Carlo Maria Viganò

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Carlo Maria Viganò
Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolicnuncio viganoholy 600 1.jpg
Viganò (right) with US President
Barack Obama in 2013
ChurchRoman Catholic Church
Appointed3 April 1992
PredecessorSalvatore Boccaccio
Ordination24 March 1968
by Carlo Allorio
Consecration26 April 1992
by Pope John Paul II
Personal details
Birth nameCarlo Maria Viganò
Born (1941-01-16) 16 January 1941 (age 78)
Varese, Italy
Previous postApostolic Nuncio to the United States (2011–2016)
Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria (1992–1998)
Official of Secretariat of State (1998–2009)
Secretary-General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State (2009–2011)
Alma materPontifical Gregorian University
MottoScio cui credidi
Styles of
Carlo Maria Viganò
Coat of arms of Carlo Maria Viganò.svg
Reference style
Spoken styleYour Excellency
Religious styleArchbishop

Carlo Maria Viganò (Italian pronunciation: [vigaˈnoː]; born 16 January 1941) is an archbishop of the Catholic Church who served as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 19 October 2011 to 12 April 2016. He previously served as Secretary-General of the Governorate of Vatican City State from 16 July 2009 to 3 September 2011.

Early life[edit]

Carlo Maria Viganò was born 16 January 1941 in Varese, Italy. Viganò was ordained a priest on 24 March 1968. He earned a doctorate in utroque iure (both canon and civil law).[1] He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See in 1973, and worked at the papal diplomatic missions in Iraq and Great Britain. From 1978 to 1989, he held posts at the Secretariat of State. He was named Special Envoy and Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 4 April 1989.

Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria[edit]

On 3 April 1992, he was appointed Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana and Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria by Pope John Paul II.[2] He was consecrated by the Pope, with Cardinals Franciszek Macharski and Angelo Sodano serving as co-consecrators, on 26 April.

Personnel chief at the Vatican[edit]

At the close of his mission to Nigeria, he was assigned to functions within the Secretariat of State as delegate for Pontifical Representations, making him the personnel chief for the Roman curia in addition to Vatican diplomats. He served in this role until he became Secretary General of the Governatorate on 16 July 2009.[2]

Secretary General of the Vatican City Governatorate[edit]

In 2009, Viganò was appointed Secretary General of the Vatican City Governatorate. In that role he established centralized accounting procedures and accountability for cost overruns that helped turn a US$10.5 million deficit for the city-state into a surplus of $44 million in one year.[3]

In 2010, Viganò suggested that the Vatican should drop out of the Euro currency agreement in order to avoid new European banking regulations. Instead, the Vatican chose to adhere to the Euro agreement and accept the new scrutiny that tougher banking regulations required.[4] In late January 2012 a television program aired in Italy under the name of Gli intoccabili (The Untouchables),[5] purporting to disclose confidential letters and memos of the Vatican.[6] Among the documents were letters written to the pope and to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, by Viganò, complaining of corruption in Vatican finances and a campaign of defamation against him. Viganò, formerly the second ranked Vatican administrator to the pope, requested not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions in higher contract prices.[7]

On 4 February 2012, Giovanni Lajolo, Giuseppe Bertello, Giuseppe Sciacca, and Giorgio Corbellini issued a joint statement on behalf of the Governatorate of the Vatican: "The unauthorized publication of two letters of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the first addressed to the Holy Father on March 27, 2011, the second to the Cardinal Secretary of State on May 8, for the Governorate of Vatican City is a source of great bitterness[...] The allegations contained in them can not but lead to the impression that the Governorate of Vatican City, instead of being an instrument of responsible government, is an unreliable entity, at the mercy of dark forces. After careful examination of the contents of the two letters, the President of the Governorate sees it as its duty to publicly declare that those assertions are the result of erroneous assessments, or fears based on unsubstantiated evidence, even openly contradicted by the main characters invoked as witnesses."[8]

