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Book Review: Marco Tosatti’s ‘Viganò vs. the Vatican’

Viganò vs. the Vatican: The Uncensored Testimony of the Italian Journalist Who Helped Break the Story
Marco Tosatti
Sophia Institute Press
144 pages
$14.95 paperback, $9.95 e-book

August 26 marks the one-year anniversary of the explosive publication of the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. It is a good moment to take stock of all that has happened — and has not happened — since the historic morning when Viganò’s detailed document appeared implicating numerous bishops and Pope Francis himself in the decades-long cover-up of the crimes of Theodore McCarrick. Veteran Italian journalist Marco Tosatti, one of the journalists whom Viganò consulted as he underwent his own personal crisis of conscience in the summer of 2018, has compiled a compendium of all of the primary documents in the ongoing “Viganò affair” interspersed with his own astute observations on the matter.

Viganò vs. the Vatican opens with Tosatti’s account of how, in July 2018, Archbishop Viganò called him and asked to do an interview with him. Tosatti recounts three personal meetings with Viganò, in which the archbishop struggled with knowing exactly how and when to reveal what he knew about the extensive network of cover-up and corruption that is the Catholic episcopacy. The release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on August 14, 2018 led Tosatti to counsel Viganò that “perhaps this is the right moment” to publish the interview. When the two met on August 22, Viganò had decided to write a long “testimony” rather than give a Q&A interview. Tosatti helped Viganò with making the appropriate media contacts, and it was agreed that the testimony would be published on Sunday morning, August 26, at 7 A.M. in Rome.

Tosatti emphasizes repeatedly that all the swirl of controversy around the Viganò testimony — its genesis, its motivation, its consequences — all of these are secondary to the one central and predominant claim made by Viganò, which Pope Francis and only Pope Francis can verify or refute: that on June 23, 2013, Pope Francis personally asked Viganò about McCarrick and was told unequivocally and categorically that McCarrick was a lifelong abuser of young men and seminarians. Every other piece of speculation and contingency is secondary.

Each of the primary statements issued by Viganò and also by others responding to him are included in the narrative. Tosatti recounts the response of Pope Francis on the papal flight from Dublin to Rome on August 26, which was one of evasion and silence. And Tosatti offers his analysis: “the route chosen by the pontiff is an extremely weak way to respond to the legitimate questions that Catholics are raising.” Tosatti considers the motive of Viganò: the retired archbishop and former nuncio “has everything to lose and nothing to gain,” and in sharing the details, he knows he has simply told “the whole truth, including about who was in place in the system of cover-up before Francis.” Viganò had already shared his misgivings with his superiors in the Holy See, but as he witnessed such a long and systematic pattern of cover-up and denial continue to spin a web of lies and half-truths, he decided to speak: “for the sake of his love for justice and for the Church.”

Tosatti recounts how the mud-slinging “machine” immediately went to work to discredit and misinform about Viganò. Key members of the “pro-gay Catholic” crowd attempted all sorts of attacks on Viganò’s personal character. The official Vatican remained silent. But slowly and surely, individual details began to emerge that confirmed Viganò’s testimony. Letters from 2000 and 2006 detailed the complicity that surrounded McCarrick as a homosexual predator of seminarians and young priests. A statement on October 7, 2018, from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, confirmed that Viganò and Pope Francis met in June 2013 and discussed McCarrick. Ouellet admitted that McCarrick was in fact placed under official restrictions by Pope Benedict XVI. All of these different sources offer confirmation of Viganò’s testimony, and not one person has made a direct refutation or denial of anything Viganò affirmed.

Meanwhile, in September 2018, Pope Francis again evaded questions about the whole matter asked him by the Vatican Press Corps, and in October, the Holy See issued an evasive promise of an investigation of the matter, essentially saying, in Tosatti’s analysis: “We will investigate our own misdoings, and when God wills it, we will tell you what we have found out.” Tosatti observes how much Pope Francis has weakened his own credibility by his silence: “The non-response of the pope to Viganò represents, in my view, a wound to his credibility as a human being and as a spiritual leader, and in final analysis, a wound also to his mission.”

Viganò vs. the Vatican is an extremely helpful summary of what remains an unconcluded story. The Vatican hopes that the average Catholic has long forgotten about Viganò’s testimony. Tosatti has made a laudable effort to help the average Catholic recall it and see how outrageous it is that there has still been no coherent official response by anyone with authority.

The anniversary of Viganò’s courageous testimony deserves a detailed review of all that has transpired since August 26, 2018. Informed Catholics need to read this book and be familiar with what Viganò, still in hiding, has done in service to the Church. As Tosatti rightly observes about Viganò:

The true Church thanks him today and will thank him even more one day in the future, when she will have completely overcome this long, terrible tragedy, which has lasted more than forty years but has now reached its culmination in this grotesque climate …

Editor’s note: This article comes to 1P5 courtesy of Giuseppe Pellegrino.

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