Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the apostolic nuncio to the United States, is pictured at his residence at the Vatican in this Oct. 20, 2011, file photo. The former nuncio has accused church officials, including Pope Francis, of failing to act on accusations of abuse by Archbishop Theodore E. McCarrick. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Editorial: The truth awaits

  • October 4, 2018

We have grown weary of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò. Weary of his accusations. Weary of his recklessness. Weary of his insolence. Weary of his betrayals. Weary of his cunning.

Yet we can’t ignore him.

There are many reasons to feel drained by the archbishop, but it is difficult to dismiss him. 

When he claims that allegations of a papal coverup must have some merit because neither the Pope nor his cardinals will deny them, heads nod in sympathy. When he calls for an investigation of Vatican documents that will reveal the truth, he strikes a popular chord.

The man who would bring down a Pope made both these assertions Sept. 27 in a second biting letter ostensibly addressed to Pope Francis but really written for Viganò’s many supporters. The archbishop is Machiavellian in his methods. He has backed the Pope into a corner and, as the Vatican moves like a three-legged blind tortoise to craft a response, the sly archbishop remains out in front, taunting.

He waited a month after his first letter before firing a follow-up salvo that has ratcheted up the discomfort on his Vatican adversaries. He admits to betraying the Code of Canon Law that binds him to pontifical secrecy. Trustworthiness may not be one of his strengths. Yet it is hard to escape the notion that the Vatican may have brought Round 2 onto itself by its reluctance to respond to Viganò.

Two days before Viganò released what he calls his second “testimony,” Pope Francis had another opportunity to deny allegations that he ignored the sexual misconduct of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick. But he refused to take questions on that specific topic during an in-flight press conference. That mirrored his stance of a month earlier when he sidestepped questions about the scandal but suggested he might address it “after a bit of time has passed.”

But Viganò’s letter indicates it may not be the Pope’s silence that offends him. The archbishop is clearly piqued by what he perceives as papal attacks from the pulpit. Without naming anyone, the Pope has delivered homilies about betrayal and the work of Satan which Viganò believes were directed at him. His letter calls this “subtle slander” delivered during Mass, where the Pope “runs no risk of being challenged by journalists.” As Viganò’s letters have shown, he disapproves of slander that is subtle.

 But sniping aside, the archbishop makes a valid point when he insists that the truth can be found in Vatican filing cabinets. He says those drawers hold documents that reveal who knew what and when about McCarrick and other priests and bishops whose misconduct, according to Viganò, was covered up.

If the Vatican wants the truth — which it should — it apparently knows where to find it.

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