Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano Photo by Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register
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Archbishop Viganò denies claims he defrauded his brother

Diane Montagna Diane Montagna Follow Diane
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View of the "Fiat Pax" Monastery in Gitega, Burundi
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Plaque of dedication to Adeodato and Sophia Vigano, "Fiat Pax" Carmel, Gitega, Burundi
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Chapel of the "Fiat Pax" Carmelite monastery, Gitega, Burundi

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ROME, December 3, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò today has denied claims he defrauded his brother, and has sought to clarify an October court ruling ordering him to pay his brother €1.8 million in inheritance. Many believe the ruling is being used by critics to discredit him after his bombshell testimonies.

In a Dec. 3 statement issued by his lawyers (see text below), Archbishop Viganò clarifies the nature of the court ruling, expresses his deep love for his brother, and communicates his intent to have his lawyers prosecute those who defame him.

According to his lawyers, the statement comes “in light of the recent unfounded news that appeared in multiple newspapers and other media outlets, regarding an alleged conviction for ‘fraud,’ ‘theft’ or misappropriation of funds, to the detriment of his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò.”

A raft of reports

In mid-November, a raft of reports appeared in the international press regarding an Oct. 9 ruling by the Court of Milan, ordering Archbishop Viganò to pay his brother €1.8 million of inheritance plus legal fees.

The Italian media, painting Archbishop Viganò as dishonest, and casting doubt on the credibility of his August testimony implicating Pope Francis in covering up Theodore McCarrick’s sexual abuse of priests and seminarians, launched a full assault. 

The Italian daily Il Giornale’s headline read: “The flogger of the Pope swindled his brother for 2 million euros.” Il Sismografo, a blog with close ties to the Vatican, said: “Sentence of a civil court in Milan: Carlo Maria Viganò must return to his brother, Fr. Lorenzo, over one million 800 thousand euros, money taken illegally.” LaRegione announced: “The Great Accuser of Pope Francis condemned in Milan.” And the UCCR (Union of Rational Catholic Christians), concluded: “Archbishop Viganò sentenced: he was stealing from his disabled brother while he was lecturing the Pope.”

A notable exception came from the Italian outlet, La Veritá (the Truth), which claimed the media was “using the case lost by Viganò to discredit his testimony.” 

Meanwhile, the Spanish press widely portrayed Archbishop Viganò as a millionaire who “robbed his disabled brother.”

In the English media, the Jesuit-run America Magazine picked up on Italian reports, saying the former U.S. nuncio had been forced to pay back his brother the $2 million plus interest, “which he had ‘illegally and illegitimately’ taken from him over many years.” On the whole, however, the headlines in the English-speaking media were far less sensational, and focused on the court’s ruling that Archbishop Viganò had to pay his brother in an inheritance dispute.

Just a coincidence

The Oct. 9 court ruling came almost nine years after the case was initially opened by Archbishop Viganò’s brother, Fr. Lorenzo, a priest of the diocese of Pavia who is living in Chicago. 

The decision also came just over six weeks after Archbishop Viganò issued his initial 11-page testimony, and just two days after Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, published an Oct. 7 open letter denouncing it as a “political plot” against the Pope.

Less than two weeks later, on Oct. 19, Archbishop Viganò issued his third, and what many regard as his strongest testimony, in response to Cardinal Ouellet’s letter. 

In it, he restated his key allegations, argued that Cardinal Ouellet conceded the important claims he did make and disputed the claims he didn’t, and vigorously challenged Ouellet’s assertion that the Vatican was only aware of “rumors” regarding Theodore McCarrick’s misdeeds. 

“The Holy See was aware of a variety of concrete facts, and is in possession of documentary proof,” he said. Such documentary proof, he added, includes records of “compensation paid by the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen to McCarrick’s victims; the letters of Fr. Ramsey, of the nuncios Montalvo in 2000 and Sambi in 2006, of Dr. Sipe in 2008,” and Archbishop Viganò’s notes to his superiors in the Secretariat of State.

The coincidence in timing between Archbishop Viganò’s testimonies and the Oct. 9 court ruling led one informed source to tell LifeSite: “It’s an attack by several demons at the same time to discredit him.”

Clarifying a court ruling

At the beginning of the Dec. 3 statement, Archbishop Viganò’s lawyers explain that, on Oct. 9, 2018, “the Court of Milan ordered Archbishop Viganò to pay, in response to a judicial request for the division of assets and adjustment of their mutual debits and credit with his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, the principal of approximately € 1.8 million.” 

The decision, it says, came in response to “an initial request from Fr. Lorenzo Viganò of almost €40 million,” which it calls “a grossly unrealistic figure in respect to the actual value of the entire joint ownership of property of the two brothers.”

It adds that, with the aforementioned ruling, “which neither of the two parties has appealed and which therefore has become final, the Court of Milan rejected all the other requests made by Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, who started the case against his brother, refusing any mediation from the family.”

It also specified that Archbishop Viganò has “already willingly paid” in full “the amounts established by the judgment.” It notes that, as a result of the Oct. 9 ruling, Fr. Lorenzo “received essentially what he would have received had he accepted the settlement proposals made by his brother, pro bono pacis, in the course of the proceedings.” 

A shared inheritance

According to today’s statement, the assets (worth €20 million plus a cash sum of more than €6 million) came to the two brothers “as the undivided inheritance of their parents, who were entrepreneurs in the industrial field.”  

The Viganò family came from the northern Italian region of Lombardy. Their father was a steel manufacturer known to be an “extremely generous” man. When he died, he left to each of his eight children what corresponded best to their state of life. To his sons he left his business activities, to his daughters, other activities. But to his two priest sons, Fathers Carlo Maria and Lorenzo, he left rich farmland close to Milan — a region known to surpass parts of German in quality and innovation, as well as beauty. 

