US Jesuit publication attacks Viganò in ‘fake news’ piece after Trump tweets Archbishop’s ‘incredible’ letter
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NEW YORK, NY, June 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) ― A top US Jesuit publication has attacked Vatican whistleblower Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò after President Trump tweeted out last week a letter that the Archbishop had written, telling Americans in the tweet that it was “incredible” and that they should read it.
America magazine has written two articles denouncing the Archbishop since Trump tweeted his support for the retired Vatican diplomat’s letter on June 10. A June 11 article by Michael J. O’Loughlin, titled “President Trump tweeted about Archbishop Viganò. So, who is he?”, made four serious accusations against the latter.
O’Loughlin, America’s national correspondent, alleged that Italian courts had determined that Viganò “had been stealing millions of dollars from his brother” and a judge had ruled that “he must pay back the money.”
O’Loughlin also wrote that the archbishop, then the papal nuncio to the USA, had “orchestrated a meeting between Pope Francis and Kim Davis, the former Kentucky clerk who was briefly jailed for refusing to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples.” He repeated the story told by Chilean clerical sexual abuse survivor Juan Carlos-Cruz that Pope Francis had told him that he had “fired” Viganò “because of his role in arranging the meeting.”
Most seriously, O’Loughlin repeated an allegation by Father Dan Griffith that Archbishop Viganò “used his office to quash an inquiry” into purported sexual misconduct on the part of Archbishop John Nienstedt.
Vatican journalist and translator Diane Montagna, an authority on Archbishop Viganò and his writings, vigorously defended the retired diplomat on Twitter the next day, calling the allegations false and the article “a hit piece.” Montagna presented her tweets in the “interests of fair and truthful journalism.” She linked to her work on LifeSiteNews as evidence in the Vatican whistleblower’s favor.
Lie 1: Vigano stole from his brother.
“1. @Americamag says Italian courts determined that +Viganò had been stealing millions of dollars’ from his ‘ill brother’ and ‘a judge ruled last year that he must repay the money.’ TOTALLY FALSE,” Montagna wrote, and linked to her December 3, 2018 LifeSiteNews report on the dispute.
In short, Archbishop Viganò and his brother, Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, were co-heirs of rich farmland left to them by their wealthy industrialist father. For years they amicably managed the assets in each other’s name, even after Fr. Lorenzo was left semi-paralysed by a stroke in 1996. They jointly contributed millions of euros to fund charitable organizations. Twelve years after his stroke, however, Fr. Lorenzo repudiated all ties with his brother, cancelled their joint power-of-attorney, and said he had not agreed to fund the construction of a Carmelite monastery in Burundi. This is among the reasons why Archbishop Viganò had to give his brother 1.8 million euros.
A December 8, 2018 statement from the retired Vatican diplomat’s lawyers stated:
For over 10 years, Fr. Lorenzo Viganò has subjected Archbishop Viganò to a judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press, while failing to inform obliging journalists that the accusations of Fr. Lorenzo Viganò have been abandoned or dismissed in the 10 civil, criminal, and administrative cases attempted to date.
Lies 2 and 3: Viganò surprised Pope Francis with Kim Davis and was fired.
Diane Montagna, who reported on the story for LifeSiteNews, also took issue with O’Loughlin’s depiction of the Kim Davis story. Davis is the former county clerk for Rowan County, Kentucky who went to prison in early September 2015 after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On September 24, she met Pope Francis.
“2. @Americamag alleges +Viganò ‘orchestrated’ Pope Francis’ visit with Kim Davis in 2015, points to @nytimes report that @pontifex allegedly ‘fired’ +Viganò ‘because of his role in arranging the meeting,’” she wrote.
“FAKE NEWS, left out full account of what happened.”
Montagna linked to her August 21, 2018 LifeSiteNews report debunking the claims that Archbishop Viganò had surprised Pope Francis with the meeting with Davis and that he had been fired as a result.
According to Archbishop Viganò, he discussed the papal meeting with the prisoner of conscience with Pope Francis before it took place. Viganò recalled that Pope Francis seemed to be interested but was worried about the political implications. The pontiff asked the then-nuncio to take advice, and Viganò duly shared the memo he had given to him about Davis with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, the deputy of the Secretary of State, and Archbishop Paul Gallagher, Secretary for Relations with States, and Head of the Political Section of the Secretariat of State. Both Becciu and Gallagher agreed the meeting should go ahead.
The retired nuncio recalled the meeting:
Early in the afternoon of September 24, before leaving for New York City, the Pope entered as planned into the sitting room where Davis and her husband were waiting for him. He embraced her affectionately, thanked her for her courage, and invited her to persevere. Davis was very moved and started crying. She was then taken back to her hotel in a car driven by a pontifical gendarme, accompanied by an American Monsignor and staff member of the nunciature.
Following an uproar in the mainstream media when it discovered the pontiff had met Davis, the Vatican Press Office published a denial that the meeting had been private. The official story was that the pontiff may have met her at a meet-and-greet. One of the Vatican spokesmen cited by the New York Times as saying the Pope had “probably not been informed” of Davis’ presence was serial plagiarist Fr. Thomas Rosica.
Although the Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin told Viganò that the pontiff was “furious” with him because of the meeting, Viganò reported that Pope Francis had not uttered a word of reproof at their meeting.
