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What follows is the response of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò to the June 17, 2020 open letter of Sr. Antonietta Potente. In her letter, Sr. Antonietta condemned Abp. Viganò's recent outpouring of support for President Donald Trump, endeavoring to couch her umbrage in the theological tradition of the Church. In his response, Abp. Viganò sets the record straight, delivering a paternal (yet trenchant) rejoinder. We have produced Abp. Viganò's response directly below, but have also included, in its wake (and for posterity), the original letter of Sr. Antonietta (far bottom).
Noli aemulari in malignantibus, neque zelaveris facientes iniquitatem.
[Do not be provoked by evildoers; do not envy those who do wrong. Ps 36:1]
I have read the open letter that you sent to me last June 17, also on behalf of your community, a letter that you wrote following the letter that I sent to the President of the United States. Since you address yourself personally to me, I ask you to give me space on your site to respond to you.
I remain bewildered by several expressions in your letter: not only those regarding me personally, but also the showy misrepresentation of reality in accusing President Trump of being "the proponent of a policy that, in recent months, has shown itself to be increasingly discriminatory and violent, both with regard to the health emergency and these latest events of racism." In truth, I do not see how one can make him responsible for the events of racism, which have arisen in a context in which the police and the local governments are in the hands of the Democratic Party, and which have been proven by evidence that, little by little, is emerging to have been orchestrated by the false flag financed by the globalist elites precisely in order to oppose the Republican Party and the President currently in office. At the international level, Trump's term of office is the only one for a long time in which the United States has not started any military conflicts, and in many cases, peace treaties have been established and foreign military deployments have been withdrawn. The economy was in strong growth (until the COVID emergency), and thus also the protection of the rights of workers.
If then you maintain that establishing public order and demanding respect for the law is a discriminatory action, I fear that I have to remind you that civil authority has a moral duty to impose respect for the laws, and in order to do this, it is permitted to use proportionate force: this doctrine is taught and wonderfully explained by St. Thomas Aquinas, the patron of the Institute to which you belong. I do not believe that the President is "violent in words and also in actions," certainly no more than those who, in their own political program, favor and support the killing of millions of children right up until the moment before birth and even after birth: this violence, much more hateful since it rages the most against those who are the most defenseless, does not appear to me to quite be in accord with your commitment as a religious sister.
You reprove me for using a "dualistic and discriminating language" — in fact, it is precisely that, and I think that it cannot be otherwise, when what it is in question is the eternal battle between good and evil. The Truth is always discriminatory when error places it into question. Light is also discriminatory, for it does not tolerate darkness or those who hide in it. Just as Our Lord, the stumbling stone, is discriminatory and divisive, who will gather the just to His right hand and drive out the wicked to His left. "You are my friends, if you do what I command you," says the Lord (Jn. 15:4). The condition for friendship with God is obedience to His Commandments and His Law, in the bond of Charity. This too is discriminatory, because those who abuse their own freedom and do not conform themselves to the will of God will not be able to rejoice in the beatific vision, nor participate in His eternal glory. In the same way, the Sixth Commandment, which condemns sodomy as a sin that cries out for vengeance before the face of God, was given in a "homophobic and thus discriminatory mentality." Saint Paul discriminated, just as Christ discriminated, and so too in Eden the Eternal Father discriminated, driving out our first parents who had disobeyed Him.
But if this discrimination made us through our own fault deserving of divine punishment, it also merited for us, ever since the fall of our first parents, the promise of a Redeemer born of the Virgin, of a new Adam and a new Eve. It was this "dualist" vision that led our fathers toward the Promised Land, in the abandonment of idolatry and the adoration of the One True God. The Martyrs too discriminated when they preferred to face torment and torture rather than burn incense to idols. The Doctors of the Church, including the Angelic Doctor, discriminated when they fought against heresies and preached true doctrine. Saint Dominic discriminated when he preached the Cross. You too, Reverend Mother, discriminate when you take positions against my words, against Trump, and against discrimination. You discriminate when you speak of "we women religious [donne religiose]" placing an accent on "women" that seems to want to claim a role that is not based on adhesion to the order willed by God nor to the admonition of the Apostle of the Gentiles.
You state: "We ask to work together so that the humble and not the rich may be exalted; we ask that the powerful and bullies who humiliate and destroy the hope of peoples may exist no longer." You recall, Reverend Mother, that the humble of whom the Gospel speaks are not necessarily those whom today's world exploits for cynical projects of social engineering, nor the many who are torn from their Homeland in order to pander to the plans for destabilization that always enrich the usual people. And the rich are not always and necessarily evil: if Providence has granted them material goods, He asks them to become His cooperators in remembering the poor and needy. Nor are the powerful to be blamed, if their power is placed in service of the Good: it is those who abuse their power and the authority given to them who merit blame from the citizens and divine punishment.