Velasio De Paolis, former head of the Vatican's Prefecture of the Economic Affairs, its auditing office, said, "From what I know, I don't think there was actual corruption." But he did concede the possibility of "instances of a lack of correctness."[9] John L. Allen Jr. suggests Viganò's transfer could have been about a clash of personalities rather than policy. "[T]his would not seem to be about a courageous whistle-blower who's trying to expose wrong-doing or prompt reform. The motives seem more personal and political." [10]

Apostolic Nuncio to the United States[edit]

On 13 August 2011, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone informed Viganò that Pope Benedict was appointing him Nuncio to the United States.[11] Reuters reported that Viganò was unwilling to take that assignment. Viganò stated that this decision was not what Pope Benedict XVI originally had manifested to him.[12] One of the letters leaked by Benedict's butler in 2012 revealed that Viganò had gone over Bertone's head and complained in a letter to Benedict of corruption in the Vatican, for which Bertone arranged to transfer Viganò to Washington over Viganò's objections.[13]

It was initially reported that Viganò's brother, Fr Lorenzo Viganò, a Jesuit biblical scholar, claimed that his brother lied in telling Benedict he needed to stay in Rome to care for his ailing brother, when apparently Lorenzo was healthy, living in Chicago, and had not spoken to his brother for two years.[14] However, it would later emerge that Fr Lorenzo had falsified these claims due to his taking unequal amounts from his parents' inheritance.[15] In retaliation against his family for preventing his attempted theft, Fr Lorenzo broke off all contact with his siblings and left for America, while there he made false statements against his brother, Viganò, so as to damage his reputation.[16] Four of his siblings came out to condemn and refute these allegations, giving context to the situation, and the irregular situation that Fr Lorenzo finds himself now, separated from his family, friends, and unwilling to normalize his situation in the Archdiocese of Chicago, against Canon Law.[16] The Vatican published Viganò's Washington appointment on 19 October 2011 and Viganò became the 14th papal representative to the United States since the creation of the post in 1893 and the fifth to serve as a diplomatic representative accredited to the government since bilateral diplomatic relations were established in 1984. Viganò said he welcomed the appointment and said that being Apostolic Nuncio to the United States is an "important, vast and delicate" task; he was grateful to Pope Benedict for entrusting him with the mission and he felt called to renew his "trust in the Lord, who asks me to set out again." Being an Apostolic Nuncio, he said, is "a call to know this people, this country and come to love them."[17]

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, commented that the revelation of Viganò's complaints about corruption and cronyism in Vatican finances "in a way … enhances his credibility as someone who does not look upon the internal workings of the Holy See with rose-colored glasses, but is well aware of difficulties there."[18][10]

In 2014, Viganò allegedly ordered officials of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to end an investigation into sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt, who was found innocent by police authorities.[19][20][21] Father Dan Griffith, who served as the Archdiocese's Delegate for Safe Environment between August 2013 and July 2014,[22] wrote an account of a meeting that took place in April 2014,[22] though Viganò later claimed was he not present.[23] Griffith's memo was leaked to the National Catholic Reporter in July 2016 and alleged that Viganò had ordered the Archdiocese's two Auxiliary Bishops Lee A. Piché and Andrew H. Cozzens to carry out the destruction of evidence.[22] In the meeting, Viganò stated that before the law firm which was appointed, Greene Espel, continue on to investigate the Swiss guards, they should allow Nienstedt to give his account based on the principle of audiatur et altera pars.[24] Viganò alleged that the decision was misinterpreted by Griffith to mean that investigation was to stop, and this was put into the archives. However, according to him, when he was informed he asked that this be removed and corrected, and official letters of correction were issued to Church officials to clarify this, as opposed to the versions that the newspapers attempt to relate.[25][26] On 11 March 2014, local county officials announced they had concluded an intensive investigation and would not file charges against Nienstedt, who announced his return to public ministry the same day.[27][28][19] In 2018, Viganò provided documents to LifeSiteNews to show that he attempted to have the mistake clarified and did not order an end to the investigation.[29] Griffith responded to Viganò's allegations and defended his memo.[30] Cozzens also responded with a statement defending Griffith and stating that Viganò did in fact order him and Piché to end the investigation.[31]

