Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is in the news again today after the release of a new, 8,000-word interview with the Washington Post. According to the post, the interview was conducted via email over a period of two months, with the former U.S. papal nuncio providing answers to some 40 questions.
Those who have read previous Viganò testimonies will find much that is familiar in the interview, but in greater depth. Archbishop Viganò declined to answer questions about his own personal status, which, he says, he considers “irrelevant to the serious problems facing the Church.”
He begins with an assessment of the sex abuse summit in Rome in February 2019, which echoes closely the concerns he shared with the National Catholic Register before the summit opened.
“Unfortunately,” Viganò tells the Post about the summit, “that initiative turned out to be pure ostentation, for we saw no sign of a genuine willingness to attend to the real causes of the present crisis.” He highlighted the lack of credibility of Cardinal Cupich, who was picked to be a leader at the summit after referring to Viganò’s accusations about abuse cover-up as a “rabbit hole.” He also lamented the lack of transparency with journalists who sought information about specific cases:
To cite just one example, Archbishop [Charles] Scicluna, caught by surprise with a question about the pope covering up in the scandalous case of Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta — “How can we believe that this is in fact the last time we’re going to hear ‘no more cover-ups’ when at the end of the day, Pope Francis covered up for someone in Argentina who had gay porn involving minors?” — uttered these embarrassing words: “About the case, I’m not, I’m not, you know, I’m not authorized…” Scicluna’s inept response gave the impression that he needed to be authorized — you may wonder by whom — to tell the truth! Vatican interim press office director Alessandro Gisotti quickly intervened to assure the reporters that an investigation had been launched, and that once it was completed they would be informed of the results. One may be forgiven for wondering whether the results of an honest and thorough investigation really will be released, and in a timely fashion.
Viganò observes that one of the key problems of the summit was the way in which it “focused exclusively on the abuse of minors.”
“These crimes are indeed the most horrific,” he adds, “but the recent crises in the United States, in Chile, in Argentina, in Honduras, and elsewhere have to do mostly with abuses committed against young adults, including seminarians, not only, nor mostly, against minors. Indeed, if the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood were honestly acknowledged and properly addressed, the problem of sexual abuse would be far less severe.”
Viganò strikes out at Pope Francis, who he says is not only “doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse,” but also “doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers.” He cites the example of Cardinal Wuerl, who, despite lies and cover-ups of the abuses of “McCarrick and others for decades” about which he has offered “repeated and blatant lies” and who was forced to resign in disgrace, was nevertheless praised by the pope for his “nobility.”
“What credibility has the pope left after this kind of statement?” Viganò asks.
On the matter of McCarrick’s laicization, Viganò questions why it happened five years after he gave the information to Pope Francis about McCarrick and why it was done, “after more than seven months of total silence,” through an administrative rather than judicial procedure.
Viganò notes that because of the nature of the procedure, McCarrick was “deprived of any opportunity to appeal the sentence” and was deprived of due process. “Having made the sentence definitive,” Viganò adds, “the pope has made it impossible to conduct any further investigation, which could have revealed who in the Curia and elsewhere knew of McCarrick’s abuses, when they knew it, and who helped him to be named archbishop of Washington and eventually a cardinal. Note, by the way, that the documents of this case, whose publication had been promised, have never been produced.”
“The bottom line,” Viganò says, “is this: Pope Francis is deliberately concealing the McCarrick evidence.”
On the question of the unusual intervention by the Holy See into the U.S. Catholic Bishops’ Conference meeting last November, in which the pope ordered the assembled bishops not to vote on two sex abuse measures they had prepared, Viganò says the Holy See was trying to prevent an examination of “the problems of episcopal corruption, episcopal cover-ups and mendacity, episcopal sexual misdeeds, both with minors and adults — any of which would intolerably implicate and embarrass the Holy See.”
Asked about the “notable lack of denials” on the matter of his original testimony — the question was asked before Francis finally came out and denied that he knew anything, which Vigano has said previously was “a lie” — the archbishop argues that the accusations can’t be denied because they are true. “The cardinals and archbishops I named do not want to be caught lying, and they apparently think they are so powerful as to be untouchable if only they stay quiet and lie low,” he said.
In an addendum to the interview after the long delayed denial made by the pope last month was released, Viganò says the pope’s statements cannot be reconciled with one another. “He first says that he has already replied many times; second, that he knew nothing, absolutely nothing about McCarrick, and third, that he forgot about my conversation with him. How may these claims be affirmed and sustained together at the same time? All these three are blatant lies,” he says.
Of the most obviously false claim made by the pope — that he had replied to the testimony “many times” — Viganò asks, “For nine long months he did not say a word about my testimony, and even bragged and continues to do so about his silence, comparing himself to Jesus. So, either he spoke or he kept silent. Which is it?”
“We are in a truly dark moment for the universal Church,” Viganò laments. “The Supreme Pontiff is now blatantly lying to the whole world to cover up his wicked deeds! But the truth will eventually come out, about McCarrick and all the other cover-ups, as it already has in the case of cardinal Wuerl, who also ‘knew nothing’ and had ‘a lapse of memory.'” Here the archbishop refers to the revelation that Wuerl knew about the illicit sexual activities of his predecessor, McCarrick, even after many denials.
Other than his sadness over the dishonesty of the pope, Viganò seems most concerned with the failure of journalists to dig into the story he has laid before them. “I cannot imagine that they [the media] would have been so timid had the pope in question been John Paul II or Benedict XVI,” he says, adding, “It is difficult to avoid concluding that these media are reluctant to do so because they appreciate Pope Francis’ more liberal approach to matters of Church doctrine and discipline, and do not want to jeopardize his agenda.”
On the issue of homosexuality in the priesthood, Viganò signals his disbelief that the connection is being ignored. “Heterosexual men obviously do not choose boys and young men as sexual partners of preference, and approximately 80 percent of the victims are males, the vast majority of which are post-pubescent males.”
“It is not pedophiles but gay priests preying on post-pubertal boys who have bankrupted the U.S. dioceses,” he later adds.
“Given the overwhelming evidence, it is mind-boggling that the word ‘homosexuality’ has not appeared once, in any of the recent official documents of the Holy See, including the two Synods on the Family, the one on Youth, and the recent Summit last February.”
Viganò goes on to claim that the so-called “gay mafia” in the Church are “bound together not by shared sexual intimacy but by a shared interest in protecting and advancing one another professionally and sabotaging all efforts at reform.” He says that though Pope Benedict XVI initiated an investigation of the seminaries, nothing new was discovered, “apparently because various powers had joined forces to conceal the true situation.”
“Is there a single active bishop in the U.S. who admits he is actively homosexual? Of course not. Their work is constitutionally clandestine.”
On the question of whether he could ever reconcile with Pope Francis, Viganò replies:
The premise of your question is incorrect. I am not fighting against Pope Francis, nor have I offended him. I have simply spoken the truth. Pope Francis needs to reconcile himself with God, and the entire Church, since he covered up for McCarrick, refuses to admit it, and is now covering up for several other people. I am grateful to the Lord because He has protected me from having any sentiments of anger or resentment against Pope Francis, or any desire for revenge. I pray for his conversion every day. Nothing would make me happier than for Pope Francis to acknowledge and end the cover-ups, and to confirm his brothers in the faith.
There’s a great deal more to the interview with Archbishop Viganò that I have not touched on here. Read the whole thing at The Washington Post.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher and Executive Director of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have seven children.