for Christ’s Church, I’m hanging in there, but it’s not easy.

Many blessings for all that you are doing and please don’t let Satan try and dissuade you from any of it because he will. He hates that the truth is coming to light.

Christ be with you,


Day #12

Today is the 12th day since the publication of Archbishop Vigano’s “Testimony”

Some believe the turmoil and outrage of the first days after the release of Archbishop Vignao’s “Testimony” is now dying down.

They argue that Francis has made the right decision, not “dignifying” Vigano’s many allegations with a response.

And they affirm that it is becoming clearer that this entire uproar is a “maneuver” with “political” motivations, that it is an attempt to undermine Francis, not because of any egregious oversight on his part, but because Vigano, and others, oppose his willingness to embrace sinners, forgive them, and invite them fully back into the community of the Church.

Others, on the contrary, believe that the turmoil and outrage has not died down, and will not die down.

They deny that Francis has made the right decision by remaining silent about the allegations, and argue that the allegations are serious and need a response, the sooner the better.

They tend to reject the thesis that Vigano made his charges for personal reasons, and to agree with Vigano’s central argument — that there have been too many “cover-ups” for too long, and that something must be done “yesterday” (that is, immediately, with no further delay).

They argue that what is at stake is not a Christ-like embrace of sinners who seek forgiveness, which is seen as essential to the Christian faith, but rather the embrace of a change in Church doctrine which would define away the sin — something seen as an apostasy from the full truth of Jesus’ message.

And they say that far from being over, the case is about to explode to a new level of seriousness, with “explosive” dossiers about to be released.

So is the clamor dying down?

Or is it all about to explode again, and still more devastatingly?

We will see.

Having sketched above, in perhaps too simplistic terms, the two main attitutdes toward the “Vigano Testimony” on Day #12, it does seem clear that the case has “parted the veil” to reveal a profound struggle within the Catholic Church between factions in the Vatican and Church hierarchy, and outside of the Church, for “control of the narrative” about what the Church is and what she believes.

Victory in this larger battle requires victory in the smaller battle: control of how all these charges and counter-charges play out.

It is clear that the battle ranges across a spectrum of issues and positions that sometimes seem very confused. But two main “poles” on the spectrum may perhaps be discerned:

(1) Pole #1: the case involves matters central to the faith (doctrine, the salvation of souls, and apostasy from that doctrine, from the faith)

(2) Pole #2: the case involves matters not central to the faith, but still of very great importance to and in “the world.”

Regarding Pole #1, doctrinal matters, the perennial faith must be defended, as always.

Regarding Pole #2, prudential matters, though the very faith itself is not in question, the freedom of the Church still needs to be defended, that “libertas ecclesiae” without which the doctrines themselves can be brought under enormous pressure from external forces.

This “Pole #2” makes the “Vigano Case,” depending how it is handled, a case that could lead to “non-Church entitities” — i.e., governments — acquiring greater influence over the Church.

This in turn could result in Church leaders feeling greater and greater pressure to agree to support certain political, social, and cultural positions.

Or, to put it another way, depending how this all plays out, the danger exists of a “neutralization” of the Church’s moral teaching precisely at a moment in history when that teaching is — as always — badly needed.

As so often in history, individuals and their personal histories, individual sins and individual acts of courage and self-sacrifice, play their important roles, while other individuals are characters who have only a brief “walk-on” in the ebb-and-flow of events. These characters include:

— former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick

— Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano

— Cardinal Donald Wuerl

— Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica

— Cardinal Angelo Sodano (he knows many things, but is silent)

— Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re (he also knows the truth about many things, but no one seems to be able to speak with him)

— Cardinals Joachim Meisner and Carlo Caffara (now deceased) and Walter Brandmueller and Raymond Burke

— Pope Benedict XVI

— Pope Francis

But beyond these and other individuals, whatever their strengths and weaknesses — and all of these men and women have both laudable virtues and lamentable weaknesses — there is another level of historical action that transcends the individuals, and that level is Holy Scripture and the Gospel itself. The deposit of the faith.

The chief task, the essential task, of the Holy See, that is, of the Pope, the Successor of Peter and of all who work with him and for him — one might only say the only task — is to protect what been handed down as “of the faith” (“de fide“)… to protect it and to hand it down in its integrity, in its truth, to those who come after us.


