Vatican attacks Whistle Blower
The Catholic press is abuzz with allegations that Pope Francis helped cover up sexual abuse by Cardinal McCarrick. The latest round involve charges from Archbishop Viganò, which Pope Francis has refused to address, though he recently said he would authorize a "thorough" investigation into the case. Now the Vatican has unleashed attack dogs against Vigano: “Cardinal Ouellet Writes Open Letter to Archbishop Viganò.” Unlike most coverage, this link actually contains the transcript of the letter. This is crucial, since the devil is in the details.
First this is an official reply: “With pontifical permission, and in my capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, I offer my testimony.” I suspect permission is Vatican-speak for pontifical orders.
Cardinal Quellet proceeds, “I find your current attitude incomprehensible and extremely troubling, not only because of the confusion it sows among the People of God, but because your public accusations gravely harm the reputation of the bishops, successors of the Apostles.” Quellet is so ‘extremely troubled’ by Vigano’s allegations, he even finds them ‘incomprehensible,’ though no one else seemed to have trouble understanding them.
Note that Quellet is seemingly unconcerned with the truth or falsity of Vigano’s allegations - he only complains that they create a scandal, and ‘gravely harm the reputation of the bishops.’ This is standard Vatican policy. It is the reason the Church always attempted to cover up cases of priestly pederasty – they create a scandal.
But Cardinal Quellet does finally “address the facts,” at least as he sees them: “You said that on June 23, 2013, you provided Pope Francis with information about McCarrick in an audience he granted to you.” Quellet concedes that the meeting in question with Pope Francis took place, and that Pope Francis was indeed informed about Cardinal McCarrick. But even though Cardinal Quellet concedes the central claims of Vigano’s allegations, he tries to weasel his way out of them.
Quellet claims that Pope Francis met with lots of other people that day. Furthermore, “I can only imagine the amount of verbal and written information that was provided to the Holy Father on that occasion about so many persons and situations.” Pope Francis didn’t even pay attention to you! What’s more, he forgot what you said! (He’s also an old man and gets confused sometimes.)
“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.” I never finked on Cardinal McCarrick to the Pope. Why should he believe you?
The Crux of the Case
Here comes Cardinal Quellet’s killer point: “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.” He concedes that Pope Benedict told Cardinal McCarrick to keep out of sight and keep his zipper up. But Quellet strongly rejects Vigano’s representation of this "request" by Pope Benedict as “sanctions.” They were only a request, and sanctions, according to Quellet, involves a formal written procedure. Again, Cardinal Quellet concedes the substance of Vigano’s charges – he is just irate at Vigano’s “incomprehensible” use of the term sanction rather than request. Somehow the religious press failed to perceive the nature of Cardinal Quellet’s complaint, and reported it as if it were a grave matter of substance rather than some damnable sophistry.
“I find that there are no documents signed by either Pope in this regard, and there are no audience notes from my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, imposing on the retired Archbishop the obligation to lead a quiet and private life with the weight normally reserved to canonical penalties.” Since nothing is in writing, you can’t speak of sanctions!
Cardinal Quellet also concedes that Cardinal McCarrick should never have been promoted in the first place, as he was morally unfit: “How is it possible that this man of the Church, whose incoherence has now been revealed, was promoted many times, and was nominated to such a high position as Archbishop of Washington and Cardinal? I am personally very surprised, and I recognize that there were failures in the selection procedures implemented in his case. However, and without entering here into details, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff are based on the information available to him at the time and that they are the object of a prudential judgment which is not infallible.”
In other words, the quasi-infallible Pope John Paul II screwed up – again and again. It is highly likely that Pope Francis was informed of the problems of one of his foremost cardinals. But there were no formal charges, and you shouldn’t talk about a cover-up! It creates a scandal!
How dare you! “Dear pontifical representative emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered-up knowingly the case of an alleged sexual predator and, therefore, of being an accomplice to the corruption that afflicts the Church, to the point that he could no longer continue to carry out his reform as the first shepherd of the Church, appears to me from all viewpoints unbelievable and without any foundation. I cannot understand how could you have allowed yourself to be convinced of this monstrous and unsubstantiated accusation.”
Mass media have essentially ignored the story, and the religious press has managed to conceal the fact that Cardinal Quellet’s defense of Pope Francis consisted solely of questioning Archbishop Vigano’s use of the term sanction.
This is apparently the best defense Pope Francis and the Vatican could muster. It’s pathetic.