Pope to 'fire' nuncio in Washington? Nonsense!

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 18, 2016

There's a rumor going around the internet—conveyed mostly by "news" sites that know nothing about Catholic affairs—that Pope Francis is going to "fire" the apostolic nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano. That's nonsense.

The expanded version of the rumor is that the Pope will axe his representative in Washington because the archbishop arranged a meeting between the Pontiff and Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who bravely resisted pressure to certify same-sex unions as marriages. From the perspective of left-wing journalists that meeting was a terrible embarrassment to the Holy Father, and (again from that perspective) consequently Archbishop Vigano's job was in jeopardy. Then reports emerged that the archbishop would soon be leaving his post, and people jumped to the conclusion that he was fired.

Now here's the reality: If Pope Francis wanted to remove the nuncio, he could have done so at any time. He didn't have to wait five months. But something important happened between last October, when the Pope met Kim Davis, and this March, when the silly rumors began circulating. In January, Arcbishop Vigano celebrated his 75th birthday, and under the Code of Canon Law, he was required to submit his resignation. If the Pope now accepts that resignation—as Vatican-watchers say he will—that will be a routine personnel shift.

Informed sources say that the Pope's new man in Washington will be Archbishop Christopher Pierre, a French native and veteran Vatican diplomat who is currently serving as apostolic nuncio in Mexico. A formal announcement is expected any day.

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: ElizabethD - Mar. 18, 2016 2:29 PM ET USA

    In other news, the Pope finally acquiesced to demands of sex-abuse victims and "fired" Cardinal Mahoney as a papal elector recently, even though Mahoney presumably voted for him. (Mahoney turned 80)