On October 7, 2018, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, had responded in an open letter to the accusations brought by Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, former Nuncio to the United States, about the cover-up, extending to the highest levels in Rome, that benefited Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former Archbishop of Washington, and other clerics being prosecuted for the sexual abuse of minors, so that their scandalous behavior would not be revealed.
Viganò Stands Firm:
On October 19, Abp. Viganò responded to Cardinal Ouellet, upholding his accusations and pointing out the “scourge” at the origin of these scandals. In a preamble, he is anxious to recall the reasons that prompted him to bear this terrible witness:
For it is the conspiracy of silence that has wrought and continues to wreak great harm in the Church—harm to so many innocent souls, to young priestly vocations, to the faithful at large. With regard to my decision, which I have taken in conscience before God, I willingly accept every fraternal correction, advice, recommendation, and invitation to progress in my life of faith and love for Christ, the Church and the Pope.
Then the former Nuncio replies to the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.
In brief, Cardinal Ouellet concedes the important claims that I did and do make, and disputes claims I don’t make and never made. There is one point on which I must absolutely refute what Cardinal Ouellet wrote. The Cardinal states that the Holy See was only aware of ‘rumors’, which were not enough to justify disciplinary measures against McCarrick. I affirm to the contrary that the Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts, and is in possession of documentary proof, and that the responsible persons nevertheless chose not to intervene or were prevented from doing so. Compensation by the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen to the victims of McCarrick’s sexual abuse, the letters of Fr. Ramsey, of the nuncios Montalvo in 2000 and Sambi in 2006, of Dr. Sipe in 2008, my two notes to the superiors of the Secretariat of State describing in detail the concrete allegations against McCarrick; are all these just rumors? They are official correspondence, not gossip from the sacristy. The crimes reported were very serious, including those of attempting to give sacramental absolution to accomplices in perverse acts, with subsequent sacrilegious celebration of Mass. These documents specify the identity of the perpetrators and their protectors, and the chronological sequence of the facts. They are kept in the appropriate archives; no extraordinary investigation is needed to recover them.
Archbishop Viganò continues,
In the public remonstrances directed at me, I have noted two omissions, two dramatic silences. The first silence regards the plight of the victims. The second regards the underlying reason why there are so many victims, namely, the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy....
As to the second silence, this very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.
An Inability to See the Issue:
This seeming refusal to identify clearly the true cause of the minor abuse scandal is also denounced by the Vaticanist Sandro Magister on his blog Settimo Cielo on October 31, noting:
But there is another silence to which the pope constantly adheres. And it is on the homosexuality practiced by many churchmen. Francis never mentions it when he denounces the scourge of sexual abuse. What is instead at the origin of everything, he maintains, is ‘clericalism.’ Even the final document of the Synod, in the paragraphs concerning abuse, makes this judgment of Francis its own, and defines clericalism as ‘an elitist and exclusive vision of vocation, which interprets the ministry received as a power to be exercised rather than a free and generous service.’
In this regard Sandro Magister quotes an article that appeared on October 26 in Commonweal, penned however by the very liberal Kenneth L. Woodward, who for thirty-eight years was the esteemed Vaticanist of Newsweek.
In Woodward’s judgment, the McCarrick case is revealing of the extent to which homosexuality is really rampant among churchmen, on all levels, as already documented starting in 2003 by the famous report of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, according to which ‘eight out of ten reported abuses by priests over the past seventy years were cases of males abusing other males.’ Therefore ‘one would have to be either blind or dishonest,’ Woodward writes, to reject as ‘homophobia’ the denunciation of the role of homosexuality in the abuse scandal.
