(CNSNews.com) -- Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican's former top diplomat to the United States, released a public letter on Sunday calling on accused sex-abuser Archbishop Theodore McCarrick -- a power player in the U.S. church -- to "confess and repent" of his "sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly" because "your eternal salvation is at stake."
"As has been reported as news by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the accusations against you for crimes against minors and abuses against seminarians are going to be examined and judged very soon with an administrative procedure," said Archbishop Vigano in his Jan. 13 letter.
"No matter what decision the supreme authority of the Church takes in your case, what really matters and what has saddened those who love you and pray for you is the fact that throughout these months you haven’t given any sign of repentance," wrote Vigano. "I am among those who are praying for your conversion, that you may repent and ask pardon of your victims and the Church."
"Time is running out," said the archbishop, "but you can confess and repent of your sins, crimes and sacrileges, and do so publicly, since they have themselves become public. Your eternal salvation is at stake."
Archbishop Theodore McCarrick (formerly a cardinal) has been accused of sexually abusing at least three minor boys and eight seminarians over the last several decades. His actions apparently were known by many priests, bishops, and cardinals but was kept hushed-up. In August 2018, Archbishop Vigano, who served as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016, issued an 11-page "Testimony" detailing the cover-up and other instances of alleged corruption in the Church.
Since the Testimony was released, several U.S. bishops and bishops abroad have defended Vigano and called for a thorough investigation. Pope Francis has ignored those requests and, when asked about the Testimony, remarked, "I won't say a word about it."
Archbishop McCarrick currently is being investigated by Church authorites. The Catholic News Agency reported last week that the Vatican is using an "administrative penal procedure" against McCarrick, which is a quicker and harsher handling of the case. "[T]he use of an administrative process strongly suggests that the Vatican has clear evidence the archbishop has committed a delict, an ecclesiastical crime," reported the news agency.
In his letter to McCarrick, Arbp. Vigano argues that an act of public repentance would help bring healing to the victims and some measure of healing to the Catholic Church.
"[Y]ou are in a position to do great good for the Church," Vigano writes to McCarrick. "In fact, you are now in a position to do something that has become more important for the Church than all of the good things you did for her throughout your entire life. A public repentance on your part would bring a significant measure of healing to a gravely wounded and suffering Church. Are you willing to offer her that gift? Christ died for us all when we were still sinners (Rom. 5: 8).
"He only asks that we respond by repenting and doing the good that we are given to do. The good that you are in a position to do now is to offer the Church your sincere and public repentance. Will you give the Church that gift?"
I implore you, repent publicly of your sins, so as to make the Church rejoice and present yourself before the tribunal of Our Lord cleansed by His blood," wrote Vigano. "Please, do not make His sacrifice on the cross void for you. Christ, Our Good Lord, continues to love you. Put your entire trust in His Sacred Heart. And pray to Mary, as I and many others are doing, asking her to intercede for the salvation of your soul."
Archbishop McCarrick, 88, currently is residing at St. Fidelis Capuchin Franciscan Friary in Victoria, Kansas. Since the late 1960s, McCarrick has been a major player in the Catholic Church and a formidable fundraiser and diplomat. He was the Auxiliary Bishop of New York (1977-1981), the Bishop of Metuchen, N.J. (1981-1986), the Bishop of Newark (1986-2000), the Archbishop of Washington, D.C. (2001-2006), and Cardinal Priest of the Santi Nereo e Achilleo Bascilica in Rome, Italy (2007-2018).
Over the years, McCarrick has been awarded honorary degrees from such institutions as Georgetown University, Catholic University, University of Notre Dame, and Fordham University.
In his August 22, 2018 Testimony, which largely focused on the McCarrick scandal, Vigano wrote, "To restore the beauty of holiness to the face of the Bride of Christ, which is terribly disfigured by so many abominable crimes, and if we truly want to free the Church from the fetid swamp into which she has fallen, we must have the courage to tear down the culture of secrecy and publicly confess the truths we have kept hidden.
"We must tear down the conspiracy of silence with which bishops and priests have protected themselves at the expense of their faithful, a conspiracy of silence that in the eyes of the world risks making the Church look like a sect, a conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia. ...
"... Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for total transparency in the Church and for bishops and faithful to act with parrhesia. The faithful throughout the world also demand this of him in an exemplary manner. He 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. He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with Maradiaga. ...
"...Even in the tragic affair of McCarrick, Pope Francis’s behavior was no different. He knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator. Although he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end; indeed, he made McCarrick’s advice his own, which was certainly not inspired by sound intentions and for love of the Church. It was only when he was forced by the report of the abuse of a minor, again on the basis of media attention, that he took action [regarding McCarrick] to save his image in the media.
"Now in the United States a chorus of voices is rising especially from the lay faithful, and has recently been joined by several bishops and priests, asking that all those who, by their silence, covered up McCarrick’s criminal behavior, or who used him to advance their career or promote their intentions, ambitions and power in the Church, should resign."