CLOSINGS: View Closings

The 'coup' against Pope Francis

Even before Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano ...

Posted: Aug 28, 2018 7:53 PM

Even before Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano called for Pope Francis to resign on Sunday, the two men had a history, and it wasn't good.

Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to the United States, angered some church officials in 2015 by arranging a meeting at the Vatican's embassy in Washington between the Pope and Kim Davis, the Kentucky clerk who refused to sign same-sex marriage certificates.

Belief, religion and spirituality

Catholics and catholicism

Christianity

Misc people

Papacy and the Pope

Pope Francis

Religious groups

Society

Buildings and structures

Carlo Maria Vigano

Churches and cathedrals

Continents and regions

Coups and attempted coups

Demographic groups

Europe

Gays and lesbians

North America

Points of interest

Political Figures - Intl

Population and demographics

Religious buildings

Resignations

Sex and gender issues

Southern Europe

The Americas

United States

Unrest, conflicts and war

Vatican

During his trip to the United States, the Pope had tried to stay above the country's culture wars. Vigano foisted Francis right into the fray. The Vatican, which tried to distance the Pope from Davis, was displeased. Two years later, Francis quietly accepted Vigano's resignation.

On Sunday, Vigano struck back.

In an 11-page "testimony" released to conservative Catholic media, Vigano accused Francis of ignoring his warnings about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, who led the Archdiocese of Washington from 2000-2006. Under Francis' orders, McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals last month after accusations that he molested an altar boy and seminarians.

But Vigano said the Pope earlier had lifted restrictions on McCarrick put in place by Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned in 2015.

"In this extremely dramatic moment for the universal Church," Vigano wrote, "he must acknowledge his mistakes and, in keeping with the proclaimed principle of zero tolerance, Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick's abuses and resign along with all of them."

Vigano's accusations come as Francis and his church are trying to contain a quickly escalating sexual abuse crisis that has spread from Australia to Pennsylvania. In Ireland, a country devastated by its own clergy abuse scandals, the Pope repeatedly apologized last weekend for the sins and crimes of church leaders, lamenting that "some members of the hierarchy didn't own up to these painful situations and kept silent."

On the plane ride home, the Pope himself kept silent about Vigano's accusations.

"I will not say a single word about this," he said. "I believe the statement speaks for itself. And you have the sufficient journalistic ability to make your conclusions. It's an act of trust."

While journalists dig for the truth, and the Pope keeps silent, Vigano's letter has emerged as a sort of Rorschach test for Catholics: Many conservative Catholics say the Pope must go. Liberal Catholics accuse the archbishop of launching a coup d'etat against his boss.

"This is a coup operation against Pope Francis," said Massimo Faggioli, a professor of Catholic history and theology at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

"It is a stunning convergence between the personal agenda of Vigano and the theological agenda of those who do not like Pope Francis."

Turning the tables on Vigano, the Archdiocese of Washington suggested his tenure in the United States should itself be investigated.

A 2014 memo shows that Vigano himself demanded that evidence be destroyed in an attempt to end an investigation against a former archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis, according to CNN Vatican analyst John Allen.

But the Bishop of Phoenix, the Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted, issued a statement defending Vigano, whom he said he has known since 1979.

"Although I have no knowledge of the information that he reveals in his written testimony of August 22, 2018, so I cannot personally verify its truthfulness, I have always known and respected him as a man of truthfulness, faith and integrity," Olmsted wrote.

A 'hit list'

Even before he tussled with Francis, Vigano was adept at courting controversy.

In 2011, when he ran the Vatican City State, the Italian churchman clashed with his superiors, accusing Vatican officials of corruption. The charges became enmeshed in the Vatileaks scandal, when former Pope Benedict's butler leaked documents detailing the infighting.

"Vigano presented himself as a whistle blower," said John Thavis, who was the Rome bureau chief for Catholic News Service at the time. "But he also had a persecution complex. He saw conspiracy theories all around him."

Thavis said Benedict didn't seem impressed by Vigano's views. "He sent him 4,000 miles away, to the United States."

Vigano was appointed the Vatican's US ambassador in October 2011. For the most part, he kept a low profile, though some accused the archbishop of breaking with church protocol by appearing at an anti-gay marriage rally at the Supreme Court. (Typically, Vatican ambassadors -- known as nuncios -- do not publicly involve themselves in another country's internal political debates.)

Besides representing the Pope, nuncios typically advise popes on whom to appoint as bishops.

In his letter Sunday, Vigano seemed bitter that Francis had relied on other Vatican officials for recommendations, saying that "the nunciature in Washington was now out of the picture in the appointment of bishops."

Instead, Vigano said, the appointment of several bishops to top posts in Chicago and New Jersey were "orchestrated" by McCarrick and his successor in Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, as well as Cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, a Honduran who is one of the Pope's closest advisers.

More salaciously, Vigano said the Catholic Church is plagued by "homosexual networks" that "act under the concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church."

Those "networks," Vigano said, were complicit in a "conspiracy of silence" that allowed McCarrick's and others' alleged abuses to continue.

