Pope Francis © Evandro Inetti
Chilean abuse victim distances herself from ex-Vatican diplomat Vigano. A canon lawyer also says Vigano has violated loyalty to the pope. The latter had meanwhile asked the Jesuits for help.
Chilean anti-abuse activist Juan Carlos Cruz has distanced himself from former Vatican diplomat Carlo Maria Vigano, who accused Pope Francis of protecting a sexually assaulting cardinal. People like Vigano were using the abuse debate for their own "regressive agenda" to harm the pope and without the victims playing a role, Cruz wrote (Wednesday) on Twitter. Cruz is himself a victim of a Catholic cleric and, along with two other men, helped expose the sex scandal in the Chilean church.
According to Cruz, Vigano was also the subject of a personal conversation he had with Francis. As Cruz told The New York Times, the pope was critical of his onetime ambassador for arranging an impromptu meeting with controversial registrar Kim Davis during Francis' U.S. trip in September 2015.
The pope let Vigano go
Davis had faced disciplinary proceedings in the U.S. for her opposition to gay marriage. The meeting, which media at the time interpreted as the pope backing Davis, caused irritation among both the Vatican delegation and its U.S. hosts. The Vatican said at the time that the meeting with Davis could "not be understood as an endorsement of their position".
According to Cruz, Francis, referring to the episode, said he was "horrified" and fired his U.S. ambassador, Vigano, because of it.
The Vatican acted
The 77-year-old Vigano, papal ambassador to Washington from 2011 to 2016, had released a memorandum over the weekend on former Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, 88. In it, the diplomat claims he personally told Francis as early as the summer of 2013 that McCarrick had "corrupted generations of seminarians and priests" and that Pope Benedict XVI. (2005-2013) was sentenced to a reclusive life of penance.
Whether Benedict XVI. actually ied sanctions against the then long-retired cardinal because of his homosexual past is not certain. After the New York archdiocese first classified allegations of sexual misconduct, including against minors, as "credible and substantial" in June, the Vatican banned McCarrick from performing priestly duties in public. Francis dismissed him from the cardinalate in late July.
Zulehner: Bishops must finally get behind the pope
Viennese theologian Paul Zulehner has also called on bishops in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, as well as throughout Europe, to resolutely oppose the "increasingly brazen" attacks on Pope Francis. After the demand for resignation in a "memorandum" by the former nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, which was also supported by other opponents of the pope, only one bishop worldwide, Giovanni D'Ercole of the Italian diocese of Ascoli Piceno, "has stood before the pope in this precarious situation". Zulehner expressed "dismay" at this in a blog entry and called on European bishops' conferences to abandon their previous "scandalous silence".
The pastoral theologian and book author pointed out that the opponents of the cosmopolitan pope are networked worldwide. After Vigano's recent accusations regarding abuse cover-ups and homosexual networks in the Vatican, they dominated media coverage and "presumptuously" called for Francis to resign. Bishop D'Ercole wrote in a pastoral letter that the Pope's opponents had exploited the attention of the Pope's trip to Ireland in a concerted media operation. He, on the other hand, stands by the pope as the successor of the apostle Peter and supports his fight against abuse, the bishop of Ascoli Piceno stressed.
A day of prayer for the Pope?
According to Zulehner, the Council of European Bishops' Conferences and also individual bishops' conferences would be well advised to express their loyalty just as clearly and unambiguously. A day of prayer for the pope – as proposed by D'Ercole for his diocese on 2. September – "would be more than appropriate in this delicate hour of the church also with us in Austria".
The solidarity action "Pro Pope Francis" initiated by him takes into account that the pope needs tailwind in such times. According to Zulehner, 75 bishops worldwide have so far signed.000 people sent the encouraging Open Letter to Francis; 150 theologians from around the world had taken a stand in favor of the Church's path he has chosen, he said.
Canon lawyer: obligation to secrecy
Meanwhile, Munich-based canon lawyer Stephan Haering sees the public demand for Pope Francis' resignation by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano as an "outrageous act". "Undoubtedly, this violates the required loyalty to the person of the pope," Haering told the Wurzburg-based newspaper Die Tagespost. The former Vatican ambassador to the U.S. invoked his conscience and loyalty to the church at large.
Vigano had called on the pope to resign because of alleged failures in dealing with a high-ranking homosexual clergyman. In the memorandum released a week ago, the former Vatican diplomat writes that he personally told Francis as early as June 2013 that then-retired Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, 88, had "corrupted generations of seminarians and priests". Also, Vigano explained, Pope Benedict XVI. (2005-2013) had sanctioned McCarrick for this in 2009 or 2010. Confirmed this is not.
Did Vigano commit a criminal offense?
Haering recalled that in any business or government agency, employees are obligated to keep official matters confidential from outsiders. The situation is similar in the Catholic Church. For employees of episcopal ordinariates, for example, the ecclesiastical code of law provides for the duty to maintain official secrecy.
The case of Archbishop Vigano is however once again particularly stored, said the canon lawyer. "Here, there is even still a special obligation of secrecy."The events mentioned in his paper, as matters of the Vatican Secretariat of State, are covered by the so-called papal secret. In this respect the nuncio makes himself "formally seen even punishable".
Vigano considers himself in the right
Vigano, for his part, is in a sense invoking a higher right from his episcopate, Haering continued.
As a Catholic bishop and member of the College of Bishops, he considers himself bound by conscience to finally bring about a real clarification of the situation by making his knowledge known, and thus to promote the good of the Church.
Pope asked Ireland's Jesuits for help against abuse
Meanwhile, at a meeting with Irish Jesuits in Dublin, Pope Francis asked his order for special help in the fight against sexual abuse and its cover-up. As reported by the Jesuits in Ireland portal, during the meeting on Saturday afternoon, Francis equally urged his religious brothers to engage in the process of healing, reparation and reconstruction.
It said the pope was responding to a question from Irish provincial superior Leonard Moloney about how Ireland's Jesuits could currently fulfill the order's fourth vow, special fidelity to the pope. Since Francis himself is a member of the Jesuit order, he has become accustomed to such private meetings with friars when traveling abroad.