Today was a busy news day in the Vatican, filled with events and meetings and a big appointment, as it often is just before a Pope leaves on a foreign apostolic pilgrimage. In fact, Francis departs tomorrow for the DRC, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and for South Sudan, returning to Rome on February 5. Francis today met with the General Chaptrer of the Order of Malta, Bolivia’s foreign minister and entourage, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and members of the Italian Federation of Water Volleyball.

In big news for both the Vatican and the United States, Pope Francis today appointed a Chicago-born Augustinian missionary, Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, to head the powerful Dicastery for Bishops. He succeeds Cardinal Marc Ouellet whose resignation was announced today as having reached the age limit of 75. Ouellet turned 78 in June of 2022. Accused of sexual assault last year, the cardinal has stated his innocence in writing and a video. In addition, a Vatican preliminary investigation found insufficient evidence to start a formal cause.

Bishop Prevost will take office on April 12 with the title of archbishop-elect.


Pope Francis has named Robert Francis Prevost, an Augustinian missionary who has been serving as Bishop of Chiclayo in Peru, as the new prefect for the Dicastery of Bishops. Bishop Prevost succeeds Cardinal Marc Ouellet, both as prefect and as president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

By Vatican News

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation from the offices of prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, presented, by His Eminence Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., upon reaching the age limit, and has called Bishop Robert Francis Prevost, O.S.A., until now bishop of Chiclayo, Peru, to succeed him in the same offices, at the same time conferring the title of Archbishop-Bishop emeritus of Chiclayo. He will assume office on 12 April 2023.

Biography of Robert Francis Prevost

Robert Francis Prevost, 67, was born in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., on 14 September 1955. He entered the novitiate of the Order of Saint Augustine (OSA) in 1977, in the province of Our Lady of Good Counsel in St. Louis, and made his solemn vows on 29 August 1981. He studied at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago, graduating with a degree in Theology.

At age 27, he was sent by the Order to Rome to study Canon Law at the Pontifical University of Saint Thomas Aquinas (the Angelicum). He received priestly ordination on 19 June 1982. He received his Licentiate in 1984, then was sent to work in the mission in Chulucanas, Piura, Peru (1985-1986).

In 1987 he received his doctorate with the thesis, “The Role of the Local Prior of the Order of St. Augustine.” In the same year he was elected vocations director and missions director of the Augustinian Province of “Mother of Good Counsel.”

In 1988 he was sent to the mission of Trujillo as director of the common formation project for Augustinian aspirants from the Vicariates of Chulucanas, Iquitos, and Apurímac. There he served as community prior (1988-1992), formation director (1988-1998), and teacher of the professed (1992-1998). In the Archdiocese of Trujillo, he was judicial vicar (1989-1998), and professor of Canon Law, Patristics, and Morals in the San Carlos e San Marcelo Major Seminary.

In 1999 he was elected prior provincial of the “Mother of Good Counsel” Province. After two and a half years, the Ordinary General Chapter elected him prior general, a ministry the Order entrusted to him again at the 2007 Ordinary General Chapter.

In October 2013 he returned to his province to be teacher of the professed and vicar provincial; positions he held until Pope Francis appointed him apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Chiclayo, Perun, on 3 November 2014, elevating him to the episcopal dignity of titular bishop of the Diocese of Sufar. He took canonical possession of the diocese on 7 November in the presence of Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop James Patrick Green; he was ordained bishop on 12 December, the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, in the Cathedral of his diocese.

He has been bishop of Chiclayo since 26 September 2015. He has served as second vice president of the Peruvian Bishops’ Conference since March 2018. Pope Francis appointed him a member of the Congregation for the Clergy in 2019 and a member of the Congregation for Bishops in 2020.



Following is the statement released this afternoon by the Holy See Press Office, part in Italian and part in French:

With regard to the statements reported in the press in recent days and concerning the Most Eminent Cardinal Marc Ouellet, P.S.S., the director of the Holy See Press Office, Matteo Bruni, declares that: “The preliminary investigation entrusted by the Pope to Fr. Jacques Servais, S.J., whose conclusion was that there are no elements to initiate a trial against Cardinal Ouellet for sexual assault, having consulted Fr. Servais again and having received confirmation that ‘there are no grounds to open an investigation into the sexual assault of person F. by Card. Ouellet. Neither in his written report sent to the Holy Father, nor in the testimony via Zoom that I subsequently collected in the presence of a member of the ad hoc diocesan committee, did this person make an accusation that would provide material for such an investigation’. Following further pertinent consultations, Pope Francis declares that there are insufficient elements to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against person F.”


