Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (shown) has dropped what some figuratively call a nuclear bomb on the Vatican with his 11-page exposé of clerical sexual abuse, homosexuality, and coverup by officials in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church.
Vigano's "Testimony" calls for Pope Francis to resign, accusing him of having protected and enabled now 83-year-old Cardinal Emeritus Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C., whose decades-long priestly and episcopal career has been riddled with accusations of child abuse and homosexual relations with seminarians and priests. The Holy See removed McCarrick from public ministry in June of this year after the Archdiocese of New York decided that allegations in one case of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old altar boy were "credible and substantiated." But according to Vigano, the Vatican has known for decades of McCarrick's "gravely immoral behavior," leading the predecessor of Francis, Benedict XVI, to impose canonical sanctions on McCarrick intended to remove him from public ministry — sanctions that Vigano claims Francis subsequently lifted.
Vigano also indicts the current archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is listed at fault in the Pennsylvania grand jury report published August 14, detailing the history of child sexual abuse in six of that state's dioceses. His "Testimony" lists dozens of names of Catholic prelates who have known or been party to "homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc.," and that "act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church." (Incidentally, Pope Francis himself confirmed the existence of this so-called Lavender Mafia, when he was quoted in 2013 as saying, "The 'gay lobby' is mentioned, and it is true, it is there.... We need to see what we can do." The cabal he described has been frequently mentioned in media for years with bold candor, as exemplified in this 2013 Vanity Fair article.)
Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, named in Vigano's report, issued his own statement in which he denied no accusations but called Vigano's credibility and veracity into question. Nor did Pope Francis deny anything — except media's subsequent inquiries. When asked by the press about the "Testimony," he side-stepped their questions, leaving listeners scratching their heads, with this reply:
Read the statement carefully yourselves, and make your own judgment. I am not going to say a word about this. I believe that the statement speaks for itself, and you all have sufficient journalistic ability to draw conclusions. It is an act of trust. When a little time goes by and you have drawn conclusions, perhaps I will speak about it. But I would like your professional maturity to do this work. [It] will do you all good. Really.
Some claim that was Francis' way of saying "I'm not going to dignify this with a response." Many, quick to defend the Pope, attacked Vigano's character. They accused him of spearheading a well-planned attack by conservative circles in an attempt to force Francis' resignation, and of violating his "oath of fidelity to the Pope and the official secret," as Italian news outlet La Stampa reported.
For others, that's not good enough, and they demand definitive answers to Vigano's bombshell, saying that Catholics deserve a concrete response from their pontiff. Bishop Joseph E. Strickland of Tyler, Texas, has publicly called for a "thorough investigation" of the "credible accusations" in the report. Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume, former first counselor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C., also named in the "Testimony," told the Catholic News Agency, "Vigano told the truth. That's all."
"The declarations made by a prelate of the authority of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano," Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke told LifeSite News, "must be subject to investigation, according to the Church's time-tried procedural law."
Now retired, Vigano served as secretary-general of the Governorate of Vatican City State under Benedict XVI, and as apostolic nuncio to the United States during the reigns of both Benedict and Francis. He was consecrated a cardinal by Pope John Paul II and was assigned as personnel chief for the Roman curia during that pontificate.
Photo of Catholic Archbishop Carlo Vigano: AP Images