Editor’s note: The following interview is between Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, now world-famous for his explosive testimony, and Aldo Maria Valli, the reporter with whom Viganò originally planned the publication of his allegations against Pope Francis and several high-ranking Vatican cardinals. For the adventure of how Archbishop Viganò’s report came to be, click here.
Monsignor, how are you doing?
Thanks be to God, I am doing very well, with great serenity and peace in my conscience – this is the reward of truth. The light always conquers the darkness. It cannot be suppressed, especially for the one who has faith. Therefore, I have much faith and hope for the Church.
How do you judge the various reactions to the publication of your memoir?
As you know, the reactions are contradictory. There are those who cannot stop looking for places to draw poison with which 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 every sort, et cetera, but there are also many articles of appreciation, and I had the chance to see messages from priests and faithful people who are thanking me, because my testimony has been for them a glimmer of new hope for the Church.
What is your response to those who in these hours are objecting that you must have motives of personal rancor against the pope, and that it is for this reason that you decided to write and circulate your memoir?
Perhaps because I am naïve and accustomed to always think well of people – but above all I recognize that this is in fact a gift the Lord has given me – I have never had feelings of revenge or rancor in all these years when I have been put to the test by so many slanders and falsehoods spoken against me.
As I wrote at the beginning of my testimony, I have always believed that the hierarchy of the Church should have found within itself the resources necessary to heal all the corruption. I wrote this also in my letter to the three cardinals who were assigned by Pope Benedict to investigate the Vatileaks case, a letter that accompanied the report I gave them. “Many of you” – I wrote – “knew, but you remained silent. At least now that you have been given this assignment by Benedict you may have the courage to report accurately what has been revealed to you about so many situations of corruption.”
Why did you decide to publish and circulate your testimony?
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. But do you know what Cardinal Herranz said to me when I called him from Washington, concerned that so much time had passed since the investigation commission had been named by Pope Benedict and still no one had contacted me? We were speaking together, and I said to him, “Don’t you think that maybe I too have something to say concerning my letters, which were published without my knowledge?” He responded to me, “Ah, if you really want to.”
How would you respond to those who are saying that you are a “crow” or one of the “crows” at the origin of the Vatileaks case?
I am a crow? As you have seen with my testimony, I usually do things in the light of day! At the time, I was in Washington, and I definitely had other things to think about. On the other hand, it was always my habit to immerse myself completely in my new mission. This was what I did when I was sent to Nigeria: I no longer read the Italian news – so much so that after six years, when I was recalled to work in the Secretariat of State by St. John Paul II, it took me several months to re-orient myself, even though I had already worked in the Secretariat of State for eleven years from 1978 to 1989.
How would you respond to those who maintain that you were thrown out of the Governatorate, and that because of this you would have feelings of rancor and revenge?
As I have already said, rancor and revenge are not feelings that I hold. My resistance to leaving my post at the Governatorate was motivated by a deep sense of the injustice of a decision that I knew did not correspond to the will of Pope Benedict, of which he himself had told me. In order to throw me out, Cardinal Bertone had committed a series of grave abuses of his authority: he had dissolved the first commission of three cardinals whom Pope Benedict had nominated to investigate the grave accusations made by me as secretary-general and by the vice secretary-general, Monsignor Giorgio Corbellini, concerning the abuses committed by Monsignor Paolo Nicolini; in place of this cardinal commission he had created a disciplinary commission, altering in its constitution the institutional commission of the Governatorate; still prior to creating this commission, he had summoned me to tell me that the holy father had named me nuncio to Washington. Notwithstanding the fact that the disciplinary commission had decided on July 16, 2011 to dismiss Monsignor Paolo Nicolini, he abusively annulled this decision and prevented it from being published. By doing this, he blocked me from continuing the work of healing the corruption present in the management of the Governatorate.
How would you respond to those who speak of your “fixation” on becoming a cardinal and who maintain that you are now attacking the pope because you did not receive this honor?
I can affirm with all sincerity before God that I rejected the opportunity to become a cardinal. After my first letter to Cardinal Bertone, which I sent to Pope Benedict so that he could do whatever he thought best, Pope Benedict summoned me and received me in an audience on April 4, 2011, and he immediately spoke these words to me: “I believe that the assignment in which you can best serve the Holy See is as the president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs in place of Cardinal Velasio De Paolis.” I thanked the pope for the confidence he had shown me, and I added, “Holy Father, why don’t you wait six months or a year? Because, if you promote me right now, the team that has had faith in me and worked to remedy the situation in the Governatorate will be immediately dispersed and persecuted (as in fact happened).
I also added another argument. Given that Cardinal De Paolis had only recently been appointed to deal with the delicate situation of the Legionaries of Christ (Cardinal De Paolis had consulted me before accepting this assignment), I said to the pope that it would be better if he would continue to have an institutional position that would give greater authority to him as a person and thus to his action with the Legionaries. At the end of the audience, Pope Benedict said to me once more: “I however remain of the opinion that the position in which you can best serve the Holy See is as president of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs.” Cardinal Re can confirm this story. Thus, I renounced being made a cardinal for the good of the Church.
How would you respond to those who would draw your family into this matter by speaking of the “saga” under the banner of having huge economic interests?
On March 20, 2013, my siblings had prepared a statement for the press, whose publication I opposed so as to avoid involving the entire family. Because the accusation of my brother Lorenzo is now being repeated – namely, that I lied to Pope Benedict by writing to him asking for a leave of absence to take care of my sick brother – I have decided to make this communiqué public. Upon reading it, it becomes evident that I felt a serious moral responsibility to take care of and protect my brother.
(Whoever is interested to delve deeper into this last point may read here the text of the communiqué, which was redacted in March 2013 by several of Viganò’s siblings in his defense.)
This interview was translated by Giuseppe Pellegrino. The original Italian can be found at Aldo Maria Valli’s website.