We use our own and third party cookies to improve your user experience; by continuing to browse, we understand that you accept their use. You can get more information on our cookies policy.

Rome Reports

You are using an outdated browser

In order to deliver the greatest experience to our visitors we use cutting edge web development techniques that require a modern browser. To view this page please use Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer 11 or greater

KEYS: Everything about letter containing accusations against Pope Francis


To analyze the controversial letter against the pope written by the former U.S. nuncio, one must keep many things in mind. 

The document was published while the Holy Father was traveling through Ireland, a country especially devastated by abuse committed by priests and other clergy. 

There, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for this scourge in nearly all of his addresses...

POPE FRANCIS
“We ask pardon for all of the abuses committed in various types of institutions run by male or female religious and by other members of the Church.”

The Holy Father also committed himself to eradicating the abuse at whatever cost. 

POPE FRANCIS
“I reiterated my commitment, or rather, a greater commitment to eliminate this scourge in the Church, at whatever cost of morality or suffering.”

Precisely during that time, websites historically critical of the pope published a long letter written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in which he calls for nothing short of a papal resignation. 

Viganò reports that he informed Pope Francis of abuse committed by the now ex-Cardinal McCarrick, he says Benedict had prepared sanctions that were never put into practice and that Pope Francis is confusing people. 

The Holy Father responded with this. 

POPE FRANCIS
“Read it carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about it. I believe the statement speaks for itself, and you all have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.”

Before taking the pope's advice and reading it, it's important to know the key figures in this story. 

WHO IS CARDINAL MCCARRICK?

In June, Pope Francis revoked 88-year-old McCarrick's title of cardinal after an independent investigation by the Archdiocese of New York determined a claim of sexual abuse of minors as credible. Since then, priests and seminarians have assured the ex-cardinal used his authority to also take advantage of them. 

WHO IS CARLO MARÍA VIGANÒ?

He was an important Vatican high official whom Benedict named No. 2 in the Vatican government, where his harsh stance on reducing costs caused a situation of fear among his employees. 

Benedict felt obligated to solve the issue and made him nuncio in the U.S. 

Viganò did not agree with the measure and lied to the pope to prevent it, telling Benedict he had to care for his brother, which was untrue. 

Viganò left the Vatican making accusations of corruption and frustrated about not being made a cardinal. 

He remained in the U.S. until his retirement in 2016. 

The former nuncio recently participated in an encounter in Rome that gathered opponents of Pope Francis and explained reasons not to obey the Holy Father. 

WHAT DOES THE LETTER SAY?

The letter states:

- His two predecessors at the embassy had alerted the Vatican as early as 2000 “of the gravely immoral behavior of Cardinal McCarrick,” who was 70 years old at the time.

- None of the last three secretaries of state (Sodano, Bertone and Parolin) took action.

- In 2009 or 2010, Benedict decided to place sanctions on McCarrick, which were communicated but never put into practice.

- Viganò himself personally informed Pope Francis that Cardinal McCarrick, then 82 years old and holding no high office, “corrupted generations of seminarians and priests, and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.”

- In addition, he accuses Pope Francis of removing the cardinal only once the accusation of abuse of minors emerged.

IS IT CREDIBLE?

It's the most severe accusation made by a Vatican high official against the pope, but most of its claims are based on assumptions, not facts. Many paragraphs give the impression of it being a letter of vengeance by an angry employee. The text includes harsh accusations against another 32 high officials for whom Viganò had worked. 

Perhaps for this reason, Pope Francis recommended reading the letter, allowing the claims to speak for themselves.