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In his upcoming book, In the Closet of the Vatican: Power, Homosexuality and Hypocrisy, author Frédéric Martel confirms that Viganò notified Francis about McCarrick's history of sex abuse, revealing that the Pope ignored the allegations because they involved seminarians, not minors.
"When the Pope dismissed the allegations," Martel writes, "his entourage indicated to me that 'Francis was initially informed by Viganò that Cardinal McCarrick had had homosexual relations with over-age seminarians, which was not enough to condemn him.'"
Vatican expert Marco Tosatti described Martel's assertion as an "extremely interesting" case of "friendly fire," noting the homosexual author is otherwise full of praise for Pope Francis.
This, Tosatti argued, lends added credibility to Martel's account:
Martel, as we know, was helped and hosted by prelates in the Vatican, to carry out his task. In a television interview, he mentioned at least four high prelates close to the Pope who favoured and encouraged him. He said he had met the Director of Civiltà Cattolica, Antonio Spadaro SJ, several times; in the book there is an interview with Spadaro, and an interview with Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, the great director of the Synods (more or less pre-arranged) about the family and the young. He is a "famiglio" of the Pontiff, a man of his trust. So we have to believe Martel, particularly because he puts the central phrase in quotes.
In his final analysis, Tosatti suggested the disclosure confirms Abp. Viganò's Aug. 22 testimony against Pope Francis, writing, "It seems that according to Martel, and according to the entourage of the Pontiff — that he has told the truth."
Released on the memorial of the Queenship of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Viganò's exposé rocked the Vatican to its core.
The former papal nuncio to the United States recalled that in June 2013, Francis quizzed him on his thoughts about McCarrick, asking what the then-cardinal was like.
"Holy Father, I don't know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him," Viganò replied. "He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance."
There was no reaction from Francis, he recalled; but looking back on the incident, Viganò recognized it as a test: Francis "clearly wanted to find out if I was an ally of McCarrick or not," he wrote.
Months before Martel's account, Viganò's testimony was affirmed by Francis' ally, Cdl. Marc Ouellet, prefect for the Congregation for Bishops.
On Oct. 7, 2018, Cdl. Ouellet issued an open letter slamming the Vatican whistleblower's claims of sex abuse cover-up as a "blasphemous" attack on Pope Francis. Though intended as a defense of the Pope, Ouellet's letter is noteworthy for what it revealed about Francis' handling of McCarrick.
Cardinal Ouellet corroborated Viganò's assertion that McCarrick was under penalty — banned from traveling and making public appearances — by order of Pope Benedict; he also conceded that Francis "invalidated" these penalties.
The Canadian cardinal also affirmed that Viganò alerted Francis to McCarrick's history of sexual assault in June 2013, but suggested the Pope was unresponsive owing to the "enormous amount of verbal and written information he had to gather" on what was an especially busy day.
Martel's account sharpens the picture. Francis wasn't too busy to take action, but uninterested in doing so.