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A Book Review . . . Viganò Revisited And Reaffirmed

August 23, 2019 Frontpage No Comments


Viganò vs. the Vatican by Marco Tosatti; published in 2019 by Sophia Institute Press, www.sophiainstitutepress.com. Paperback; $14.95. Order on the publisher’s website – use code WA25 and save 25%.

How will historians of the future write about this troubled period in Church history, especially the 2018 Summer of Shame, darkened by the removal from public ministry of “credibly accused” Theodore McCarrick, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, and Archbishop Carlo Viganò’s testimony on the McCarrick cover-ups? What will they unearth and what will they conclude?
These future historians will do well to begin with Marco Tosatti’s just published Viganò vs. the Vatican. The book encompasses all three Viganò missives: the best-known 11-page first letter, dated August 22, 2018, the Queenship of Mary; the second letter, dated September 29, 2018, the Feast of St. Michael the Archangel; and the third letter, dated October 19, 2018, Memorial of the North American Martyrs.
Tosatti doesn’t merely retell Viganò’s claims: He reinforces them.
Tosatti, a noted Vaticanist, edited Viganò’s first earthshaking testimony before it was released.
He describes his role in that August 22 letter this way: “In sum, I did the ordinary work of editing an article that was written — entirely — by someone else,” referring to Archbishop Viganò.
That point is important: “Because the hypothesis that I had contributed to the testimony, even if it was not true and, as such, was a lie from the very beginning, was one of the first instruments the ‘negationist’ party used to cry out that the Viganò testimony was an anti-Francis plot, carefully prepared by different contributors, and that even a long-time Vaticanist had participated in its composition.”
Detailing that “disinformation campaign” is one way Tosatti undergirds what Viganò wrote. “All these people seemed to forget that there is one and only one point to which there ought to be a response or an explanation — namely: On June 23, 2013 did Viganò tell the Pontiff about McCarrick?”
In this book, Tosatti re-emphasizes that key claim. Viganò charged that “at least since June 23, 2013, the pope knew from me how perverse and diabolical McCarrick was, both in his intentions and in his actions, and instead of taking precautions in his regard, which every good pastor would have taken, the pope made McCarrick one of his principal collaborators in the governance of the Church for the United States, the Curia, and even for China, a martyr church that we are looking at with great concern and anxiety at this time” (quoted from his second testimony).
“Is this true or not true?” asks Tosatti at the end of the quotation. He adds: “The answer to this crucial question posed by Viganò has been evaded to this day, even though it could be answered in seconds.”
On October 6, 2018, Tosatti reminds readers, the Vatican finally issued a statement regarding McCarrick, and promising a full investigation. Pope Francis had accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals and barred him from exercising public ministry, said the statement, and ordered him to a life of prayer and penance.
Tosatti adds: “The statement speaks only of McCarrick. But there is an important detail missing, for which there is no need to go fetching archives and folders. What is missing is the earlier answer of the pope to Carlo Maria Viganò’s personal report to him.”
This refers to Viganò’s June 23, 2013 conversation with Francis, in which the archbishop says that Francis asked him, “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?” Viganò replied, in part: “…if you ask the Congregation for Bishops, there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”
Regarding Pope Benedict’s orders to McCarrick, Marc Cardinal Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, wrote on October 7, 2018 (a day after the Vatican statement on McCarrick) an open letter to Archbishop Viganò and said, among other points:
“From 30th June 2010, when I became Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, I never presented in audience the McCarrick case to Pope Benedict XVI or to Pope Francis — not until recently, after his dismissal from the College of Cardinals. The former Cardinal, retired in May of 2006, had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him. It is false, therefore, to present those measures as ‘sanctions’ formally imposed by Pope Benedict XVI and then invalidated by Pope Francis.” (This is the official Vatican translation of the Ouellet letter, as it appeared on the National Catholic Register website.)
Tosatti observes that “Ouellet thus admits — and this is the first official confirmation of this fact — that McCarrick was placed under restrictions by Benedict XVI. You may call them what you wish — sanctions, or restrictions, or conditions not written but verbal — but the result does not change. He was not supposed to travel, nor was he to appear in public.”
In his third letter, October 19, 2018, Memorial of the North American Martyrs, Viganò made a similar response to Ouellet’s remarks on the sanctions. He agreed that the provisions were not “sanctions” but “conditions and restrictions,” adding that analyzing that distinction is “pure legalism.”

Call Sin By Name

Even more important, in that third letter (published in full in Tosatti’s book), Archbishop Viganò makes his strongest spiritual statements. For example, he writes:
“. . . [I]t is shocking that, amid so many scandals and so much indignation, there is so little consideration for those who were victims of sexual predators who were ordained ministers of the gospel. It is not a question of settling accounts or about ecclesiastical careers. It is not a question of how historians of the Church may evaluate this or that papacy. It is about souls! Many souls have been placed (and still are) in danger [of losing] their eternal salvation.”
In that same passage, Viganò adds: “This is a crisis caused by the scourge of homosexuality: in those who practice it, in its politics, and in its resistance to being corrected.” Things must be called by their right names to bring about a resolution, says Viganò.
Tosatti also includes in full a commentary by Msgr. Charles Pope (National Catholic Register, October 22, 2018), in which the monsignor affirms:
“In the end, I am deeply grateful for Archbishop Viganò’s dose of ‘old-time religion.’ It is refreshing to hear an archbishop actually call sin by name, to show concern for the moral condition of souls, not just the emotional state, to warn of judgment and summon us all to decide — not just hide, obfuscate, and fret about ‘getting along’ while souls are being lost.
“It is hopeful that an archbishop of high reputation is willing to call the pope and the Vatican to account. This sort of leadership is too little in evidence today among the hierarchy and priests.”
Now we still await the results of the Vatican’s full investigation into McCarrick. And many are still regretting the lack of lay involvement within the February 2019 Vatican summit’s recommendations for handling abuse.
Even when the sex abuse crisis eventually draws to a close, the wounds and the damage to the Church’s reputation will remain. A noted bishop once told A.J. Matt Jr., The Wanderer’s editor emeritus, that it will take the Church one hundred years to recover from the sex abuse crisis. But the bishop made those comments shortly after the first great eruption, in 2002.
Catholics for ages have been mocked about the Crusades and the Inquisition. But much of that bad reputation stems from biased, polemical texts and also from the tendency to judge historical figures by modern standards. The sex abuse crisis is based on solid fact and on violations of eternal truths, however. We may never hear the end of it.
Yet we can hope that future historians will be able to write about the blossoming of a better era, based, as Msgr. Pope would say, on heavy doses of “old-time religion.”

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