In what follows, I offer several pieces easily found on the internet.

I bring them together here so that you may be aware of facts and opinions that are circulating around the world.

I share these articles because I feel that the arguments made and the information asserted should be part of a full assessment of the current, still very confusing, unfolding case.

(1) Here is a report from an Italian source, Dr. Roberto de Mattei, a quite conservative voice in Italian Catholic circles. He unquestionably has a number of “sources” inside the Vatican, whose names he does not reveal. He alleges that the Vatican may be about to issue some sort of sanction, or reprimand, against Archbishop Vigano. The sanction might suspend Vigano’s priestly faculties, he says.—Robert Moynihan

De Mattei: Archbishop Viganò — punished for telling the truth? (link)

By Roberto de Mattei

Corrispondenza Romana

September 5, 2018

Will Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who brought to light the existence of corruption in the Vatican, singling out those guilty, beginning with the highest ecclesiastical authorities, be punished for telling the truth?

Pope Francis is examining this possibility — if it is true, as several sources confirm — that he has consulted Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero, and some other canon-lawyer, to study the possibility of canonical sanctions to inflict on the Archbishop, commencing with sospensione a divinis.

If this news is confirmed it would be of extreme gravity, and somewhat surreal, seeing as the “expert” summoned to sanction Monsignor Viganò would be precisely Cardinal Coccopalmiero, who is being accused by the former-Nuncio of the United States, of being part of the “homosexual lobby” lording over the Vatican.


But then, here is the contradiction: the laws of the Church are being invoked to strike, not immoral clergy, but the one who is denouncing the immorality of the clergy — Monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò, who in his Testimony did nothing other than follow the lines of the Church reformers, from St. Peter Damian to St. Bernardino of Siena, the great scourgers of sodomy.

What is the reason for the canonical punishment that would be applied to the courageous Archbishop?

Pope Francis might respond, as in the fable of Phaedrus: I am not required to give reasons, I punish Quia nominor leo, because I’m the strongest.

But when authority is not exercised in the service of truth, it becomes abuse of power and the victim of the abuse of power acquires a force that nobody can take away from them: the force of the Truth.

In this tragic time for the Church, the first thing that, not only Catholics, but the public opinion of the entire world are asking the men of the Church is “to live without falsehood” to use a famous expression by Solzhenitsyn.

The time for social dictatorships is over — the truth is destined to impose itself.

Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana


(2) An editorial in Commonweal, an American Catholic weekly which has been very supportive of Francis since his election, judges that a call for Fran is to resign is “plainly not justified.” But the editorial concludes with these powerful words: “the faithful deserve answers.” —Robert Moynihan

Viganò’s ‘Testimony’ (link)

By The Editors

September 4, 2018


The summer of 2018 has been a long and trying one for the Catholic faithful.

It began with allegations that former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was guilty of sexual misconduct with seminarians and of sexual abuse of at least one minor.

Then came the Pennsylvania grand-jury report detailing seventy years of sexual abuse in six dioceses and cover-up by bishops.

Capping things off was the release of an eleven-page “testimony” from Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former nuncio to the United States, leveling sweeping charges against U.S. and Vatican church officials, including Pope Francis, for mishandling the claims against McCarrick.

At the end of the letter, Viganò calls on Francis “to set a good example” and resign.

Viganò’s letter is a subjective account of recent church history full of unverifiable claims; its petty and self-righteous tone is that of someone out to settle personal scores.

He points to the supposedly malign influence of the Jesuits, from Robert Drinan to James Martin.

He rages against “homosexual currents” in the church.

Perhaps more persuasively, he provides a detailed account of his and others’ attempts to inform John Paul II and Benedict XVI about McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians and young priests.

But the most explosive claims are that Benedict had “sanctioned” McCarrick, barring him from public ministry—and that Francis, who supposedly knew of McCarrick’s misconduct, lifted those sanctions and turned to him for advice on the appointment of several U.S. bishops and cardinals.

Within days of the letter’s release, these last accusations began to fall apart.

Viganò contended that Benedict had imposed “canonical sanctions” on McCarrick preventing him from celebrating Mass in public, traveling, or participating in public meetings.

But journalists uncovered ample evidence that from 2009 or 2010, when Viganò claims such sanctions were imposed (he cannot remember the exact year), until Benedict’s resignation in 2013, McCarrick continued to do all these things and more, maintaining a robust public profile that included television appearances, trips to an array of countries, and participation in ordinations.

