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Archbishop Viganò prays the rosary at the 2017 Rome March for LifeClaire Chretien / LifeSiteNews

August 28, 2018 (LifeSiteNews) — Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former apostolic nuncio to the United States, is receiving support and prayers from Catholics across the world after being attacked for releasing an explosive 11-page statement last week that alleges Pope Francis knew about Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s predation but allowed him to publicly represent the Church and play a major role in the selection of bishops.

Viganò’s statement says that a massive cover-up of sexual abuse is being carried out at the highest levels of the Church.

On Monday, LifeSiteNews launched a petition thanking Archbishop Viganò for “courageously” sharing his “painful testimony exposing lies, deceit, and corruption going on in the Vatican.”

The petition says, in part, “We know you have risked your own reputation and perhaps even your safety in going public out of love for the Church and in order to be faithful to Christ.”

SIGN THE PLEDGE: Support and pray for Archbishop Viganò. Sign the petition here.

“We love you and support you for giving us, the People of God, the truth about our shepherds,” it continues. “As you have said before, echoing Christ, only the truth can make the Church free.”

The concluding paragraph of the petition calls on Catholics to pray that God will protect Archbishop Viganò:

We stand by you during this time of tribulation and pray fervently that God will protect guide and you in your efforts to serve Him faithfully. May His Angels surround you, may Our Lady wrap you in Her mantle and lead you always in the Way of Her Son.

One Italian journalist claims Viganò fled Italy ahead of his statement’s release out of fear of retribution. An official at the Vatican Curia said Viganò’s statement was akin to an “atomic bomb” going off. The archbishop’s location is currently unknown.

Archbishop Viganò came under intense attack from liberal lay Catholics and clergy soon after he went public.

Pope Francis biographer Austen Ivereigh characterized Viganò’s whistleblowing as a “hit-job.” Villanova theology professor Massimo Faggioli told Slate that Archbishop Viganò’s statement was, in reality, driven more by a settling of “old scores” and stopping Pope Francis from “ushering in a more welcoming church for LGBT people.” Several of the Cardinals named in the statement, including Cardinal Donald Wuerl, denied Viganò’s claims.

In his remarks, Viganò says Pope Francis knew about the strict canonical sanctions imposed on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI, but lifted them anyway.

Viganò, who served as the papal representative to the U.S. from 2011-2016, also revealed that he informed Pope Francis about McCarrick's sexual abuses after his election in 2013. Despite those warnings, Viganò says Pope Francis not only “continued to cover him” but made McCarrick a “trusted counselor” who helped appoint a number of bishops in the U.S., including Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago and Joseph Tobin of Newark, two of the country’s most pro-homosexual prelates.

Viganò also alleges that Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Secretary of State under Pope Benedict XVI, was “promoting homosexuals into positions of responsibility” and that Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Pope Francis’ Secretary of State, “was also complicit in covering up the misdeeds of McCarrick.”

Viganò claims Cardinal Wuerl, McCarrick’s successor, was “well aware of the continuous abuses committed by Cardinal McCarrick” but still allowed him to reside at a seminary in Washington, D.C., which put other seminarians at risk.

“He lies shamelessly,” Viganò said of Wuerl.

More than 8,000 people have signed a LifeSiteNews petition calling for Wuerl to be removed as Archbishop of Washington.

According to Msgr. Jean François Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington, Viganò’s claims are “the truth.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas was one of the first American bishops to publicly express support for Archbishop Viganò. “Let us be clear that they are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible,” he said in a statement.

Bishop Athanasius Schneider of Astana, Kazakhstan echoed those remarks in a public letter, stating, there is “no reasonable and plausible cause to doubt the truth content of the document of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.”

On August 25, Viganò told LifeSiteNews the main reason he came forward is “because of the tragic situation of the Church, which can be repaired only by the full truth, just as she has been gravely injured by the abuses and coverups.” He said he did it in order to “stop the suffering of the victims and to prevent new victims, and to protect the Church: only the truth can make her free.”

Viganò said the second reason he chose to write his testimony is “to discharge my conscience before God of my responsibilities as bishop of the universal Church. I am an old man and I want to present myself to God with clean conscience.”

“The people of God have the right to know the full truth, also regarding their shepherds,” he also said. “They have the right to be guided by good shepherds. In order to be able to trust them and love them, they have to know them openly in transparency and truth as they really are. A priest should be a light on a candlestick always and everywhere and for all.”

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