Card. Ouellet’s Letter to Archbp. Viganò about the #ViganoTestimony

The Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops wrote an Open Letter to Archbp. Viganò, once the Nuncio to these USA.  As you know, Archbp. Viganò released a “Testimony“.   Then he went into hiding, for good reason.

In the sequel to the Testimony, Archbp. Viganò addressed himself directly to Card. Ouellet.  Here is that excerpt:

I would like to make a special appeal to Cardinal Ouellet, because as nuncio I always worked in great harmony with him, and I have always had great esteem and affection towards him. He will remember when, at the end of my mission in Washington, he received me at his apartment in Rome in the evening for a long conversation. At the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate, he had maintained his dignity, as he had shown with courage when he was Archbishop of Québec. Later, however, when his work as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops was being undermined because recommendations for episcopal appointments were being passed directly to Pope Francis by two homosexual “friends” of his dicastery, bypassing the Cardinal, he gave up. His long article in L’Osservatore Romano, in which he came out in favor of the more controversial aspects of Amoris Laetitia, represents his surrender. Your Eminence, before I left for Washington, you were the one who told me of Pope Benedict’s sanctions on McCarrick. You have at your complete disposal key documents incriminating McCarrick and many in the curia for their cover-ups. Your Eminence, I urge you to bear witness to the truth.

Ouellet has now responded to Viganò

Here is Ed Pentin’s translation of Card. Ouellet’s Letter to Viganò.  My emphases.  Emphases in the original.  My comments.  [UPDATE: Pentin replaced his translation with an, as yet, unofficial Vatican translation – here they are side by side.

 

Pentin Translation (Vatican working translation)
Dear Brother Carlo Maria Viganò,In your last message to the media, in which you denounce Pope Francis and the Roman Curia, you urge me to tell the truth about facts that you interpret as an endemic corruption that has invaded the hierarchy of the Church to its highest level. With due pontifical permission, I offer here my personal testimony, as prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, on the events concerning the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington Theodore McCarrick and his alleged links with Pope Francis, which are the object of your vehement public denunciation as well as of your demand that the Holy Father resign. I write this testimony of mine on the basis of my personal contacts and the documents in the archives of the above mentioned Congregation, which are currently the object of a study to shed light on this sad case.

 

Dear brother Carlo Maria Viganò,In your last message to the press, in which you make accusations against Pope Francis and against the Roman Curia, you invite me to tell the truth about certain facts that you interpret as signs of an endemic corruption that has infiltrated the hierarchy of the Church up to its highest levels. With pontifical permission, and in my capacity as Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, I offer my testimony about matters concerning the Archbishop emeritus of Washington, Theodore McCarrick, and his presumed links to Pope Francis, matters that are at the center of your public accusations and your demand that the Holy Father resign. I write my testimony based on my personal contacts and on documents in the archives of the Congregation, currently the object of study to clarify this sad case.

 