The Holy Father today gave a lengthy and up-close-and-personal look at the priesthood as he opened a much-anticipated three-day Vatican meeting entitled “For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood!” There are some wonderful quotes in his talk.

My favorite quote: “As an African proverb says: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.’ Sometimes it seems that the Church is slow, and that is true. Yet I like to think of it as the slowness of those who have chosen to walk in fraternity.”

As I write this column, Francis’ full talk has not been translated into English for the website but if you wish to see the full video with English translation, click here:


By Hannah Brockhaus (CNA)

Pope Francis on Thursday offered a long reflection on his more than 52 years of priesthood, giving advice to other clerics in what he said might be the “swan song” of his priestly life.

As he gave the opening remarks at a three-day Vatican conference on the theology of the priesthood on Feb. 17, the 85-year-old pope said that there is “no theory here, I’m speaking about what I lived.” (photo Daniel Ibanez CNA)

“It may be that these reflections are the ‘swan song’ of my own priestly life, but I can assure you that they are the fruit of my own experience,” he said.

In the frank speech, Francis said that he had seen positive witnesses of the priesthood and walked with men whose “ministry had become barren, repetitive, and meaningless.”

He added that he too had faced times of difficulty and desolation in his vocation, saying that there were moments of darkness in his life when closeness to God was indispensable to sustain him.

The pope’s speech marked the start of the live-streamed summit “For a Fundamental Theology of the Priesthood,” taking place on Feb. 17-19 in the Vatican’s Paul VI Hall. The symposium was first announced in April 2021.

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican Congregation for Bishops, organized the meeting together with the France-based Research and Anthropology Center for Vocations.

Pope Francis’ message was organized around four forms of “closeness” that he said were “decisive” in the life of a priest: closeness to God, closeness to the bishop, closeness to other priests, and closeness to people.

He emphasized the importance of a strong prayer life and relationship with God for both priests and bishops, as well as the universal call to holiness rooted in baptism.

“The life of a priest is above all the salvation history of one baptized person,” he said. “We should never forget that each particular vocation, including that of Holy Orders, is a completion of baptism.”

Francis noted that there is a temptation to live the priesthood without remembering that the primary vocation is to holiness.

“To be holy means to conform ourselves to Jesus,” he said. “Only when we strive to love others as Jesus does, do we make God visible and fulfill our vocation to holiness.”

He cited St. John Paul II, who wrote in his 1992 apostolic exhortation Pastores dabo vobis that “the priest, like every other member of the Church, ought to grow in the awareness that he himself is continually in need of being evangelized.”

There are some priests and bishops who do not understand this, Pope Francis reflected, calling it a “tragedy of today.”

The pope said that the Church was living through a time of “epochal change,” but people must not seek comfort in either the past or the future.

“I prefer instead the response born of a trusting acceptance of reality, anchored in the wise and living Tradition of the Church, which enables us to put out into the deep without fear,” he said.

Pope Francis warned his listeners that many crises in the priesthood resulted from a poor prayer life and a lack of intimacy with God, which reduces the spiritual life “to mere religious practice.”

“The intimacy born of prayer, the spiritual life, concrete closeness to God through listening to his word, the celebration of the Eucharist, the silence of adoration, entrustment to Mary, the wise accompaniment of a guide and the Sacrament of Reconciliation… Without these ‘forms of closeness,’ a priest is merely a weary hireling who has none of the benefits of the Lord’s friends,” he said.

Prayer is also a bishop’s “first task,” he said, adding: “He must increase, I must decrease, says St. John the Baptist.”

To have a good relationship with God, finding moments of silence throughout the day, is key, he noted.

This silence, he said, is often avoided because it can be uncomfortable. Instead of feeling peace, we feel emptiness, “and in order to keep from feeling that, we are unwilling to slow down.”