Kim Davis meeting[edit]

On 24 September 2015 during his visit to the United States, Pope Francis met Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On 2 October, Thomas Rosica, a Vatican spokesman, said that the office of Viganò had extended the invitation to Davis. Chief Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi depicted the meeting as one among many brief introductions rather than an audience.[32][33][34]

On 30 August 2018, Viganò released a statement of his account of the meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis. He claims that the meeting was a private meeting and it may have lasted as long as 15 minutes, he also confirms that the Pope "embraced her affectionately, thanked her for her courage, and invited her to persevere."[35]

Juan Carlo Cruz, a survivor of sexual abuse who met with Pope Francis, alleged that Viganò "nearly sabotaged the visit" by having Francis meet Davis. "I didn’t know who that woman was, and he snuck her in to say hello to me — and of course they made a whole publicity out of it," Pope Francis said, according to Cruz. Francis supposedly told Cruz that he was "horrified" and that he then "fired that nuncio."[36] Viganò replied by releasing a letter to LifeSiteNews, stating that "the pope knew very well who Davis was, and he and his close collaborators had provided the private audience."[37] Subsequently, Vatican spokesman Lombardi and Thomas Rosica confirmed that the evening prior to Francis' meeting with Davis, Viganò had indeed spoken "with the pope and his collaborators and received a consensus" regarding the meeting.[37] Shortly after the meeting, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington informed a reporter that both he and Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then-president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had advised Archbishop Viganò against arranging the meeting.[38] Lombardi and Rosica also stated that the pope had indeed been unhappy with Viganò regarding the Davis meeting, not because she had denied wedding licenses to gay couples, but because she had been married four times.[37] Nonetheless, Lombardi stated that the "initiative" for the Davis meeting had come from Viganò, and that "the pope and his collaborators" had not fully realized the "significance" of the meeting.[37]


In January 2016, he submitted his resignation as required when he turned 75 years old. On 12 April 2016, Pope Francis accepted Viganò's resignation and named Archbishop Christophe Pierre to succeed him as nuncio to the United States.[39]

August 2018 letter[edit]

On 25 August 2018, Viganò released an 11-page letter describing a series of warnings to the Vatican regarding Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.[40][41] Two months earlier, in June 2018, it had been publicly revealed that McCarrick had abused a minor as well as multiple adult seminarians. As a result, he resigned as a cardinal, and he was forbidden by Pope Francis from leaving the grounds where he was residing, and also from celebrating Mass in public, pending the results of a canonical trial.[42][43][44]

According to Viganò's letter, in 2000, Gabriel Montalvo (then nuncio to the United States) had informed the Vatican of McCarrick's "gravely immoral behaviour with seminarians and priests."[40] Subsequently, Viganò alleges, Pietro Sambi (nuncio from 2005 to 2011) informed the Vatican again before Viganò himself wrote his own memo regarding McCarrick in 2006.[40] However, according to Viganò, nothing was done until Pope Benedict XVI to stop McCarrick.[40]

Accusations against Pope Francis[edit]

Viganò says that in 2007 he wrote a second memo that included material from clerical sexual abuse expert Richard Sipe.[40] Viganò says this led Pope Benedict XVI in 2009 or 2010 to place severe restrictions on McCarrick's movements and public ministry, not allowing him to venture beyond the seminary grounds where he was living, and not permitting him to say Mass in public.[40][45] Nevertheless, according to Viganò, Pope Francis removed these sanctions and made McCarrick "his trusted counselor," even though Francis "knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. He knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end."[40][45]

In the letter containing these allegations, Viganò called on Francis and all others who covered up McCarrick's conduct to resign.[40][45] Viganò stated: "In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal church, he [Pope Francis] 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... 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."[46]

