ROME — A former Vatican ambassador said Friday that a supposed rebuttal of his claims that Pope Francis grossly mishandled the case of serial homosexual abuser Cardinal Theodore McCarrick actually confirms the substance of his accusations.
In the latest chapter of an ongoing saga that began last summer, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò wrote Friday that the Vatican’s “conspiracy of silence” over the McCarrick case, and particularly the pope’s role in it, “has wrought and continues to wreak great harm in the Church — harm to so many innocent souls, to young priestly vocations, to the faithful at large.”
In his original, 11-page report released on August 25, Archbishop Viganò said that the pope had knowledge of McCarrick’s decade of sexual abuse since 2013 and yet lifted sanctions that had been imposed upon him and elevated him to a role of exceptional influence in the Vatican.
On October 7, the Vatican prefect of the Congregation of Bishops struck back, denouncing the former papal nuncio for his “unjust and unjustified attack” against Pope Francis, yet did not refute the central claims of his report.
“I think it is abhorrent,” wrote Cardinal Marc Ouellet in an open letter, “for you to use the clamorous sexual abuse scandal in the United States to inflict an unmerited and unheard of a blow to the moral authority of your superior, the Supreme Pontiff.”
In his letter, however, the cardinal admitted that Pope Benedict had curbed McCarrick’s activities due to concerns about his behavior. “The former Cardinal,” Ouellet writes, “had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him.”
The Congregation of bishops urged McCarrick through different channels “to lead a life of prayer and penance, for his own good and for the good of the Church,” he stated.
In his own reply Friday, Viganò said that McCarrick’s well-known misdeeds were not just a “rumor” because the Vatican had a paper trail of letters and reports documenting the former cardinal’s homosexual abuse of priests and seminarians.
Viganò said that he met Pope Francis face-to-face in his apartment on June 23, 2013, at which time the pope asked him what he thought of Cardinal McCarrick.
“I told him that McCarrick had sexually corrupted generations of priests and seminarians, and had been ordered by Pope Benedict to confine himself to a life of prayer and penance,” Viganò said. “No pope could forget that.”
“Instead, McCarrick continued to enjoy the special regard of Pope Francis and was given new responsibilities and missions by him,” Viganò claims.
According to the former nuncio, Cardinal Ouellet made a series of concessions regarding all the salient points in his report, namely that Ouellet spoke with him about McCarrick’s situation prior to his leaving for Washington to begin his post as nuncio, that he communicated in writing the conditions and restrictions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict, and that these restrictions forbade McCarrick to travel or to make public appearances.
“In brief, Cardinal Ouellet concedes the important claims that I did and do make, and disputes claims I don’t make and never made,” Viganò wrote Friday.
There are further, very serious claims, Viganò adds, that Ouellet never addresses.
“McCarrick was part of a network of bishops promoting homosexuality who exploiting their favor with Pope Francis manipulated episcopal appointments so as to protect themselves from justice and to strengthen the homosexual network in the hierarchy and in the Church at large,” he wrote.
The archbishop said that until this internal rot is dealt with, there can be no real reform of the Church.
According to Viganò, the “underlying reason” why there are so many victims of clerical sex abuse is “the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy.”
This “very grave crisis” cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names, he said. “This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform.”
“It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons,” he said. “It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality.”
“It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it,” he added.
While philandering clergy “usually do not recruit other philanderers, nor work to promote them, nor cover-up their misdeeds,” he said, “the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming.”
“It is well established that homosexual predators exploit clerical privilege to their advantage,” he said. “But to claim the crisis itself to be clericalism is pure sophistry.”
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