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Italian Journalist Says He Urged Archbishop To Publish His Accusations Against Pope Francis After Release Of Pennsylvania Sex Abuse Report

REUTERS/Tami Chappell

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
  • An Italian journalist claims he helped Archbishop Vigano write the 11-page letter accusing Pope Francis and others of covering for and empowering Cardinal McCarrick while knowing of the abuse allegations against him
  • The journalist said Vigano agreed to go public after Pennsylvania released its grand jury report on child sexual abuse by clergy
  • Vigano reportedly defied years of conditioning for secrecy in order to clear his conscience and has now purposely disappeared to avoid the media spotlight

An Italian journalist said he urged Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano to go public with his accusations against Pope Francis after the release of Pennsylvania’s sex abuse report.

Marco Tosatti said he met with Vigano and helped him for three hours on Aug. 22 to write a draft of what became the 11-page letter in which he accused Francis and at least 32 other high-ranking Catholic Church officials of covering up abuse allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Tosatti claimed that Vigano was not initially ready to go public, but that he urged Vigano to do so after Pennsylvania published its grand jury report on sexual abuse in six of its dioceses. (RELATED: Archbishop Who Accused The Pope Refutes Accusations That He Also Covered Up Sexual Misconduct)

That’s when Tosatti and Vigano sat down together to write the letter that has now caused a firestorm among bishops and cardinals in the church with its accusations and Vigano’s demand for the pope to resign.

“I think that if you want to say something, now is the moment, because everything is going upside-down in the United States,” Tosatti said he told Vigano after the release of Pennsylvania’s report, according to The Associated Press. “He said ‘OK.'”

The release of the letter Sunday coincided with the last day of Francis’ visit to Ireland, where Catholic faithful and abuse survivors have called on the pontiff to address the history of rampant child abuse perpetrated by the country’s clergy — a release date agreed upon by the publications to whom Vigano entrusted his letter.

The letter sparked immediate ire from several of the clergy who Vigano accused, including Archbishop Donald Wuerl, Cardinal Blase Cupich and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, as well as calls from leaders like Cardinal Daniel DiNardo for Vigano’s claims to be investigated.

Tosatti, a correspondent for Italian daily La Stampa, said the archbishop’s publishing of the letter was an extraordinary move — one that went against years of conditioning to keep silent about church turmoil and that came at great potential cost to the archbishop.

“They are brought up to die silent,” Tosatti told AP of Vatican diplomats, or nuncios. “So what he was doing, what he was going to do, was something absolutely against his nature.”

“He enjoys a good health but 77 is an age where you start preparing yourself … he couldn’t have a clear conscience unless he spoke,” he added.

Tosatti told AP that Vigano first contacted him several weeks prior and asked to meet. Vigano then told him what he knew about McCarrick and the ways in which he believes high-ranking church officials failed to act against him and in some cases positively encouraged and empowered him despite knowing of the abuse allegations against him. When they met again to work on Vigano’s letter, Tosatti said that he helped the archbishop edit it so that it would be based on solid claims.

“He had prepared some kind of a draft of a document and he sat here by my side,” Tosatti said, speaking of the desk in his Rome apartment. “I told him that we had to work on it really because it was not in a journalistic style.”

Tosatti said he helped Vigano remove claims that could not be substantiated, “because it had to be absolutely water-proof.”

As Vigano left on Aug. 22 to deliver his letter to National Catholic Register, LifeSiteNews, the Italian publication La Verita and the Spanish publication InfoVaticana, Tosatti said he knelt to kiss Vigano’s ring.

“He tried to say ‘No.’ I told him ‘It’s not for you, it’s for the role that you (play) that I do it,'” Tosatti said. “He didn’t say anything. He went away, but he was crying.”

Tosatti said Vigano never told him where he would go after the letter was published, as the archbishop knew that the media would hound him afterward. His whereabouts are currently unknown.

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