Allow me to tell you first of all, in all sincerity, by virtue of the good relationship of collaboration that existed between us when you were nuncio to Washington, that your current position seems to me incomprehensible and extremely reprehensible, not only because of the confusion that it sows among the people of God, but because your public accusations seriously damage the reputation of the Successors of the Apostles. I remember a time when I enjoyed your esteem and confidence, but I observe that I have lost in your eyes the dignity you placed in me, for the mere fact of having remained faithful to the directions of the Holy Father in the service that he entrusted to me in the Church. Is not 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 complain about, 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. Out of consideration for the good, collaborative relation we had when you were Apostolic Nuncio in Washington, allow me to say, in all honesty, that I find your current attitude incomprehensible and extremely troubling, not only because of the confusion it sows among the People of God, but because your public accusations gravely harm the reputation of the bishops, successors of the Apostles. I recall a time when I enjoyed your esteem and your trust, but now I see that I have been stripped in your eyes of the respect that was accorded to me, for the only reason I have remained faithful to the Holy Father’s guidance in exercising the service he has entrusted to me in the Church. Is not communion with the Successor of Peter an expression of our obedience to Christ who chose him and sustains him with his grace? My interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, which you criticize, is grounded in this fidelity to the living tradition, which Francis has given us another example of by recently modifying the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the question of the death penalty.
Let’s get to the facts. You say you informed Pope Francis on 23 June 2013 about the McCarrick case in the audience he granted to you, as well as to many other pontifical representatives he then met for the first time on that day. I imagine the enormous amount of verbal and written information he had to gather on that occasion about many people and situations. I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him to the extent that you believe, since he was an archbishop emeritus of 82 years and seven years without a post. In addition, 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 an emeritus bishop who had to obey certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past. Let us address the facts. You said that on June 23, 2013, you provided Pope Francis with information about McCarrick in an audience he granted to you, as he also did for many pontifical representatives with whom he met for the first time that day. I can only imagine the amount of verbal and written information that was provided to the Holy Father on that occasion about so many persons and situations. I strongly doubt that the Pope had such interest in McCarrick, as you would like us to believe, given the fact that by then he was an 82-year-old Archbishop emeritus who had been without a role for seven years. Moreover, the written instructions given to you by the Congregation for Bishops at the beginning of your mission in 2001 did not say anything about McCarrick, except for what I mentioned to you verbally about his situation as Bishop emeritus and certain conditions and restrictions that he had to follow on account of some rumors about his past conduct.
Since June 30, 2010, when I became prefect of this Congregation, I have never taken the McCarrick case to an audience with Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Francis, except in the last few days, after his fall from the College of Cardinals. The former cardinal, who retired in May 2006, was strongly urged not to travel, nor to appear in public, in order not to provoke further rumours about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as “sanctions” decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis. After reviewing the archives, I note that there are no documents in this regard signed by either Pope, nor a note of an audience of my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, which would have given a mandate to the archbishop emeritus McCarrick to live a private life of silence, with the rigor of canonical penalties. The reason for this is that, unlike today, there was not enough evidence of his alleged guilt at the time. Hence the position of the Congregation inspired by prudence and the letters of my predecessor and mine reiterated, through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then also through you, the exhortation to live a discreet life 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 provided us with recent and decisive information about his behavior. I hope, like so many others, that out of respect for the victims and the need for justice, the investigation under way in the United States and the Roman Curia will finally give us a critical, overall view of the procedures and circumstances of this painful case, so that such events do not recur in the future. From 30th June 2010, when I became Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, I never presented in audience the McCarrick case to Pope Benedict XVI or to Pope Francis – not until recently, after his dismissal from the College of Cardinals. The former Cardinal, retired in May of 2006, had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him. It is false, therefore, to present those measures as “sanctions” formally imposed by Pope Benedict XVI and then invalidated by Pope Francis. After a review of the archives, I find that there are no documents signed by either Pope in this regard, and there are no audience notes from my predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re, imposing on the retired Archbishop the obligation to lead a quiet and private life with the weight normally reserved to canonical penalties. The reason is that back then, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged culpability. Thus, the Congregation’s decision was inspired by prudence, and the letters from my predecessor and my own letters urged him, first through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then through you, to lead a life of prayer and penance, for his own good and for the good of the Church. His case would have deserved new disciplinary measures if the Nunciature in Washington, or any other source, had provided us recent and definitive information about his behavior. I am of the opinion that, out of respect for the victims and given the need for justice, the inquiry currently underway in the United States and in the Roman Curia should provide a comprehensive and critical study of the procedures and the circumstances of this painful case in order to prevent something like it from ever happening in the future.
How can it be that this man of the Church, whose inconsistency is known today, has been promoted on several occasions, to the point of holding the highest positions of Archbishop of Washington and Cardinal? I myself am very surprised by this and recognize the shortcomings in the selection process that has been carried out in his case. But without going into detail here, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff are based on the information available at that precise moment and that they constitute the object of a prudential judgment that is not infallible. It seems unfair to me to conclude that the persons in charge of prior discernment are corrupt even though, in the concrete case, some clues provided by the testimonies should have been further examined. The prelate in question knew how to defend himself with great skill from the doubts raised in his regard. 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 to declare this or that, and even the Holy Father himself, unworthy and complicit. Should the ministers of truth not, first of all, guard themselves against slander and defamation? How is it possible that this man of the Church, whose incoherence has now been revealed, was promoted many times, and was nominated to such a high position as Archbishop of Washington and Cardinal? I am personally very surprised, and I recognize that there were failures in the selection procedures implemented in his case. However, and without entering here into details, it must be understood that the decisions taken by the Supreme Pontiff are based on the information available to him at the time and that they are the object of a prudential judgment which is not infallible. I think it is unjust to reach the conclusion that there is corruption on the part of the persons entrusted with this previous discernment process, even though in the particular case some of the concerns that were raised by testimonies should have been examined more closely. The Archbishop also knew how to cleverly defend himself from those concerns raised about him. Furthermore, the fact that there could be in the Vatican persons who practice or support sexual behavior that is contrary to the values of the Gospel, does not authorize us to make generalizations or to declare unworthy and complicit this or that individual, including the Holy Father himself. Should not ministers of the truth avoid above all calumny and defamation?