Accusations against others[edit]

In his letter, Viganò accuses three consecutive Vatican secretaries of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Cardinal Pietro Parolin, of knowing about McCarrick's behavior but doing nothing about it.[47]

In his letter, Viganò names several high-ranking prelates that he claims were aware of Pope Benedict's restrictions on McCarrick, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Cardinal William Levada, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, Archbishop Ilson de Jesus Montanari, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Cardinal Angelo Becciu, and Bishop Robert McElroy.[41][48] Viganò's letter claims that these cardinals and prelates knew about McCarrick's sexual harassment of young adult seminarians; it does not claim that anyone knew of McCarrick's sexual abuse of minors.[20]

Viganò also claimed that McCarrick "orchestrated" the appointments of Blase Cupich as Archbishop of Chicago and Joseph Tobin as Archbishop of Newark.[40][45]

Assessments of letter by news media[edit]

The New York Times stated that Viganò's letter contained "unsubstantiated allegations and personal attacks," and described it as "an extraordinary public declaration of war against Francis' papacy at perhaps its most vulnerable moment."[45] It pointed out that during the time period that Viganò alleged McCarrick was subject to restrictions on his ministry, McCarrick continued to publicly celebrate Mass, and even joined with other bishops to present Pope Benedict a birthday cake in 2012.[45] One notable mass which McCarrick participated in occurred at the 2010 papal consistory where Donald Wuerl, his successor as Archbishop of Washington D.C., was made a cardinal.[49] McCarrick also made a public appearance at the Library of Congress in 2011 and joined other American bishops during their five-year "check-in" with Pope Benedict in January 2012.[49] He made several trips to the Vatican during this period as well,[49] and participated in a mass with other U.S. bishops at Saint Peter's tomb during the January 2012 visit.[50]

Viganò's defenders suggested that Benedict did not impose formal sanctions but instead made an informal request to McCarrick to assume a low profile and that he was then unwilling to enforce these restrictions. As evidence, they pointed to Benedict's other supposedly half-hearted attempts to discipline prelates accused of misconduct, a Washington Post article claiming that McCarrick "always did whatever he damn well wanted" as an indicator that he could have ignored attempted restrictions, and contemporary media reports noting that McCarrick enjoyed a more visible role after Francis's election than he had while Benedict XVI was still pope.[51][52] Archbishop Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict's personal secretary and "trusted lieutenant," described reports that Pope Benedict confirmed Viganò's letter as "fake news."[49] On 7 October, after being asked to come forward by Viganò, Cardinal Marc Ouellet stated that he was aware of informal restrictions that Benedict XVI had asked McCarrick to abide by, but that there were no formal sanctions.[53]

Journalists at the time of the appointments of both Cupich and Tobin reported that McCarrick had played the decisive role in recommending both to their positions as archbishop of Chicago and Newark, respectively, as consistent with the claim made in Viganò's testimony.[51] The Guardian stated "Linking Pope Francis with the protection of a sexual abuser is false. But the rage behind it will not go away."[54]

Viganò reported that the sanctions were instituted in 2009 and 2010, and that at that time, McCarrick was ordered to leave the grounds of Redemptoris Mater Archdiocesan Seminary in which he was living. Two sources present at a 2008 meeting between Sambi and McCarrick told Catholic News Agency that Sambi ordered him to move out of the seminary and testified that Sambi specifically stated that it was at the instruction of Pope Benedict XVI. McCarrick indeed left the seminary in around early 2009, and subsequently moved into the parish of St. Thomas the Apostle in Woodley Park, Washington D.C.[55]

