The former nuncio’s intervention will change the American Church

On Saturday, the National Catholic Register published a “testimony” written by Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to Washington, DC. Viganò (pictured) denounced what he described as a conspiracy at the highest levels of the Church to cover up Theodore McCarrick’s long history of sexual abuse. His claim that Pope Francis knew about the disgraced former cardinal’s past misconduct and yet restored him to active ministry dominated headlines around the world.

But several leading American bishops were also named – many of whom had already been accused of covering for McCarrick. The fallout from Viganò’s letter will inevitably change the balance of power in the American Church.

Viganò’s gravest charges were levelled against Cardinal Donald Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor as Archbishop of Washington and a close Francis ally. Viganò claimed that Wuerl had full knowledge of his predecessor’s misconduct with seminarians and young priests, and of Pope Benedict XVI’s reputed order that he be removed from active ministry. Nevertheless, Viganò alleged, Wuerl allowed him to reside in a seminary in his diocese.

Wuerl categorically denies these claims. “In spite of what Archbishop Viganò’s memo indicates, Cardinal Wuerl did not receive any documentation or information during his time in Washington regarding any actions taken against Archbishop McCarrick,” spokesman Ed McFadden told the Catholic Herald.

But McFadden did confirm another major claim in Viganò’s letter. The former nuncio said he had seen an announcement in an archdiocesan publication inviting young men discerning a vocation to the priesthood to meet McCarrick. Viganò brought this to Wuerl’s attention, reminding him of the disciplinary measures imposed by Pope Benedict. According to Viganò, Wuerl “expressed his surprise to me, telling me that he knew nothing about that announcement and that he would cancel it” – suggesting he knew of McCarrick’s past misconduct.

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