On Tuesday, the Holy See announced that the Vatican City State prosecutor is seeking to indict two Italian priests on charges relating to sexual abuse.
Father Gabriele Martinelli is accused of assaulting minors at St. Piux X Pre-Seminary — inside Vatican walls — where young men are trained as altar servers for the Pope. Former seminary rector Fr. Enrico Radice is accused of "aiding and abetting" the abuse.
In a June interview with The Washington Post, Viganò was asked what progress the Vatican has made in tackling the sex abuse crisis.
"The signs I see are truly ominous," he replied. "Not only is Pope Francis doing close to nothing to punish those who have committed abuse, he is doing absolutely nothing to expose and bring to justice those who have, for decades, facilitated and covered up the abusers."
As an example, Viganò pointed to the Martinelli case, which he described as "truly horrifying."
In 2012, seminarian Kamil Jarzembowski informed his superiors that Martinelli was a predator. The senior seminarian, Jarzembowski said, had been raping his roommate, and others, for years.
After officials at St. Piux X failed to act, Jarzembowski wrote to various cardinals to enlist their help. After they too offered no response, in 2014, he wrote directly to Pope Francis, appealing for aid.
A preliminary investigation was entrusted to Fr. Andrea Stabellini, judicial vicar for the diocese of Como. According to Viganò, Stabellini found evidence that warranted further investigation, but Vatican officials quashed the inquiry and punished those involved:
The Bishop of Como removed Don Stabellini from the post of Judicial Vicar; the whistleblower, the seminarian Kamil Jarzembowski, was expelled from the seminary; the two fellow seminarians who had joined him in the denunciation left the seminary; and the alleged abuser, Gabriele Martinelli, was ordained priest in July 2017.
Though "well aware" of the allegations against Martinelli, Viganò noted, "the pope and many prelates in the Curia" refused to allow "an open and thorough investigation."
"An objective observer cannot help but suspect that horrible deeds are being covered up," he said.
Frustrated by the ongoing suppression of his testimony, Jarzembowski went public. Only then — once Italian media began reporting on the case — did the Vatican launch an investigation into the Martinelli case.
According to Tuesday's announcement by the Holy See, at the time the inquiry was opened in November 2017, Vatican City State law would not allow a trial, as the case fell outside the statute of limitations. Martinelli's indictment is now moving forward after Pope Francis issued a special provision on June 29.