He was photographed being greeted warmly by Benedict at the Vatican.

At a 2012 gala dinner honoring McCarrick, Viganò himself lauded the former cardinal as being “loved by us all.”

Francis should do more than respond to those who “seek scandal” with “silence,” as he put it in a recent homily.

Now even Viganò’s allies have cast doubt on his account of these “sanctions.”

Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register reported that a source close to Benedict told him that “the instruction was essentially that McCarrick should keep a ‘low profile.’ There was ‘no formal decree, just a private request.’”

In other words, there seem to have been no “sanctions” for Francis to lift.

The only decisive actions taken against McCarrick by a pope have been those of Francis, who in July stripped him of his red hat and ordered him to a life of prayer and penance.

As for Viganò’s claim that McCarrick influenced Francis’s episcopal appointments, you don’t need a conspiracy theory to explain why Francis would name bishops and cardinals friendly to his own agenda, as opposed to Viganò’s.

Calls for Francis to resign on such paltry evidence are plainly not justified.

Viganò’s claims should also be read in light of the fact that Pope Francis fired him as nuncio in 2016.

As more has been uncovered about Viganò’s judgment and associations—not least his alleged role, which he denies, in ending an investigation into sexual misconduct by former St.Paul-Minneapolis archbishop John Nienstedt—doubts have only grown about his intentions.

By sharing the letter with right-wing donor Timothy R. Busch of the Napa Institute before it was published, and breaking his silence to grant interviews to conservative Catholic publications, Viganò gives the appearance of orchestrating a vindictive campaign against Francis, not of honestly trying to instigate reform.

But Francis should do more than respond to those who “seek scandal” with “silence,” as he put it in a recent homily.

When he was first asked about Viganò’s charges during an in-flight press conference on his way back to the Vatican from Ireland, he replied, “I will not say a single word on this.”

And he hasn’t.

That is unwise.

However dubious or questionable Viganò’s charges, Francis should respond to them directly, especially given that a number of the claims refer to private conversations between the two men.

If Francis did not know about Benedict’s request that McCarrick should keep a low profile, he should say so.

If he is afraid of implicating his two predecessors, who promoted McCarrick and allowed him to continue in public ministry, he shouldn’t be.

The truth is more important.

As the church once again reckons with its leaders’ failures to confront and punish abusers, the faithful deserve answers.


(3) This little essay, written by a non-Catholic woman who was herself a victim of sexual abuse in her own family, calls on all involved in this case — including all of us who are reading and talking about it — to avoid “hysteria.” Her position seems defensible — hysteria is not the solution.—Robert Moynihan

Enough already! (link)

Some people are stoking the hysteria over clerical abuse for their own ends

Celia Wolf-Devine | Sep 5 2018 |

Pedophilia and other forms of sexual abuse are terrible things.

But the intensifying hysteria surrounding clerical sexual abuse needs to be brought under control.

This sort of thing tends toward an epidemic of witch hunting in which the innocent are often swept away with the guilty.

Even Pope Francis was taken in by false accusations against a Spanish priest, Father Ramon Martinez, in 2014. He acted forcibly against him, only to discover later that the charges were lies.

People in the grip of hysteria can be manipulated to believe every lurid thing they hear and to grasp at “solutions” proposed that do not solve the problem, and often exacerbate the situation.

Now that a culture of accusation outside the Church has made it easier to bring charges, there have been a number of false charges of rape and racial harassment.

Some people, sad to say, are stoking the fires in order to advance their own agendas.

Those who hate religion or the Church, of course, do so in order to destroy it.

Some people who are hostile to Pope Francis want to use it to unseat him.

Conservatives, disturbed by Francis’s more left-leaning political and economic views are likely to throw in their lot with the accusers.


When something involves sex, people tend to get unglued. Lots of people have a heavy load to carry due to parental alcoholism, suicide, emotional, physical, and psychological abuse, and experiences of domestic violence. We suffer from all sorts of wounds, or at least my friends and I do.

I have one friend whose mother committed suicide and tried to kill both her daughters with her. My friend’s sister died, while she survived.

Imagine carrying that all your life.

Compared to things like that, bad sexual experiences pale. Given a choice of being inappropriately groped or finding one’s mother’s dead body after she killed herself I’d go for being groped in a flash.