Work can become “a distraction to not fall into desolation,” the Jesuit pope said, referring to a central concept in Ignatian spirituality.

He encouraged priests and bishops to push through the uncomfortable feelings of desolation and persevere in prayer.

He also advised them to seek fraternity with other priests, which “means choosing deliberately to pursue holiness together with others, and not by oneself.”

“As an African proverb says: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone; if you want to go far, go with others.’ Sometimes it seems that the Church is slow, and that is true. Yet I like to think of it as the slowness of those who have chosen to walk in fraternity,” he said.

Priestly fraternity and friendship also helps priests live a life of celibacy with more serenity, Francis said.

“Celibacy is a gift that the Latin Church preserves, yet it is a gift that, to be lived as a means of sanctification, calls for healthy relationships, relationships of true esteem and true goodness that are deeply rooted in Christ,” he observed.

“Without friends and without prayer,” he said, “celibacy can become an unbearable burden and a counter-witness to the very beauty of the priesthood.”

Pope Francis also urged priests to be close to people, saying that he is “convinced that, for a renewed understanding of the identity of the priesthood, it is important nowadays to be closely involved in people’s real lives, to live alongside them, without escape routes.”

He emphasized that people were looking for “shepherds in the style of Jesus,” not “clerical functionaries” or “professionals of the sacred.”

People need them to be “men of courage, ready to draw near to those in pain and lend a helping hand,” he said. “Contemplative men, whose closeness to people enables them to proclaim before the wounds of our world the power of the Resurrection even now at work.”

Addressing the crisis of priestly vocations, Pope Francis reflected on the need for life and fervor and a desire to bring Christ to others.

He said that even in communities where the priests were not particularly engaged or joyful, the community of the baptized can inspire vocations through its prayers and active and fraternal life.

“This is especially the case if that community prays insistently for vocations and has the courage to propose to its young people a path of special consecration,” he said.

“In looking at his own humanity, his own history, his own personality,” he continued, “each of us should ask not if responding to a vocation is agreeable or not, but whether, in conscience, that vocation brings to light within us the potential for Love that we received on the day of our baptism.”





THE VIGANO RESPONSE: In his third letter or testimony, made public today, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano answers accusations made by Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his letter of October 7.

Vigano’s 2400-word missive is more dispassionate than his previous letters and is laid out as if by a lawyer – chronological dates and facts, and responses to what Cardinal Ouellet wrote, noting that basically the cardinal’s letter vindicated his (Vigano’s) original statements. Vigano details Ouellet’s letter statement by statement, answering point by point and even listing what Cardinal Ouellet omitted in his accusatory letter.

Abp. Vigano begins: “To bear witness to corruption in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was a painful decision for me, and remains so.

“But I am an old man, one who knows he must soon give an accounting to the judge for his actions and omissions, one who fears Him who can cast body and soul into hell.

“A judge, even in his infinite mercy, will render to every person salvation or damnation according to what he has deserved.

“Anticipating the dreadful question from that judge — “How could you, who had knowledge of the truth, keep silent in the midst of falsehood and depravity?” — what answer could I give?”

Vigano writes of the pain of realizing “that many of the innocent faithful would be confused and disconcerted by the spectacle of a bishop’s charging colleagues and superiors with malfeasance, sexual sin, and grave neglect of duty. Yet I believe that my continued silence would put many souls at risk, and would certainly damn my own.”

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano speaks to thousands during the “Walk for Life” rally and march, Saturday, Jan. 24, 2015, in San Francisco. Abortion opponents gathered at Civic Center Plaza in front of City Hall for the 11th annual “Walk for Life West Coast” before marching down Market Street to Justin Herman Plaza while chanting and carrying signs that called to end abortion. (AP Photo/Alex Washburn)

The archbishop states: “I have been accused of creating confusion and division in the Church through my testimony. … Most impartial observers, however, will have been aware of a longstanding excess of both, as is inevitable when the successor of Peter is negligent in exercising his principal mission, which is to confirm the brothers in the faith and in sound moral doctrine. When he then exacerbates the crisis by contradictory or perplexing statements about these doctrines, the confusion is worsened.

