Editor’s note: LifeSite readers can receive 10% off Dr. Robert Moynihan’s new book, Finding Viganò, by clicking this link and using the code LSN10.
October 21, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — Dr. Robert Moynihan is one of the few people who has been able to meet with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò in person since the archbishop first published his Theodore McCarrick testimony in August 2018 and went into hiding. With the help of his interviews with the prelate over the course of several days, the U.S. journalist, editor of Inside the Vatican, and Vatican expert has been able to give us glimpses into the reasons why Viganò published his McCarrick testimony, his private and hidden life, his suffering, and his faith.
As he describes in his upcoming book, Finding Viganò: In Search of the Man Whose Testimony Shook the Church and the World (TAN Books), Dr. Moynihan was able to visit Viganò in an undisclosed location for several days at the end of July 2019 — that is, nearly one year since the Italian prelate went into hiding. As it turns out, Viganò had then already changed his locations several times. However, the prelate seems calm and supported by his intense life of prayer, which includes daily Mass, praying the full rosary every day, and adoration before the Blessed Sacrament. He is also aided by his family members and friends, who stay in close touch with him.
As the archbishop told Moynihan, he went into hiding not to avoid being indicted by the Vatican — he said he was willing to be questioned about everything he has written — but, rather, because “some friends” had advised him that it might be “prudent” to do so. Viganò has followed the advice of his friends who might be more concerned about his physical safety, thus effectively living the life of a hermit. Only once, on January 18 of this year, he appeared in public when praying in Munich together with the Acies ordinata group against the German bishops’ synodal path of laxly liberalizing the Church.
As Moynihan writes, Archbishop Viganò “is, arguably, one of the loneliest men in the world.” But, as Viganò told the journalist during their interviews, he does not regret his decision to make public the names of those in the Vatican, to include Pope Francis, who knew of disgraced former cardinal McCarrick’s sexual abuse and did not take the steps necessary to stop him from harming many generations of young men and seminarians. He said he does not regret having asked the Pope to resign. “Having clearly covered for McCarrick,” he told Moynihan, “it was only right that he first did what he asked the Chilean bishops to do.” Then asked whether he regrets having published his report, Viganò answered, “No. It was something I had to do.” He added, “I think that I have been a witness to the truth.” Viganò also explained that “my conscience is telling me to protect the Church. I see that the devil has been entering into the Church, on the top of it, and so that I have to stand up.”
On August 25, 2018, the retired Italian prelate, who had then been relieved for two years from his last post as the papal nuncio to the United States in Washington, D.C., published his now famous report accusing Pope Francis of ignoring Pope Benedict XVI’s earlier restrictions on then-cardinal McCarrick on account of McCarrick’s preying upon and abuse of seminarians. Viganò revealed that he had informed Pope Francis about the misdeeds of McCarrick and about Benedict’s sanctions against him and said that, since Francis ignored these warnings and even actively sought the official assistance of McCarrick, the Pope should resign. He had then also revealed the many names of prelates — among them Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Cardinal Angelo Sodano — who knew of the accusations but did not work for a just correction and healing of the situation.
Ever since that moment, Viganò has gained the trust of many Catholics in the world as one of the few prelates who put truth above any expedient and earthly considerations such as being able to be respected among members of the Vatican. He sacrificed most of his earthly comforts and honors for the defense of the young, who had to face sexual abuse from those who were called to be the representatives of Christ on Earth. Viganò stands for a program of reform of the Church that is not based on empty words, but that aims at removing those aspects from the life of the Church that weaken the Church’s voice and witness. Among these obstacles, he names some erroneous doctrines that crept into the Church at the Second Vatican Council and its aftermath, an attitude of laxity toward sin and moral depravity, and other forms of corruption in fields such as finances.
That is to say: to many, Archbishop Viganò appears to be a prophet of our modern times, in the midst of a grave and manifold Church crisis. It is here that Moynihan’s book will help us appreciate this clergyman even more, since this U.S. journalist has set out to understand the archbishop’s life and work, his motives and his faith, his loves and his resistances.
Moynihan himself appreciates Viganò’s attempt to break up a “culture of cover-up” and a “brotherhood of silence,” as he writes, “that has for decades grown like a clinging vine around the heart of the Church, even in the Vatican, or perhaps better, especially in the Vatican.” This “culture of silence,” he adds, which often is defended with a supposed concern not to scandalize “the faith of the little ones,” “has become so harmful to our once-glorious and holy Church that the healing light of truth … has become hidden.” This healing light of truth pertains to the “truth about the sexual sins of the hierarchy,” as well as the “deviations from the saving doctrines of our faith.”
