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Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

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Cardinal Ouellet responds to Archbishop Vigano on McCarrick case

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Former Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick
of Washington had been told by Vatican officials to withdraw from public life
because of rumors about his sexual misconduct, said Cardinal Marc Ouellet,
prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

However, because they were only rumors and not proof,
then-Pope Benedict XVI never imposed formal sanctions on the retired Washington
prelate, which means Pope Francis never lifted them, Cardinal Ouellet wrote
Oct. 7 in an open letter to Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former Vatican
nuncio to the United States.

The archbishop had issued an open letter to Cardinal Ouellet
in late September urging him to tell what he knew about now-Archbishop
McCarrick. Archbishop Vigano’s letter followed a massive statement in
mid-August calling on Pope Francis to resign because, he claimed, Pope Francis
had known there were sanctions on Cardinal McCarrick and not only did he lift
them, he allegedly made Cardinal McCarrick a trusted confidante and adviser on
bishops’ appointments in the United States.

Addressing Archbishop Vigano as “dear brother,”
Cardinal Ouellet said, “I understand how bitterness and disappointments
have marked your path in the service of the Holy See, but you cannot conclude
your priestly life this way, in an open and scandalous rebellion.”

Archbishop Vigano’s letters, he said, “inflict a very
painful wound” on the church, “which you claim to serve better,
aggravating divisions and the bewilderment of the people of God!”

“Come out of hiding,” Cardinal Ouellet told
Archbishop Vigano, who left Rome as soon as his mid-August missive was
published, claiming that it was for his own safety.

“Repent of your revolt,” the cardinal wrote before
asking, “How can you celebrate the holy Eucharist and pronounce his (the
pope’s) name in the canon of the Mass?”

Cardinal Ouellet’s letter, written with the approval of Pope
Francis, was published the day after the Vatican said the pope had ordered a
“thorough study of the entire documentation present in the archives of the
dicasteries and offices of the Holy See regarding the former Cardinal McCarrick
in order to ascertain all the relevant facts, to place them in their historical
context and to evaluate them objectively.”

The statement added that “the Holy See is conscious
that, from the examination of the facts and of the circumstances, it may emerge
that choices were taken that would not be consonant with a contemporary
approach to such issues.”

Archbishop Vigano had claimed he personally informed Pope
Francis in June 2013 that in “2009 or 2010,” after Cardinal McCarrick
had retired, Pope Benedict imposed sanctions on him because of allegations of
sexual misconduct with and sexual harassment of seminarians. Archbishop Vigano
later explained that Pope Benedict issued the sanctions “privately” perhaps
“due to the fact that he (Archbishop McCarrick) was already retired, maybe
due to the fact that he (Pope Benedict) was thinking he was ready to

In his open letter, Cardinal Ouellet told Archbishop Vigano,
“You say you informed Pope Francis on June 23, 2013, of the McCarrick case
in an audience he granted to you like many other papal representatives he met
for the first time that day.”

“Imagine the enormous quantity of verbal and written information
he received that day regarding many people and situations,” the cardinal
wrote. “I strongly doubt that McCarrick interested him as much as you
would like us to believe, given the fact that he was an 82-year-old archbishop
emeritus who had been without a post for seven years.”

As for the written instructions the Congregation for Bishops
prepared for Archbishop Vigano in 2011 when he was to begin his service as
nuncio to the United States, “they say nothing at all about
McCarrick.” However, the cardinal added, “I told you verbally of the
situation of the bishop emeritus who was to observe certain conditions and
restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past.”

Cardinal McCarrick “was strongly exhorted not to travel
and not to appear in public so as not to provoke further rumors,” Cardinal
Ouellet said, but “it is false to present these measures taken in his
regard as ‘sanctions’ decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope
Francis. After re-examining the archives, I certify that there are no such
documents signed by either pope.”

And, unlike what Archbishop Vigano claimed, there are no
documents from Cardinal Ouellet’s predecessor, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re,
saying that then-Cardinal McCarrick was ordered to live a life of withdrawal
and silence under the threat of canonical penalties.

The reason such measures were not taken then and were only taken
in June by Pope Francis, Cardinal Ouellet said, was because there was not
“sufficient proof of his presumed guilt.”

“His case would have been the object of new
disciplinary measures if the nunciature in Washington or any other source would
have furnished us with recent and decisive information about his
behavior,” the cardinal told the former nuncio.


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