Dear pontifical representative emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered up with full knowledge of the facts this alleged sexual predator and therefore of being an accomplice of the corruption that is spreading in the Church, to the point of considering him unworthy of continuing his reform as the first pastor of the Church, is incredible and unlikely from all points of view. I can’t understand how you could let yourself be convinced this monstrous accusation could stand. Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick’s promotions in New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington. He removed him from his dignity as a Cardinal when a credible accusation of child abuse became apparent. I have never heard Pope Francis allude to this self-styled great adviser of his pontificate in relation to [episcopal] nominations in America, even though he does not hide the trust he gives some prelates. I sense these are not your preferences, nor those of your friends who support your interpretation of the facts. However, I find it aberrant that you take advantage of the sensational scandal of sexual abuse in the United States to inflict on the moral authority of your Superior, the Supreme Pontiff, an unprecedented and undeserved blow. Dear pontifical representative emeritus, I tell you frankly that to accuse Pope Francis of having covered-up knowingly the case of an alleged sexual predator and, therefore, of being an accomplice to the corruption that afflicts the Church, to the point that he could no longer continue to carry out his reform as the first shepherd of the Church, appears to me from all viewpoints unbelievable and without any foundation. I cannot understand how could you have allowed yourself to be convinced of this monstrous and unsubstantiated accusation. Francis had nothing to do with McCarrick’s promotions to New York, Metuchen, Newark and Washington. He stripped him of his Cardinal’s dignity as soon as there was a credible accusation of abuse of a minor. For a Pope who does not hide the trust that he places in certain prelates, I never heard him refer to this so called great advisor for the pontificate for episcopal appointments in the United States. I can only surmise that some of those prelates are not of your preference or the preference of your friends who support your interpretation of matters. I think it is abhorrent, however, for you to use the clamorous sexual abuse scandal in the United States to inflict an unmerited and unheard of a blow to the moral authority of your superior, the Supreme Pontiff.
I have the privilege of meeting Pope Francis for a long time each week, to discuss the appointments of 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 end your last, seemingly very spiritual message, making light of yourself and casting doubt on his faith, seemed to me really too sarcastic, even blasphemous! This cannot come from the Spirit of God. [Blasphemy?  I suggest that blasphemy is really about detraction against God, not against any human being, no matter what his role.] I have the privilege of having long meetings with Pope Francis every week to discuss the appointment of bishops and the problems that affect their governance. I know very well how he treats persons and problems: with great charity, mercy, attentiveness and seriousness, as you too have experienced. I think it is too sarcastic, even blasphemous, how you end your last message, purportedly appealing to spirituality while mocking the Holy Father and casting doubt about his faith. That cannot come from the Spirit of God.
Dear Brother, I would really like to help you rediscover communion with him who is the visible guarantor of the communion of the Catholic Church; [Is the Prefect of Bishops forecasting a future censure?] I understand how bitterness and disappointment have marked your path in service to the Holy See, but you cannot end your priestly life in this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion, which inflicts a very painful wound on the Bride of Christ, whom you claim to serve better, worsening division and bewilderment in the people of God! What can I answer your question if I don’t tell you: come out of your hiding place, 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 Mass? How can you pray the holy Rosary, Saint Michael the Archangel and the Mother of God, condemning the one she protects and accompanies every day in his weighty and courageous ministry?  [With due respect to the Cardinal, this is a little over the top, especially in a time when everyone is supposed to respect everyone else’s conscience.] Dear brother, how much I wish that I could help you return to communion with him who is the visible guarantor of communion in the Catholic Church. I understand that deceptions and sufferings have marked your path in the service to the Holy See, but you should not finish your priestly life involved in an open and scandalous rebellion that inflicts a very painful wound to the Bride of Christ, whom you pretend to serve better, while causing further division and confusion among the People of God. How could I answer your call except by saying: stop living clandestinely, repent of your rebelliousness, and come back to better feelings towards the Holy Father, instead of fostering hostility against him. How can you celebrate Mass and mention his name in the Eucharistic Prayer? How can you pray the Holy Rosary, or pray to Saint Michael the Archangel, or to the Mother of God, while condemning the one Our Lady protects and accompanies every day in his burdensome and courageous mission?
If the Pope were not a man of prayer, if he were attached to money, if he favored the rich to the detriment of the poor, if he did not show an untiring energy to welcome all the poor and give them the generous comfort of his word and his gestures, if he did not multiply all the possible means to proclaim and communicate the joy of the Gospel to everyone and to all in the Church and beyond her visible borders, if he did not reach out to families, to abandoned old people, to the sick in soul and body and especially to the young people in search of happiness, perhaps someone else could be preferred, according to you, with different diplomatic or political attitudes. But I, who have known him well, I cannot question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and especially the charism and peace that dwell in him by the grace of God and the power of the Risen One. If the Pope was not a man of prayer; if he was attached to money; if he favored riches to the detriment of the poor; if he did not demonstrate a tireless energy to welcome all miseries and to address them through the generous comfort of his words and actions; if he did not seek to implement all possible means to announce and to communicate the joy of the Gospel to all in the Church and beyond her visible horizons; if he did not lend a hand to the families, to the abandoned elderly, to the sick in body and soul and, above all, to the youth in their search for happiness; one could prefer someone else, according to you, with a different political or diplomatic approach. But I cannot call into question his personal integrity, his consecration to the mission and, above all, the charisma and peace he enjoys through the grace of God and the strength of the Risen One.
In response to your unjust and unjustified attack, dear Viganò, I conclude therefore that the accusation is a political set-upwithout a real foundation that can incriminate the Pope, and I reiterate that it deeply hurts the communion of the Church. May it please God that this injustice be quickly remedied and that Pope Francis continue to be recognized for what he is: an outstanding 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 God’s people and by the renewed solidarity of the whole Church with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary. Dear Viganò, in response to your unjust and unjustified attack, I can only conclude that the accusation is a political plot that lacks any real basis that could incriminate the Pope and that profoundly harms the communion of the Church. May God allow a prompt reparation of this flagrant injustice so that Pope Francis can continue to be recognized for who he is: a true shepherd, a resolute and compassionate father, a prophetic grace for the Church and for the world. May the Holy Father carry on, full of confidence and joy, the missionary reform he has begun, comforted by the prayers of the people of God and the renewed solidarity of the whole Church, together with Mary, Queen of the Holy Rosary!
Marc Cardinal Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops,Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, October 7, 2018.”

