The Holy See's Response to Abp. Vigano's Seismic Accusations

October 16, 2018
Cardinal Marc Ouellet

In answer to the accusations against Pope Francis concerning the way he has dealt with clerical abuse of minors, the Vatican released a double response on October 6 and 7, 2018: an in-depth investigation on one hand, an open letter to the former Nuncio behind the accusations on the other.

On October 6, 2018, the Holy See Press Office announced an in-depth examination of the secret archives on the case of the archbishop emeritus of Washington accused of abusing members of the clergy, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and the next day, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote an open letter in the form of a scathing denial to the former Nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

In his letter, the high-ranking prelate presents several facts that are meant to show that Archbishop Viganò’s accusations against the pope are false; the cardinal recalls that the Nunciature in Washington – and therefore Archbishop Viganò in his time – never provided “recent and definitive information about [Cardinal McCarrick’s] behavior.”

The ex-cardinal, who retired in May 2006, was “requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him,” explains Cardinal Ouellet, claiming it is “false” to present these measures as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and then invalidated by Pope Francis.

However, by explaining the pope’s lack of interest in the McCarrick case – despite the audience granted to Archbishop Viganò on June 13, 2013 – and invoking “the amount of verbal and written information that was provided to the Holy Father about so many persons and situations” at the beginning of his pontificate, Cardinal Ouellet indirectly speaks in favor of Archbishop Viganò’s good faith and the seriousness of the information he revealed, points out Robert Moynihan in his Letter published on Vatican Insider.

Although he does admit certain “failures in the selection procedures” that allowed the promotion of Cardinal McCarrick, the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for Bishops concludes his letter on a dramatic note, lamenting Archbishop Viganò’s “blasphemous” attitude and calling him to repent for inflicting “a very painful wound to the Bride of Christ” with his accusations.

To be more complete, we must recall that during a public conference on October 1, 2013, at the Villanova University in Philadelphia, he who was still Cardinal McCarrick revealed that he was part of a group of prelates – that some call the Saint-Gall Group – who worked for Jorge Bergoglio’s election to the sovereign pontificate during the last Conclave. Could this position have earned him a certain amount of protection?