CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 8 December 2018

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Pope trusts the people to discern the truth

VATICAN (SE): “I read the statement this morning and, sincerely, I must say this to you and anyone interested: Read that statement attentively and make your own judgment,” Pope Francis told reporters aboard the papal flight from Dublin on August 26, in response to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11-page document calling on him to resign.
 
The 77-year-old Archbishop Viganò, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington DC from 2011 to 2016, claims that Pope Benedict XVI had “imposed on Cardinal (now Archbishop Theodore) McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013. 
 
“I think the statement speaks for itself, and you have a sufficient journalistic ability to make a conclusion,” CNS quoted Pope Francis as saying. The pope said his non-comment was “an act of faith” in people the reading the document. “Maybe when a bit of time has passed, I’ll talk about it.”
 
Archbishop Viganò, former secretary general of the Vatican City Governatorate, criticised Pope Francis for not taking action against about Archbishop McCarrick.
 
Asked when he first learned of the former cardinal’s misdeeds, Pope Francis said the question was related directly to Archbishop Viganò’s report and he would not comment now.
 
In an August 26 analysis, America magazine observes that the letter’s claim that Pope Benedict placed sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick does not hold up. The article further notes that Archbishop Viganò says he learned from Giovanni Cardinal Battista Re, now sub-dean of the College of Cardinals, that the sanctions were placed in 2009 or 2010. 
 
However, the National Catholic Register reported that while Pope Benedict remembers ordering the sanctions, he does not recall not their exact nature. In addition, now-Archbishop McCarrick continued to maintain a public profile during his pontificate. 
 
However, CNA reported on August 28 that Archbishop George Ganswein, Pope Benedict’s personal secretary, knocked down reports claiming the retired pope had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s testimony, calling them “fake news.”
 
Edward Pentin, of the National Catholic Register, reportedly wrote: “Any assertion that the Pope Emeritus had seen the entire testimony, and confirmed it, is untrue.” 
 
In June, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis ordered the former Washington archbishop to live in “prayer and penance” while a canonical process proceeds against him. He later accepted Archbishop McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.
 
However, CNS pointed out that Archbishop Viganò himself has been accused of suppressing an investigation into alleged homosexual activity committed by retired Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
 
In a 2014 memo to St. Paul-Minneapolis Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piche, Father Dan Griffith, a former delegate for Safe Environment for the archdiocese, said the former nuncio’s call to end the investigation against Archbishop Nienstedt and to destroy a piece of evidence amounted to “a good old-fashioned cover-up to preserve power and avoid scandal.”
 
In the America article, observers have pointed to Archbishop Viganò’s perceived hostility toward Pope Francis, noting he was recalled from his post in 2016 after the Vatican decided he had become too enmeshed in the US culture wars, particularly regarding same-sex marriage.
 
The timing of the letter’s release has also raised questions—it was made available early to news outlets known for their opposition to the pope and released in the middle of his two-day visit to Ireland for the World Meeting of Families.
 
Archbishop Viganò has also not explained why he did not make his concerns about then-Cardinal McCarrick’s behaviour known publicly sooner.
 
America quotes abuse survivor Marie Collins, who previously served on the Vatican’s sexual abuse commission, as telling The National Catholic Reporter that Pope Francis had condemned Archbishop McCarrick during a private meeting with herself and other victims in Ireland over the weekend but added, “I’ve no idea if what is in (the) letter (is) true or not.”
 
Peter Isely, a survivor of abuse, told The New York Times that the letter appears to be about Church politics. “This is infighting between curia factions that are exploiting the abuse crisis and victims of clergy sexual abuse as leverage in the struggle for Church power,” he said. 
 
Marco Tosatti, the Italian journalist who help Archbishop Vigano compose his letter, was also reported by The New York Times as saying the archbishop brought no evidence and nor any documentation to support his assertions.
 
In January, nearly two years after the release of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and family life, Amoris Laetitia, Archbishop’s Viganò was among several bishops and cardinals who signed a dubia (doubt) document criticising the ministry to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics and the possibility that, under some conditions, some of those Catholics could return to the sacraments. 
 
Archbishop Viganò’s 11-page document fails to give any answers, and instead throws out more questions which needs to be answered by none other than the archbishop himself. 
 
First, why was he silent all these years? What are his motives in choosing this time to come up with his findings? In addition, the archbishop’s acquaintance with the dubia cardinals—who bear no love for Pope Francis—and his opposition to the Amoris Laetitia are public knowledge. 
 
The pope for his part, refused to respond to the dubia and now refuses to respond in the case of Archbishop Viganò’s letter. 
 
In the case of the former, time has passed and more and more people have come to better understand the pastoral concern of the pope in his apostolic exhortation. 
 
His silence in the present moment is an “act of faith,” preserving the sacredness of trust. Archbishop Viganò may have breached the trust placed upon him, but the pope refuses to react in the same manner.  

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