 

Marc Cardinal OuelletPrefect of the Congregation for Bishops,

Feast of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary, October 7th 2018.”

 

So, that’s a “no” vote from the Cardinal Prefect.

UPDATE:

Ed Pentin made an observation:

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14 Responses to Card. Ouellet’s Letter to Archbp. Viganò about the #ViganoTestimony

  1. Mary Salmond says:

    The comparative translations are somewhat revealing. I’m not sure which paints a better picture. Pentin has been creditable in the past and the newspaper’s is somewhat soft. Personally, Vigano would not be wise to actually meet with the pope till he talks with him over the phone. I’ll reread. I see no other evidence presented by Ouellet, and why not?

  2. I am struck by a very subtle observation by “maryh”, commenting under the original Fr Z blogpost, and I recommend readers here take a look at her comments in full. She scans Ouellet’s letter and points to the subtext where he clearly signals confirmations of Viganò’s original accusations. She concludes: “I wonder whether the purpose of the diatribe is to confirm Viganò’s testimony without attracting the retribution of Pope Francis.”

    I think “maryh” is clearly a student of Vaticancraft and she has got something there. Furthermore, I hope she is right because Viganò needs Ouellet on board.

  3. johnhenrycn says:

    Perceptive, Gareth. I’m disappointed with Cardinal Ouellet’s letter to Vigano, but looking at the commenter Maryh’s fisking of Ouellet which you mention:

    “Next, Ouellet confirms that Vigano could very well have told Pope Francis about McCarrick. It is only Ouellet’s opinion that the Pope probably didn’t remember it because of all the information he was receiving, and because McCarrick was not important enough.”

