VATICAN—A former apostolic nuncio to the United States has accused several senior prelates of complicity in covering up allegations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and has claimed that Pope Francis knew about sanctions imposed on then-Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI but chose to repeal them.
In an extraordinary 11-page written testament, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, 77, who served as apostolic nuncio in Washington, D.C., from 2011 to 2016, said that in the late 2000s, Benedict had “imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis” and that Viganò personally told Pope Francis about those sanctions in 2013.
Viganò said in his written statement, simultaneously released to the National Catholic Register and other media, that Pope Francis “continued to cover” for McCarrick and not only did he “not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him” but also made McCarrick “his trusted counselor.”
He added that the former archbishop of Washington advised the Pope to appoint a number of bishops in the United States, including Cardinals Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark.
Viganò, who said his “conscience dictates” that the truth be known as “the corruption has reached the very top of the Church’s hierarchy,” ended his testimony by calling on Pope Francis and all of those implicated in the cover-up of McCarrick’s abuse to resign.
On June 20, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, on the order of Pope Francis, prohibited former Cardinal McCarrick from public ministry after an investigation by the New York archdiocese found an accusation of sexual abuse of a minor against McCarrick was “credible and substantiated.”
That same day, the public learned that the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen in New Jersey had received three accusations of sexual misconduct involving adults against McCarrick.
Since then, media reports have written of victims of the abuse, spanning decades, including a teenaged boy, three young priests, or seminarians, and a man now in his 60s who alleges that McCarrick abused him from the age of 11.
The Pope later accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals.
But Viganò wrote that Benedict much earlier had imposed sanctions on McCarrick “similar” to those handed down by Parolin.
“The cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living,” he said, “he was also forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance,” he said.
Viganò did not document the exact date but recollected the sanction to have been applied as far back 2009 or 2010.
Benedict’s measures came years after Viganò’s predecessors at the nunciature — Archbishops Gabriel Montalvo and Pietro Sambi — had “immediately” informed the Holy See as soon as they had learned of McCarrick’s “gravely immoral behavior with seminarians and priests,” the retired Italian Vatican diplomat also wrote.
He said Montalvo first alerted the Vatican in 2000, requesting that Dominican Father Boniface Ramsey write to Rome confirming the allegations.
In 2006, Viganò said that, as delegate for pontifical representations in the Secretariat of State, he personally wrote a memorandum to his superior, then Archbishop (later Cardinal) Leonardo Sandri, proposing an “exemplary measure” be taken against McCarrick that could have a “medicinal function” to prevent future abuses and alleviate a “very serious scandal for the faithful.”
He drew on an indictment memorandum, communicated by Archbishop Sambi to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, then Secretary of State, in which an abusive priest had made claims against McCarrick of “such gravity and vileness” including “depraved acts” and “sacrilegious celebration of the Eucharist.”