Sunday, August 26, 2018

Commentary on What Viganò and His Cronies Are About: "Fight Against Francis Has Reached the Scorched Earth Stage"

Screenshot of Speakers for National Organization for Marriage's 2015 March for Marriage

Commentary I recommend on the Viganò letter and what's going on with it (and why it was released to venues like Lifesite News and National Catholic Register and immediately broadcast everywhere possible by the bitterly homophobic former Catholic commentator Rod Dreher):

Vigano, 77, a conservative whose hard-line anti-gay views are well known, urged the reformist pope to resign over the issue and what he called the "conspiracy of silence" about McCarrick. He and the pope have long been on opposite ideological sides, with the pope more a pastor and Vigano more a cultural warrior. ... 
Vigano's claim that McCarrick had been ordered by Benedict to stay out of public ministry and retire to a lifetime of prayer is somewhat disputed, given that McCarrick enjoyed a fairly public retirement. Vigano provides no evidence that such sanctions were imposed by Benedict in any official capacity, saying only that he was told they were. 
The letter also contains a lengthy diatribe about homosexuals and liberals in the Catholic church. It often reads like an ideological manifesto, naming all of Francis' known supporters in the U.S. hierarchy as being complicit in a cover-up of McCarrick's misdeeds.

The publication of the testament – which also contains a lengthy attack on homosexuality in the Catholic church – is another sign of growing rancour and divisions within the Vatican and top levels of the church over Francis’s papacy. 

Viganò, 77, was the Holy See's apostolic nuncio, or ambassador, in Washington from 2011 until 2016. He has been a lightning rod within the Vatican who lost a power struggle in Rome under Benedict, emerged as a Francis critic, and reportedly ordered the halt of an investigation into the alleged sexual relations between an archbishop in Minnesota and seminarians. ... 
The Viganò document uses American culture-war lingo, such as "right-wing" and "left-wing," and concludes the letter by blaming "homosexual networks" for sexual abuse and corruption. 
U.S. conservative Catholics who have suspected Francis of surreptitiously opening the door for liberalizing changes around sex and marriage have in recent years focused on the increased acceptance of LGBT people. Common targets for right-wing blogs like LifeSite and ChurchMilitant are bishops and cardinals they deem too moderate or liberal. Constantly on this list is D.C.’s Donald Wuerl, Chicago’s Blasé Cupich and Joe Tobin of Newark. All are named by Vigano as being linked by "wickedness."

Although the Vatican press office said it would have "no immediate comment" on the letter, released by National Catholic Register and LifeSiteNews early Aug. 26, at least several of its claims appear contradicted by the historical record. 
McCarrick, for example, was seen celebrating numerous public Masses throughout Benedict's papacy and continued traveling around the world until the announcement in June that the Vatican had ordered his removal from ministry over an accusation of abuse that had been deemed credible.
Benedict also did not hesitate to act publicly when another cardinal, Scotland's Keith O'Brien, was accused of improper sexual relationships. In that case, Benedict accepted O'Brien's resignation and his decision not to attend the 2013 conclave that elected Francis. 
Beyond his factual claims, Vigano's letter is laced as well with ideological claims about other Catholic prelates. He says one, for example, has a "pro-gay ideology" and that another "favored promoting homosexuals into positions of responsibility." …
Vigano himself has also been accused of covering up sexual misconduct. 
Three months after his departure from Washington, a 2014 memo he had written ordering the quashing of an investigation into alleged homosexual activity on the part of now former St. Paul-Minneapolis Archbishop John Nienstedt was made public at the conclusion of a criminal investigation. 
Vigano had also ordered the destruction of a piece of evidence. Nienstedt resigned from his post in 2015.

A reminder — and important context: this story from the past by Tom Gallagher on how Viganò and some of the most unsavory right-wing homophobes in the American political-religious context played Pope Francis and the media with Kim Davis several years ago — "The Davis-Francis meeting: Who dunnit?":

So for now, all we really know is that the Vatican's representative to the U.S., papal nuncio Carlo Maria Viganò, is in the center of who might have approved Davis' highly secret rendezvous with Pope Francis at the nuncio's residence in Washington, D.C., that included a Secret Service pick-up and delivery of Davis and her husband, Joe.
But did Viganò act alone? 
Right now, it's hard to say. And no one's talking. Not yet anyway. 
Over at the Daily Beast, Brandon Ambrosino writes: "But many journalists with connections inside the Vatican, myself included, were having difficulty figuring out exactly what transpired between Francis and Davis because the Liberty Counsel's story was so incredibly vague. Who, for instance, initiated the meeting — and why?" 
We know that Viganò participated in, and spoke at, the March for Marriage sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage in late April 2015 that included a "who's who" of the conservative culture warriors scene, including but not limited to, Josh Duggar, then-executive director of FRC Action; Davis' lawyer, Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel; Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Kentucky, who also serves as president of the USCCB; Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, Maryland, who also serves as the chairman of the USCCB Ad-Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty; and little-known Auxiliary Bishop John McIntyre from the Philadelphia archdiocese, among others.  McIntyre could be the only bishop in the U.S. who lists his titular see in his speaker title, "Titular Bishop of Bononia." 
According to a recent New York Times story: "Mr. Staver said a conservative deacon, Keith Fournier, introduced him to Archbishop Viganò back in April before speaking at a National Organization for Marriage rally on the Washington Mall in opposition to same-sex marriage. As Mr. Staver descended from the stage, Archbishop Viganò made a point to 'thank me for my message,' the lawyer said." 
It's hard to believe that a seasoned Vatican diplomat such as Viganò would, on his own initiative and in complete isolation, invite Davis to meet Pope Francis without seeking counsel and support from others. But to whom did he turn for such counsel and support? 

They're very adroit at playing the media, these folks, and shameless about doing so. They're doing it all over again now. And the media permit it.

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