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August 29, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) – The National Catholic Register is standing by its claim that Pope Benedict remembers disciplining Cardinal Theodore McCarrick during his administration. The Register’s original report was called into question following a statement by Benedict’s personal secretary denying Benedict had commented on the “memorandum” of Archbishop Carlo Viganó, a former papal nuncio who has accused Pope Francis of nullifying sanctions against McCarrick imposed by Benedict.

The denial by Archbishop Georg Gänswein, personal secretary of Pope Emeritus Benedict and Prefect of the Papal Household of Pope Francis, came in response to a recent New York Times article quoting an individual connected to the National Catholic Register, who said that “leaders of the publication had personally assured him that the former pope, Benedict XVI, had confirmed Archbishop Viganò’s account,” in the words of the Times. 

Gänswein responded to the article by telling the German newspaper Die Tagespost today, “Pope Benedict has not commented on the 'memorandum' of Archbishop Viganò and will not do so.” He also reportedly called the claim that the pope had confirmed Viganò’s declaration “fake news.”

The National Catholic Register has responded both by affirming Gänswein’s statement and by confirming their claim that the pope did order sanctions against McCarrick, who is accused of having sexually preyed on adolescents and seminarians during his years as a prelate in the Catholic Church. 

“What Archbishop Gänswein said is entirely accurate: Any assertion that the Pope Emeritus had seen the entire testimony, and confirmed it, is untrue. The Register also never reported this,” stated Ed Pentin, the Register’s Rome correspondent, in an article published August 28. 

“What we did report, given by an inside source close to Benedict in July, was that Benedict had issued sanctions against then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick but was unable to remember their precise nature. That has not been denied.”

Pentin is referring to his own article about the Viganò statement, which was published on Saturday and which included the affirmation that “The Register has independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.”

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As Pentin observes, his article does not claim that Pope Emeritus Benedict had read the Viganò statement, but merely that he had confirmed to an unnamed source that he had in fact ordered the imposition of some penalty on McCarrick during Benedict’s tenure as pope.  

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, claimed last week that Pope Benedict had imposed severe penalties on Cardinal McCarrick years before Francis became pope, forbidding him to celebrate Mass in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, and to travel, “dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.”

In his written testimony on the affair, simultaneously published by and the National Catholic Register on Saturday, Viganò says that he personally knows that Pope Francis was aware of the accusations against McCarrick, because he mentioned them to the pontiff himself on two different occasions in 2013, shortly after his election, when Francis appeared to be probing him to see if he was an ally or an enemy of McCarrick.

Asked, “What is Cardinal McCarrick like?” Viganò writes, “I answered him with complete frankness and, if you want, with great naiveté: ‘Holy Father, I don’t know if you know Cardinal McCarrick, but if you ask the Congregation for Bishops there is a dossier this thick about him. He corrupted generations of seminarians and priests and Pope Benedict ordered him to withdraw to a life of prayer and penance.’”

“The Pope did not make the slightest comment about those very grave words of mine and did not show any expression of surprise on his face, as if he had already known the matter for some time, and he immediately changed the subject,” continues Viganò. “But then, what was the Pope’s purpose in asking me that question: ‘What is Cardinal McCarrick like?’ He clearly wanted to find out if I was an ally of McCarrick or not.”

Viganò’s statement includes numerous explosive claims about complicity by various cardinals, bishops, and curial officials, and is being called an “earthquake” by mainstream media, Bishops and other members of the Church hierarchy are calling for an investigation of Pope Francis, who is refusing to answer questions about Viganò’s testimony. Viganò himself calls on Francis to resign the papacy. 

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