I fear that your words find too much space for the thinking of the world, rather than a supernatural vision supported by sound doctrine and fed by solid piety. In substance, the absence of an exterior and visible sign of your religious Vows appears to me to reveal implicitly your desire to hide your religious identity (perhaps in order not to offend others' sensibilities?), with the risk however of leaving yourself in an interior void that no ideology of this world will be able to fill. And yet it is precisely this that we ought to expect from a daughter of St. Dominic and St. Thomas: to ensure that the legitimate aspirations of the least ones find their own most authentic roots in Revelation, in the Christian social order, in the faithful application of the social doctrine of the Church. Because there is no Charity where there is no Truth: You teach me that they are both essential attributes of God, and it is not possible to love God if one does not also unconditionally welcome the integral Truth that He has transmitted to us in the Holy Church, the one Ark of Salvation.
You write: "It should be clear, however, that we are on the side of the weakest and oppressed, certain that it is only to them that the wisdom that the rulers of this world did not know has been revealed (cf. 1 Cor. 2:8)." I imagine that in that group of the weakest and oppressed you include the fathers and mothers of families who want to give a Christian education to their children; the many who are daily persecuted simply because they profess the Catholic faith; the millions of innocents that the modern Moloch sacrifices each day on the impure altar of abortion; the elderly whom economic interests and speculations condemn to abandonment or death because they are considered useless; the children ensnared in their most tender years by the infernal ideology of gender; the young people corrupted in their morality by LGBT thought; the elderly faithful of St. Louis who were assaulted a few days ago by a group of people who praise Black Lives Matter.
In conclusion, your open letter confirms what I have written many times: the alignments are being more clearly defined day by day, and this is certainly a tribute to the truth that permits many to understand what is really happening and which side each person intends to align with.
To you, Reverend Mother, and to Your Community I send my heartfelt blessing, entrusting myself to Your prayers.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
6 July 2020
Saint Maria Goretti, Virgin and Martyr
[Official translation by Giuseppe Pellegrino]
June 17 Open Letter of Sr. Antonietta Potente
(Editor's note: capitalization and punctuation is reproduced as it was in the original)
We are deeply indignant at the words that you, a christian and a bishop, have written in support of president Trump, the proponent of a policy that, in recent months, has shown itself to be increasingly discriminatory and violent, both with regard to the health emergency and these latest events of racism. It seems to us that using Scripture to justify the political violence of president Trump is like giving "pearls to swine" according to the evangelical words: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, or throw your pearls before swine, lest they trample them underfoot" (cf. Mt 7:6). The language that you use in your message to the president of the United States (Letter of June 7, 2020) stuns us as women, christians, and dominican religious, but at the same time it provokes us to distance ourselves from and denounce the ambiguity of your thought and your position, which moreover employs a dualistic and discriminatory language.
We cannot accept that a member of the Magisterium of the catholic church could use the Scriptures to support a policy that goes against every evangelical principle. We had already deplored your call for the resignation of pope Francis, but now it seems like a true and proper blasphemy to use the biblical term "children of light" to declare that Trump and also you and your entire entourage are victims of particular ecclesial and socio-political conspiracies. To deny the evidence of these recent racist actions taken by members of the police, which have been supported and defended by president Trump himself, is something that we consider to be contrary to the gospel. The children of light, whom you speak about so much, are those who walk in the light, see clearly, and denounce what they see with boldness [parrhesia].
Neither Jesus of Nazareth nor his first male and female disciples [discepoli e discepole] ever said, "Blessed are the strong, the arrogant, the oppressors," but rather "Blessed are the humble, the meek, the lovers of justice and peace," even in the precariousness of our human and historical condition. We cannot understand how you could forget this message and extrapolate the Johannine message of light and darkness in order to support a government as violent as the present government of the United States. Violent in words (it is enough to see the messages of President Trump in recent days) and also in actions, not only within the United States but also in its foreign policy, its international relations, even to the point of wanting to appropriate a vaccine that, like every method of treatment, ought to be the patrimony of all humanity. We are truly appalled, but at the same time we are confident that these regurgitations of racism, which you attribute – making a huge and confusing error – to the children of darkness, find no place in the human soul and above all in the soul of those women and men who are suffering. We, women religious [donne religiose], feel that we are truly "daughters of Eve," but not according to the metaphor you have used. Rather, we think that certain attitudes, such as the language that you use, are not nourished by the children of Eve as you say, but rather by a homophobic and thus discriminatory mentality, such as president Trump, whom you support, displays. Know that we too pray for Trump and his country, but not with the same intention that you hope for. We pray as women of faith, with the same words that the true biblical tradition has taught us: we ask to work together so that the humble, not the rich, may be exalted; we ask that the powerful and bullies who humiliate and destroy the hope of peoples may exist no longer. Thus we also pray for Trump and also for you who say that you support him. It should be clear, however, that we are on the side of the weakest and oppressed, certain that it is only to them that the wisdom that the rulers of this world did not know has been revealed (cf. 1 Cor 2:8).
Sister Antonietta Potente
Theologian of the Union of Dominican Sisters of Saint Thomas Aquinas and community