“Therefore I spoke”

Following is the entire text of Abp. Vigano’s third letter:


The Third Testimony – On the Memory of the North American Martyrs
By Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
October 19, 2018

To bear witness to corruption in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church was a painful decision for me, and remains so.

But I am an old man, one who knows he must soon give an accounting to the judge for his actions and omissions, one who fears Him who can cast body and soul into hell.

A judge, even in his infinite mercy, will render to every person salvation or damnation according to what he has deserved.

Anticipating the dreadful question from that judge — “How could you, who had knowledge of the truth, keep silent in the midst of falsehood and depravity?” — what answer could I give?

I testified fully aware that my testimony would bring alarm and dismay to many eminent persons: Churchmen, fellow bishops, colleagues with whom I had worked and prayed.

I knew many would feel wounded and betrayed.

I expected that some would in their turn assail me and my motives.

Most painful of all, I knew that many of the innocent faithful would be confused and disconcerted by the spectacle of a bishop’s charging colleagues and superiors with malfeasance, sexual sin, and grave neglect of duty.
Yet I believe that my continued silence would put many souls at risk, and would certainly damn my own.

Having reported multiple times to my superiors, and even to the pope, the aberrant behavior of Theodore McCarrick, I could have publicly denounced the truths of which I was aware earlier.

If I have some responsibility in this delay, I repent for that.

This delay was due to the gravity of the decision I was going to take, and to the long travail of my conscience.

I have been accused of creating confusion and division in the Church through my testimony.

To those who believe such confusion and division were negligible prior to August 2018, perhaps such a claim is plausible.

Most impartial observers, however, will have been aware of a longstanding excess of both, as is inevitable when the successor of Peter is negligent in exercising his principal mission, which is to confirm the brothers in the faith and in sound moral doctrine.

When he then exacerbates the crisis by contradictory or perplexing statements about these doctrines, the confusion is worsened.

“Therefore I spoke”
Therefore I spoke.

For it is the conspiracy of silence that has wrought and continues to wreak great harm in the Church — harm to so many innocent souls, to young priestly vocations, to the faithful at large.

With regard to my decision, which I have taken in conscience before God, I willingly accept every fraternal correction, advice, recommendation, and invitation to progress in my life of faith and love for Christ, the Church and the pope.

Let me restate the key points of my testimony.
• In November 2000 the U.S. nuncio Archbishop (Gabriel) Montalvo informed the Holy See of Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual behavior with seminarians and priests.
• In December 2006 the new U.S. nuncio, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, informed the Holy See of Cardinal McCarrick’s homosexual behavior with yet another priest.
• In December of 2006 I myself wrote a memo to the Secretary of State Cardinal (Tarcisio) Bertone, and personally delivered it to the Substitute for General Affairs, Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, calling for the pope to bring extraordinary disciplinary measures against McCarrick to forestall future crimes and scandal. This memo received no response.
• In April 2008 an open letter to Pope Benedict by Richard Sipe was relayed by the Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal (William) Levada, to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone, containing further accusations of McCarrick’s sleeping with seminarians and priests. I received this a month later, and in May 2008 I myself delivered a second memo to the then Substitute for General Affairs, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, reporting the claims against McCarrick and calling for sanctions against him. This second memo also received no response.
• In 2009 or 2010 I learned from Cardinal (Giovanni Battista) Re, prefect of the Congregation of Bishops, that Pope Benedict had ordered McCarrick to cease public ministry and begin a life of prayer and penance. The nuncio Sambi communicated the Pope’s orders to McCarrick in a voice heard down the corridor of the nunciature.
• In November 2011 Cardinal (Marc) Ouellet, the new Prefect of Bishops, repeated to me, the new nuncio to the U.S., the Pope’s restrictions on McCarrick, and I myself communicated them to McCarrick face-to-face.
• On June 21, 2013, toward the end of an official assembly of nuncios at the Vatican, Pope Francis spoke cryptic words to me criticizing the U.S. episcopacy.
• On June 23, 2013, I met Pope Francis face-to-face in his apartment to ask for clarification, and the Pope asked me, “il cardinale McCarrick, com’è (Cardinal McCarrick — what do you make of him)?”– which I can only interpret as a feigning of curiosity in order to discover whether or not I was an ally of McCarrick. I told him that McCarrick had sexually corrupted generations of priests and seminarians, and had been ordered by Pope Benedict to confine himself to a life of prayer and penance.
• Instead, McCarrick continued to enjoy the special regard of Pope Francis and was given new responsibilities and missions by him.
• McCarrick was part of a network of bishops promoting homosexuality who exploiting their favor with Pope Francis manipulated episcopal appointments so as to protect themselves from justice and to strengthen the homosexual network in the hierarchy and in the Church at large.
• Pope Francis himself has either colluded in this corruption, or, knowing what he does, is gravely negligent in failing to oppose it and uproot it.