The book by Andrea Tornielli
In the absence of the Pope’s response to the severe criticism of Archbisghop Viganò, the Vaticanist for La Stampa, Andrea Tornielli, who has the ear of the Papal residence, had a book published: Il giorno del giudizio (Judgment Day), with the subtitle "Conflicts, power struggles, abuse and scandals: What is really happening in the Church?" by Edizioni Piemme. In the November 20 issue of Correspondance européenne, the historian Roberto de Mattei emphasizes:
Tornielli’s basic thesis is that the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò about the scandals in the Church is an ‘attempted coup’ against Pope Francis, set up by an international political and media network ‘allied to elements of the Church in the United States and benefiting from support in the Vatican palaces’ (p. 3). The Vaticanist of La Stampa interprets the religious war in progress as a power struggle rather than as a battle of ideas....
Roberto de Mattei continues:
As for the revelations of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Tornielli does not deny that Pope Francis received directly from him the information that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick had sexually corrupted his own seminarians and priests. Nor does he deny the existence of immorality within the Church and of a general cowardice that allows it to grow. He admits that the problem of the homosexual plague ‘exists’ (p. 169), even though he minimizes it, keeping silence about the existence of a group of active sodomites within the ecclesiastical structures and of a gay-friendly lobby (pressure group favoring homosexuality) that is just as active, which he supports. Tornielli therefore does not manage to refute the statements of Abp. Viganò, but he has to defend Pope Francis. He does so like a gambler who, finding himself in difficulty, raises the stakes. In the present case, being unable to deny the existence of profound corruption of churchmen, he seeks to lay the chief responsibility for it at the door of the Pope Francis’ predecessors, Benedict XVI and John Paul II.
But raising the stakes in this way while defending Francis and accusing his predecessors runs into a difficulty: Francis canonized John Paul II. Now, Roberto de Mattei recalls,
...the canonization of a pope signifies that in his responsibilities as Supreme Pontiff of the Church he must have practiced all the virtues in a heroic manner, including prudence. But if by complicity, negligence or imprudence a pope ‘covered up’ a ‘sexual predator’, one can legitimately call into question his wisdom and prudence.
Hence the logical conclusion of the Italian historian:
If, in Tornielli’s view, it happened that way, this means that he does not consider John Paul II to be a saint. Moreover, a prelate close to him and to Pope Francis, Bp. Giuseppe Sciacca, Secretary of the Apostolic Signatura, ‘one of the best qualified canonists of the Curia’ (p. 200), when interviewed by Tornielli on September 9, 2014, denied the infallibility of canonizations. If canonizations are not infallible and if Pope Francis could have been wrong about John Paul II, it is possible that on that same day he was wrong too in proclaiming the sanctity of John XXIII and that he also made a mistake in canonizing Paul VI on October 14, 2018.
The book by Aldo Maria Valli
The journalist Aldo Maria Valli wrote a book entitled Il caso Viganò (The Viganò Affair) recently released by Fede & Cultura. As one may well imagine, this confidant of Abp. Viganò—along with the Vaticanist Marco Tosatti—does not offer an analysis of the situation along the lines of Andrea Tornielli. Here are some excerpts from his book, as cited on the blog Stilum Curia, where Tosatti introduces them in these words:
This is the story, as Aldo Maria experienced it, of the publication of the testimony of Abp. Viganò, about which we have spoken at length, and which, given the stubborn silence of the Supreme Pontiff and of other persons directly concerned, will continue to weigh upon the credibility of this pontificate, and on the real will to confront the corruption and its sexual implications, in other words, the abuse and the climate of complicity and dissimulation that make them possible and feed them.
As though in response to Tornielli’s Judgment Day, Valli writes in his book:
The judgment that I have at heart is God’s, not that of men. And when the Good Lord calls me to judgment, I want to be able to tell Him that I did all that I could to save the faith and for the good of the Church. Basically, the only question that matters is always the same: ‘The Son of Man, when He cometh, shall He find faith on earth?’ (Lk 18:8).”