As Viganò keeps on insisting, the doctrinal and the moral corruption in the Church go hand in hand. For example, the prelate stated in September of this year: “Moral corruption and doctrinal deviation are intrinsically linked and, to effectively heal these wounds in the body of the Church, it is imperative to act on both fronts. If this dutiful intervention does not take place, the Bishops and the leaders of the Church will answer to God for betraying their duty as pastors.”
But how is Viganò to be considered as a man, as a human being? “He was a man of simple tastes,” Moynihan tells us about his visit with him, “hospitable, a man who prayed the daily holy office (the daily prayers prescribes by the Church to be said by the priests) and nourished a profound devotion for the Holy Rosary, of which he prays and celebrates all the Mysteries daily.” He was a man closely following Church news. In some ways he was an “emotional man, a man of profound joys and sorrows, a man who was sometimes nostalgic, sometimes seemingly deeply wounded due to perceived injustices.” The U.S. journalist continues by describing Viganò’s excellent memory; his courageous attitude; his generosity; and most of all, his being a man completely devoted to the Catholic Church.
PETITION UPDATE (7/9/2021) -
Father James Altman was informed late last week that he has been removed as pastor of St. James the Less parish, and that his priestly faculties have been suspended indefinitely.
As Bishop William J. Callahan’s decree explains, this means he is forbidden from celebrating “The Holy Eucharist” with any members of the faithful present, except for his elderly parents. He is also “no longer allowed to preach,” administer baptism, or assist at marriages.
Altman said that he wasn’t issued restrictions from hearing Confessions or Anointing of the Sick.
The decree also states that he is to continue to live within the Diocese of LaCrosse, where he has been instructed to meet with the Vicar for Clergy at least once a month, and has been “invited to begin” a month-long “spiritual retreat” to help him to “spiritually heal” and “address the issues that caused the issuance of this decree.”
The order states it is in effect as long as “cause” is present, but it does not specify what the cause is. Callahan said he asked Altman to resign on May 23 for being “divisive and ineffective.”
Altman first triggered backlash from his bishop when his video “You cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat. Period” went viral last year. Altman shared that in response to this, his office “got the most vile, despicable phone calls, letters” and “some terrible, really foul messages.”
Callahan criticized Altman at the time for his “manner and tone,” to which Altman countered, “what about the manner and tone of the 10,000 babies that are chopped up last Saturday?”
“What I would hope would always come through no matter what people think about my manner and tone, is that they would recognize that what’s coming through there is God’s love,” Altman told LifeSiteNews. “A love that I recognize because He’s loved me, and I didn’t deserve that.”
“If I seem angry at times, it has nothing to do with me, it has to do with the people. And I asked the question recently, how can they love? If you love, how can you not feed your children?”
In late April, Altman chided the U.S. bishops for needlessly shutting churches and denying the faithful sacraments during the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the hierarchy showed “an abundance of cowardice.”
In his interview with LifeSite, Altman alluded to the fact that some don’t like seeing him “upset.”
“I’m thinking well, if you’re denying my child food, the Bread of Life – [Bishop Fulton J. Sheen] said, if you can’t get angry about stuff like that then you can’t love either. Because greater love has greater anger towards those things that are contrary to the salvation of eternal souls, which is the only thing that matters in the end,” said Altman.
"I don’t care what they do to me, honestly, in the end… what troubles me is the interference with the feeding of God’s children, which is through word and through the sacrament. Both of which were denied to people over the past 15 months."
Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition, and to continue to contact the Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Office, to politely voice your opposition to the removal of Fr. Altman from his parish. The Chancery's phone number is: 608-788-7700.
PETITION UPDATE (5/24/2021) -
Father James Altman, the Wisconsin priest whose video message last fall "You can’t be a Catholic and a Democrat" went viral and who has fearlessly admonished the U.S. bishops for shutting churches and denying the faithful Sacraments during the COVID-19 crisis, announced on Pentecost Sunday that his bishop has asked him to resign for being "divisive and ineffective."
Please CLICK HERE to READ LifeSiteNews' latest article related to Fr. Altman's ongoing persecution, just to continue shepherding his flock.
Bishop William P. Callahan began threatening the outspoken priest with "canonical penalties" in September, even as public support for the priest surged among rank-and-file Catholics around the country and the world.
And now, a group called 'Faithful America' is proudly boasting responsibility for taking down Fr. Altman, but Faithful America are not even a Catholic organization!
Thankfully, Fr. Altman says he is working with a canon lawyer to resolve this matter.