The Catholic magazine America, published by the Jesuits of the United States, listed several other public appearances McCarrick made during this time.[20] America proposed several reasons the letter seemed credible, including Viganò's inside role in these matters as well as Pope Francis's alleged "lack of progress" and "lack of urgency" regarding sexual abuse; it also proposed several reasons to be skeptical about the letter, including Viganò's "perceived hostility toward Pope Francis" for having removed him from his post in 2016, allegedly because Viganò was seen as having "become too enmeshed in U.S. culture wars, particularly regarding same-sex marriage."[20] Viganò had also allegedly tried to quash an inquiry into Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt for misconduct with adult seminarians, and the National Catholic Reporter alleged that Viganò destroyed evidence against Nienstedt.[20][21][22] (Nienstedt subsequently resigned as a result of his poor handling of sex abuse cases.)[21] Viganò disputed these reports in comments to the conservative website LifeSiteNews. He claimed that they originated with an error by two other bishops participating in the investigation, and provided documents to show that he attempted to have the mistake clarified and did not order an end to the investigation.[29] Viganò also told the Associated Press that claims that he had attempted to cut short the investigation were false.[21] Viganò's claims were disputed by Griffith, who stood by his 2014 memo.[30] Cozzens also stated that Viganò told him to end the investigation and that he and Griffith had both objected to this request.[31]

The Associated Press characterized Viganò as "a conservative whose hardline anti-gay views are well known," and said the letter "reads in part like a homophobic attack on Francis and his allies."[21]

On 1 September 2018, the New York Times reported that Viganò had personally presented McCarrick with an award for missionary service in 2012 at the Pierre Hotel in Manhattan and praised him as "very much loved from us all."[49] The article said that "if Archbishop Viganò is to be believed, he was keeping a troubling secret." Conservative media countered by suggesting that he was unable to back out of the ceremony and exerted no control over it.[49] Viganò himself said that he "couldn’t make the slightest impression that I had something against the cardinal in public."[56]

Responses to letter[edit]

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement declaring that Viganò's letter raised questions which "deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past."[57]

The McCarrick case and Viganò allegations, happening at about the same time as the conclusion of the Grand jury investigation of Catholic Church sexual abuse in Pennsylvania, which alleged systematic cover-up of clergy sex abuse by bishops in Pennsylvania over decades, produced what has variously been described as a "Catholic insurgency" or "Catholic civil war." Significant numbers of lay Catholics have called on bishops implicated in alleged cover-ups as well as Pope Francis to resign. The issues have also opened up ideological divisions within the Church. A large number of conservatives, many of whom have long disliked Pope Francis, have called on him and certain bishops to resign, while liberals, who have been supportive of Francis's papacy in the past, have more commonly criticized the letter and defended the Pope.[58][59][60] Matthew Schmitz, editor of the conservative journal First Things, identified three sides to this civil war: those on the "right" who want a crack-down on sexually active gay priests, those on the "left" who want the Church to change its teaching on the immorality of homosexual sex, and those supporting "a muddled modus vivendi" in which the Church continues to proclaim "that homosexual acts are wrong while quietly tolerating them among the clergy."[60]

Reaction of Pope Francis[edit]

Asked by a reporter to respond to Viganò's allegations, Pope Francis replied, "I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you [the reporter] and all those who are interested. Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions. It’s an act of faith. When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak. But, I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you."[61][62][63][45][64]

According to veteran Vatican journalist John Allen, the "clear suggestion" from Francis was that "if they did so, the charges would crumble under their own weight,"[65] while others saw the Vatican's silence and Viganò's strong insistence that documents related to the case be made public as indication that the latter was likely telling the truth.[51] The publication One Peter Five characterized the pope's response as typical for his "autocratic temperament that has come to be widely known in the Vatican," but is seen by the popular press as an aberration. The article connects the response to Francis's known admiration of the Argentinian dictator, Juan Peron, and interprets it as meaning, "... [W]hether the charges are true or untrue is, as far as the bottom line is concerned, immaterial; he, Pope Francis alone, will deign to say when and if his run has ended ..."[66] On 28 August, Bishop Thomas J. Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, said, in reference to Francis's statement, "Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate." He called on all Vatican officials, including Francis, to "make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when...and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised."[67] Bishop Marian Eleganti said that Francis's refusal "to say a single word about [the accusations against him] is a classic non-denial."[68]

