June 3, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Former U.S. Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has strongly criticized Washington Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory as a “false shepherd” for rebuking the John Paul II National Shrine for “allowing” President Trump and First Lady Melania Trump to go through with a long-planned visit yesterday.
“Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is led by many false pastors,” stated Viganò in a June 3 letter to priests and laity of the Archdiocese of Washington (read full letter below).
“Over the past twenty years, your [Archdiocese] of Washington, in particular and now for the third time, has been and continues to be deeply afflicted and wounded by false shepherds whose way of life is full of lies, deceits, lust and corruption. Wherever they have been, they were a cause of serious scandal for various local Churches, for your entire country and for the whole Church,” he continued.
Archbishops of Washington immediately preceding Gregory were Cardinal Donald William Wuerl (implicated in sex abuse cover-ups) and ex-cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (credibly accused of abusing seminarians and accused of serial sex abuse). It is suspected that Wuerl had some hand in securing his successor. Gregory is known for his support for homosexuality and other unorthodox positions.
“Do not follow them, as they lead you to perdition. They are mercenaries. They teach and practice falsehoods and corruption!” stated Viganò.
“Follow with perseverance the teachings and examples of the holy pastors and priests who are among you,” he added.
The president and Mrs. Trump visited the shrine to both commemorate Pope Saint John Paul II’s 100th birthday two weeks ago and the 41st anniversary of the modern day saint’s historic Mass at Victory Square in Warsaw. Melania Trump is the first Catholic First Lady since Jacqueline Kennedy.
After his visit to the shrine, established and operated by the Knights of Columbus, President Trump planned to return to the White House to sign an executive order on international religious freedom.
Washington, D.C.’s Archbishop Wilton Gregory was incensed that the John Paul II National Shrine would “allow” the visit.
“I find it baffling and reprehensible that any Catholic facility would allow itself to be so egregiously misused and manipulated in a fashion that violates our religious principles, which call us to defend the rights of all people even those with whom we might disagree,” said Gregory in a statement released the very hour of Trump’s visit.
“Saint Pope John Paul II was an ardent defender of the rights and dignity of human beings,” continued Gregory. “His legacy bears vivid witness to that truth. He certainly would not condone the use of tear gas and other deterrents to silence, scatter or intimidate them for a photo opportunity in front of a place of worship and peace.”
A spokesperson for the shrine indicated on Tuesday that the White House had scheduled the president’s visit long before the recent violent uprisings in cities across the nation, countering Gregory’s implication that this was nothing more than a political photo op.
“This was fitting given St. John Paul II was a tireless advocate of religious liberty throughout his pontificate,” the shrine said in a statement. “International religious freedom receives widespread bipartisan support, including unanimous passage of legislation in defense of persecuted Christians and religious minorities around the world.”
“The shrine welcomes all people to come and pray and learn about the legacy of St. John Paul II.”
Grace and Peace are always with you, in Jesus Christ, our only Lord. Although I am no longer among you in Washington D.C. as Apostolic Nuncio, I feel particularly united to all of you in this time of so grave moral and physical trials with which you are afflicted, and I wish to send you the sentiments of my deepest affection in Christ.
Unfortunately, the Catholic Church is led by many false pastors. Over the past twenty years, your [Archdiocese] of Washington, in particular and now for the third time, has been and continues to be deeply afflicted and wounded by false shepherds whose way of life is full of lies, deceits, lust and corruption. Wherever they have been, they were a cause of serious scandal for various local Churches, for your entire country and for the whole Church.
Do not follow them, as they lead you to perdition. They are mercenaries. They teach and practice falsehoods and corruption!
Follow with perseverance the teachings and examples of the holy pastors and priests who are among you.
Mary, Mother of the Church, Mother of Mercy, pray and intercede for us with your Son Jesus Christ, so that He may have mercy on all us sinners.
I bless you with all my heart.
+ Carlo Maria Viganò, Archbishop
June 3rd, 2020
With files from LifeSiteNews’ Doug Mainwaring