ROME — The former papal nuncio to the United States has claimed that the “third most powerful person” in the Vatican curia was credibly accused of sexual abuse prior to his appointment, which Pope Francis “essentially ignored.”
Pope Francis elevated Venezuelan Archbishop Edgar Robinson Peña Parra to the position of “Sostituto” of the Vatican’s secretary of state On August 15, 2018, despite having received a “terrifying dossier” from a group of lay faithful from Maracaibo, Venezuela, chronicling the archbishop’s history of “terrible immorality,” said Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.
The archbishop made these allegations in an interview this summer with the Washington Post, but the Post opted to omit them in the published version of the interview. The missing passages were released this week by LifeSiteNews.
According to Archbishop Viganò, the pope’s mishandling of the case of Peña Parra “might even be a scandal surpassing that of McCarrick, and it must not be allowed to be covered by silence.”
Back in January 2000, Maracaibo journalist Gastón Guisandes López had already “made serious accusations against some priests from the diocese of Maracaibo, including Msgr. Peña Parra, involving sexual abuse of minors and other possibly criminal activity,” Viganò said.
“Edgar Peña Parra was accused of having seduced, on September 24, 1990, two minor seminarians from the parish of San Pablo, who were to enter the Major Seminary of Maracaibo that same year,” Viganò alleged, a case that was reported to the police by the parents of the two young men, although apparently without effect.
A second accusation against Peña Parra concerned his alleged involvement in the death of two people, “a doctor and a certain Jairo Pérez, which took place in August 1992, on the island of San Carlos in Lake Maracaibo.”
The two men were killed by an electric discharge, and their corpses were found naked, “with evidence of macabre homosexual lewd encounters,” Viganò stated.
Despite the gravity of these accusations, Peña Parra was not required to face them but “was allowed to continue in the diplomatic service of the Holy See,” the archbishop added.
Viganò said that the behavior of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, has been “particularly egregious” in the affair of Peña Parra since “he did not oppose the recent appointment of Peña Parra as Substitute, making him his closest collaborator” despite his familiarity with the charges against him.
Yet if Parolin’s responsibilities are grave, “even more so are those of Pope Francis for having chosen for an extremely important position in the Church a man accused of such serious crimes, without first insisting on an open and thorough investigation,” the archbishop asserted.
In light of the allegations from Viganò, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, called for a thorough investigation into the charges since the faithful have a right to know what is going on in this matter.
Linking to the LifeSiteNews article, Strickland tweeted a response to a Catholic who had expressed consternation at the accusations.
“Faithful Catholics who believe in the Eucharist & pray the rosary need to demand an investigation of this & a clear reporting of the truth,” the bishop tweeted.
The bishop also advised the faithful to put pressure on their bishops and on the Holy See.
“First pray, then write letters: keep them brief and to the point,” Strickland said, when asked what measures the faithful have at their disposal.