On 3 September, the Pope said "With people who do not have good will, with people who seek only scandal, who seek only division, who seek only destruction, even within families," the answer is "silence. And prayer." Many found this to be a clear reference to his decision to remain silent about the scandal.[69][70] On 11 September, referring to the devil, Pope Francis said:

In these times, it seems like the Great Accuser has been unchained and is attacking bishops...True, we are all sinners, we bishops. He tries to uncover the sins, so they are visible in order to scandalize the people...The Great Accuser, as he himself says to God in the first chapter of the Book of Job, ‘roams the earth looking for someone to accuse’.[71]

Supportive responses[edit]

Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, who had served as first counsellor at the nunciature in Washington, D.C., stated that "Viganò said the truth," but declined to elaborate further. In his letter, Viganò had cited Lantheaume as the one who told him about the alleged "stormy" encounter between McCarrick and Sambi in which Sambi informed McCarrick of the sanctions being placed on him.[47]

Thomas Olmsted, Bishop of Phoenix, stated that he had "always known and respected [Viganò] as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity," and asked that the claims in his letter "be investigated thoroughly."[72] Similarly, David Konderla, Bishop of Tulsa, stated that Viganò's allegations would be "a good place to begin the investigations that must happen."[73] Joseph E. Strickland, Bishop of Tyler, went further, stating that he found Viganò's allegations "credible."[74] Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke said that Viganò's claims "must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church" and added that "each declaration must be subject to investigation."[75] Salvatore Cordileone, Archbishop of San Francisco, said that Viganò was a man of "selfless dedication" with "integrity and sincere love of the Church." Cordileone also said that his calls for Pope Francis's resignation "must be taken seriously."[76]

Robert C. Morlino, Bishop of Madison, said that Viganò has "impeccable integrity" and he had "offered a number of concrete, real allegations in his recent document, giving names, dates, places, and the location of supporting documentation," and that these allegations justified a canonical investigation.[77] Morlino also expressed disappointment that Pope Francis had not given a direct response when asked about this matter, and accused the National Catholic Reporter of "leading the charge in a campaign of vilification against Archbishop Viganò."[77]

Paprocki called on all Vatican officials, including Francis, to "make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when...and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised."[67] Archbishop Paul Stagg Coakley professed to having "the deepest respect for Archbishop Viganó and his personal integrity" and called for an investigation and a "purification" of the Church.[78] Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Kazakhstan stated that there was "no reasonable and plausible cause to doubt the truth content of the document." He demanded "ruthlessness and transparency" in cleansing the Church of evils, particularly "homosexual cliques and networks" in the curia.[79]

Critical responses[edit]

Some American bishops were critical of Viganò's missive. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, Archbishop of Newark, released a statement criticizing Viganò's statement for "factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology."[80] Cardinal Blase Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, said the language of the letter seemed political: "It was so scattershot that it was hard to read if it was ideological in some ways, or it was payback to others for personal slights that he had because there were some people who in his past he felt had mistreated him."[81] Cupich said he was "taken aback" by the negative language Viganò used with regard to him.[81] Cupich described the letter as a distraction from the Church's "bigger agenda": "We have to speak about the environment, about the poor, we have to reach out to people who are marginalized in society. We cannot be distracted at this moment."[82] When asked about those criticizing Francis, he responded, "Quite frankly, they also don’t like him because he’s a Latino." While Pope Francis was born in Argentina, both of his parents are Italians.[83]

