Just before midnight on Sunday in Ireland, AP reported that Pope Francis declined to confirm or deny claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano that he informed Francis in 2013 about sexual misconduct allegations against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
On Sunday, Vigano, the Vatican’s retired U.S. ambassador, released an 11-page text that accuses Francis of covering up for McCarrick; Francis said the document “speaks for itself,” adding, “I won’t say a word about it.”
Vigano also claims that in 2013, McCarrick was already under sanction from former Pope Benedict, but Francis rehabilitated him.
Vigano’s letter states that the Apostolic Nuncios in the United States, Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi, informed the Holy See immediately when there were rumors of McCarrick’s “gravely immoral behavior with seminarians and priests. Indeed, according to what Nuncio Pietro Sambi wrote, Father Boniface Ramsey, O.P.’s letter, dated November 22, 2000, was written at the request of the late Nuncio Montalvo.”
Vigano adds that as Delegate for Pontifical Representations, he wrote a memo in December 2006 to his superiors that the facts attributed to McCarrick by the priest Gregory Littleton of the diocese of Charlotte “were of such gravity and vileness as to provoke bewilderment, a sense of disgust, deep sorrow and bitterness in the reader, and that they constituted the crimes of seducing, requesting depraved acts of seminarians and priests, repeatedly and simultaneously with several people, derision of a young seminarian who tried to resist the Archbishop’s seductions in the presence of two other priests, absolution of the accomplices in these depraved acts, sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist with the same priests after committing such acts.”
Vigano writes and underlines, “My memo of December 6, 2006 was kept by my superiors, and was never returned to me with any actual decision by the superiors on this matter.”
In May 2008, Vigano submitted another memo in which he argued that it was necessary to intervene as soon as possible by removing McCarrick from his post as cardinal and reducing him to the lay state. In his new letter, Vigano notes, “This second memo of mine was also never returned to the Personnel Office, and I was greatly dismayed at my superiors for the inconceivable absence of any measure against the Cardinal, and for the continuing lack of any communication with me since my first memo in December 2006.”
Vigano writes that Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on McCarrick in either 2009 or 2010. He comments that the sanctions on McCarick included exiting the seminary where he was living, no longer celebrating Mass in public, participating in public meetings, giving lectures, and traveling, and dedicating himself to prayer and penance. Vigano then notes that he met with Pope Francis in June 2013 and told him, “Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”
Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for total transparency in the Church and for bishops and faithful to act with parrhesia. The faithful throughout the world also demand this of him in an exemplary manner. He must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests. In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him. He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with Maradiaga.
Near his conclusion, Vigano writes: “In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them.”
The Catholic News Agency (CNA) contacted Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., to see if he would confirm the following passage in Vigano’s letter:
Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d’Affaires ad interim after the unexpected death of Nuncio Sambi in Baltimore, told me when I arrived in Washington — and he is ready to testify to it — about a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that “the Nuncio’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor.”
Although Lantheaume declined to give an interview, he wrote to CNA, ““Viganò said the truth. That’s all.”