By Junno Arocho Esteves | Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano said he is convinced he was right to accuse Pope Francis and church officials of failing to act on accusations that then-Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick engaged in sexual misconduct and sexual harassment.
Archbishop Vigano, the former nuncio to the United States, said an open letter released Oct. 7 by Cardinal Marc Ouellet confirmed many of the allegations he first made in late August, when he called on Pope Francis to resign.
The archbishop’s response to Cardinal Ouellet was published Oct. 19 by Italian blogger Marco Tosatti.
“Cardinal Ouellet has written to rebuke me for my temerity in breaking silence and leveling such grave accusations against my brothers and superiors, but in truth his remonstrance confirms me in my decision and, even more, serves to vindicate my claims,” Archbishop Vigano said.
The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop McCarrick.
Archbishop Vigano’s letter followed a massive statement in mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on bishops’ appointments in the United States.
However, Cardinal Ouellet’s response said that because there were only rumors and no proof of Cardinal McCarrick’s impropriety, then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington prelate, which meant Pope Francis never lifted them.
Cardinal McCarrick “was strongly exhorted not to travel and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors,” Cardinal Ouellet said, but “it is false to present these measures taken in his regard as ‘sanctions’ decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such documents signed by either pope.”
Archbishop Vigano’s latest letter said the measures were “not technically ‘sanctions’ but provisions, ‘conditions and restrictions.’ To quibble whether they were sanctions or provisions or something else is pure legalism. From a pastoral point of view, they are exactly the same thing.”
The former nuncio also took issue with Cardinal Ouellet’s assertion that the Vatican was aware only of rumors, saying that the “Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts and is in possession of documentary proof, and that the responsible persons nevertheless chose not to intervene or were prevented from doing so.”
“They are official correspondence, not gossip from the sacristy,” Archbishop Vigano wrote.
In a statement published Oct. 6, the Vatican said the pope had ordered a “thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical context and to evaluate them objectively.”
The Vatican also acknowledged “that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary approach to such issues.”
Archbishop Vigano also restated his belief that the homosexuality is at the root of the sexual abuse crisis in the church that has “become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons.”