“I invoked God as my witness”

I invoked God as my witness to the truth of my claims, and none has been shown false.

Cardinal Ouellet has written to rebuke me for my temerity in breaking silence and leveling such grave accusations against my brothers and superiors, but in truth his remonstrance confirms me in my decision and, even more, serves to vindicate my claims, severally and as a whole.

• Cardinal Ouellet concedes that he spoke with me about McCarrick’s situation prior to my leaving for Washington to begin my post as nuncio.
• Cardinal Ouellet concedes that he communicated to me in writing the conditions and restrictions imposed on McCarrick by Pope Benedict.
• Cardinal Ouellet concedes that these restrictions forbade McCarrick to travel or to make public appearances.
• Cardinal Ouellet concedes that the Congregation of Bishops, in writing, first through the nuncio Sambi and then once again through me, required McCarrick to lead a life of prayer and penance.

What does Cardinal Ouellet dispute?
• Cardinal Ouellet disputes the possibility that Pope Francis could have taken in important information about McCarrick on a day when he met scores of nuncios and gave each only a few moments of conversation. But this was not my testimony. My testimony is that at a second, private meeting, I informed the Pope, answering his own question about Theodore McCarrick, then Cardinal archbishop emeritus of Washington, prominent figure of the Church in the US, telling the pope that McCarrick had sexually corrupted his own seminarians and priests. No pope could forget that.
• Cardinal Ouellet disputes the existence in his archives of letters signed by Pope Benedict or Pope Francis regarding sanctions on McCarrick. But this was not my testimony. My testimony was that he has in his archives key documents – irrespective of provenance – incriminating McCarrick and documenting the measures taken in his regard, and other proofs on the cover-up regarding his situation. And I confirm this again.
• Cardinal Ouellet disputes the existence in the files of his predecessor, Cardinal Re, of “audience memos” imposing on McCarrick the restrictions already mentioned. But this was not my testimony. My testimony is that there are other documents: for instance, a note from Card. Re not ex-Audientia SS.mi, or signed by the Secretary of State or by the Substitute.
• Cardinal Ouellet disputes that it is false to present the measures taken against McCarrick as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict and canceled by Pope Francis. True. They were not technically “sanctions” but provisions, “conditions and restrictions.” To quibble whether they were sanctions or provisions or something else is pure legalism. From a pastoral point of view they are exactly the same thing.

In brief, Cardinal Ouellet concedes the important claims that I did and do make, and disputes claims I don’t make and never made.

There is one point on which I must absolutely refute what Cardinal Ouellet wrote.
The Cardinal states that the Holy See was only aware of “rumors,” which were not enough to justify disciplinary measures against McCarrick.

I affirm to the contrary that the Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts, and is in possession of documentary proof, and that the responsible persons nevertheless chose not to intervene or were prevented from doing so.

Compensation by the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen to the victims of McCarrick’s sexual abuse, the letters of Fr. Ramsey, of the nuncios Montalvo in 2000 and Sambi in 2006, of Dr. Sipe in 2008, my two notes to the superiors of the Secretariat of State who described in detail the concrete allegations against McCarrick; are all these just rumors?

They are official correspondence, not gossip from the sacristy.

The crimes reported were very serious, including those of attempting to give sacramental absolution to accomplices in perverse acts, with subsequent sacrilegious celebration of Mass.

These documents specify the identity of the perpetrators and their protectors, and the chronological sequence of the facts.

They are kept in the appropriate archives; no extraordinary investigation is needed to recover them.

“I have noted two omissions”
In the public remonstrances directed at me I have noted two omissions, two dramatic silences.

The first silence regards the plight of the victims.

