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George Weigel, biographer of Pope St. John Paul II

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NEW YORK, August 30, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – St. John Paul II’s biographer and respected U.S. Catholic author George Weigel has given Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano a stellar character reference.

Weigel, author of several biographies of St. John Paul II and other books about the Catholic Church, published an essay in First Things magazine yesterday reflecting on the prolonged scandal of cover-up in the Church and praising Viganò unreservedly for his courage, honesty, and loyalty to the institution of the papacy. 

“First, Archbishop Viganò is a courageous reformer, who was moved out of the Vatican by his immediate superiors because he was determined to confront financial corruption in the Governatorato, the administration of Vatican City State,” Weigel wrote. 

“Second, Archbishop Viganò is, in my experience, an honest man,” he continued. “We spoke often about many things, large and small, and I never had the impression that I was being given anything other than what he believed in his conscience to be the truth.”

“Third, Archbishop Viganò is a loyal churchman of a certain generation and formation, bred to a genuine piety about the papacy,” Weigel stated. “His training in the papal diplomatic service would instinctively lead him to make the defense of the pope his first, second, third, and hundredth priority. If he believes that what he has now said is true, and that the Church needs to learn that truth in order to cleanse itself of what is impeding its evangelical mission, then he is overriding his ingrained instincts for the gravest of reasons.”

In terms of his grasp of the truth, Weigel said that Viganò may not have gotten “everything right” but also that the former Nuncio, being “a man of humility and prayer,” would concede that.

Viganò’s habitual honesty makes accusations that he is making false accusations “unpersuasive,” Weigel concluded. 

“When he writes in his Testimony that he is ‘ready to affirm [these allegations] on oath calling on God as my witness,’ he means it,” Weigel wrote. “And he means it absolutely. Archbishop Viganò knows that, in swearing such an oath, he would be taking his soul into his hands; which means he knows that if he were to speak falsely, he would be unlikely to find his soul again.” 

Weigel, who made his name writing about John Paul II's papacy, stated that he knew Viganò well during his service as papal nuncio in Washington. Viganò worked in this capacity from 2011 until he retired in 2016. 

Viganò released an eleven-page testimony last week accusing Pope Francis, among other high-ranking prelates in the Vatican and in the United States, of promoting ex-cardinal Archbishop Theodore McCarrick despite knowing of his reputation for sexual abuse of seminarians and priests. Two of McCarrick’s adult victims have received settlements, and two other men have come forward to accuse McCarrick of having abused them as minors.

When asked about Viganò’s accusations on Sunday, Pope Francis refused to give a straight answer, saying that anyone interested should read the statement “carefully and make your own judgement.”   

“I will not say a single word about this,” he continued. “I believe the statement speaks for itself.  And you have the journalistic capacity to draw your own conclusions.  It’s an act of faith.  When some time passes and you have drawn your conclusions, I may speak.  But I would like your professional maturity to do the work for you. It will be good for you. That’s good.”

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