Viganò: No ‘Genuine Willingness’ Among Bishops to End Abuse Crisis

by Stephen Wynne  •  •  February 15, 2019   

Vatican whistleblower voices doubt over commitment to reform

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ROME ( - Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is speaking out about the upcoming Vatican sex abuse summit.

In an essay for a National Catholic Register symposium this week, Abp. Viganò examined the roots of the Church crisis as well as the inherent flaws of the Feb. 21–24 bishops' gathering.

Viganò began his reflection with a critique of priestly formation.

"It is evident to all that a primary cause of the present terrible crisis of sexual abuse committed by ordained clergy, including bishops, is the lack of proper spiritual formation of candidates to the priesthood," he noted. "That lack, in turn, is largely explained by the doctrinal and moral corruption of many seminary formators, corruption that increased exponentially beginning in the 1960s."

Looking back on his own experience, Viganò recalled that a creeping decay was evident even before the end of the Second Vatican Council:

I entered a pontifical seminary in Rome and began my studies at the Gregorian University when I was 25 years old. It was 1965, just months before the end of Vatican II. I couldn't help but notice, not only in my own college but also in many others in Rome, that some seminarians were very immature and that these houses of formation were marked by a general and very serious lack of discipline. ...

Seminarians sometimes spent the night outside my seminary, as the supervision was woefully inadequate. Our spiritual director was in favor of priestly ordination ad tempus — the idea that ordained priesthood could be a merely temporary status.

At the Gregorian, one of the professors of moral theology favored situation ethics. And some classmates confided to me that their spiritual directors had no objection to their presenting themselves for priestly ordination despite their unresolved and continual grave sins against chastity.

Viganò reinforced that "those who suffer from deep-seated same-sex attraction should never be admitted to seminary."

"Moreover, before any seminarian is accepted for ordination, he must not only strive for chastity but actually achieve it," the archbishop continued. "He must already be living chaste celibacy peacefully and for a prolonged period of time, for if this is lacking, the seminarian and his formators cannot have the requisite confidence that he is called to the celibate life."

Why does Pope Francis keep and even call as his close collaborators people who are notorious homosexuals?

Viganò faulted bishops for allowing throngs of spiritually and psychologically malformed men to join the ranks of the priesthood and called for any prelate complicit in sex abuse or its cover-up to be stripped of his position and title.

Abp. Vincenzo Paglia

"Bishops have the paramount responsibility for the formation of their candidates to the priesthood," he reminded readers. "Any bishop who has covered up abuse or seduction of minors, vulnerable adults or adults under a priest's pastoral care, including seminarians, is not fit for that responsibility or for any episcopal ministry and should be removed from his office."

Looking ahead to next week's sex abuse summit in Rome, Viganò expressed little hope the bishops' gathering will solve the ongoing predator priest scandal, noting conference organizers are ignoring the roots of the crisis.

"I am praying intensely for the success of the February summit," said the archbishop, adding he "would rejoice greatly if the summit were successful."

But, he noted, "there is no sign of a genuine willingness to attend to the real causes" of the crisis.

"Why will the meeting focus exclusively on the abuse of minors?" Viganò asked.

"These crimes are indeed the most horrific, but the crises in the United States and Chile that have largely precipitated the upcoming summit have to do with abuses committed against young adults, including seminarians, not only against minors," he observed. "Almost nothing has been said about sexual misconduct with adults, which is itself a grave abuse of pastoral authority, whether or not the relationship was 'consensual.'"

He pressed further:

Why does the word "homosexuality" never appear in recent official documents of the Holy See? This is by no means to suggest that most of those with a homosexual inclination are abusers, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of abuse has been inflicted on post-pubescent boys by homosexual clerics. It is mere hypocrisy to condemn the abuse and claim to sympathize with the victims without facing up to this fact honestly. A spiritual revitalization of the clergy is necessary, but it will be ultimately ineffectual if it does not address this problem.

"Why does Pope Francis keep and even call as his close collaborators people who are notorious homosexuals?" the archbishop continued. "Why has he refused to answer legitimate and sincere questions about these appointments? In doing so he has lost credibility on his real will to reform the Curia and fight the corruption."

In August, Viganò revealed that just months into his papacy, Francis lifted penalties from then-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, a serial sexual predator of seminarians and altar boys. He also observed that the Pope appointed Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio and Abp. Vincenzo Paglia to positions of power, noting that both men "belong to the homosexual current in favor of subverting Catholic doctrine on homosexuality."

In his symposium reflection, Viganò repeated an October exhortation to Pope Francis.

Cdl. Francesco Coccopalmerio

"In my third testimony, I begged the Holy Father to face up to the commitments he himself made in assuming his office as Successor of Peter," he recounted. "I pointed out that he took upon himself the mission of confirming his brothers and guiding all souls in following Christ along the way of the cross."

"I urged him then, and I now urge him again, to tell the truth, repent, show his willingness to follow the mandate given to Peter and, once converted, to confirm his brothers (Luke 22:32)," he said.

Likewise, Viganò called on his brother bishops to recommit themselves to the truth.

"I pray that the bishops gathered in Rome will remember the Holy Spirit," he said, "whom they received with the imposition of hands, and carry out their responsibility to represent their particular Churches by firmly asking for, and insisting on, an answer to the above questions during the summit."

"Indeed, I pray that they will not return to their countries without proper answers to these questions," he added, "for to fail in this regard would mean abandoning their own flocks to the wolves and allowing the entire Church to suffer dreadful consequences."

The archbishop closed by reaffirming his confidence in God, and in His promise that the gates of Hell will not prevail against the Faith: "Despite the problems I have described, I continue to have hope, because the Lord will never abandon his Church."

Fearing for his safety, Abp. Viganò remains in hiding.

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