Viganò: Acting for the Greater Good of the Church

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  September 11, 2018   

God alone will judge him

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Regardless of whether Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò lives or dies, he will ultimately go before the divine tribunal of the Holy Trinity and explain why he broke his oath to keep papal secrets.

In his 11-page testimony, Viganò declared, "Conscience dictates that I reveal those truths" pertaining to "homosexual networks" that act like "octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church."

When it comes to protecting Holy Mother Church from such grave harm, the saint named Doctor of the Church specifically for his doctrine on moral theology, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, teaches that it is moral to reveal papal secrets in the gravest of situations:

One may manifest a committed secret [secretum commissum], at least without grave sin: … 4°. Out of a just reason, namely if observing the secret might lead to damnum commune [harm to the common good] … because in this case, the order of charity postulates that it may be revealed: wherefore even if you mightest have taken an oath, in this case, you mayest divulge [the committed secret]. ... [III, 970] No one is bound by a secret, even should it have been promised by oath, when the secret leads to damnum commune [VI, 698].

A subcategory of prudence called epikeia comes into play. Epikeia is used for making moral decisions in situations where current laws are completely inadequate, owing to the unusual circumstances that were unforeseen by the lawgiver. A simple example is the law to drive on the right side of the road in America. If a bolder suddenly rolls into the road, however, the driver may presume legal permission to cross over the center line even in a no-passing zone in order to avoid crashing into the boulder.
Canon law itself takes into account the principle of epikeia. Canon 1752, the last canon in the Catholic Code of Canon law, reads, "[T]he salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one's eyes." According to Vigano's own testimony, he did just that.

Watch the panel discuss the morality of revealing papal secrets in The Download—The Hunt for Viganò.


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