Cardinal Ouellet Writes Open Letter to Archbishop Viganò
“Dear Brother Carlo Maria Viganò,
In your last message to the media, in which you denounce Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, you urge me to tell the truth about facts that you interpret as an endemic corruption that has invaded the hierarchy of the Church to its highest level. With due pontifical permission, I offer here my personal testimony, as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, on the events concerning the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington Theodore McCarrick and his alleged links with Pope Francis, which are the object of your vehement public denunciation as well as of your demand that the Holy Father resign. I write this testimony of mine on the basis of my personal contacts and the documents in the archives of the above mentioned Congregation, which are currently the object of a study to shed light on this sad case.
Allow me to tell you first of all, in all sincerity, by virtue of the good relationship of collaboration that existed between us when you were nuncio to Washington, that your current position seems to me incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, not only because of the confusion that it sows among the people of God, but because your public accusations seriously damage the reputation of the Successors of the Apostles. I remember a time when I enjoyed your esteem and confidence, but I observe that I have lost in your eyes the dignity you placed in me, for the mere fact of having remained faithful to the directions of the Holy Father in the service that he entrusted to me in the Church. Is not communion with the Successor of Peter the expression of our obedience to Christ who chose him and supports him with His grace? My interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which you complain about, is inscribed in this fidelity to the living tradition, of which Francis has given us an example with the recent modification of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the question of the death penalty.
Let's get to the facts. You say you informed Pope Francis on 23 June 2013 about the McCarrick case in the audience he granted to you, as well as to many other pontifical representatives he then met for the first time on that day. I imagine the enormous amount of verbal and written information he had to gather on that occasion about many people and situations. I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him to the extent that you believe, since he was an archbishop emeritus of 82 years and seven years without a post. In addition, the written instructions prepared for you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your service in 2011 did not say anything about McCarrick, except what I told you about his situation as an emeritus bishop who had to obey certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past.
Since June 30, 2010, when I became prefect of this Congregation, I have never taken the McCarrick case to an audience with Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis, except in the last few days, after his fall from the College of Cardinals. The former cardinal, who retired in May 2006, was strongly urged not to travel, nor to appear in public, in order not to provoke further rumours about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as "sanctions" decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After reviewing the archives, I note that there are no documents in this regard signed by either Pope, nor a note of an audience of my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, which would have given a mandate to the archbishop emeritus McCarrick to live a private life of silence, with the rigor of canonical penalties. The reason for this is that, unlike today, there was not enough evidence of his alleged guilt at the time. Hence the position of the Congregation inspired by prudence and the letters of my predecessor and mine reiterated, through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then also through you, the exhortation to live a discreet life of prayer and penance for his own good and for that of the Church. His case would have been the subject of new disciplinary measures if the nunciature in Washington, or any other source, had provided us with recent and decisive information about his behavior. I hope, like so many others, that out of respect for the victims and the need for justice, the investigation under way in the United States and the Roman Curia will finally give us a critical, overall view of the procedures and circumstances of this painful case, so that such events do not recur in the future.
How can it be that this man of the Church, whose inconsistency is known today, has been promoted on several occasions, to the point of holding the highest positions of Archbishop of Washington and Cardinal? I myself am very surprised by this and recognize the shortcomings in the selection process that has been carried out in his case. But without going into detail here, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff are based on the information available at that precise moment and that they constitute the object of a prudential judgment that is not infallible. It seems unfair to me to conclude that the persons in charge of prior discernment are corrupt even though, in the concrete case, some clues provided by the testimonies should have been further examined. The prelate in question knew how to defend himself with great skill from the doubts raised in his regard. On the other hand, the fact that there may be people in the Vatican who practice and support behavior contrary to the values of the Gospel in matters of sexuality does not authorize us to generalize and to declare this or that, and even the Holy Father himself, unworthy and complicit. Should the ministers of truth not, first of all, guard themselves against slander and defamation?
Dear pontifical representative emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered up with full knowledge of the facts this alleged sexual predator and therefore of being an accomplice of the corruption that is spreading in the Church, to the point of considering him unworthy of continuing his reform as the first pastor of the Church, is incredible and unlikely from all points of view. I can't understand how you could let yourself be convinced this monstrous accusation could stand. Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick's promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington. He removed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when a credible accusation of child abuse became apparent. I have never heard Pope Francis allude to this self-styled great adviser of his pontificate in relation to [episcopal] nominations in America, even though he does not hide the trust he gives some prelates. I sense these are not your preferences, nor those of your friends who support your interpretation of the facts. However, I find it aberrant that you take advantage of the sensational scandal of sexual abuse in the United States to inflict on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff, an unprecedented and undeserved blow.
I have the privilege of meeting Pope Francis for a long time each week, to discuss the appointments of bishops and the problems that affect their government. I know very well how he treats people and problems: with much charity, mercy, attention and seriousness, as you yourself have experienced. Reading how you end your last, seemingly very spiritual message, making light of yourself and casting doubt on his faith, seemed to me really too sarcastic, even blasphemous! This cannot come from the Spirit of God.
Dear Brother, I would really like to help you rediscover communion with him who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church; I understand how bitterness and disappointment have marked your path in service to the Holy See, but you cannot end your priestly life in this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion, which inflicts a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, worsening division and bewilderment in the people of God! What can I answer your question if I don't tell you: come out of your hiding place, repent of your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him. How can you celebrate the Holy Eucharist and pronounce his name in the canon of Mass? How can you pray the holy Rosary, Saint Michael the Archangel and the Mother of God, condemning the one she protects and accompanies every day in his weighty and courageous ministry?
If the Pope were not a man of prayer, if he were attached to money, if he favored the rich to the detriment of the poor, if he did not show an untiring energy to welcome all the poor and give them the generous comfort of his word and his gestures, if he did not multiply all the possible means to proclaim and communicate the joy of the Gospel to everyone and to all in the Church and beyond her visible borders, if he did not reach out to families, to abandoned old people, to the sick in soul and body and especially to the young people in search of happiness, perhaps someone else could be preferred, according to you, with different diplomatic or political attitudes. But I, who have known him well, I cannot question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and especially the charism and peace that dwell in him by the grace of God and the power of the Risen One.
In response to your unjust and unjustified attack, dear Viganò, I conclude therefore that the accusation is a political set-up without a real foundation that can incriminate the Pope, and I reiterate that it deeply hurts the communion of the Church. May it please God that this injustice be quickly remedied and that Pope Francis continue to be recognized for what he is: an outstanding pastor, a compassionate and firm father, a prophetic charism for the Church and for the world. May he continue with joy and full confidence his missionary reform, comforted by the prayer of God's people and by the renewed solidarity of the whole Church with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops,
Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 2018.”
Translation by Edward Pentin
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