In statements, Wuerl of Washington and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, both of whom were named in Vigano's letter, denied any allegations against them.

"The factual errors, innuendo and fearful ideology of the 'testimony,' serve to strengthen our conviction to move ahead resolutely in protecting the young and vulnerable from any sort of abuse," Tobin said, "while guaranteeing a safe and respectful environment where all are welcome and breaking down the structures and cultures that enable abuse."

The fact that most of the bishops Vigano criticizes are well-known liberals has led some church experts to suspect his motives.

"This letter is a hit list," said Faggioli. "It's all the people he thinks are bad for the church because of their 'homosexual agenda.'"

Apparently, that includes Pope Francis.

Vigano saves most of his ammunition for the Pope, who he says he told in 2013 that McCarrick was "a serial predator" but "continued to cover for him."

But the Pope didn't cover for McCarrick. Unlike his predecessors, Francis forced the former cardinal to resign in July.

And Thavis said Vigano's assertions about Benedict putting restrictions on McCarrick, including not allowing him to participate in church events or celebrate Mass in public, are patently false.

"McCarrick appeared at several high-profile events with Benedict," he said.

Still, Thavis and Faggioli, as well as other church experts, said the Vatican should respond in detail to Vigano's charges, even if the Pope himself refuses to do so.

"They still need to answer some questions," Faggioli said. "This is something that cannot be ignored."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 289303

Reported Deaths: 3434
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin616511100
Ramsey25903487
Anoka20522218
Dakota20096183
Washington13066109
Stearns1291098
St. Louis7935101
Scott782754
Wright702436
Olmsted626134
Sherburne538640
Clay463856
Carver432213
Blue Earth387112
Rice386033
Kandiyohi373819
Crow Wing334631
Nobles298729
Chisago29358
Otter Tail282818
Benton278642
Winona258128
Mower241323
Douglas237631
Polk234423
Morrison219524
Lyon201911
McLeod195610
Beltrami194615
Becker187512
Goodhue185727
Steele17826
Itasca176124
Isanti174316
Todd171612
Carlton165710
Nicollet150823
Freeborn14465
Mille Lacs141630
Le Sueur138110
Waseca134011
Cass12849
Brown125011
Pine12458
Meeker11308
Roseau10503
Hubbard103822
Martin101920
Wabasha9611
Redwood83718
Dodge8060
Chippewa8057
Watonwan7984
Cottonwood7682
Renville75119
Sibley7414
Wadena7376
Aitkin69826
Rock6829
Pipestone67818
Houston6422
Fillmore6320
Yellow Medicine59311
Pennington5856
Kanabec54912
Murray5493
Swift5366
Faribault5081
Pope4990
Stevens4643
Clearwater4536
Marshall4438
Jackson4361
Unassigned38759
Lake3816
Koochiching3535
Wilkin3465
Lac qui Parle3383
Norman3227
Lincoln3171
Big Stone2841
Mahnomen2704
Grant2516
Red Lake2033
Kittson1917
Traverse1360
Lake of the Woods931
Cook600

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 220032

Reported Deaths: 2282
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk32695327
Linn13801164
Scott1068881
Black Hawk10631132
Woodbury10061120
Johnson932336
Dubuque904191
Story666620
Dallas619957
Pottawattamie602967
Sioux362025
Webster348432
Marshall342044
Cerro Gordo340644
Clinton315939
Buena Vista297914
Des Moines278218
Muscatine278268
Warren270510
Plymouth265639
Wapello248671
Jones226913
Jasper210942
Marion200019
Lee195416
Carroll194621
Bremer188712
Henry17917
Crawford172015
Benton165116
Tama151540
Jackson140712
Delaware139621
Washington136914
Boone132911
Dickinson132710
Mahaska124127
Wright11986
Buchanan114110
Clay11184
Hardin111310
Page11074
Clayton10665
Hamilton10657
Harrison104328
Cedar103913
Calhoun10387
Fayette10149
Floyd100914
Mills10097
Kossuth10076
Lyon9988
Poweshiek97113
Butler9566
Winneshiek93311
Iowa91712
Winnebago89723
Hancock8417
Louisa83616
Grundy82611
Sac8207
Chickasaw8174
Cherokee7984
Cass78821
Mitchell7664
Appanoose76510
Allamakee76411
Shelby7469
Humboldt7435
Union7396
Emmet73624
Guthrie73015
Franklin71221
Jefferson6742
Madison6684
Palo Alto6244
Unassigned6170
Keokuk5647
Pocahontas5512
Howard5319
Greene5140
Osceola5101
Clarke4764
Ida46411
Taylor4513
Montgomery44610
Davis4455
Monroe43712
Adair4258
Monona4182
Fremont3523
Van Buren3524
Worth3470
Lucas3206
Decatur3120
Wayne2936
Audubon2922
Ringgold1982
Adams1612
Rochester
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 35° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 21°
Mason City
Overcast
31° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 24°
Albert Lea
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 36° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 30°
Austin
Clear
30° wxIcon
Hi: 37° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 30°
Charles City
Overcast
30° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 22°
Sunshine Returns for Friday
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Community Events