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.
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.
The retired Italian diplomat also echoed the National Catholic Register's reports about Cardinal Rodriguez Maradiaga and his record of cover-up in Honduras, saying the Pope "defends his man" to the "bitter end," despite the allegations against him. The same applies to McCarrick, wrote Viganò.
(Story continues below)
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"He [Pope Francis] knew from at least June 23, 2013 that McCarrick was a serial predator," Archbishop Viganò stated, but although "he knew that he was a corrupt man, he covered for him to the bitter end."
"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," wrote Viganò.
The former U.S. nuncio wrote that Pope Francis "is abdicating the mandate which Christ gave to Peter to confirm the brethren," and urged him to "acknowledge his mistakes" and, to "set a good example to cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick's abuses and resign along with all of them."
In comments to the media Aug. 25 Viganò said his main motivation for writing his testimony now was to "stop the suffering of the victims, to prevent new victims and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free."
He also said he wanted to "discharge my conscience in front of God of my responsibilities as bishop for the universal Church," adding that he is "old man" who wanted to present himself to God "with a clean conscience."
"The people of God have the right to know the full truth also regarding their shepherds," he said. "They have the right to be guided by good shepherds. In order to be able to trust them and love them, they have to know them openly, in transparency and truth, as they really are. A priest should always be a light on a candle, everywhere and for all."