WATCH Fr. Altman's Sunday sermon in which he announces the bishop's decision to ask for his resignation.
"In response my canon lawyer asked for clarification – asked for the justification and a chance to review what was in my file that suggested I was so divisive and ineffective,” explained Altman. “And I say all this only because, I'm no expert on canon law, but understand only that while we are contesting bishop's request — and we are — he could in theory appoint a parish administrator whilst I remain a pastor without duties until the appeal goes through Rome, which could take up to a year or more."
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, offered his support for Altman via Twitter.
Please continue to SIGN and SHARE this petition with your like-minded family and friends.
And, after signing and sharing, please take a minute to contact the LaCrosse Diocese to politely voice your support for Fr. Altman, and against leftist pressure groups like 'Faithful America.' Please ask Bishop Callahan to prayerfully reconsider his decision and allow Fr. Altman to remain as pastor of St. James the Less parish.
The phone number for the diocese office is: 608.788.7700
PETITION UPDATE (9/15/2020) -
Just this past weekend a prayer vigil was held outside the Cathedral in LaCrosse, Wisconsin, on behalf of Fr. James Altman, the priest facing Church penalties for saying that you cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat in 2020.
Hundreds of faithful Catholics turn out to pray for Fr. Altman. Though Fr. Altman did use strong language to warn his flock against spiritual perils, what he said about the Democratic Party's platform is true!
Motivated by a deep sense of justice, supporters gathered at the Cathedral to pray for the priest, and for Bishop Callahan to stand by his priest rather than punish him.
"Fr. Altman is a rare breed. He’s a modern-day St. John the Baptist," declared one woman who attended the prayer vigil. "He’s really changed my life and so many others he’s had that impact on. We need more priests who are true shepherds."
Fr. Richard Heilman, who is the founder of the U.S. Grace Force and who was also present to help lead people in prayer during the vigil, had this to say about Fr. Altman: "Bottom line: he loves, loves, loves his flock. And so, like a good shepherd, if he sees the wolves invading, he sounds the warning alarm."
Please consider SIGNING this petition if you have not already signed. And, please SHARE this petition and video with your family, friends and colleagues. Thank you!
If after signing and sharing you wish to make an even greater impact, we encourage you to contact the Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Offices to politely let them know that you support Fr. Altman and want to see him continue in his essential ministry.
Diocese of LaCrosse's Chancery Office phone number: 608-788-7700.
ORIGINAL PETITION TEXT:
Father James Altman, pastor of St. James the Less parish in the Wisconsin Diocese of LaCrosse, has been threatened with canonical punishment by his Bishop, Most Rev. William Patrick Callahan.
Fr. Altman's alleged "offense"?
Stating what every faithful Catholic knows to be true in 2020: "You cannot be a Catholic and a Democrat."
Please SIGN this petition which will go to Bishop Callahan and ask him to stop any canonical proceedings against Fr. Altman.
In a strongly-worded YouTube video, designed to shepherd the faithful out of harm's way (supporting the Democratic Party's evil platform), Fr. Altman states the following:
"Here's a memo to clueless, baptized Catholics out there: You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat. Period. Their party platform absolutely is against everything the Catholic Church teaches. So, just quit pretending that you're Catholic and vote Democrat. Repent of your support of that party and its platform, or face the fires of Hell..."
Strong stuff to be sure, but Fr. Altman was taking his cue from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI (whom he quotes) – the Church has a "duty and obligation" to speak up when politicians act in an immoral way.
In other words, a pastor must give strong warnings, at times, to guide souls away from grave danger, even when the dangers come from politicians or a political party.
When your house is burning down...or, more appropriately, when someone is attempting to burn your house down, it's time to dispense with the niceties of politically correct language.
And, as Fr. Altman suggests, the Democratic Party's evil platform which promotes the desecration of God's plan for humanity is, in effect, trying to burn down our house (i.e., the Church).
Not only do the Democrats openly advocate for abortion (i.e., killing innocent human beings), but they also promote the destruction of the natural family and the desecration of human nature in support of the homosexual and transgender agendas.
Remember the following:
- The Obama-Biden Administration attempted to force the Little Sisters of the Poor to participate in the provision of abortion-inducing drugs and contraception and threatened schools with the loss of federal funding if they wouldn’t let boys in girls’ bathrooms and vice versa.
- Democratic Senators Kamala Harris and Mazie Hirono grilled a judge, who is a Knight of Columbus, on his membership in the Knights, absurdly suggesting that membership in the Catholic mens' fraternal organization should disqualify someone from sitting on the bench.
- And, in 2017, the DNC Chairman said that pro-lifers were not welcome in the party.