    Of course, Ouellet is going mostly from memory or from conjecture (but not entirely, because he has access to documents which Maryh does not) but with a billion or so Catholics to think about, it doesn’t seem weird to me that Francis might have sloughed off, or put to the back burner of his mind, an accusation by an underling (Vigano) against a prince of the Church. The fact that Vigano seems now to have been vindicated, doesn’t mean Francis was wrong to leave Vigano’s claim unresloved back in 2013. Does this (i.e. my humble opinion)) sound wrong?

    I’m giving the pope the benefit of the doubt, which is not a reflection of where I stand today.

  4. mmvc says:

    A recent Twitter exchange with Marco Tosatti:


    @MarcoTosatti
    14h14 hours ago
    Ouellet said it officially. BXVI told McC. live retired prayer penitence no travel no public. Viganò said truth. Did F. knew? V. says Yes. Nobody denied it until Now.

    @looking4wd
    14h14 hours ago
    Ouellet letter is a factual confirmation written in form of a total denial. Very cunning text. But evasive and very weak from a careful reading. No serious person is going to buy it.

    @MarcoTosatti
    I agree completely.
    11:16 AM – 7 Oct 2018

  5. Mary Salmond says:

    Yes, interesting tweets. (which are hard to follow, since I don’t Twitter)!!

  6. DonnaLiane says:

    Pope Francis asked the question specifically. Of course he remembered the answer. He raised it.

  7. DonnaLiane says:

    I have found the most elucidating commentary on the ‘ Quellet reply’ yet! Please read Achilles Gold blog: Fr Mark White commentary. It is joined with a different topic: spying on the Roman Synod. Scroll to halfway down and extract the info you need which really sheds light on Quellet vs Vigano

  8. Mary says:

    How did you find Fr Mark?. I read the letter from bishop to priest – that was telling enough. Fr. Mark has really examined facts, developed outstanding questions, but then gets slapped in the face. This is disconcerting and shameful the shinnanegans of what’s going on in the hierarchy, much less an inkling of what’s going amongst many frustrated priests. Thank you for this blog!

  9. DonnaLiane, many thanks for your introduction to Fr Mark, and you won’t mind if I put a more precise link to the blog post here, so others can link to it without searching. All should read it. https://frmarkdwhite.wordpress.com/2018/10/08/smuggled-out-from-the-roman-synod-hall/

    I found the post extraordinarily moving and I couldn’t figure out why, so I read it all again. The way it is all set out is a little confusing at first, but it repays patience. Take a few minutes to orient yourself around Fr Mark’s style of blogging (with a couple of cryptic Wikipedia links too!) The letter from the Bishop of Richmond is terse and darkly threatening: one picks up straight away that he is a weak bully and no shepherd. Fr Mark’s response to him is gentle, respectful, but strong as a rock. His intellect, his moral courage and his love for Christ and his Church are immediately apparent. And then I realised why I was so moved…

    In such times as these there is not much good news, but this blog post puts you in the holy presence of a true shepherd, quietly but determinedly standing up to the devil at his door and firmly rejecting him. This, I imagine, will come at great personal cost. The bishop will presumably see this blog post – having already censored an earlier one – and Fr Mark will be assailed with even greater threats and bullying.

    Pray for Fr Mark White of the parishes of St Francis of Assisi and St Joseph in the Diocese of Richmond VA. I shall say the prayer of St Michael for him now. Then St Patrick’s Breastplate, the shield for Divine protection.

  10. kathleen says:

    Brilliant link Donna: very revealing analysis by Fr Mark! Many thanks to you and Gareth.

  11. DonnaLiane says:

    It actually came up in WordPress recommendations. I hope lots of people find his blog now. I told him that he now has a new follower! Let’s encourage more!

  12. Mary Salmond says:

    Thanks.

  13. Yes I wrote to Fr Mark too, an email with all encouragement.

  14. I would like to briefly share with you that I received today a warm response from Fr Mark White to my email (I will obviously not share his words here as it is a private email) but simply say that he is encouraged by the support he is getting and he particularly values our prayers. So could you please renew them? If you want to write a similar encouragement, I found his email address on his blog, in the correspondence with his bishop, the link for which is on this page above.

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