Cardinal Wuerl blasts Viganò testimony as ‘not faithful to the facts’
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October 12, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – Cardinal Donald Wuerl had a few choice words to say regarding Archbishop Carlo Viganò when he was interviewed by a liberal Catholic magazine yesterday.
In a long and laudatory article published by America magazine today, the Archbishop Emeritus of Washington, D.C. – and its apostolic administrator until his replacement is named – denied Viganò’s allegation that the cardinal lied about knowing of sanctions against disgraced former cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick.
“In my read of that testimony, particularly the part that touches me, it is not faithful to the facts,” he told America’s Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell.
“In his testimony, Archbishop Viganò clearly says that there were secret sanctions in some form. But he also says himself that he never communicated them to me. Yet this should have been his duty,” Wuerl continued.
Wuerl said he found it difficult to accept that the Vatican whistleblower holds him responsible for implementing sanctions he says Viganò never told him about. He also does not accept what he called Viganò’s “gratuitous insult” that Wuerl lies when he says that he never received these secret sanctions.
“Certainly I would never have guessed that there were sanctions against Cardinal McCarrick from all the times I encountered him at receptions and events hosted by Archbishop Viganò at the Apostolic Nunciature. The gap between what he says and what he did and his easy calumny call into question for me the real intent and purpose of his letter,” Wuerl said.
The Cardinal added that there is “something radically wrong with any document that doesn’t provide proof for accusations of that gravity.”
Wuerl, who succeeded McCarrick as the Archbishop of Washington, D.C., repeated his claim that nobody had ever told him about his predecessor’s predatory sexual behavior.
“I have clarified over and over again that during the 12 years that I served as archbishop of Washington no one ever brought me any allegation of misconduct, sexual misconduct by Cardinal McCarrick,” he said.
Viganò: ‘Unthinkable’ Wuerl wouldn’t have known of McCarrick sanctions
In his original testimony, Archbishop Viganò said that it was “unthinkable” that his predecessor as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States would not have informed Wuerl of Pope Benedict’s sanctions against McCarrick.
“In any case, I myself brought up the subject with Cardinal Wuerl on several occasions, and I certainly didn’t need to go into detail because it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it,” he continued.
“I also remember in particular the fact that I had to draw his attention to it, because I realized that in an archdiocesan publication, on the back cover in color, there was an announcement inviting young men who thought they had a vocation to the priesthood to a meeting with Cardinal McCarrick,” Viganò recollected.
He said that he had telephoned McCarrick, who replied that he had known nothing about the meeting, but that he would cancel it.
“If, as he now continues to state, he knew nothing of the abuses committed by McCarrick and the measures taken by Pope Benedict, how can his answer be explained?” the whistleblower demanded.
Viganò said that Wuerl’s statements that he knew nothing about the abuses or the sanctions were “laughable.”
“The Cardinal lies shamelessly and prevails upon his Chancellor, Monsignor Antonicelli, to lie as well,” he said.
Viganò also called Wuerl one of Pope Francis’ “protégés,” and alleged that the pontiff had set a “trap” for him by asking for his opinion of the American archbishop. The former Apostolic Nuncio said that he would not tell the Pope if Wuerl was “good or bad” but instead told him of two occasions in which the then-Archbishop of Washington had been pastorally careless.
As the McCarrick scandal, the criticism of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report, and Viganò’s allegations continued to rage through the Church in the United States, Wuerl asked Pope Francis in September to accept his resignation, which he’d tendered two years ago when he turned 75. Pope Francis did so in an admiring letter post-dated to today.
Wuerl ‘moved’ by letter he received from Pope Francis
Yesterday, Wuerl told O’Connell that he was “moved” by themes the pontiff had mentioned in his letter.
“I was very moved that [the pope’s letter] highlights what is so important to me, namely that the shepherd’s first responsibility is to his flock, is to the people entrusted to his pastoral care and that the unity of the flock is so important,” Wuerl said.
The cardinal said that to “serve that unity” as Archbishop he would have had to concentrate on defending himself, which would “have taken us in a wrong direction” instead of “trying to do the healing and unity as quickly as possible.”
“That’s why I asked the Holy Father to accept my resignation so that a new and fresh leadership did not have to deal with these other issues,” he continued.
Wuerl appreciated that Pope Francis did not think that he had covered up abuse but had merely made “mistakes.”
“I made errors of judgment when we were dealing with all those cases before the Dallas Charter,” he told O’Connell, referring to the U.S. bishops’ 2002 guidelines on handling priestly sex abuse cases. “Some of those errors in judgment were based on professional psychological evaluations, some of the errors were based on moving too slowly as we tried to find some verification of the allegations. Those were all judgmental errors, and I certainly regret them.”
Wuerl continued to defend his record in Pittsburgh, saying, “I think it is also worth noting that all those priests who were faced with allegations in my time there, if there was any substantiation for them they were removed from any ministry that would put them in contact with young people.”
Wuerl said that “a careful reading” of both the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s response shows that he acted in “a very responsible way” to remove priests guilty of sexual abuse.
When asked if he had any regrets about his actions as Bishop of Pittsburgh, Wuerl would not say yes or no.
“It’s a hard question to answer because in those early years of my ministry, that was before the change in canon law, before the Essential Norms, there were a lot of things that I did that went in the direction of trying to get some proof of allegations,” he told O’Connell.
He contrasted current norms, in which Church personnel are put on leave as soon as an allegation is made today, with the canonical norms he said were “operative” when he began ministry in Pittsburgh.
“Then we were required to have some modicum of proof before moving out the person,” he explained.