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DC basilica rector takes leave from Catholic U board amid investigation

Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said in June 2019 that Msgr. Walter Rossi is 'without a doubt, a member of the ‘gay mafia.''
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Msgr. Walter Rossi, rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Salt and Light / YouTube
Martin M. Barillas By Martin M. Barillas

Martin M. Barillas By Martin M. Barillas

WASHINGTON, D.C., September 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Monsignor Walter Rossi, the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, has taken a leave of absence from the board of trustees of the Catholic University of America (CUA) while the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton continue their “comprehensive investigation” of him.

Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò said in June 2019 that Rossi is “without a doubt, a member of the ‘gay mafia.’” 

According to a report by CNA, the CUA board of trustees approved Msgr. Rossi’s request for a leave of absence “pending the resolution of the investigation launched jointly by the Archdiocese of Washington and the Diocese of Scranton.” Rossi will not participate in board activities, said the statement, during his absence. 

The joint investigation was launched just one day after a young man asked Washington, D.C. Archbishop Wilton Gregory at a Theology on Tap event why misconduct allegations against Rossi haven’t been investigated.

“Monsignor Walter Rossi has been openly accused of abuse and of aiding other predatory priests in their abuse, by multiple sources, including victims in high-level clergy,” Gregory’s questioner said. “I’m not claiming that these allegations have been [technically] proven, but I’m wondering why in that sort of situation, he hasn’t been removed from active ministry until [an] investigation can be completed.”

Rossi remains as rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, having been named to the post by now-disgraced former archbishop of Washington, D.C., ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Rossi is a priest of the Diocese of Scranton. According to a CUA spokesman, Rossi is not a university employee and the university has not received complaints about him. 

According to the Washington Post, in an August 15 memo, Rossi told staff that he welcomed the probe so as to put “these false claims to rest.”

“I have been, and will always be, as transparent as possible with you,” Rossi wrote. “In that light, I want you to know that I am not aware of any credible allegations against me, nor have I been notified of any person who claims to have been harmed by me or my actions.”

Viganò, who accused Pope Francis of covering up sexual misdeeds, said that while he served in Washington, D.C., he received documentation that Rossi had “sexually molested male students at the Catholic University of America.” According to Viganò, “the Vatican, in particular Cardinal [Pietro] Parolin, is well aware of the situation of Msgr. Rossi, as is Cardinal [Donald] Wuerl.”

Recently, Viganò was interviewed by the Washington Post and reiterated his call for the Pope’s resignation. Once again, he said that he received a letter from two CUA students who worked at the Basilica and accused Rossi of sexual harassment. Viganò said that he has never personally held any Church documentation on Rossi but that the documentation is filed away at the Vatican nunciature in Washington, D.C. 


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