About the Pope’s pastoral attitude, Valli writes:
Francis unfortunately has trivialized divine mercy by divesting it of the dimension of judgment so as to turn it into misericordism [ed: mercy as ideology]. The God of the Christians, it is true, is a Father who welcomes and never tires of forgiving, but this implies on the son’s part a realization that leads to conversion. According to Francis’ preaching as a whole, however, it is almost as if God had the duty to forgive in light of the right to forgiveness demanded by the creature....
Valli deplores “a dangerous and sad surrender of Peter to the world”.
Francis reinforces to a great extent this attitude, for example every time he speaks generically about the need for a Church that is ‘outgoing’ and not self-referential. What does ‘outgoing’ mean? If in order to go out I must renounce my identity and I have to dilute the depositum fidei [ed: deposit of faith]; if in order to go out I must say that the center of Christian life is mercy, but without God’s truth and justice; if in order to go out I must forget the question of original sin; if in order to go out I must neglect everything about contrition and repentance, I certainly do not render good service to the Church, much less to souls. I go so far as to say that the Church has the duty to be self-referential, in the sense that she must continually seek and find her center: Jesus Christ. There can be no welcoming without sure doctrinal and moral guidance, without a clear proposal of conversion. There can be no pastoral approach without correct doctrine. Otherwise there is nothing but generalities, nothing but superficial words of consolation.
And Valli asserts:
We see now that the risk of schism is real. On the one hand, there is a Church of misericordism and dialogue with the world at all costs; on the other, there is a Church made up of those who want to give glory to God and not to man.” He even adds: “From this perspective, we can say that there are already two Churches: there is one which, having made dialogue with the world a sort of dogma, in fact legitimizes interpretative subjectivism and moral relativism, and there is another that continues to appeal to the divine law. It is a clean break.
This schism may be latent, but Aldo Maria Valli sees increasing evidence for it, particularly in the last Post-Synodal Exhortation: Amoris laetitia “where Francis’ doctrinal ambiguity reaches a summit."
The document contains a little of everything. There is the exaltation of Christian marriage, based on indissolubility and openness to life, but there is also, especially with regard to admitting divorced-and-remarried persons to Communion, the idea that, given human behavior, case-by-case judgment is preferable to respect for the unchangeable law, and this opens the way to subjectivism and relativism. To the point where interpretations abound, in one sense or another, and the document can be interpreted in one way in Diocese A and in another way in Diocese B, which is unacceptable. But by going down this road, the Christian message is being reduced to a vague sentimentalism, to an accompaniment of an emotional sort which sets aside the dialogue between faith and reason, eliminates the search for Truth from the human horizon, and limits itself to preaching a consolation that we can find everywhere, without necessarily having to turn to the Church.
On November 24 Cardinal Gerhard Müller, former Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, answered questions from the Dutch newspaper Trouw. Concerning “the Viganò affair” he stated:
In Viganò’s position I would never have called for the Pope’s resignation. Nevertheless, Viganò asked a certain number of questions that must be answered. Pillorying Viganò does not help the Pope and does not lead to an appropriate solution. It would have been better if the Pope had called everyone for a face-to-face meeting; that way matters could have been clarified.
When the journalist asked, “Are we facing a power struggle or a collision of different points of view about the Church?" The German prelate answered: “I think that the second hypothesis is the correct one.”
The presidents of the Episcopal Conferences worldwide have been summoned by the Pope to Rome in February 2019 to discuss the scandal of the abuse of minors. Will the testimony of Abp. Viganò, which to this day awaits a response.
In a book of interviews with Father Fernando Prado that appeared in early December, La force de la vocation [The Strength of Vocation], Pope Francis says that he is “uneasy” about the presence of homosexuals in the clergy:
In consecrated life and in priestly life, this sort of affection has no place. For this reason, the Church recommends (emphasis ours) that persons have this deep-rooted tendency not be admitted to the ministry or to consecrated life. The ministry or consecrated life is not their place.
Is that the start of a response to the denunciation of the “scourge of homosexuality” by Abp. Viganò? A response in the form of a simple recommendation or of a strict disciplinary measure? The February meeting will tell us.