A Divided Church, Sides Taken Over Sexual Abuse Scandal
Ex-Papal Nuncio Carlo Maria Vigano published an 11-page testimony accusing Pope Francis of covering up clerical sexual abuses in the Catholic Church, and calling for the pope’s resignation. However, other Bishops have sided with Pope Francis and accused Vigano of consistently subordinating the “pursuit of comprehensive truth to partisanship, division and distortion.”
Archbishop Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, said the pope’s permissive ideology promoted unchecked sexual abuses by priests and top officials of the Church on seminarians and minors alike.
One of the main culprits Vigano mentioned in his scalding letter is Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former head of the Archdiocese of Washington. For over a decade, McCarrick allegedly abused junior seminarians and several children, causing former Pope Benedict XVI to impose stiff restrictions on him despite being a trusted Vatican adviser.
Vigano Tells Pope Francis to Resign Alongside Cardinals and Bishops Shielding McCarrick
Pope Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals in July over allegations of sexual predation, yet Francis had earlier removed the restrictions Benedict imposed on him. Pope Benedict had mandated that McCarrick lived his remaining life in prayer and seclusion, Vigano wrote.
“He must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them,” Vigano wrote.
Vigano is not the first high-profile Church official to chastise Pope Francis for his laxity with priests accused of sexual abuse. Cardinal Raymond Burke and other critics have repeatedly expressed their worries about his leadership and policies. A group of four senior cardinals objected to his 2016 apostolic exhortation and several Church conservatives criticize him when he strays too far from the traditional.
As the Washington Post wrote:
Liberals swoon over his tweets declaring that refugees are “our brothers and sisters,” conservatives rail at his critiques of capitalism, his rhetorical shift away from culture war flashpoints and his efforts to liberalize the church’s teachings on divorce. In March, a Polish priest went so far as to pray for Francis’s death. “I pray for the pope in his wisdom to open his heart to the Holy Spirit,” said Edward Staniek, a priest and theologian in Krakow. “But if he does not, I pray for his quick departure to his father’s house.”
Vigano became more vindictive of the pope after he was removed as the papal nuncio, that is, Papal Ambassador, to the United States. This followed Vigano’s unauthorized meeting which he arranged between Pope Francis and Kim Davis when the pope visited the U.S. in 2015. Davis was a Kentucky county clerk who blatantly refused to issue marriage certificates to gay couples.
Liberal Catholics Accuse Vigano of Hate, Calling For Investigations into His Own Tenure
Vatican officials believe Vigano was out to embarrass the pope by arranging the Kim Davis meeting without his earlier consent. Vigano tendered his resignation last year. Conservative Catholics praise Vigano for the manoeuver, urging the pope to either defend his position or resign. But Liberal Catholics accuse Vigano of staging a coup d’etat against the Holy Father.
Massimo Faggioli, a professor of Catholic history and theology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania is among those criticizing Vigano.
“This is a coup operation against Pope Francis,” Faggioli said. “It is a stunning convergence between the personal agenda of Vigano and the theological agenda of those who do not like Pope Francis.”
Before his appointment as papal ambassador to the U.S. in 2011, Vigano had earlier headed the Vatican City State. During his time in Rome, he accused top Church leaders of corruption and some critics considered him a whistleblower. Pope Benedict sent him away to the U.S. to contain and keep him away from Vatican matters.
With his latest open letter calling for Francis resignation, Faggioli and others accuse Vigano of writing a “hit-list” letter against Liberal Church leaders who are easy on divorce and LBGT issues among others. They also suggest that his tenure at the Archdiocese of Washington be investigated.