Head of Vatican Communications Resigns Amid Scandal

by Christine Niles  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  March 21, 2018   

Msgr. Dario Viganò steps down after doctored photo

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VATICAN CITY (ChurchMilitant.com) - After a scandal involving a doctored photo of a letter from Pope Benedict, the head of Vatican communications is stepping down.

AskaNews reported Wednesday morning that Msgr. Dario Viganò has submitted his letter of resignation, and the pope has accepted.

"The Holy Father Francis has accepted the renunciation of Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication (SPC)", announced Vatican spokesman Greg Burke. "Until the new Prefect is appointed, the SPC will be led by the Secretary of the same Dicastery, Mgr. Lucio Adrián Ruiz."

The full text of Viganò's resignation letter to Pope Francis reads (working translation):

Holy Father, in these last days there have been many controversies about my work which, beyond the intentions, destabilizes the complex and great reform work that you entrusted to me in June 2015 and which now sees, thanks to the contribution of many people, beginning with the staff, complete the final stretch. I thank you for the paternal and steadfast accompaniment that you have generously offered to me at this time and for the renewed esteem that you also wanted to show me at our last meeting. In respect of the people who have worked with me over the years and to avoid the possibility of my in any way delaying, damaging or even obstructing what has already been established by the Motu Proprio, and above all, for the love of the Church and to her Holy Father, I ask you to welcome my wish to step down ...

The Holy Father accepted his resignation, asking him to remain on the dicastery as assessore ("councilor"), essentially second in command.

Last week, the Vatican admitted to blurring part of a letter written by Pope Benedict in a photo. According to the Associated Press, "The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards."

The partially concealed letter had been used to slam critics of Pope Francis. Written on February 7, Benedict's letter was not publicly released until Monday, just before Pope Francis' five-year anniversary. The letter's contents were read by Msgr. Viganó, in which Pope Benedict claimed continuity between this pontificate and that of Pope Francis. He also rebutted the "foolish prejudice" of those claiming the two popes were theologically opposed. The letter itself was occasioned by the gift of 11 "small volumes" on Francis' theology.

After outcry for doctoring the photo of the letter, the Secretariat for Communications published the complete letter, revealing that the remainder of the letter was negative: Not only did Pope Benedict admit he had not read the 11 volumes, he went on to make clear he could not write an endorsement because the volumes include the contribution of a heterodox theologian known for being "opposed to the papal magisterium."

"I'd like to note my surprise at the fact that among the authors there is also Professor Hünermann, who during this pontificate was highlighted for leading anti-papal initiatives," the final paragraph began, going on to note that Hünermann "virulently attacked the magisterial authority of the Pope especially on matters of moral theology."

He signed off: "I am sure he will have understanding for my denial and I greet you cordially."

*This article was updated with new information on 3/21/2018


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