The cardinal who Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano called upon to prove cover-up claims against Pope Francis defended the pontiff and called Vigano’s allegations unsubstantiated.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, released a letter Sunday refusing to support Vigano’s claims that Pope Benedict placed canonical sanctions on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick and that Pope Francis removed those sanctions.
` Vigano requested in late September that Ouellet release documents proving such claims. Ouellet clarified, however, that while Benedict did request that McCarrick not travel, the request was not made an official sanction as the Vatican had not seriously investigated claims against McCarrick of abuse and therefore had no proof against him. (RELATED: Pope Authorizes Investigation Of Vatican Archives Concerning McCarrick Scandal)
Oullet, far from supporting Vigano, called the former Vatican diplomat’s claims “monstrous and unsubstantiated” and accused him of using the sexual abuse crisis in the American Catholic church to launch a politically motivated attack against Francis.
Oullet wrote that McCarrick “had been requested not to travel or to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him. It is false, therefore, to present those measures as ‘sanctions’ formally imposed by Pope Benedict XVI and then invalidated by Pope Francis.”
The cardinal said that an investigation of his congregation’s archives showed no evidence of formal sanctions.
“The reason is that back then, unlike today, there was not sufficient proof of his alleged culpability,” Oullet explained, according to Religion News Service.
The Rev. Boniface Ramsay notified the Vatican as early as 2000 of seminarians’ concerns about McCarrick’s appointment as archbishop of D.C. in light of allegations that he harassed and abused male seminarians. Vatican officials did not investigate, however, and St. John Paul II went forward with McCarrick’s nomination to the rank of cardinal.
The Vatican only initiated an investigation after McCarrick retired and an individual came forward claiming that McCarrick had abused him when he was a minor.
Oullet’s letter reflected those failures to look into McCarrick’s allegations earlier, but also lambasted Vigano’s assertion that church officials and Francis actively covered for McCarrick.
“It is too sarcastic, even blasphemous, how you end your last message, purportedly appealing to spirituality while mocking the Holy Father and casting doubt about his faith,” Oullet wrote, addressing Vigano.
The cardinal said Vigano’s accusations were nothing more than “a political plot that lacks any real basis that could incriminate the Pope and that profoundly harms the communion of the Church.”
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