The Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops writes an open letter to the former nuncio to Washington. In it, he describes the former nuncio’s accusations as a baseless “political manoeuvre”. “I cannot understand how you could have allowed yourself to be convinced of this monstrous accusation which has no standing,” he writes.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Cardinal Marc Ouellet (pictured), Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, has written an open letter, published by the Vatican Press Office, to Mgr Carlo Maria Viganò who has accused Pope Francis of deliberately covering up the misdeeds of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
In the letter, written in French, Card Ouellet describes the accusation made by the former nuncio to Washington as “incomprehensible and extremely deplorable” as well as incredible and unlikely from many points of view”. It refers first of all to the “due pontifical permission” the cardinal received to write his testimony as head of the dicastery for bishops, as well as to undertake research in the archives of the Congregation.
Secondly the letter mentions "friends" of Mgr Viganò who share his opinions and calls the former nuncio’s accusations a baseless “political manoeuvre” and appeals to him to come out "of hiding", repent and retrieve "better feelings towards the Holy Father".
Card Ouellet writes that looked at "the facts" that Mgr Viganò describes starting with the audience of 23 June 2013 during which he claimed to have informed Pope Francis about “the McCarrick case”, when he was one of “many other pontifical representatives whom” the Pope was meeting “for the first time on that day.”
“I imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information that he would have gathered on that occasion about many persons and situations. I strongly doubt that McCarrick was of interest to him to the point that you believed him to be, since at the moment he was an 82-year-old Archbishop Emeritus who had been without an appointment for seven years.
“In addition, the written brief prepared for you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your service in 2011, said nothing about McCarrick other than what I told you in person about his situation as an emeritus Bishop who was supposed to obey certain conditions and restrictions due to the rumors surrounding his past behavior.”
“Since I became Prefect of this Congregation on 30 June 2010, I never brought up the McCarrick case in an audience with Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis until these last days, after his removal from the College of Cardinals. The former Cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly advised not to travel and not to appear in public, so as not to provoke additional rumors in his regard. It is false to present the measures taken in his regard as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and revoked by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I can ascertain that there are no corresponding documents signed by either Pope, neither is there a note of an audience with my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, giving Archbishop Emeritus McCarrick an obligatory mandate of silence and to retire to a private life, carrying canonical penalties. The reason being that at that time, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged guilt.”
“It seems unjust to me to conclude that the persons in charge of the prior discernment are corrupt” [. . .] On the other hand, the fact that there may be persons in the Vatican who practice and support behavior contrary to Gospel values regarding sexuality, does not authorize us to generalize and declare this or that person as unworthy and as accomplices, even including the Holy Father himself. Should not the ministers of truth be the first to avoid calumny and defamation themselves?”
“I believe it is incredible and unlikely from many points of view to accuse Pope Francis of having covered up after having full knowledge of the facts of this presumed sexual predator, and therefore of being an accomplice in the corruption rampant in the Church, to the point of considering him unfit to continue his reforms as the first Shepherd of the Church. I cannot understand how you could have allowed yourself to be convinced of this monstrous accusation which has no standing.”
The letter notes that Francis “had nothing to do” with McCarrick’s career, nor have I ever “heard Pope Francis allude to this self-styled advisor during his pontificate regarding nominations in America [. . .] I presume that they are not preferred by you or by those friends who support your interpretation of the facts. I therefore consider it to be aberrant that you should profit by the horrible scandal of the sexual abuse of minors in the United States to inflict such an unprecedented and unmerited blow on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff.”
“Dear fellow brother, I truly want to help you retrieve communion with him who is the visible guarantor of the Catholic Church’s communion. I understand that bitterness and delusions have been a part of your journey in service to the Holy See, but you cannot conclude your priestly life in this way, in open and scandalous rebellion, which is inflicting a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, thus aggravating the division and confusion in the People of God! In what other way can I respond to your request other than to say: come out of hiding, repent from this revolt and retrieve better feelings toward the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him.