My abuse was intra-familial.

I was not raised a Catholic. I suppose being brought up to think priests are all totally holy and like God would make bad experiences with them especially traumatic.

Victims need to turn directly to God for healing. He will bring into their lives the right people to help them. Lots of people unrelated to you wringing their hands over your victimization could just lock you into a victim identity. You have to throw things over your shoulder and move forward.


My fear is that all sorts of people are stoking and manipulating the hysteria over clerical abuse for their own ends, without thinking of the damage they are doing to the faithful who love the Church. We need to turn down the heat.

This does not mean denying the evils but just not letting them make us become unglued. We live in a fallen world. God holds all things in His hands.

Celia Wolf-Devine is a retired philosophy professor. See also her blog Progressive, Pro-Woman, Pro-life.


(4) This report, from the conservative Cathoic website OnePeterFive, reports, based on previous Italain article, the possible imminent release in Rome of a new “dossier” containing material from the Vatican file of another Vatican cardinal. Who would release such a dossier is not made clear. This report is not verified. —Robert Moynihan

A “New Bomb”in the Vatican? Italian Daily Teases CDF Dossier on Cardinal Kevin Farrell (link)

By Steve Skojec

The Italian traditionalist blog Messa in Latino (Mass in Latin) has reported that its own “internal sources” at the Vatican have confirmed a report by the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano on September 4, indicating that there is a possibly soon to be revealed dossier on the American cardinal Kevin Farrell.

Farrell, picked by Pope Francis as the prefect for the new Dicastery for Laity, Family, and Life, is the highest ranking prelate from the United States [Editorial note: in the Vatican; however, Farrell is from Ireland, so he is not “from the United States” although he served in Washington as an auxiliary bishop, then as the Archbishop of Dallas, Texas.].

He is also a former Legionary of Christ – under the tenure of their founder, the monstrous abuser Fr. Marcial Maciel – and also one of those closest to the disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Farrell served as McCarrick’s vicar general and auxiliary in Washington, D.C., living in the same residence with McCarrick until his retirement in 2006.

Farrell claimed, at the time revelations of McCarrick’s abuse began to be made public earlier this year, that he had no knowledge of McCarrick’s abusive activities.

“Never once did I even suspect” McCarrick, said Farrell to the Associated Press (AP) in July 2018.

In another, earlier interview, he told Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service (CNS), “I was a priest of Washington, D.C. I worked in the chancery, in Washington. And never. No indication. None whatsoever.”

The video of that CNS interview came immediately under scrutiny because Farrell’s facial expressions betrayed none of the emotions – such as shock – that he claimed to be feeling over the revelations.

Claims of new information from Francesca Fagnani of Il Fatto Quotidiano may bring light to Farrell’s involvement in what has rapidly become the most high-profile abuse case in the Catholic Church.

The Italian report, translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino for OnePeterFive, says there is a “violent and unprecedented civil war” in the Church that now involves even the pope.

Following Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s bombshell testimony about cover-ups of the abuse of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick that included Pope Francis, Fagnani says that “soon another bomb could break out.”

“According to reliable sources close to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” says Fagnani, “there may be a similar dossier on Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell.”

“Farrell was specifically nominated as Auxiliary Bishop of Washington,” writes Fagnani, “because Cardinal Theodore McCarrick wanted him as his assistant, and these two men became part of Pope Francis’ ‘magic circle.’ Farrell and McCarrick also lived together for years, sharing the same apartment. How could Farrell possibly not know all about McCarrick’s sexual behaviors?”

Fagnani then asks the obvious question without providing a specific answer:

What is contained in this new dossier on Farrell?

The Pope and the Secretariat of State know about every single new thread of every investigation that is opened by the Tribunal of the CDF, so how could they possibly not know about this?

Did Farrell’s nomination to such a high post precede or follow the opening of this investigation?

The historian Roberto de Mattei, among the most knowledgeable of Vatican experts, known for his traditionalist positions, adds this little comment: “The link between the two prelates [McCarrick and Farrell] was known but never clarified. There may be something else behind the silence of Pope Francis and Cardinal Parolin.”

And what exactly might that “something” be?