Robert McElroy, Bishop of San Diego, said that the letter, instead of seeking "comprehensive truth," showed "partisanship, division and distortion" in "its ideologically-driven selection of bishops who are attacked, in its clear efforts to settle old personal scores, in its omission of any reference to Archbishop Viganò's own massive personal participation in the covering up of sexual abuse by bishops, and most profoundly in its hatred for Pope Francis and all that he has taught."[48] McElroy reiterated past charges against Viganò regarding his own handling of sexual abuse which he had previously disputed.[23] Contrary to Viganò's claims, a spokesman for Wuerl stated that he had never received any information from Viganò concerning restrictions on McCarrick.[84] On 30 August, Wuerl wrote a letter to priests in the archdiocese saying, "We need to hold close in our prayers and loyalty our Holy Father, Pope Francis. Increasingly, it is clear that he is the object of concentrated attack."[85]

All of these above-mentioned clerics were criticized in the letter by Viganò.[86]

In an interview published on 27 November, Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect Emeritus for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, criticized Viganò's language against Pope Francis, saying, "No one has the right to indict the pope or ask him to resign!" He said that these conversations "must take place in private, in the proper places, and without ever making a public controversy." Müller went on to say that such "attacks...end up questioning the credibility of the Church and her mission." He added that he is convinced that the Pope "is doing everything possible" to resolve the abuse scandal. Müller suggested that Pope Francis appoint a commission of cardinals to study the abuse scandal and called for unity amongst the Church's different theological wings.[87]

Involvement of Marco Tosatti[edit]

After the letter was published, Italian journalist Marco Tosatti claimed that he had helped Viganò write and edit the letter. Tosatti stated that Viganò "had called him a few weeks ago out of the blue asking to meet, and then proceeded to tell him the information that became the basis of the testimony." When they met, Viganò brought a draft of the document, and then Tosatti helped Viganò rewrite and edit it. Tosatti said the reason Viganò wrote the letter now was that "77 is an age where you start preparing yourself ... he couldn’t have a clear conscience unless he spoke." After the document was completed, Tosatti located publications that were willing to publish the letter: the Italian daily La Verità, the English-language National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews, and the Spanish website InfoVaticana.[88]

Follow-up letters and response from Cardinal Ouellet[edit]

On 27 September 2018, Viganò released a follow-up letter (dated 29 September). In this letter, Viganò explained why he had broken the "pontifical secret" by publishing his first letter. He criticized Francis for not having responded directly to the original letter, but instead having compared his critics to Satan. Viganò stated that it was Cardinal Marc Ouellet who had informed him of the sanctions that Benedict XVI had allegedly placed on McCarrick, and urged Ouellet to publicly confirm this claim.[89][90] He restated that on 23 June 2013, he had told Pope Francis "how perverse and evil McCarrick was in his intentions and actions," but stated that despite this knowledge, "the pope made McCarrick one of his principal agents in governing the Church."[89] He wrote, "Neither the pope, nor any of the cardinals in Rome have denied the facts I asserted in my testimony."[90]

On 7 October, Cardinal Ouellet replied to Viganò in a public letter.[53][91] He confirmed that during the papacy of Benedict XVI, McCarrick "had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances", but he insisted that these restrictions should not be seen as "sanctions" or "formally imposed", referring to them rather as "conditions and restrictions that he [McCarrick] had to follow on account of some rumors about his past conduct." He defended the decision not to impose formal sanctions on him, stating that this was a matter of "prudence" as there was not yet sufficient evidence to implicate him. Ouellet also confirmed that in 2011, he had "verbally" told Viganò about the restrictions on McCarrick. However, he argued that as these were not formal sanctions, Viganò's letter was "false" for claiming that Benedict imposed sanctions on McCarrick which Francis subsequently lifted.[53] In other passages, Ouellet called Viganò's accusations "far-fetched," "blasphemous," "incomprehensible," and "abhorrent."[91]

Nevertheless, many journalists and analysts have pointed out that, despite denouncing the archbishop, Ouellet confirmed in substance one of Viganò's key claims:[92][93] Restrictions, even if non-canonical penalties, were imposed on McCarrick because the Vatican authorities were not only aware of the accusations but believed them to be true.[94]

