It's a ripping test for the Church: ex-diplomat Viganò accuses Pope Francis of covering up abuse cases. Is this a vendetta or justified accusation? A classification.
Interviewer: Who is this Archbishop Viganò anyway??
Jan Hendrik Stens (Liturgy Editor): He should not be confused with the former prefect of the Vatican media secretariat, Dario Viganò, who has been accused of manipulative publication of a letter from Benedict XVI. resigned last March.
Carlo Maria Viganò has long served in the diplomatic service of the Vatican Secretariat of State and was apostolic nuncio to Nigeria in the 1990s. In 2009, he was then appointed by Pope Benedict as secretary general of the Governatorate of Vatican City. It is a matter of budgetary and financial management. Viganò deplored massive corruption and nepotism there and was able to present a balance sheet in the black for the first time.
But this cleaning up has not pleased everyone in the Vatican. Cardinal Secretary of State Bertone then fired him, which Viganò complained about to the pope. Who then sent him to Washington as Apostolic Nuncio, where he served until 2016. In the wake of the Vatileaks affair, these events have been well documented.
Interviewer: That sounds quite positive for Viganò at first, if he has fought against corruption and nepotism, doesn't it??
Stens: At least he should have a good insight into the work of the Secretariat of State and that of the Vatican administration. But it also explains his strained relationship with Cardinal Bertone. Why Benedict then sent him to Washington is not entirely clear.
Some say he wanted to keep him out of the line of fire at the Vatican and not challenge a decision by his closest adviser, Bertone. Others, however, believe that Viganò was sent to Washington specifically to clean up the mess. Objectively, however, it can be said that the nunciature in Washington is one of the most important in the Catholic Church, which is why Viganò's posting there certainly cannot be described as a "sawing off" or "deportation".
Interviewer: Two years after the end of his term in office, this letter has now been made public. What does it say exactly?
Stens: In it, Archbishop Viganò accused senior Curia officials of thwarting the sexual abuse investigation and appropriate punitive measures. In the target of the letter are above all the former cardinal secretaries of state Sodano and Bertone. But Pope Francis also accuses Viganò of reversing a penalty imposed on Archbishop Emeritus of Washington McCarrick by Pope Benedict.
We do know that Pope Francis recently stripped McCarrick of his cardinal title and imposed a life of penance and seclusion on him. But Francis had already been informed shortly after his election as pope in 2013 that McCarrick had sexually assaulted seminarians and had sexual relations with them, Viganò claims.
Interviewer: The letter, however, speaks of entire "homosexual networks" that reached into the top church leadership. What does this have to do with the abuse scandal?
Stens: A fierce dispute has broken out over this ie. For Viganò, but also for people like Cardinal Burke, practiced homosexuality among priests is one of the basic evils for the sexual abuse of minors and wards. And you can clearly see how now especially homophobic Catholics want to jump on this bandwagon and blame homosexuals for everything. Viganò's text also seems very pathetic and bitter in this regard.
However, he also addresses things that are actually a problem. Last summer, a sex and drug party was broken up by police in the apartment of one of Cardinal Coccopalmerio's associates in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith building. And this was not the first to take place in the Vatican.
There is a story about a now deceased cardinal of the Curia that he got physically too close to a Swiss guardsman in the elevator and received a resounding slap in the face for it. And behind the premature retirement of an Italian bishop "for health reasons" just a year after he took office, Viganò also sees sexual misconduct at work.
We see, then, that Viganò does address problematic points. But there are clear inconsistencies with his accusation against Pope Francis. On one occasion, the penalties imposed by Pope Benedict on McCarrick, and which are said to have been suspended by Francis, were not even known to the public. And if they did exist, they were never acted upon.
Because McCarrick has regularly appeared in public during that time, was even in the Vatican and Archbishop Viganò stood next to him as nuncio and didn't make a face. Pictures prove it. Also, a video is currently circulating in which McCarrick is warmly welcomed by Viganò. Whether this is the high art of a diplomat or whether Viganò is showing himself to be a bit Janus-faced after all, this is a question that should certainly be asked.
Interviewer: If the accusations against Pope Francis are obviously not so valid, what could be the intention behind them??
Stens: There are quite different interpretations. Some observers see a kind of revenge campaign by Viganò against Francis for not making him a cardinal after his retirement two years ago. Further, Viganò also accuses him of bypassing the nunciature in appointing bishops in the U.S., which is unusual.
According to Chilean anti-abuse activist Juan Carlos Cruz, Francis is said to have been anything but satisfied with his nuncio in the U.S. and also to have had experience with his homophobic features. This would at least explain why Francis did not use the services of his nuncio in the appointment of new U.S. bishops.
Because the newly appointed ones put less emphasis on the ies of abortion and homosexuality than some of their brothers in office do. This also clearly shows the division among the bishops in the United States. There are those who back Viganò and those who see a smear campaign against the pope at work.
For the president of the U.S. bishops' conference, Cardinal DiNardo, it will therefore not be easy to mediate here. He wants the accusations made by Viganò to be reviewed in order to either exonerate the accused or hold them accountable. With Pope Francis he has already asked for an audience.
The Catholic Church in the USA, but also far beyond it, is currently facing a test of strength, because everywhere in the world positions are being taken and Francis supporters and Francis opponents are sometimes irreconcilably opposed to each other.