Given that the farmland could easily be overseen by a good manager, the inheritance would enable the two sons to dedicate themselves completely to their priestly mission. 

With joint power of attorney over their inheritance, the two brothers both administered their common assets, each brother acting in the other’s name. The two brothers also agreed to allocate a large portion of their assets to works of charity and religion, including scholarships for students from Third World countries, and the building of a Carmelite monastery called “Fiat Pax” in Gitega, Burundi.

The new building complex cost more than €2 million, and was dedicated to their parents, Adeodato and Sophia, on behalf of the two sons. This dedication has been memorialized in a plaque dedicated to their honor (see below).

In 1996, Fr. Lorenzo suffered a stroke, which left him in a coma for two weeks. Although he would mostly recover from the coma, the stroke had taken its toll, and left him paralyzed on his left side. 

But it was several years later that everything changed. According to today’s statement, in November 2008, Fr. Lorenzo “unilaterally, totally and suddenly spurned” all relations with his brother, and fled Milan claiming that Archbishop Viganò wanted to “kidnap” him. 

LifeSite has learned that, in 2009, Fr. Lorenzo cancelled the brothers’ joint power of attorney. From that point on, their real estate assets were handled by lawyers. Fr. Lorenzo has remained estranged from Archbishop Viganò ever since.

During the trial that led to the Oct. 9 decision, Fr. Lorenzo also denied that he had agreed to allocate funds to the construction of the Carmelite monastery in Burundi. In the accounting of their joint inheritance, this expense therefore fell to Archbishop Viganò. This is one of the reasons that explains why Arcbishop Viganò had to return €1.8 million to his brother. 

Fraternal love

Today’s statement from Archbishop Viganò’s lawyers reads: 

For over 10 years, Fr. Lorenzo Viganò has subjected Archbishop Viganò to a judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press, while failing to inform obliging journalists that the accusations of Fr. Lorenzo Viganò have been abandoned or dismissed in the 10 civil, criminal, and administrative cases attempted to date.

The statement continues: 

Nevertheless, Archbishop Viganò has always silently suffered such attacks in order to avoid further exploitation of the family’s legal affairs, which have nothing to do with the other well-known “institutional” affairs that he has become involved in.

The statement also notes that Archbishop Viganò has “devoted most of this patrimony to works of charity and religion, including the construction of a seminary in Nigeria and a Carmelite monastery in Burundi, and will continue to do so.”

With neither party appealing the Oct. 9 ruling, an important and painful chapter in the brothers’ lives now seems to have been closed.

Archbishop Viganò ends by saying he “deeply loves his brother Fr. Lorenzo and will never stop hoping and praying that his brother would make peace with him and resume relations with him.” The statement notes that this is why, “despite having valid reasons to do so,” Archbishop Viganò did not appeal the ruling, “even though he considers it, in many ways, wrong and unjust.”

It also ends by noting that “Archbishop Viganò intends to entrust his lawyers with the task of prosecuting by means of lawsuits any attempt to defame him.” 

***

Here below is the official English text of the statement issued by Archbishop Viganò’s lawyers. (You can download the original Italian here.)

In light of the recent unfounded news that appeared in multiple newspapers and other media outlets, regarding an alleged conviction for “fraud,” “theft” or misappropriation of funds, to the detriment of his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò states the following: 

1)    The Court of Milan, by judgment no. 10359/2018 of October 9, 2018, ordered Archbishop Viganò to pay, in response to a judicial request for the division of assets and adjustment of their mutual debits and credit with his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, the principal of approximately € 1.8 million against an initial request from Fr. Lorenzo Viganò of almost € 40 million, a grossly unrealistic figure compared to the actual value of the entire joint ownership of property of the two brothers; 

2)    With the above-mentioned Court ruling, which neither of the two parties has appealed and which therefore has become final, the Court of Milan rejected all the other requests made by Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, who started the case against his brother, refusing any mediation from the family. 

3)    Archbishop Viganò has already willingly paid entirely the amounts established by the judgment; 

4)    Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, as a result of the judgment, received essentially what he would have received had he accepted the settlement proposals made by his brother, pro bono pacis, in the course of the proceedings; 

5)    For over 10 years, Fr. Lorenzo Viganò has subjected Archbishop Viganò to a judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press, while failing to inform obliging journalists that the accusations of Fr. Lorenzo Viganò have been abandoned or dismissed in the 10 civil, criminal, and administrative cases attempted to date.

6)    Nevertheless, Archbishop Viganò has always suffered such attacks in silence in order to avoid further exploitation of the family’s legal affairs, which have nothing to do with the other well-known “institutional” affairs that he has become involved in; 

7)    The assets came to the two brothers as the undivided inheritance of their parents, who were entrepreneurs in the industrial field;

8)    Archbishop Viganò has allocated most of this patrimony to works of charity and religion, including the construction of a Seminary in Nigeria and a Carmel in Burundi, and will continue to do so. 

9)    As for the painful personal relationship with his brother, Archbishop Viganò deeply loves his brother Fr. Lorenzo and will never stop hoping and praying that his brother would make peace with him and resume relations with him, which he unilaterally, totally and suddenly spurned in November 2008, when he fled from Milan accusing his brother, Archbishop Carlo Maria, of wanting to kidnap him. This is also why, despite having valid reasons to do so, Archbishop Viganò did not appeal the judgement of the Court, even though he considers it, in many ways, wrong and unjust. Archbishop Viganò intends to entrust his lawyers with the task of prosecuting by means of lawsuits any attempt to defame him. 

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