A leading papal diplomat’s bombshell letter accusing Pope Francis of overlooking sex abuse claims against ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick while reversing prior sanctions on him
is being seen as a possible Vatican coup attempt against the reformist pope — while others say it undermines his legitimacy.
Former Holy See diplomat Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano released a letter late Saturday that states former Pope Benedict XVI had ordered McCarrick to cease public ministry
amid sex abuse allegations, but that Francis in 2013 restored him
The National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews.com published the letter as the pope wrapped up a two-day visit to Ireland dominated by the clerical sex abuse scandal. Vigano, 77, urged the reformist pope with whom he’s publicly feuded to resign over the issue
and what he called the “conspiracy of silence” about McCarrick.
“The corruption has reached the very top of the church’s hierarchy,” Vigano wrote.
“You make your own judgment,” Francis told press aboard his plane departing Ireland yesterday. “I will not say a single word about this.”
Some Catholic scholars question the motives behind Vigano’s inflammatory accusations, but also say the claims are deeply serious as scandal continues to wrack the Catholic Church.
“There are many things in Archbishop Vigano’s letter that are very disturbing, but also some unsupported statements and accusations that raise serious doubts,” Dr. Peter Steinfels, author and former co-director of the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture, told the Herald.
“But claims are either true or false regardless of the motives or partisan spirit that drive them.”
Thomas Groome, a former priest who’s now a professor at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, said he does not find Vigano a credible source.
“Having been removed by Pope Francis, his critique may well be colored by some personal sentiments,” Groome told the Herald.
The Rev. James Weiss
, a religious historian at Boston College, told the Herald there’s no evidence for many of Vigano’s claims.
“This is about the most sinful thing a priest or a bishop could do at a time More "sinful" than raping children, apparently.
when the church is rocked with uncertainty about this,” Weiss said.
“It is calculated to damage the church and he should lose his status as a bishop and a priest.”
But Bishop Joseph E. Strickland
of Texas found the allegations in Vigano’s letter “credible,” and called for a “thorough investigation,” into the pope, according to LifeSiteNews.com.
Strickland told his diocesan priests to “include this notice in the Masses on August 26, and post it on their websites and other social media immediately.”
Vigano’s letter also mentions Boston’s Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley
, Francis’ point man on the safety of children in the church.
O’Malley has become embroiled in scandal lately as other church officials have alleged he was warned about McCarrick and did nothing
O’Malley countered with a statement blaming his executive secretary
for not passing along the letter of warning.
“Regarding Cardinal Sean O’Malley, I would simply say that his latest statements on the McCarrick case are disconcerting, and have totally obscured his transparency and credibility,” Vigano wrote.
The Boston Archdiocese referred all comment on the Vigano letter to the Vatican.
The Boston Sun