San Francisco Archbishop Praises Vatican Whistleblower, Backs Investigation Into Abuse Cover-Up

Michael W. Chapman | August 30, 2018 | 2:11pm EDT
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San Francisco Archbishop
Salvatore Cordileone.

( -- Like several other Catholic bishops in the United States and abroad, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone praised the integrity of Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Vigano -- who has called for the resignation of Pope Francis and other bishops for allegedly covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick's reported homosexual abuse of a young boy and seminarians -- and said he supports a "formal investigation" of the scandal and "any corrective action that may be necessary in light of its findings."

On Aug. 22, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano published an 11-page letter entitled "Testimony." Vigano served as the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016. He is 77 years old. In his "testimony," Vigano claims that many bishops, including Pope Francis, have covered-up the homosexual abuse of youth and seminarians for many years, in particular the abuse allegedly carried out by Cardinal (now Archbishop) Theodore McCarrick.

Archbishop Carlo Vigano, former apostolic nuncio
to the United States. (YouTube)

Vigano states that because Pope Francis has imposed a "zero tolerance" policy for clergy who engage in sexual abuse or cover it up, the Pope and those who protected McCarrick must resign.

"In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church, he [Pope Francis] must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick’s abuses and resign along with all of them," states Archbishop Vigano.

When asked about Vigano's testimony on Aug. 27, Pope Francis declined to comment, only saying, "I won't say a word about it."

In an Aug. 29 letter posted on the archdiocesan website, San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone cites Vigano's "testimony" and says, "I came to know Archbishop Viganò well during the years he served as Apostolic Nuncio here in the United States. I can attest that he is a man who served his mission with selfless dedication," and who was a man not interested in "furthering his 'career.'"

Cordileone states that he personally has no information about the McCarrick scandal, but "from information I do have about a very few of the other statements Archbishop Viganò makes, I can confirm that they are true. His statements, therefore, must be taken seriously. To dismiss them lightly would continue a culture of denial and obfuscation."

Pope Francis.  (YouTube)

"Of course, to validate his statements in detail a formal investigation will have to be conducted, one that is thorough and objective," states Archbishop Cordileone.  "I am therefore grateful to Cardinal DiNardo for recognizing the merit of finding answers that are 'conclusive and based on evidence,' and I join my voice to that of other bishops in calling for such an investigation and for taking any corrective action that may be necessary in light of its findings."

"The Chursh is in need of purification," said Cordileone. "I believe God is beginning this painful process of purification for us now...."

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, mentioned by Cordileone, is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In an Aug. 27 statement, Cardinal DiNardo reminded Catholics that he had promised to fully investigate the McCarrick scandal and he also mentions the Vigano "testimony."

"The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination," states Cardinal DiNardo. "The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past."

"Nationwide, the Church has a zero-tolerance policy toward priests and deacons who abuse, safe environment training, background checks for those working around children, victim assistance coordinators, prompt reporting to civil authorities, and lay review boards in dioceses," he added.

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic
Bishops. (YouTube)

Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, head of the Diocese of Springfield, Illinois, also issued a statement in support of DiNardo's investigation into McCarrick and the questions raised by Vigano. Bishop Paprocki also denounced the silence of Pope Francis and called for opening all "pertinent files" on who knew what (and when) about McCarrick. 

"The former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, has revealed a set of facts and circumstances that are deeply troubling as they relate to the awareness, actions, and inactions at the very highest levels of the Church," said Bishop Paprocki.  

"Archbishop Viganò has provided his written testimony stating that Pope Francis 'must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests. In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him.'"

Bishop Thomas Paprocki, head of the diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

"When asked about this aboard the papal plane on his return flight from Ireland on August 26, Pope Francis said, 'Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word on this.' Frankly, but with all due respect, that response is not adequate," said Paprocki.  "Given the gravity of the content and implications of the former Nuncio’s statement, it is important for all the facts of this situation to be fully reviewed, vetted, and carefully considered."

"Toward that end, Pope Francis, Vatican officials and the current Apostolic Nuncio should make public the pertinent files indicating who knew what and when about Archbishop (formerly Cardinal) McCarrick and provide the accountability that the Holy Father has promised," said the Springfield bishop, adding that he supports the proposal raised by DiNardo to examine the McCarrick case. 

Bishop Thomas Olmsted, head of the diocese of Phoenix, also urged a full investigation into the claims made by Archbishop Vigano in his "testimony." 

“I have known Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò for 39 years," said Olmsted in an Aug. 27 statement.  "We became colleagues in the Secretariat of State of the Holy See in August 1979, where he had been serving prior to my entrance into this work in service to the ministry of Pope John Paul II."

