The former first counselor at the Vatican’s D.C. embassy said the archbishop accusing Pope Francis of knowing about former Catholic Cardinal Theodore McCarrick “said the truth.”
Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, former first counselor at the Washington, D.C., apostolic nunciature, said Sunday that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former apostolic nuncio to the U.S., told “the truth” in his 11-page letter that accused Francis of empowering McCarrick while knowing about his alleged abuses. Viganò said in the letter that Lantheaume informed him about the meeting in 2009 or 2010 where then nuncio Pietro Sambi imposed Vatican-approved sanctions on McCarrick for his alleged sexual misconduct with seminarians — sanctions about which Viganò allegedly informed Francis in 2013. (RELATED: Pope Francis Refuses To Address Accusations That He Covered Up For McCarrick, ‘I Won’t Say A Word About It’)
“Viganò said the truth. That’s all,” Lantheaume told the Catholic News Agency.
Lantheaume, who serves in ministry in France and is no longer a member of the Vatican corps, declined to comment further to CNA about Viganò’s accusations.
Viganò also claimed that Lantheaume is willing and ready to testify about the sanctions placed on McCarrick.
“Monsignor Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d’Affaires ad interim after the unexpected death of Nuncio Sambi in Baltimore, told me when I arrived in Washington — and he is ready to testify to it — about a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that ‘the Nuncio’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor,'” Viganò wrote.
Lantheaume succinctly corroborated Viganò, however, critics have pointed out that Viganò was also guilty of cover-up. He quashed an investigation of then Archbishop John Nienstedt’s possible sexual misconduct in 2014, according to an 11-page Vatican memo that was unsealed in 2016. Neinstadt claimed the allegations of sexual misconduct with other adult males were false rumors spread by those who chafed at his hard-line stance against admitting openly gay men into the priesthood, homosexual marriage, and a Dignity Mass that was popular with gay men in his area.
Then apostolic nuncio to the U.S. Viganò ordered Auxiliary Bishops Lee Piché and Andrew Cozzens to have lawyers interview Neinstadt and wrap up the investigation quickly, despite law firm Greene Espel having at least 24 more leads to pursue.
Both bishops said they understood that Nienstedt had a conversation with Viganò prior to that order in which “he may have convinced the Nuncio that the allegations against him were all false.”
More damning, however, was Viganò’s order to Piché to destroy a letter from attorney David Wallace-Jackson, which constituted evidence in the investigation.
Others have argued that, while Viganò did in fact order a cover-up, it had little bearing on the veracity of his claims concerning McCarrick, Francis and other Vatican officials, especially if sources like Lantheaume are willing to testify.
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