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Archbishop Viganò: Vatican Abuse Summit ignores real problem, Pope has ‘lost credibility’

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February 15, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Carlo Viganò said he is “praying intensely” for the success of the abuse summit happening next week at the Vatican, but he fears that there is "no sign” that Pope Francis, along with organizers, is willing to “attend to the real causes” of the clerical abuse crisis. 

In a Feb. 10 essay published by the National Catholic Register as part of its “Abuse and the Way to Healing” symposium, the former Nuncio to the United States offered some questions that he says reveals a lack of “genuine willingness” to address the crisis.

Viganò’s first questions concerned the reluctance of those who have planned the February meeting to address the problem of predatory clerical sexual misconduct with non-minors.   

“Why will the meeting focus exclusively on the abuse of minors?” he asked. 

“These crimes are indeed the most horrific, but the crises in the United States and Chile that have largely precipitated the upcoming summit have to do with abuses committed against young adults, including seminarians, not only against minors,” the Archbishop continued.  

“Almost nothing has been said about sexual misconduct with adults, which is itself a grave abuse of pastoral authority, whether or not the relationship was ‘consensual.’” 

The Archbishop then addressed the role homosexuality has played in the sexual abuse crisis and how it is not being addressed at all at the summit. 

“Why does the word 'homosexuality' never appear in recent official documents of the Holy See?” Viganò asked. 

“This is by no means to suggest that most of those with a homosexual inclination are abusers, but the fact remains that the overwhelming majority of abuse has been inflicted on post-pubescent boys by homosexual clerics,” he observed. 

“It is mere hypocrisy to condemn the abuse and claim to sympathize with the victims without facing up to this fact honestly. A spiritual revitalization of the clergy is necessary, but it will be ultimately ineffectual if it does not address this problem.”

The Archbishop indicated that Pope Francis’ problematic appointments and handling of the abuse crisis so far has made the pope lose credibility. 

“Why does Pope Francis keep and even call as his close collaborators people who are notorious homosexuals?” he asked. 

“Why has he refused to answer legitimate and sincere questions about these appointments? In doing so he has lost credibility on his real will to reform the Curia and fight the corruption,” he added.

In his first testimony, in which he said that Pope Francis knew about then-Cardinal McCarrick’s sexual predation on young priests and seminarians, Viganò alleged Vatican insiders Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, Cardinal Edwin Frederick O’Brien and Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino belonged to a "homosexual current." 

Recently Pope Francis appointed the former housemate of the disgraced Theodore McCarrick, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the papal camerlengo. In this role, Cardinal Farrell will administer the Vatican when Francis dies or resigns until his successor is elected.  

Viganò believes that “doctrinal and moral corruption” of authorities in the seminaries is responsible for the clerical sexual misconduct of recent decades. 

“It is evident to all that a primary cause of the present terrible crisis of sexual abuse committed by ordained clergy, including bishops, is the lack of proper spiritual formation of candidates to the priesthood,” he said. 

“That lack, in turn, is largely explained by the doctrinal and moral corruption of many seminary formators, corruption that increased exponentially beginning in the 1960s.”

The Archbishop himself entered a seminary in Rome in the 1960s.  He remembers that in Rome at this time, some seminarians were very immature and that the seminaries lacked discipline. His own spiritual director believed that ordained priesthood could be a temporary state. Some spiritual directors were knowingly recommending for ordination men who were not living chaste lives.

“At the Gregorian, one of the professors of moral theology favored situation ethics,” Viganò recalled.  “And some classmates confided to me that their spiritual directors had no objection to their presenting themselves for priestly ordination despite their unresolved and continual grave sins against chastity.”

The former Nuncio repeated Benedict XVI’s assertion that men who have deep-seated homosexual inclinations do not belong in seminaries. 

“Certainly, those who suffer from deep-seated same-sex attraction should never be admitted to seminary,” Viganò stated.  

“Moreover, before any seminarian is accepted for ordination, he must not only strive for chastity but actually achieve it. He must already be living chaste celibacy peacefully and for a prolonged period of time, for if this is lacking, the seminarian and his formators cannot have the requisite confidence that he is called to the celibate life.”

Viganò indicated that the “paramount responsibility” for the preparation of men for the priesthood lies with the bishops, and stated that any bishop who covers up sexual misconduct should be removed from his office. 

In regards to Pope Francis, Viganò repeated his October invitation to the pontiff to live up to his responsibilities as St. Peter’s successor. 

“I urged him then, and I now urge him again, to tell the truth, repent, show his willingness to follow the mandate given to Peter and, once converted, to confirm his brothers (Luke 22:32),” he said. 

The Archbishop warned that if the bishops in attendance do not get answers to his questions, they will be betraying their sheep.  

“... I pray that they will not return to their countries without proper answers to these questions, for to fail in this regard would mean abandoning their own flocks to the wolves and allowing the entire Church to suffer dreadful consequence,” he said. 

However,  Viganò  said that despite the problems he has described, he continues to have hope “because the Lord will never abandon his Church.” 

Participants in the National Catholic Register “Abuse and the Way to Healing” symposium include Cardinal Gerhard Müller, Cardinal Wilfrid Napier, Archbishop Charles Chaput, clerical sexual abuse survivor Marie Collins, and Robert Royal. 

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