On 19 October, Viganò released a third letter in which he alleged that, despite Ouellet's denials, for years "the Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts" concerning McCarrick's activities, and that documents proving this allegation are kept in the Vatican Archives. Concerning Ouellet's response to the Archbishop's second letter, which included heavy criticism, Viganò said, "Cardinal Ouellet concedes the important claims."[95][96] He denounced the "conspiracy of silence" in the Church hierarchy which he believes oppresses victims and protects abusers. Viganò ended the letter by urging other bishops to come forward with what they knew: "You too are faced with a choice. You can choose to withdraw from the battle, to prop up the conspiracy of silence and avert your eyes from the spreading of corruption or choose to speak."[96] Eight days later, Cardinal Agostino Cacciavillan stated that he received a complaint about McCarrick in 1994 while serving as papal nuncio, and then forwarded it to Cardinal John O'Connor of New York, who supposedly conducted an investigation that yielded nothing. Cacciavillan said that he did not attempt to directly contact the Vatican.[97]

On 10 January 2019, The Washington Post published a story stating that Wuerl, despite his past denials, was aware of allegations against McCarrick in 2004 by former priest Robert Ciolek and reported them to the Vatican. Both the Diocese of Pittsburgh and the Diocese of Washington acknowledged that Wuerl knew about and had reported Ciolek's allegation to the Vatican.[98]

On 14 January, Viganò urged McCarrick to publicly repent for his actions, telling him that his "eternal salvation is at stake." He continued, "Time is running out. But you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public."[99]

In February 2019, French author Frédéric Martel affirmed that Pope Francis's aides told him that Viganò had informed Francis about allegations involving seminarians but that Francis had dismissed them. According to Martel, "when the Pope dismissed the allegations, his entourage indicated to me that 'Francis was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough to condemn him.'"[100]

Controversy surrounding family estate[edit]

On 15 November 2018, it was revealed that a civil court in Milan, Italy had issued a ruling in October 2018 which ordered Viganò to surrender 1.8 million euro of inheritance, plus interest and legal fees, to his brother Father Lorenzo Viganò.[101][102][103] He had been managing his brother's inheritance since their father’s death in 1961 and was ordered to pay back his brother Lorenzo, a Jesuit biblical scholar and priest of the Italian Diocese of Pavia who has resided in Chicago, and whom he has also long been on bad terms with,[103][102][101] compensation for the money which he used allegedly from Lorenzo's share in the inheritance, along with interest and legal fees.[101][102][103] The money which Lorenzo received accounted for half of what Viganò collected from the inheritance.[101][103] Lorenzo had previously filed a lawsuit against Viganò in 2010 as well,[103] but later dropped his first case in 2014 after Viganò agreed to donate $180,000 to a children's hospital in Tanzania where a daughter of their sister Rosanna Viganò was working,[102] and also return to Rosanna 8,600 euro ($11,000) used in 1983 in order to buy an apartment.[102][103] Documents from the 2011-2012 Vatileaks scandal also revealed that Viganò had sought to use Lorenzo's health problems, which resulted from a stroke, as a reason to take leave from the Vatican, claiming that he needed to care for his ailing brother.[101] However, Lorenzo reported that Viganò's attempt to take Vatican leave was not for this reason and that he was only seeking it as a way to obtain better access to the family property and assets.[102]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Paul Fouad Tabet
Apostolic Nuncio to Nigeria
3 April 1992 – 4 April 1998
Succeeded by
Osvaldo Padilla
Preceded by
Pietro Sambi
Apostolic Nuncio to the United States
19 October 2011 – 12 April 2016
Succeeded by
Christophe Pierre
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Salvatore Boccaccio
Archbishop of Ulpiana
3 April 1992 – present
Preceded by
Francesco Monterisi
Delegate for Pontifical Representations
4 April 1998 – 16 July 2009
Succeeded by
Luciano Suriani
Preceded by
Renato Boccardo
Secretary-General of the Governatorate of the Vatican City State
16 July 2009 – 3 September 2011
Succeeded by
Giuseppe Sciacca