Former U.S. Nuncio Alleges Broad Cover-up
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – A former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by now-Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick.
In an open letter first published on Aug. 26 by “Lifesite News” and “National Catholic Register,” Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who served as nuncio to the United States from 2011-2016, wrote that he was compelled to write his knowledge of Archbishop McCarrick's misdeeds because "corruption has reached the very top of the church's hierarchy."
Archbishop Viganò confirmed to the Washington Post on Aug. 26 that he wrote the letter and said he would not comment further. Throughout the 11-page testimony, which was translated by a “Lifesite News” correspondent, the former nuncio made several claims and accusations against prominent church officials, alleging they belong to "a homosexual current" that subverted church teaching on homosexuality.
Archbishop Viganò criticized Pope Francis for not taking action against Cardinal McCarrick after he claimed he told the pope of the allegations in 2013. However, he did not make any criticism of St. John Paul II, who appointed Archbishop McCarrick to lead the Archdiocese of Washington and made him a cardinal in 2001.
According to the former nuncio's testimony, the Vatican was informed in 2000 of allegations that Archbishop McCarrick "shared his bed with seminarians" by two former U.S. nuncios – Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo and Archbishop Pietro Sambi. This corresponds to remarks by Father Boniface Ramsey, pastor of St. Joseph's Church Yorkville in New York City, who told Catholic News Service earlier in August he had written a letter "and it didn't seem to go anywhere."
Archbishop Viganò said that in 2006, as the official in the Secretariat of State that coordinated relations with nunciatures around the world, he sent two memos recommending that the Holy See "intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal's hat from Cardinal McCarrick and that he should be subjected to the sanctions established by the Code of Canon Law.
"I was greatly dismayed at my superiors for the inconceivable absence of any measure against the cardinal, and for the continuing lack of any communication with me since my first memo in December 2006," he said.
The former nuncio claimed that Pope Benedict XVI later "imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis."
"I do not know when Pope Benedict took these measures against McCarrick, whether in 2009 or 2010, because in the meantime I had been transferred to the Governorate of Vatican City State, just as I do not know who was responsible for this incredible delay," he said.
Then-Cardinal McCarrick, he said, "was to leave the seminary where he was living" which, at the time, was the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Archbishop McCarrick, he added, was also "forbidden to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance."
However, no such sanctions, which normally are made public, were announced by the Vatican at the time.
Archbishop Viganò himself has been accused of suppressing an investigation into alleged homosexual activity committed by retired Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
In a 2014 memo to St. Paul-Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Lee A. Piche, Father Dan Griffith, a former delegate for Safe Environment for the archdiocese, said the former nuncio's call to end the investigation against Archbishop Nienstedt and to destroy a piece of evidence amounted to "a good old-fashioned cover-up to preserve power and avoid scandal."
Archbishop Nienstedt and Bishop Piche resigned in 2015 after the Ramsey County Attorney's Office filed criminal and civil charges against the archdiocese in its handling of sexual abuse perpetrated by former priest Curtis Wehmeyer in 2008-2011.