The Vatican this morning published a letter from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops in answer to last week’s letter, the second he has written, from Abp. Carlo Maria Vigano that contained, among other things, accusations of coverup in the Vatican at the highest levels in the Abp. McCarrick scandal. Vigano’s second letter specifically named Cardinal Ouellet, by virtue of his office, as possessing information that would prove his – Vigano’s – claims.
The letter was written in French and translated into Italian – both were published.
I offer the following English language translation of that letter. Where you see bold, that was in the original.
CARDINAL OUELLET RESPONDS TO VIGANO ACCUSATIONS
Dear Brother Carlo Maria Viganò,
In your last messgae to the media, in which you denounce Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, you exhort me to tell the truth about the facts you interpret as an endemic corruption that has invaded the Church’s hierarchy to its highest level. With due pontifical permission, I offer my personal testimony here, as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, on the events concerning the Archbishop emeritus of Washington Theodore McCarrick and his alleged ties with Pope Francis which are the object of your resounding public denunciation as well as your claim that the Holy Father resign. I write my testimony based on my personal contacts and the documents of the archives of the aforementioned Congregation, which are currently the subject of a study to shed light on this sad case.
Allow me to tell you first, in full sincerity, by virtue of the good relationship of collaboration that existed between us when you were Nuncio in Washington, that your current position seems incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, not only because of the confusion that it sows in God’s people, but because your public accusations seriously hurt the fame of the Successors of the Apostles. I remember having once enjoyed your esteem and your confidence, but I note that I would have lost the dignity you recognized in me, simply because I remained faithful to the guidelines of the Holy Father in the service entrusted to me in the Church. Is not the communion with the Successor of Peter the expression of our obedience to Christ who chose him and supports him with His grace? My interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which you lament, is inscribed in this fidelity to the living tradition, of which Francis has given us an example with the recent modification of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the question of the death penalty.
Let’s go to the facts. You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013 on the McCarrick case in the audience he gave you, as well as many other pontifical representatives whom he met for the first time on that day. I imagine the enormous amount of verbal and written information that he had to gather on that occasion on many people and situations. I very much doubt that McCarrick interested him to the point that you would have us believe, since he was an Archbishop emeritus of 82 years and seven years without an assignment. Moreover, the written instructions prepared for you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your service in 2011, did not say anything about McCarrick, except what I told you about his situation as Bishop emeritus who had to obey certain conditions and restrictions to because of the rumors about his behavior in the past.
Since 30 June 2010, that is, since I have been Prefect of this Congregation, I have never brought the case of McCarrick to an audience with Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis, except in these last days, after his demission from the College of Cardinals. The ex-cardinal, who had retired in May 2006, had been strongly urged not to travel and not to appear in public, in order not to provoke other rumors about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and canceled by Pope Francis. After re-examining the archives, I note that there are no documents signed by either of the Popes, nor a note of the hearing of my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, who gave the mandate of the Archbishop’s emeritus McCarrick to silence and private life, with the rigor of canonical penalties. The reason is that then, unlike today, there was no sufficient evidence of his alleged guilt. Hence the position of the Congregation inspired by the prudence and the letters of my predecessor and mine that reaffirmed, through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then also through you, the exhortation to a discreet lifestyle of prayer and penance for his own good and for that of the Church. His case would have been the subject of new disciplinary measures if the Nunciature in Washington or any other source had given us recent and decisive information about his behavior. Like so many, I hope that, out of respect for the victims and the need for justice, the investigation underway in the United States and the Roman Curia finally offers us a critical and comprehensive view of the procedures and circumstances of this painful case, so that such facts are not repeated in the future.
How can it be that this man of the Church, whose incoherence is known today, was promoted on several occasions, up to the very high functions of Archbishop of Washington and then of Cardinal? I am amazed by it myself and I recognize the flaws in the selection procedure that has been carried out in your case. But without going into details, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff rest on the information available at that precise moment and which constitute the object of a prudential judgment that is not infallible. It seems unfair to me to conclude that the persons responsible for the discernment prior to them are corrupt even if, in this specific case, some evidence provided by the testimonies should have been further examined. The prelate in question was able to defend himself with great skill from the doubts raised about him. On the other hand, the fact that there may be people in the Vatican who practice and support behavior contrary to the values of the Gospel in matters of sexuality, does not authorize us to generalize and declare this or that and even the Holy Father himself unworthy and complicit. First of all, do not the ministers of the truth look at themselves from slander and defamation?
Dear Pontifical Representative Emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered this presumed sexual predator with full knowledge of the facts and therefore to be complicit in the corruption that spreads in the Church, to the point of deeming him unworthy to continue his reform as the first pastor of the Church, I find it incredible and far-fetched from all points of view. I am unable to understand how you could convince yourself of this monstrous accusation that does not stand up. Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick’s promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington. He dismissed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when a credible allegation of child abuse became evident. I have never heard Pope Francis refer to this so-called great adviser of his pontificate for nominations in America, although he does not hide the trust he accords to some prelates. I sense that these are not your preferences, nor those of friends who support your interpretation of the facts. However, I find it aberrant that you take advantage of the resounding scandal of sexual abuse in the United States to inflict on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff, an unheard and undeserved blow.
I have the privilege of meeting Pope Francis for a long time each week, to discuss the appointments of the Bishops and the problems that affect their government. I know very well how he treats people and problems: with much charity, mercy, attention and seriousness, as you yourself have experienced. Reading how you conclude your last message, apparently very spiritual, playing a game and casting doubt on his faith, it seemed really too sarcastic, even blasphemous! This cannot come from the Spirit of God.
Dear brother, I would really like to help you rediscover the communion with the one who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church; I understand how bitterness and disappointments have marked your way in service to the Holy See, but you can not conclude your priestly life in an open and scandalous rebellion, which inflicts a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, exacerbating division and bewilderment in God’s people! How can I answer your question if not to tell you: come out of your clandestinity, repent of your revolt and return to better feelings towards the Holy Father, instead of exacerbating hostility against him. How can you celebrate the Holy Eucharist and pronounce his name in the canon of the Mass? How can you pray the holy Rosary, St. Michael the Archangel and the Mother of God, condemning him whom you protect and accompany every day in his heavy and courageous ministry?
If the Pope were not a man of prayer, if he were attached to money, if he favored the rich to the poor, if he did not demonstrate an indefatigable energy in welcoming all the poor and giving them the generous comfort of his word and his gestures, if he did not multiply all possible means to announce and communicate the joy of the Gospel to everyone and everyone in the Church and beyond its visible borders, if he did not extend his hand to families, to the abandoned elderly, to those sick in soul and body, and above all to the young people looking for happiness, one might, according to you, perhaps prefer someone else with different diplomatic or political attitudes, but I who have been able to know him well, I cannot question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and above all the charism and peace that live within him by the grace of God and the power of the Risen One!
In response to your unjust and unjustified attack on the facts, dear Viganò, I conclude therefore that the accusation is a political frame devoid of a real foundation that can incriminate the Pope, and I repeat that it deeply hurts the communion of the Church. It is to God that this injustice is quickly repaired and that Pope Francis continues to be recognized for what he is: a distinguished pastor, a compassionate and firm father, a prophetic charism for the Church and for the world. May he continue with joy and full confidence his missionary reform, comforted by the prayer of the people of God and by the renewed solidarity of the whole Church together with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary.
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops
October 7, 2018