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Viganò, Invoking Lefebvre, Faces the Vatican Summons

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Above: Archbishop Viganò delivering an address to the CIC Conference in 2020.

Remember when Viganò first made Catholic headlines worldwide? It was way back in August in the year of the reign of Jesus Christ, 2018.

At that time, the McCarrick scandal had just broke and Viganò accused the Holy Father of knowing all about McCarrick’s wickedness, and Viganò claimed to be a witness to this corruption from the highest echelons of the Vatican Regime.

Back when that happened, even mainstream Catholic bishops were saying Viganò must be taken seriously. His accusations were at least reasonable and credible. No one could deny that. In a normal situation – in most any civilised countries other than Vatican City – those accusations would have been investigated by the civil authority.

But who is the monarch governing the civil authority of Vatican City?

That would be Pope Francis.

Thus, the very credible and reasonable allegations of Archbishop Viganò were ignored by the Vatican, who has attempted to ignore and marginalise Viganò ever since.

Apparently, they can’t ignore him anymore.

News was just reported by our allies at Catholic Family Newsthat His Excellency has revealed that, in his own words,

The Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has informed me, with a simple email, of the initiation of an extrajudicial penal trial against me, with the accusation of having committed the crime of schism and charging me of having denied the legitimacy of “Pope Francis” of having broken communion “with Him” and of having rejected the Second Vatican Council. I have been summoned to the Palace of the Holy Office on June 20, in person or represented by a canon lawyer. I assume that the sentence has already been prepared, given that it is an extrajudicial process.

In response, Archbishop Viganò has invoked Archbishop Lefebvre:

Fifty years ago, in that same Palace of the Holy Office, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre was summoned and accused of schism for rejecting Vatican II. His defense is mine; his words are mine; and his arguments are mine – arguments before which the Roman authorities could not condemn him for heresy, having to wait instead for him to consecrate bishops so as to have the pretext of declaring him schismatic and then revoking his excommunication when he was already dead. The scheme is repeated even after half a century has demonstrated Archbishop Lefebvre’s prophetic choice.

But before he invokes the French Archbishop, in his statement today Viganò lists the grievances against the Francis Vatican regime – all of which are grave and also reasonable – but never once calls Bergoglio “Pope.” Instead, Viganò makes a bold claim regarding his own communion:

No Catholic worthy of the name can be in communion with this “Bergoglian church,” because it acts in clear discontinuity and rupture with all the Popes of history and with the Church of Christ.

Is this really what Archbishop Lefebvre ever said or acted upon? At least at face value, it seems to me that Archbishop Viganò is departing from the path of Archbishop Lefebvre in a few key areas. Nevertheless, the real enemy here is the Vatican regime of Iconoclasm, even if Viganò has gone into excess in his criticisms. In my view, even though we reject sedevacantism, sedeprivationism, BIP, etc. here at OnePeterFive, those speculations and hypothesis – flawed to some greater or lesser degree – are not as grave as the wholesale iconoclasm of liturgy and doctrine that has obtained since the false spirit of Vatican I went from decline to collapse after Vatican II.

So let’s not get distracted by pious Catholics who have various opinions about dubious matters, even if Archbishop Viganò is wrong about this or that point of the crisis we all suffer.

Because the fact is, since 2018, I have not followed everything Archbishop Viganò has said, but many things I have seen from him seemed to be doing the same thing that he accuses Pope Francis of doing: wading deeper and deeper into the affairs of the laity – the temporal, political order – like making extreme claims about Trump or Putin. I was shocked when Viganò invoked the Russian Orthodox myth of the Third Rome when millions of our Ukrainian Catholic brethren were attacked by Putin in the Ukraine crisis. But even his very reasonable criticisms of the Vatican regime today included this absolute remark:

Everything that Bergoglio does constitutes an offense and a provocation to the entire Catholic Church, to her Saints of all times, to the Martyrs who were killed in odium Fidei, and to the Popes of all times until the Second Vatican Council (emphasis added).

Obviously Pope Francis has done great evil in the Church. But I cannot say that “everything” he has done is evil. No. I just published 13 Good Things Pope Francis has done a few months ago, and I thank God for those and other things, which help to show that, despite everything, Pope Francis is the Vicar of Christ and God will save His Church.

While Viganò rightly laments the ambiguity of Vatican II etc., is there not another species of ambiguity in Viganò’s own words?

Is Viganò Following Lefebvre?

The heart of Viganò’s statement comes in the following words, right before he says the aforementioned quote about “no Catholic worthy of the name”:

In the face of the Dicastery’s accusations, I claim, as Successor of the Apostles, to be in full communion with the Roman Catholic Apostolic Church, with the Magisterium of the Roman Pontiffs, and with the uninterrupted doctrinal, moral, and liturgical Tradition which they have faithfully preserved.

I repudiate the neomodernist errors inherent in the Second Vatican Council and in the so-called “post-conciliar magisterium,” in particular in matters of collegiality, ecumenism, religious freedom, the secularity of the State, and the liturgy.

I repudiate, reject, and condemn the scandals, errors, and heresies of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who manifests an absolutely tyrannical management of power, exercised against the purpose that legitimizes Authority in the Church: an authority that is vicarious of that of Christ, and as such must obey Him alone. This separation of the Papacy from its legitimizing principle, which is Christ the High Priest, transforms the ministerium into a self-referential tyranny.

Dr. Brian McCall asserts that some of these statements “ech[o] the famous words of Archbishop Lefebvre in his famous declaration of November 1974.”

No doubt there is a strong similarity between the two prelates in a common counter-revolutionary struggle against the Revolution. However, it does not seem to me that Viganò is adhering to the Holy See in the way that Archbishop Lefebvre did his whole life – notwithstanding the latter’s criticisms and resistance. Lefebvre’s stand, though filled with fiery French rhetoric, was also moderate, nuanced and pious toward the Eternal City and the Vicar of Christ. (And this can be said objectively even if any of my Trad readers take the FSSP stance about 1988).

I do not see these same qualities in the words and deeds of Viganò. Therefore it would seem that the virtue of caution (“to see and avoid virtue evil”) is necessary for supporters of Viganò.

Nevertheless, as I said, even if Viganò is in the wrong, the Vatican Regime’s crimes against the Faith are legion. Thus I don’t think we should “cancel” Viganò here – even if he’s wrong, he’s a victim of the same regime we all suffer. Let’s focus on the real enemy here.

T. S. Flanders
St. Silverius

For another view, see the work of our OnePeterFive contributing editor here:

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