Archbishop Viganò offered his resignation in 2016 when he turned 75, as is the custom, and Pope Francis accepted it three months later. Regarding Mr Cruz’s story that the pontiff told him that Viganò had been “fired” for his role in the Kim Davis affair, the archbishop said that either Cruz or Pope Francis had been lying.
Lie 4: Viganò tried to “quash” an investigation into an archbishop
Finally, Montagna condemned the allegation that Viganò tried to stop an investigation into a prelate known for defending traditional marriage.
“@Americamag says + Viganò was “accused of trying to quash a sex-abuse investigation into a prominent U.S. archbishop who shared a goal of fighting same-sex marriage,” she tweeted.
“TOTALLY FALSE ACCUSATION - omitted +Viganò’s refutation using supporting documents.”
Montagna then linked to her August 27, 2018 LifeSiteNews story reporting the retired diplomat’s self-defence.
According to Archbishop Viganò, in 2014 he was presented with affidavits from private detectives hired by the pro-same-sex-marriage law firm Green Espel about Archbishop Nienstadt, alleging that he had once had an affair with a Swiss Guard in Rome. Upon divining that the firm wished to take their investigation to the Swiss Guards, the then-papal nuncio suggested that Nienstedt be allowed to respond to the allegations first.
Viganò says that the auxiliary bishops who agreed to this course of action later sent him a letter “falsely asserting that I had suggested the investigation be stopped.” He shared with LifeSiteNews a November 2014 letter from the two auxiliary bishops to Cardinal Marc Ouellet stating that Viganò had asked them to correct their previous report of the meeting to clarify that he did not “absolutely rule out any further investigation, but rather was concerned that we first begin to obtain information from Archbishop Nienstedt…” The former nuncio also supplied his own letter to the Cardinal about the meeting.
Regarding the memo of Fr. Dan Griffith about the case, the former nuncio stated that he had written to Archbishop Pierre, his successor as nuncio to the USA, and Archbishop Hebda, the successor of Archbishop Nienstedt as ordinary of St. Paul-Minneapolis, asking them to publicly correct it.
“In spite of repeated emails and phone calls, I never heard back from then,” Viganò said. A follow-up email, dated January 21, 2018, detailing Viganò’s repeated attempts to contact Hebda, may be viewed here.
Did Viganò strike a nerve?
In his June 11 article for America magazine, O’Loughlin mentioned that Archbishop Viganò had blamed the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis on “homosexual clergy who committed serious sexual abuses against minors or adults.” O’Loughlin called the retired nuncio’s statements in his third letter describing homosexuality as central to the clerical sexual abuse crisis “unfounded.”
... This very grave crisis cannot be properly addressed and resolved unless and until we call things by their true names. This is a crisis due to the scourge of homosexuality, in its agents, in its motives, in its resistance to reform. It is no exaggeration to say that homosexuality has become a plague in the clergy, and it can only be eradicated with spiritual weapons. It is an enormous hypocrisy to condemn the abuse, claim to weep for the victims, and yet refuse to denounce the root cause of so much sexual abuse: homosexuality. It is hypocrisy to refuse to acknowledge that this scourge is due to a serious crisis in the spiritual life of the clergy and to fail to take the steps necessary to remedy it.
O’Loughlin may have personal reasons for disliking the Archbishop’s opinions on homosexuality. In a 2013 article for Huffington Post, the journalist described himself as a “gay” Catholic who “works in the church”. He also accused “many Catholic leaders” of “veiled bigotry” against same-sex attracted people.
“Sure, the cardinals and bishops who seem obsessed with issues of homosexuality usually begin their statements recalling the Catechism of the Catholic Church that reminds us all people are to be treated with dignity. But in the next breath, their words turn to sin, disorder, unnaturalness, and general judgment and condemnation,” he wrote.
“Under Pope Benedict XVI, combined with rapid advancements for LGBT people in the West, the church’s attitude and language toward gay people reached a nadir.”
But O’Loughlin, who openly dissents on Catholic teaching regarding sexuality and marriage, pinned his hopes to Pope Francis, whom he reported supported same-sex civil partnerships in Argentine, after the pontiff responded to a question about clerical homosexual misconduct with the reply “Who am I to judge?”
“... [W]hen the pope, leader of over a billion Christians, asks us to rely more on mercy than judgment, it gives people like me hope,” O’Loughlin wrote.
Joseph Sciambra, a former gay porn actor who now ministers to same-sex attracted men who wish to live chastely, observed in 2018 that McLoughlin “ reports primarily on issues concerning homosexuality and the LGBT community; he has written extensively for America, The Huffington Post, and the gay periodical The Advocate. Sciambra cited several of O’Loughlins writings attacking Catholic doctrine regarding sexuality and supporting same-sex marriage.
“Here’s how the bishops could change the public’s perception of them as being “anti-gay.”…drop the opposition to marriage equality,” O’Loughlin wrote in 2013.
“It’s here to stay, and young Catholics support it at overwhelming numbers. To be against marriage equality is equated with bigotry and being out of the mainstream. To lose a generation of Catholics on this issue is shortsighted and will hinder social justice efforts to alleviate poverty, prevent war and strengthen the common good. This will be a tragedy that will take many years to overcome.”
On June 12, James T. Keane, a senior editor for America magazine, called Archbishop Viganò a “marginal figure” and advised readers to “pay this man no attention.”
LifeSiteNews reached out to Michael J. O’Loughlin for comment but has not yet received a response.