Roberto de Mattei: “I know Vigano personally. He is an honest and prudent man. I am certain that everything he says is true. He probably knows more. We know that the famous ‘report of the three cardinals’ [from Herranz, Tomko, and Di Giorgi in 2012] exists on the moral and other corruption within the Roman Curia, which was given to Ratzinger prior to his resignation. This report has been seen by Francis and a select number of others. What would happen if it were published?”

This report of the three cardinals, said to comprise 300 pages, was delivered to Pope Benedict XVI in December 2012 and kept under pontifical secret. It was this document that some believe influenced the former pope to abdicate his position. According to a report published at Rorate Caeli in February 2013:

For the largest Italian daily La Repubblica, the key part of the “300-page” cardinalatial report (“relatio”) on the Vatican leaks (“in two red hardbound tomes”) … was the identification of a hugely powerful and highly influential “homosexual underground” in the Curia and in the universal Church.

This same report was mentioned by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in a follow-up interview last week after the release of his his testimony:

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano: “I spoke because now more than ever, corruption has spread to the highest levels of the hierarchy of the Church. I ask the journalists: why are they not asking what happened to the cache of documents that, as we all saw, were delivered at Castel Gandolfo to Pope Francis from Pope Benedict? Was that all useless? It would have been enough to read my report and the transcript that was made of my deposition before the three cardinals charged with the investigation of the Vatileaks case (Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi) in order to begin some cleaning up in the Curia.”

If indeed a dossier similar to that of McCarrick exists on Cardinal Farrell, another of the pope’s handpicked men, it will truly be explosive.

Even more stunning would be the revelation of this long buried report uncovering the working of the so-called “Lavender Mafia” within the Church.


(5) This piece by American writer Rod Dreher, a former Catholic who converted to Orthodoxy after covering the sexual abuse scandal which exploded in 2001-2002, examines a piece of recent evidence which may help to pinpoint “who in the Vatican knew what about McCarrick when” — a matter of some importance in light of the Vigano “Testimony.”—Robert Moynihan

One More Piece Of The McCarrick Puzzle (link)

By ROD DREHER • September 5, 2018, 9:08 AM

An eagle-eyed reader [Dreher received a communication from a reader, and this piece is the result] observes that retired Bishop Paul Bootkoski of Metuchen [New Jersey, USA, where McCarrick was a bishop decades ago] said on August 28 that he reported on McCarrick to the Apostolic Nuncio in 2005.

Bootkoski released this to rebut Archbishop Vigano’s allegation that he covered up for McCarrick, who was a predecessor in Metuchen, and for whom he was once personal secretary.


The reader says:

So Bootkoski says he notified Montalvo in a letter dated Dec. 6, 2005.

On December 17, 2005 Montalvo retired as nuncio.

On Dec. 17 [Archbishop Pietro] Sambi was appointed, arriving on Feb. 24, 2006 (

On May 16, 2006, Wuerl was appointed Archbishop of Washington, DC to replace the retiring McCarrick and was installed as archbishop on Jun 22.

McCarrick takes up residence at a seminary.

So Wuerl tells us that no one told him about McCarrick. Yet we know now that Bootkoski told Montalvo. This means we must believe that Montalvo never told Rome, that Rome never told Sambi, and/or that Sambi never told Wuerl.

Further, Wuerl tells us that as a cardinal, McCarrick’s living arrangements were not his concern–meaning they were Rome’s. Again, we must believe that in approving these well-known arrangements that Montalvo had not told Rome or that Rome did nothing.

[Here below Dreher gives his conclusions about what this Bootkowski statement, when added to Vigano’s clam that word came to Rome already in 2000, means about when McCarrick’s activities were known in Rome, and when they likely were known by Cardinal Wuerl.]

Vigano’s testimony claims that Montalvo told Rome back in 2000, and that he, Vigano, working in the Secretary of State’s office in 2006, wrote a memo for his superiors warning them that McCarrick’s corruption was going to be a big problem, and urging them to act. Vigano indicates his belief that the information in his memo never made it to Pope Benedict XVI.

In any case, with the Bootkoski statement, it becomes even harder to believe Cardinal Wuerl’s claim that he was not told by anyone about McCarrick’s abusive past.

Strictly speaking, it is possible that Sambi kept Wuerl in the dark, and no other US bishop ever mentioned to the cardinal archbishop of Washington that there were two sex abuse legal settlements made with accusers of his predecessor. But how likely is it?


(end Rod Dreher piece)

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