Monday, August 27, 2018

Why the Viganò Letter is Credible

Cardinal Gottfried Danneels (second from right) appears on the Loggia with
the newly elected Pope Francis in 2013. Danneels had retired under a cloud
for his audio-recorded badgering of a sex abuse victim.
The testimony written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has set off shockwaves. Not only does Archbishop Viganò name names of bishops and Cardinals who have covered up the sex abuse scandal, he directly implicates Pope Francis and calls on him—and his inner circle of Cardinals—to resign. To quote Archbishop Viganò’s letter directly:
“Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for total transparency in the Church and for bishops and faithful to act with parrhesia [that is, candor and the courage to speak the truth to power -ed.]. The faithful throughout the world also demand this of him in an exemplary manner. He must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests."
Archbishop Viganò then provides the answer:
"In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him [ie, Cardinal McCarrick -ed.]. He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with [Cardinal -ed.] Maradiaga." 
These are deeply disturbing allegations and while we don’t yet know for sure whether they are completely true, we do know that they are credible. A very troubling pattern has emerged over the past few years which show that Pope Francis, at the very least, has put his personal imprimatur upon several prelates, including McCarrick, who have been disgraced over their handling of sex abuse cases or who have actively taken the side of the predators over the victims. These include the following:
  1. During the infamous 2015 Synod on the Family, Pope Francis personally appointed retired Belgian Cardinal Gottfried Danneels as one of the Synod fathers. At the time, he was advised to reconsider this appointment because, among other reasons, Cardinal Danneels had tried to cover up a sex abuse and was caught doing so in an audio recording. Also, to say that Danneels was an ineffective teacher of Catholic moral teaching would be a grotesque understatement [warning, the content at the preceding link is utterly vile.] Pope Francis ignored the advice and proceeded to appoint Cardinal Danneels anyway. Danneels also bragged that he had been a leader of the so-called “Saint Gallen’s Mafia”—a group of dissident prelates which had worked to undermine Pope Benedict.

  2. Earlier this year, Pope Francis defended the infamous Bishop Barros of Chile and attacked the bishop’s accusers. He insisted there was “no evidence” against Barros and said, “The day they bring me proof against Bishop Barros, then I will speak. There is not a single piece of proof against him. Everything is calumny. Is that clear?” However, it later emerged that Pope Francis had been advised by Chilean bishops not to appoint Barros in the first place because of credible accusations, but he had ignored this advice and proceeded to appoint Barros anyway. Francis only backed down afterwards when a firestorm erupted in Chile. He accepted Barros’s resignation in June of 2018.

  3. Cardinal Maradiaga, who is called out specifically in the Viganò letter above, is to this day considered one of Pope Francis’s trusted advisers. He even spoke at the recently concluded World Meeting of Families in Dublin. But earlier this year, Maradiaga evinced the same dismissive attitude toward an unprecedented appeal from seminarians in his native Honduras. A letter, signed by 48 seminarians, claimed that they were being victimized by a predatory homosexual cabal in the seminary. In response, Cardinal Maradiaga attacked the seminarians, calling them “gossipers” who wished to portray their fellows in a bad light. He also apparently attempted to protect one of his underlings, Bishop Juan Jose Pineda, who had been implicated as an abuser. However, in July of 2018, Bishop Juan Jose Pineda was forced to resign after the allegations of the seminarians proved valid beyond any doubt. Despite this, and the fact that Maradiaga has also been implicated in misappropriation of Church funds, he continues to be part of Pope Francis’s inner circle.
So sadly, there is a disturbing pattern of behavior here, and it is against this backdrop that the accusations in the Viganò letter become credible. The Pope’s behavior may simply be caused by a tragic ineptitude, gross naivete or a blind desire to put loyalty to friends ahead of the truth—frankly, I prefer that one of the above be the case. Though these above would be great and possibly disqualifying failings, they at least point to the potential (however distant) for reform emanating from the Vatican. There are, however, alternative explanations that are too horrific to even consider at this point.

We will have to see how events play out. To this point, however, I remain impressed by the words of Archbishop Viganò, who said in his letter:
“My conscience requires me also to reveal facts that I have experienced personally, concerning Pope Francis, that have a dramatic significance, which as Bishop, sharing the collegial responsibility of all the bishops for the universal Church, do not allow me to remain silent, and that I state here, ready to reaffirm them under oath by calling on God as my witness.” 
He, of all the individuals involved in these sordid affairs, at least sounds like a Catholic.

May God Almighty thwart the efforts of the prince of this world to corrupt the Church.

May Jesus Christ, the Just Judge, bring down divine justice upon all of those who bring filth and scandal into the Church.

May the Holy Spirit inspire great saints to rise up and cleanse the Church.

May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for the faithful and encourage us during this tribulation.

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