No faithful Catholic should even think about voting for such a platform. And, the bishops should be on the frontlines, speaking this truth to power.
Thankfully, the Bishop of Tyler, Texas, Most Rev. Joseph Strickland, has come out in support of Fr. Altman's statement, tweeting:
"As the Bishop of Tyler I endorse Fr. Altman’s statement in this video. My shame is that it has taken me so long. Thank you Fr Altman for your COURAGE. If you love Jesus & His Church & this nation...please HEED THIS MESSAGE.”
With this petition, we now ask that Fr. Altman's own bishop, Most. Rev. Callahan, likewise support his priest and stop any canonical proceedings against him.
Devoid of united leadership from the Hierarchy, individual priests must do their best to inform the laity of the mortal dangers on full view in the Democrats' platform.
And, threatening to silence priests for strongly speaking the truth only plays into the hand of those who actually hate what the Church stands for...and who will, if elected, most likely seek to injure, or even eradicate, the Church.
The bishops should know that the legacy of the Democratic Party being the party of the small man and of the Catholic immigrant is now over.
The Democratic Party of today is the party of radical individualism, not the common good. And, rabid support for abortion and the homosexual agenda are practically obligatory.
As such, the Democratic Party is not a friend of the Church and any priest or bishop who thinks otherwise is being deceived, or allowing himself to be deceived or bullied.
This is not just an abstraction! This is a serious threat to Christianity and their party's platform needs to be met with strong opposition.
Thank you for SIGNING this petition to the bishop of LaCrosse, Wisconsin, Bishop Callahan, asking him to support Fr. Altman rather than bringing any canonical proceedings against him.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
'Bishop threatens ‘canonical penalties’ for priest whose viral video warned Catholics can’t be Democrats': https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-threatens-canonical-penalties-for-fr-altman
YouTube Video - 'Fr. James Altman: You cannot be Catholic & a Democrat. Period.': https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-7eoTN2vNM
Statement regarding Fr. James Altman from Bishop Callahan: https://diolc.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Statement-Father-James-Altman-090920.pdf
'Bishop Strickland echoes priest: ‘You cannot be Catholic and be a Democrat’': https://www.lifesitenews.com/news/bishop-strickland-echoes-priest-you-cannot-be-catholic-and-be-a-democrat
**Photo Credit: Screen capture from Fr. James Altman's YouTube video on Alpha News MN
As a matter of poignant fact, on a few occasions during these interviews, Archbishop Viganò shed tears of sorrow, for example when describing how he confronted McCarrick with his sins when first meeting him in the nunciature in Washington, D.C.: “I knew about him [and his sins],” Viganò told Moynihan, “but I treated him with charity all the time.” Here adds Moynihan: “Viganò, recalling McCarrick, begins to choke up and break into tears.” The archbishop continued: “I confronted him the first time in the nunciature after I was named to that post. I said: ‘You have done that!’ And he, just speaking with very low voice, said, ‘I may have made a mistake. Sometimes I slept in the same bed as a seminarian, as a priest, etc., etc.’”
When Moynihan asked Viganò about his “love of the Church,” the archbishop once more wept: “Well I mean it was all my life. Well, I mean I was living for that.”
Here we see a prelate who has given his whole life to the Church, and now he must suffer for her, and under her. Love does such things, and love proves itself most ardently by suffering under the beloved, and for the beloved, just as Our Lord did.
Viganò makes us also understand where his love for his beloved Church comes from. As Moynihan puts it, “his boyhood was marked by a continuing contact with the Christian tradition of Milan, weaving his daily life into twenty centuries of tradition.” Born in 1941 and being one of nine children, Viganò’s childhood took place in pre-conciliar times. Or, as Viganò himself said: “Our whole life was imbued with the liturgical life of the Church and with the memory of the Church’s history in Milan going back to St. Ambrose.” When he was a youth, he studied with the Jesuits in town. His family practiced many acts of charity by visiting widows who had lost their husbands in World War II, and, as such, to bring them some money and food. By the time of his First Holy Communion, Viganò knew he had a vocation to the priesthood, just as did one of his older brothers. He was greatly inspired by one young priest, Giulio Giacometti, who worked at Viganò’s elementary school, and then also by the Milanese cardinal, Alfredo Ildefonso Schuster, who has now been proclaimed blessed. “These two men,” writes Moynihan, “influenced the young Viganò from a very early age to decide that he should become a priest.”
