WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò is offering further confirmation of the "gay mafia" in the Church.
In comments to Italian journalist Marco Tosatti over the weekend, the papal nuncio-turned-whistleblower confirmed that Bp. Michael Bransfield, the subject of a Vatican investigation that revealed extensive sexual and financial malfeasance, is part of a wider network of corrupt gay clergy in positions of power, connected to Theodore McCarrick, Cdl. Donald Wuerl and others.
"Bishop Bransfield is a perfect example of what I was referring to," Viganò wrote, in remarks following his Washington Post interview, where he had referred to a "corrupt gay mafia" running the Church.
Bransfield was suspended last fall after allegations of homosexual misconduct. A detailed Vatican investigation, obtained by the Washington Post, revealed that Bransfield harassed and assaulted seminarians and priests, and also misappropriated millions of dollars in diocesan funds for personal expenses, including thousands spent on alcohol, flowers, flying first class and sending cash gifts to fellow prelates.
"It is important to note that, before being appointed bishop, he was rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. and was president of the [Board of Trustees] of the Papal Foundation, both linked to McCarrick and Cardinal Wuerl," Viganò explained.
The Papal Foundation, with assets worth $206 million, was co-founded by McCarrick in 1988, Bransfield serving as the first president of its board of trustees.
Controversy engulfed the Pennsylvania charity when three stewards resigned from the audit committee in 2018 after Wuerl pushed for the Vatican to receive $25 million — the largest single grant ever given by the foundation. The money was going toward the Istituto Dermopatico Dell'Immacolata (IDI), a scandal-ridden hospital in Rome investigated by Italian authorities for embezzlement and tax fraud of nearly a billion euros.
Pope Francis had allegedly requested the $25 million in the summer of 2017, and Wuerl, then-chairman of the foundation, lobbied members of the board of trustees to vote to approve the grant (originally a loan, but revised to an outright grant on Wuerl's insistence).
Board members consist of all nine U.S.-based cardinals as well as various bishops and laymen, making up a total of 24 trustees.
Jim Longon, former head of the audit committee, was first to raise objections to the grant.
According to inside sources, Wuerl at the time considered Longon a lone maverick, confident the vote to send the $25 million would be approved unanimously. He was shocked to find that nine of the 24 board members rejected the proposal after a secret vote.
A leaked report detailing the machinations explained:
In a carefully choreographed process the 15 bishops outvoted the 9 Stewards with a vote of 15 YES, 8 NO, 1 ABSTENTION (two bishops did not participate). It was a clear out-muscling of the Stewards. Political favor replaced sound stewardship of our resources.
Media reported in March 2018 that, after the internal uprising within the foundation, Pope Francis cancelled an annual meeting with the organization. Although the move was reported as originating with the pontiff, inside sources confirm with Church Militant that Wuerl was behind the cancellation.
The cardinal had contacted the pontiff and suggested the move in order to send a clear message of displeasure to trustees. His tactic worked, and the board agreed to give the pope the remaining $12 million (up till then, the board had only given $8 million).
To date, the money has yet to go toward its stated purpose: the Italian hospital. Papal Foundation members continue to wonder where the $25 million is now.
After Wuerl resigned in disgrace last October, Boston's Cdl. Sean O'Malley was announced to replace Wuerl as chairman, with Cdl. Daniel DiNardo as vice chairman.
A member of the Ad Hoc Committee informed Church Militant these were Wuerl's hand-picked appointees, made after an initial plan to elect new leadership was scrapped by Wuerl. In other words, Wuerl continues to pull the strings.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office is still mulling the possibility of investigating the Papal Foundation, a 501(c)3 corporation registered in Pennsylvania and bound by state law, after it was revealed the vote to send $25 million to Rome could be voided for potential fraud. McCarrick, at the time under investigation by the Vatican, had voted to send the money to the very entity investigating him — a material conflict of interest that amounted to little more than a bribe.
The Papal Foundation has connections to other accused homosexual predators, including Msgr. Thomas Benestad, who first chaired the foundation in 1988, and was singled out by Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro at his August press conference announcing the publication of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
The report alleged that in the early 1980s (only five years before being named chairman of The Papal Foundation), Benestad had forced a nine-year-old boy into oral sex, afterwards rinsing out his mouth with holy water to "purify" him.
And Wuerl, most recent chairman of The Papal Foundation, has been caught repeatedly lying about his knowledge of McCarrick. Viganò has described Wuerl as a man who "lies shamelessly."
To this day, Wuerl has not responded to the Pennsylvania grand jury's evidence — found in a signed note by Wuerl himself when he was bishop of Pittsburgh — that he paid hush money to buy the silence of a priest involved in a sadomasochistic child porn ring. The priest, Fr. George Zirwas, whom Wuerl had reassigned to various parishes in spite of multiple allegations of abuse of minors, was murdered by a gay prostitute in Cuba in 2001.
The Vatican investigation revealed that Bransfield had sent $350,000 in cash gifts to various cardinals and bishops, including $29,000 to Cdl. Kevin Farrell, who lived with McCarrick for six years in Washington, D.C., and who used the money to renovate his apartment in Rome; and $10,500 to Abp. William Lori — the very man appointed to carry out the investigation.
Other beneficiaries include Cardinals Wuerl, Timothy Dolan, Raymond Burke and Viganò himself.
Viganò explained to Tosatti that he was told it was the custom of U.S. bishops to send gifts to newly installed papal nuncios, and that he donated the money to charity.
"In truth I don't remember all the names of those who were sending me these gifts, because I didn't pay attention to the name of the donor who was sending me the check," wrote Viganò, "because this was irrelevant to me, as I had no intention of doing anyone any favors."
"As I said before, my staff explained to me that this was customary in the United States, and not accepting the gift would be an affront to donors," he continued. "So, after receiving these gifts, I immediately spent this money in my charity account. I can attach some examples of evidence on how I used my personal money together with the money from these various donations."
He recalled gifts specifically from Cdl. Timothy Dolan of New York, Bp. Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn, Cdl. Donald Wuerl and Theodore McCarrick, among others.
"I would like to add that I remember with certainty one of these gifts made immediately after it was announced that I would be sent as a nuncio to the United States, but before I arrived in the United States from the former Cdl. McCarrick, for the amount of $ 1,000," Viganò said.
Viganò also confirmed that Msgr. Walter Rossi, handpicked by McCarrick to succeed Bransfield as rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C., is a member of the "gay mafia."
According to Viganò, as papal nuncio, he had received complaints of sexual harassment of seminarians by Rossi. Multiple sources at the basilica as well as at Catholic University of America — where Rossi sits on the board of trustees — have also alleged that Rossi is an active homosexual.