The second regards the underlying reason why there are so many victims, namely, the corrupting influence of homosexuality in the priesthood and in the hierarchy.

As to the first, it is dismaying that, amid all the scandals and indignation, so little thought should be given to those damaged by the sexual predations of those commissioned as ministers of the gospel. This is not a matter of settling scores or sulking over the vicissitudes of ecclesiastical careers. It is not a matter of politics. It is not a matter of how church historians may evaluate this or that papacy. This is about souls. Many souls have been and are even now imperiled of their eternal salvation.

As to the second silence, this very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy condemn the abuser, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.

Unquestionably there exist philandering clergy, and unquestionably they too damage their own souls, the souls of those whom they corrupt, and the Church at large.
But these violations of priestly celibacy are usually confined to the individuals immediately involved.

Philandering clergy usually do not recruit other philanderers, nor work to promote them, nor cover-up their misdeeds — whereas the evidence for homosexual collusion, with its deep roots that are so difficult to eradicate, is overwhelming.

It is well established that homosexual predators exploit clerical privilege to their advantage.

But to claim the crisis itself to be clericalism is pure sophistry.

It is to pretend that a means, a new instrument, is in fact the main motive.

Denouncing homosexual corruption and the moral cowardice that allows it to flourish does not meet with congratulation in our times, not even in the highest spheres of the Church.

I am not surprised that in calling attention to these plagues I am charged with disloyalty to the Holy Father and with fomenting an open and scandalous rebellion.
Yet rebellion would entail urging others to topple the papacy.

“I am urging no such thing”

I am urging no such thing.

I pray every day for Pope Francis — more than I have ever done for the other popes.
I am asking, indeed earnestly begging, the Holy Father to face up to the commitments he himself made in assuming his office as successor of Peter.

He took upon himself the mission of confirming his brothers and guiding all souls in following Christ, in the spiritual combat, along the way of the cross.

Let him admit his errors, repent, show his willingness to follow the mandate given to Peter and, once converted let him confirm his brothers (Lk 22:32).

“I wish to repeat my appeal”

In closing, I wish to repeat my appeal to my brother bishops and priests who know that my statements are true and who can so testify, or who have access to documents that can put the matter beyond doubt.

You too are faced with a choice.

You can choose to withdraw from the battle, to prop up the conspiracy of silence and avert your eyes from the spreading of corruption.

You can make excuses, compromises and justification that put off the day of reckoning.

You can console yourselves with the falsehood and the delusion that it will be easier to tell the truth tomorrow, and then the following day, and so on.

On the other hand, you can choose to speak.

You can trust Him who told us, “the truth will set you free.”

I do not say it will be easy to decide between silence and speaking.

I urge you to consider which choice– on your deathbed, and then before the just Judge — you will not regret having made.
October 19, 2018
Memory of the North American Martyrs
+ Carlo Maria Viganò
Tit. Archbishop of Ulpiana
Apostolic Nuncio


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.


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


You’ll read an interesting story (below) about the faithful who processed in Manila for the statue of the Black Nazarene, an annual event in the Philippines. What the story says about the crowd for this statue makes you wonder about the crowds for Pope Francis!  The thought of millions coming to see him is both exhilarating and scary. When st. Pope John Paul was in Manila for the World Meeting of Families, 5 million attended the Mass and, if I correctly remember the story, the Pope had to be brought to the altar area by helicopter!

As I said today on my Facebook page about this story: When I posted the news recently that almost 6 million people saw Pope Francis in 2014 in Rome and at the Vatican, one reader wrote me from the Philippines to say that 6 million would be seeing the Pope on just one day in the Philippines! This story may be a precursor!

FYI: Click here to see the winning numbers for the prizes of Vatican-sponsored lottery for papal charities (I did not win the car or even a bike or espresso coffee machine!)


The interview segment this week on “Vatican Insider” features Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York when he spoke at a conference in October at the North American College to introduce CRUX, an online religious news website from the Boston Globe. John Allen, well-known vaticanista and editor for CRUX, presided at the evening’s events that featured talks by Cardinals George Pell and Timothy Dolan. I had taped Cardinal Dolan’s talk about Pope Francis and it was only when I got home that I learned my recorder was not functioning. I lost 3 interviews that day but Rome Reports, which had taped the talks, came to the rescue and, with their permission, I bring you Cardinal Dolan’s very interesting talk.

