The Vigano letters (2018-2019) show the highest offices of Catholic church hierarchy morally culpable in their abject failure to remove bad actors from positions of power. But the Vigano letters and the testimony of Carlo Maria Vigano also do much more. In this dark time where negative news and fears of a virus threaten to derail one’s sense and sensibility, the Vigano letters demonstrate the power of a man’s courage and intestinal fortitude in taking “superiors” to task and demanding truth and justice.
We salute Mr. Vigano for having the guts to stand by his faith in the face of enormous pressure to keep quiet and let wayward priests and church leaders escape justice.
Carlo Maria Vigano, Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana Apostolic Nuncio, wrote several letters to Pope Francis in 2018-19. In those letters, Mr. Vigano questions the pope’s actions and inactions, which not only allowed pedophile priests to continue their sexual assaults, but also covered up their perverse abuses of power.
It is difficult to read the letters of Mr. Vigano without lamenting the tragic failings of multiple popes as they willfully ignore the church’s sexual abuse problems and also cover them up. It is difficult to read the Vigano letters without realizing that the church’s systemic child sex abuse problems extend right to the very top of the Catholic church hierarchy.
At the same time, it is also somehow hopeful to read The Vigano Letters and his testimony, as the man does his level best to bring the truth to light. The record shows that he writes and testifies not only to protect innocents, but also to encourage church leaders to confess and recover their souls through penance, just as any church-attending penitent is encouraged to do.
A Conspiracy of Silence akin to Mafia Oath of Omerta
Vigano is especially eloquent in one of the opening paragraphs of his self-proclaimed “Testimony.” He writes:
“We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the Church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia.”
Vigano laments his position as a whistleblower in the church, but says he was forced to respond after he was attacked by the pope and others for telling the truth.
Vigano writes: “[N]ow that the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy, my conscience dictates that I reveal those truths regarding the heart-breaking case of the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C., Theodore McCarrick.”
McCarrick’s sexual deviancy came to Vigano’s attention while he was performing duties as Delegate for Pontifical Representations (1998-2009), and as Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S (circa 20111-2016). Vigano wrote letters at the time alerting Pope Benedict, who preceded Francis. At that time, Benedict failed to take swift action against McCarrick, at least in part, it appears to Vigano, because other Catholic officials in the hierarchy kept the truth of McCarrick’s from the pontiff.
Vigano writes that the Holy See was informed of McCarrick’s “gravely immoral behavior” on November 22, 2000.
But it wasn’t until 2010, ten years later, that McCarrick was punished, and then only tepidly with canonical sanctions, by Pope Benedict. More alarmingly, and shockingly McCarrick was promoted to Cardinal after this period, by Pope Francis.
Vigano writes: “The faithful insistently wonder how it was possible for him to be appointed to Washington, and as a Cardinal, and they have every right to know who knew, and who covered up his (McCarrick’s) grave misdeeds. It is therefore my duty to reveal what I know about this, beginning with the Roman Curia.”
From there, Mr. Vigano names names and dates, and traces with a police investigator’s sense of detail exactly who in the church hierarchy knew what and when, regarding not only the perversions of McCarrick, but also the crimes of other wayward priests.
Some Highlights – or Lowlights:
Cardinal Angelo Sodano – As Secretary of State until Sept. 2006, tried to cover up the Father Maciel scandal, even removing the Nuncio in Mexico City who refused to be an accomplice in a coverup. Maciel was found guilty and irrevocably condemned.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone – The cardinal had no difficulty in insistently presenting for the episcopate candidates known to be active homosexuals. Vigano cites the well-known case of Vincenzo de Mauro, appointed Archbishop of Vigevano and latter removed because his perversions were undermining his seminarians.
Cardinals William Levada, Marc Ouellet, Lorenzo Baldisseri; Archbishop IIson de Jesus Montanari – all were aware, by reason of their office, of the sanctions imposed by Pope Benedict on McCarrick, years before Pope Francis made McCarrick a Cardinal.
Cardinals Leonardo Sandri, Fernando Filoni, Angelou Becciu – knew in every detail the situation regarding Cardinal McCarrick.
Vigano also names Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio and Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia “who belong to the homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality.” Paglia commissioned a homosexual mural in his church in what at least one art critic calls an expression of malice towards his constituents.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl – Vigano states Wuerl “lies shamelessly” when he claims to know nothing of McCarrick’s abuses. Wuerl resigned in 2018 following the Pennsylvania grand jury report which determined that at least 300 priests had abused at least 1,000 children over several decades.
Bishop Paul Bootkoski and Archbishop John Myers – covered up McCarrick’s abuses while compensating two of his victims.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley – his latest statements on McCarrick case “have totally obscured his transparency and credibility.”
Pope Francis – Vigano met Pope Francis in Rome on June 20, 2013. Francis asked him then, in what Vigano said was “a deceitful way,” what Fr. McCarrick was like. Vigano answered that the Congregation for Bishops had a thick dossier that showed McCarrick “corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict (Francis’ predecessor) ordered [McCarrick] to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”
Vigano Letters unmask Catholic Conspiracy of Silence
Vigano said the pope clearly wanted to find out if he was an ally of McCarrick or not.
Vigano notes that Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for total transparency in the Church and for bishops and faithful to act with parrhesis. The faithful throughout the world also demand this of him in an exemplary manner. Francis must honestly state, says Vigano, when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests.
Vigano writes that Pope Francis not only did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on McCarrick, but also, rather than having McCarrick continue his assigned penance, ignored his abuses of power and made McCarrick his trusted counselor. In that capacity, McCarrick was able to help launch other morally objectionable priests into positions of power.