Bishop Thomas Olmsted, head of the diocese of Phoenix. (YouTube)

"I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity," he said. "I ask that Archbishop Viganò’s testimony be taken seriously by all, and that every claim that he makes be investigated thoroughly. Many innocent people have been seriously harmed by clerics like Archbishop McCarrick; whoever has covered up these shameful acts must be brought to the light of day.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland, head of the diocese of Tyler, Texas, echoed Olmsted's views. 

In a statement to his diocese, Bishop Strickland said, "A letter (click here) by Archbishop Viganò, former Nuncio to the United States, raises grave allegations and calls for the resignation of numerous high ranking prelates including Pope Francis."

Bishop Joseph Strickland, head of the diocese of Tyler, Texas. (YouTube)

"Let us be clear that they are still allegations, but as your shepherd I find them to be credible," said Strickland. "Using this standard the response must be a thorough investigation, similar to those conducted any time allegations are deemed to be credible.  I do not have the authority to launch such an investigation but I will lend my voice in whatever way necessary to call for this investigation and urge that it’s findings demand accountability of all found to be culpable even at the highest levels of the Church."

Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American and a member of the highest court at the Vatican, also supports an investigation into Vigano's "testimony."

“The corruption and filth which have entered into the life of the Church must be purified at their roots,” Burke told LifeSiteNews. “The declarations made by a prelate of the authority of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church. Each declaration must be subject to investigation, according to the Church’s time-tried procedural law.”

“After the truth of each declaration has been established, then the appropriate sanctions must be applied both for the healing of the horrible wounds inflicted upon the Church and her members, and for the reparation of the grave scandal caused,” said Cardinal Burke.  

Cardinal Raymond Burke, member of the Apostolic Signatura,
the highest court at the Vatican.  (YouTube)

In an interview with Itlay's La Repubblica (as translated in America magazine), Burke said it is not wrong to call for the Pope's resignation.  He further said, “I can only say that to arrive at this one must investigate and respond in this regard. The request for resignation is in any case licit; anyone can make it in the face of whatever pastor that errs greatly in the fulfillment of his office, but the facts need to be verified."

Commenting further on Vigano's letter, Burke said, "I was deeply shaken because the entire document is most grave. I had to read it several times because the first reading left me speechless. I believe that at this point there is need for a complete and objective report on the part of the Pope and the Vatican.”

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana Kazakhstan, as reported by LifeSiteNews, said of the scandal, "It is a rare and an extremely grave fact in Church history that a bishop accuses publicly and specifically a reigning Pope. In a recently published document Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò testifies, that for five years, Pope Francis had known two facts: that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick committed sex offenses against seminarians and against his subordinates, and that there are sanctions, which Pope Benedict XVI imposed on him.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider.  (YouTube)

"Furthermore, Archbishop Viganò confirmed his statement by a sacred oath invoking the name of God. There is, therefore, no reasonable and plausible cause to doubt the truth content of the document of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò."

Bishop Robert Morlino, head of the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, said he fully supports an investigation into the McCarrick issue. He added that he was very disappointed with the silence of Pope Francis. 

"I must confess my disappointment that in his remarks on the return flight from Dublin to Rome, the Holy Father chose a course of 'no comment,' regarding any conclusions that might be drawn from Archbishop Viganò’s allegations," said Bishop Morlino.  "Pope Francis further said expressly that such conclusions should be left to the 'professional maturity' of journalists."

"In the United States and elsewhere, in fact, very little is more questionable than the professional maturity of journalists," said Morlino.  "The bias in the mainstream media could not be clearer and is recognized almost universally. I would never ascribe professional maturity to the journalism of the National Catholic Reporter, for example. (And, predictably, they are leading the charge in a campaign of vilification against Archbishop Viganò.)"

Bishop Robert Morlino, head of the diocese of Madison, Wisconsin. (YouTube)

"I must add that during his tenure as our Apostolic Nuncio, I came to know Archbishop Viganò both professionally and personally, and I remain deeply convinced of his honesty, loyalty to and love for the Church, and impeccable integrity," said Bishop Morlino. "In fact, Arch. Viganò has offered a number of concrete, real allegations in his recent document, giving names, dates, places, and the location of supporting documentation – either at the Secretariat of State or at the Apostolic Nunciature."

"Thus, the criteria for credible allegations are more than fulfilled, and an investigation, according to proper canonical procedures, is certainly in order," said Morlino. 

Charles Chaput, the archbishop of Philadelphia, said that the allegations made by Vigano were "beyond his personal experience," reported the The Inquirer. However, Chaput spoke positively of Vigano, saying he "found his service to be marked by integrity to the Church." 

Archbishop Charles Chaput, head of the archdiocese of Philadelphia, Penn. (YouTube)
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