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As you know, in the United States, you can listen to Vatican Insider on a Catholic radio station near you (there is a list of U.S. stations at or on Sirius-XM satellite radio. If you live outside the U.S., you can listen to EWTN radio on our website home page by clicking on the right side where you see “LISTEN TO EWTN.” Vatican Insider airs Saturday mornings at 9:30 am (Eastern time) and re-airs Sundays at 4:30 pm (ET). Check for your time zone. Past shows are found in Vatican Insider archives:


A communique from the Pontifical Council Cor Unum announcd that Pope Francis has called a meeting in the Vatican on Haiti for Saturday, January 10 on the theme “The Communion of the Church: Memory and Hope for Haiti Five Years after the Earthquake.” The meeting has been organized by Cor Unum and by the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, in collaboration with the bishops of Haiti. The intention of the meeting is to keep the focus on Haiti after the devastating earthquake of 2010 and to evaluate the aid offered thus far by Pope Francis, the Vatican and the Church and individuals and organiztions, and to repeat the closeness of the Church to Haitians.

In January 2010, Haiti was struck by an earthquake whose epicenter was located near the capital, Port-au-Prince, causing the death of 230,000 people and devastating the territory, destroying much of the infrastructure, thousands of homes, and all the hospitals on the island. According to Red Cross estimates, the disaster affected three million people.

Expected to attend the Vatican meeting are representatives of the Holy See, the local Haitian church, various episcopal conferences, workers from Catholic charitable organizations, religious congregations and several Holy See-accredited diplomatic representatives. Participants include Cardinal Chibly Langlois, bishop of Les Cayes and president of the Episcopal Conference of Haiti, Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami, U.S.A., Alberto Piatti, president of the AVSI (Association of Volunteers in International Service) Foundation, engaged in a charitable works on the island, and Eduardo Marques de Almeida, former representative of the Inter-American Development Bank in Haiti.

The conference is set to start at 9 a.m. in the St. Pius X building with greetings from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and a report from Cardinal Robert Sarah who, as president of “Cor Unum” until the end of 2014, managed the Holy Father’s donations to the local Church of the island.  He has since been appointed a prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship.

Participants will debate the material and spiritual reconstruction process and there will be interventions by At 11.30 a.m. the delegates present will be received in audience by Pope Francis. Saturday afternoon, there will be presentations by those who work in the context of reconstruction, to enable an exchange of experiences regarding the issue of international cooperation and the priorities and criteria for future action. At the end of the meeting, Msgr. Giampietro Dal Toso, secretary of “Cor Unum,” will give an overview of the problems that remain to be resolved.

The conference will end with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin in the church of Santa Maria in Traspontina, at 6.30 p.m.


More than a million barefoot Filipinos paraded a centuries-old icon of Jesus Christ through Manila on Friday in the nation’s biggest religious festival, less than a week before Pope Francis visits Asia’s most Catholic country.  In fervent displays of devotion, huge crowds of men, women and children chanted “Viva!” (Long live!) as they marched through streets in light rain for the annual procession of the Black Nazarene.  The procession got under way by mid-morning after organizers took nearly two hours to control huge crowds surging dangerously toward the icon to rub white handkerchiefs against it. (Photo by AFP)


Many Filipinos believe the statue holds miraculous healing powers and make lifetime vows to join the annual parade, many wearing T-shirts emblazoned with an image of Christ crowned in thorns.  Isko Moreno, the vice mayor of Manila city, told ABS-CBN television that about a million people took part at the start of the procession, and many more were waiting along a circuitous route through Manila’s old quarter. One man died Friday when he suffered a heart attack near the statue, Johnny Yu, head of the Manila disaster office, told the television station.  An estimated 82% of the Philippines’ 100 million people are Catholics, and the Black Nazarene festival is a display of the vibrancy of the religion ahead of the papal visit which begins on January 15.

During his four-day stay, Pope Francis will comfort victims of deadly Super Typhoon Haiyan in central Leyte island, and celebrate mass for millions in the capital’s largest outdoor park.  (Source: Vatican Radio, Philippine newspapers)