Well, this is awkward for Pope Francis.
As he continues his trip to Ireland while the world remains infuriated by the revelations of child sexual abuse and cover-up by Church leaders in Pennsylvania, Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò (below), a former Vatican ambassador to the United States, has released an 11-page letter claiming that the pope knew about abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and did nothing about it.
Viganò says he knows this because he personally informed Pope Francis about the charges against McCarrick in 2013, only to see the pope repeal sanctions placed upon McCarrick by his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI.
Viganò calls on Pope Francis to resign along with everyone else who took part in the cover-up, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl in Washington, D.C.
“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 to Cardinals and Bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” he wrote.
Viganò also asserts that Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., knew about the accusations against McCarrick, saying “I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions” and asserting that “the Cardinal lies shamelessly.”
Wuerl has repeatedly said he knew nothing about the allegations against McCarrick.
Before you get on the Viganò train, though, there are a few things you should know about him.
First, Viganò has been accused of putting a stop to “an independent investigation in 2014 into sexual and possible criminal misconduct by Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” He was also accused of ordering Church officials to destroy a letter they wrote opposing his decision.
Also, remember when Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis, who refused to sign a marriage license for a same-sex couple, met with the pope during his U.S. visit a few years ago? (It caused all kinds of controversy that Pope Who Am I To Judge wanted no part of.) Viganò was the guy who arranged the meeting, and it arguably contributed to the Vatican’s decision to relieve him of his position.
Finally, take a look at another part of his letter, in which he blasts Archbishop Blase J. Cupich of the Archdiocese of Chicago. Cupich has repeatedly said — correctly — that homosexuality isn’t to blame for the priest-on-boy abuse in the Church. He instead blames clericalism (the idea that the Church ought to handle these matters internally because Church leaders know best).
Viganò hates that idea, because he really does think homosexuality is to blame for the abuse. And he hates how McCarrick and Wuerl were instrumental in Cupich’s appointment, evidence Viganò uses against the two accused men.
The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark.
Regarding Cupich, one cannot fail to note his ostentatious arrogance, and the insolence with which he denies the evidence that is now obvious to all: that 80% of the abuses found were committed against young adults by homosexuals who were in a relationship of authority over their victims.
Viganò wants to be the hero in this story, but his anti-gay bigotry isn’t even subtle and his own history suggests complicity with abuse. That’s ironic given how he closes the letter:
Francis is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren. Indeed, by his action he has divided them, led them into error, and encouraged the wolves to continue to tear apart the sheep of Christ’s flock.
That’s what he wrote before calling on the pope to step down.
It’s never good when the man who says the pope must resign for ruining the Catholic Church is also guilty of helping destroy the Church’s reputation through outdated slander, a celebration of bigotry, and stifling investigations.
He’s not necessarily the ideal guy to have on your side.
Sure, the pope should resign, but Viganò isn’t blameless either.