Our Lady was always present in his life, too. One of the archbishop’s first memories was “on the breast of my mother, probably when I was around two years old, bringing me down into refuge during the bombardment [of Milan], and there was a little image of Our Lady with the light.” “And so we were starting to pray the Rosary,” Viganò continued. “I have this deep emotional memory of Mary. This marks a presence in my life all along. I remember that we would pray every evening after dinner, all together.” And he remembered his father keeping the sleepy children awake, “reminding them that it was beautiful to be praying together to Our Lady, to our Mother.”
Of his own father, Viganò said that he was “a very kind father.” It was “terrible for me,” he explained, when he suddenly died at the age of sixty-three, possibly due to medical malpractice. Viganò was twenty years old. As Moynihan writes: “Viganò seemed moved emotionally by the memory of his father’s death. ‘My father, certainly, to say the truth, was central to my life,’ he continued. ‘We were raised to tell everything to our mother and father.’”
From 1973 on, Viganò was called into the diplomatic service of the Vatican, and he was to remain there for the rest of his life, thus giving him nearly fifty years of experience and insight into the life and the workings of the Vatican and of the Church as a whole. He was devoted to the popes and served them each with a full and open heart. It seems that among the popes, the closest bond existed between him and Pope John Paul II, who once, after seeing him in his post in Nigeria, noted: “Monsignor Viganò looks tired. He should go back to Rome with me.” The Pope soon called him back, in 1998, and made him the delegate for pontifical representations, the personnel chief of the pope. John Paul II had also personally consecrated Viganò as a bishop in 1992. For twelve years, Viganò remained in this position of personnel chief for the entire Roman Curia, as well as for all of the Vatican diplomats. Under Pope Benedict XVI, Viganò was first called to run the Vatican City State — and tried to clear out financial corruptions there — and was then sent to Washington, D.C., with a providential mission that seems to continue until today. In surveying the archbishop’s vast experience and varied exposure, Moynihan assesses that what this archbishop has to say “may be as informed as what anyone in the world may have to say on the subject.”
In a sense, Viganò's role in helping to fight corruption in the Church intensified under the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI, and that is also when the rumors and anonymous emails about him started to circulate. Starting in 2010, these initiatives against him later led, in 2012, to Vatileaks. He was accused of creating an atmosphere of “conflict” among the staff and employees, while he himself wrote to Pope Benedict, asking him to protect him so that he could continue his work of cleansing the Vatican finances. “The Vatileaks affair was about me,” he told Moynihan. Unfortunately, as in other cases, Pope Benedict decided to let Viganò go, sending him to Washington, D.C., rather than keeping him in Rome and supporting him there in his work.
As to Pope Francis, Archbishop Viganò told Moynihan that he trusted him completely at the beginning, saying, “I was very confidant and very straightforward. I opened my heart” when speaking with him about McCarrick and the sanctions placed on him by Benedict. He was only later to realize that Pope Francis ignored this information and even denied that Viganò had told of him these grave things. (At least he claimed he did not remember it.) Now the archbishop has no hesitation to say that Francis “is lying” and that Francis “is destroying the Church,” as he told Moynihan.
The archbishop believes that there are parallels between the time of Our Lord and His possibly impending Second Coming. Just as the Sanhedrin were so corrupt that they condemned Jesus Christ, so, too, the Holy See is corrupt today. Viganò approvingly quoted to Moynihan a prominent convert from Judaism who once told him: “Now the corruption of the Holy See is very great, as was the corruption at that time, now as then.” “So this is a sign for me as a former Jew that the time is very near for the second coming of Jesus,” as the convert had concluded.
Let us end this book review with some hopeful words from Archbishop Viganò.
Speaking about his work, he told Moynihan that “we must be clear in our minds, but we cannot continue to hide the facts,” and thus “we must recognize that there is a project of the devil to destroy the Church. The watchwords are a ‘new Church’ for a ‘new humanism.’ No more Jesus Christ, no more cross, no more confession and forgiveness of sins. We must fight against this project. Yes, we must fight for the faith. With God’s help, with confidence, without pride.”
“I am speaking what I see and telling the truth,” he told the U.S. journalist at some point. “I cannot any longer stay silent. I am going too fast, yes, but the situation is moving very fast.” But in the midst of this struggle, Viganò insisted, “Pope Francis should be converted by the Holy Spirit. And then he should turn, as Peter turned, and confirm his brothers, of whom I am only one.”
Finally, Viganò turns his hopeful eyes to Our Lady. He told Moynihan that “I still understand more and more that our time is now the time of the Mother. This is the time of the Mother of the Church.” He added: “My hope is with Our Lady, she will lead the Church in the battle against the devil. A time will come very soon. This is my feeling … Our Lady will crush and defeat the devil.”