The Peña Parra case: An excellent test of Archbishop Vigano’s credibility

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jul 05, 2019

The latest disclosure of claims by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano should provide a welcome test of his credibility. The New York Times reports that Vigano has named the assistant Vatican Secretary of State, Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, as credibly accused of sexual abuse of seminarians since at least 2002. He has also indicated where the evidence of these charges can be found.

Readers will recall that the disposition of the similar case of Theodore Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI was handled just quietly enough to raise questions about whether Pope Francis really knew of McCarrick’s status. Readers will also recall that Pope Francis (presumably ignorantly) defended the bishops of Chile initially, but when the evidence became overwhelming he clearly became angry and acted decisively. The situation may be similar with Peña Parra, who is one of the highest ranking prelates in the Vatican.

Cases of sexual abuse are difficult to prove, but the accumulation of internally consistent evidence from multiple instances does make it possible. Moreover, in today’s climate of exposure, good investigative journalists can typically expose sufficient information to precipitate a result. In the various charges lodged by Vigano, he has been criticized for minor inaccuracies which have enabled his opponents to downplay his “testimony”. Evidence of a direct hit in the Peña Parra case would be an important vindication of Vigano which need not depend on ecclesiastical cooperation.

If that moment of vindication comes, Pope Francis may be moved to reevaluate his relationships in Rome, with an opportunity for improved results. Moreover, the putative gay network in the Vatican—which, among other things, Pope Benedict felt he no longer had the strength to correct—might begin at least to be credibly exposed. In this case, praying for the truth to come out and for the success of a confused pontificate may be one and the same thing.

Pope Francis is known to act decisively when he feels he has been betrayed. It would be ironic—but still very welcome—if this Pope’s gift to the Church should be the disclosure and elimination of the lavender mafia. Whatever the outcome, it is an article of faith that Divine Providence is never predictable, and cannot be contained. All things serve the purposes of the Lord.

For:

By thy appointment they stand this day; for all things are thy servants. [Ps 119:91]

and

The LORD has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble. [Prov 16:4]

From England’s Lake District, July 5, 2019

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: Bveritas2322 - Jul. 06, 2019 6:31 PM ET USA

    Francis acts "decisively when he feels he has been betrayed" when that betrayal reveals his complicity in aiding and abetting coverups and suppressing investigations.

  • Posted by: Cory - Jul. 06, 2019 9:17 AM ET USA

    The Pope acts decisively when he feels he has been betrayed. No way. He only acted decisively because he could no longer maintain the lie. So yes, let's help the truth comes out so he can no longer hide behind I did not know. He knew. Just look at what he did in Argentina and what he continues to do re MacCarick.

  • Posted by: rghatt6599 - Jul. 05, 2019 1:09 PM ET USA

    That is the most charitable interpretation possible for Pope Francis’ actions when the evidence becomes overwhelming or when he is backed into a corner. Less charitable interpretations certainly stand to reason after 6 years of confusion. The unbearable truth is that we may be dealing with the scandal of a corrupt pope. That is something orthodox Catholics were not expecting in the Springtime of the Church. Pope Francis is severely wounding the credibility of the papacy. Intentionally or not, a discredited Papacy may strengthen the appeal of the synodal model of church governance. The next pope will have serious challenges to face not the least of which will be to regain the trust of the faithful.