Benedict’s measures came years after Archbishop Viganò’s predecessors at the nunciature — Archbishops Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi — had “immediately” informed the Holy See as soon as they had learned of Archbishop McCarrick’s “gravely immoral behaviour with seminarians and priests,” the retired Italian Vatican diplomat wrote.
He said Archbishop Montalvo first alerted the Vatican in 2000, requesting that Dominican Father Boniface Ramsey write to Rome confirming the allegations. In 2006, Viganò said, he personally, as delegate for pontifical representations in the Secretariat of State, wrote a memo to his superior, Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, proposing an “exemplary measure” be taken against McCarrick that could have a “medicinal function” to prevent future abuses and alleviate a “very serious scandal for the faithful.”
He drew on an indictment memorandum, communicated by Archbishop Sambi to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, in which an abusive priest had made claims against McCarrick of “such gravity and vileness” including “depraved acts” and “sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist.”
But, according to Viganò, his memo was ignored and no action was taken until the late 2000s — a delay which Archbishop Viganò claims is owed to complicity of John Paul II’s and Benedict XVI’s respective Secretary of States, Cardinals Angelo Sodano and Tarcisio Bertone.
In 2008, Archbishop Viganò claims he wrote a second memo, this time to Cardinal Sandri’s successor as sostituto at the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Fernando Filoni. He included a summary of research carried out by Richard Sipe, a psychotherapist and specialist in clerical sexual abuse, which Sipe had sent Benedict in the form of a statement. Viganò said he ended the memo by “repeating to my superiors that I thought it was necessary to intervene as soon as possible by removing the cardinal’s hat from Cardinal McCarrick.”
Again, according the Viganò, his request fell on deaf ears and he writes he was “greatly dismayed” that both memos were ignored until Sipe’s “courageous and meritorious” statement had “the desired result.”
“Benedict did what he had to do,” Archbishop Viganò told the National Catholic Register Aug. 25, “but his collaborators — the Secretary of State and all the others — didn’t enforce it as they should have done, which led to the delay.”
“What is certain,” Viganò writes in his testimony, “is that Pope Benedict imposed the above canonical sanctions on McCarrick and that they were communicated to him by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Pietro Sambi.”
The National Catholic Register has independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.
In 2011, on arrival in Washington D.C., Archbishop Viganò said he personally repeated the sanction to McCarrick. “The cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach house, but he said this as if it had no importance,” Viganò recalled in his testimony.
In his written statement, Viganò then outlined his understanding of how, despite the allegations against him, McCarrick came to be appointed Archbishop of Washington D.C. in 2000 and how his misdeeds were covered up. His statement implicates Cardinals Sodano, Bertone and Parolin and he insists various other cardinals and bishops were well aware, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor as Archbishop of Washington D.C.
“I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” he wrote.
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Ed McFadden, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington, told CNA that Wuerl categorically denies having been informed that McCarrick’s ministry had been restricted by the Vatican.
The second half of Viganò’s testimony primarily deals with what Pope Francis knew about McCarrick, and how he acted.
He recalled meeting Cardinal McCarrick in June 2013 at the Pope’s Domus Sanctae Marthae residence, during which McCarrick told him “in a tone somewhere between ambiguous and triumphant: ‘The Pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China’” — the implication being that Francis had lifted the travel ban placed on him by Benedict (further evidence of this can be seen in this interview McCarrick gave the National Catholic Reporter in 2014).
At a private meeting a few days later, Archbishop Viganò said the pope asked him, “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?” to which Viganò replied: “He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.” The former nuncio said he believes the pope’s purpose in asking him was to “find out if I was an ally of McCarrick or not.”
He said it was “clear” that “from the time of Pope Francis’s election, McCarrick, now free from all constraints, had felt free to travel continuously, to give lectures and interviews.”
Moreover, he added, McCarrick had “become the kingmaker for appointments in the Curia and the United States, and the most listened to advisor in the Vatican for relations with the Obama administration.”
Viganò claimed that the appointments of Cardinal Cupich to Chicago and Cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark “were orchestrated by McCarrick” among others. He said neither of the names was presented by the nunciature, whose job is traditionally to present a list of names, or terna, to the Congregation for Bishops. He also added that Bishop Robert McElroy’s appointment to San Diego was orchestrated “from above” rather than through the nuncio.