Francis takes the Fifth Amendment?
No Comment: Asked about Viganò’s Sex Abuse Cover-Up Accusations, Francis has Nothing to Say
“Pope” Francis is unquestionably the world’s most talkative celebrity: No one has said more in public — and typically has just about every one of his words published — than Jorge Mario Bergoglio since that fateful day of Mar. 13, 2013.
The Argentine pretend-Pontiff loves to hear himself talk, and he wants to make sure the rest of the world hears him too. Francis has given countless interviews (probably around 50 by now), even to anti-Catholic reporters. In 2017, he spoke to swimmers about their “solid” sport in “liquid” water. When a psychotherapist needed a foreword for his book about moaning, Francis was happy to oblige. Just the other day, while two surviving “cardinals” are still waiting for an answer to their doctrinal questions about the exhortation Amoris Laetitia, a certain Mr. Stephen Walford got a personal letter from Francis with comments about the controversial document. The Jesuit Antipope has made noise condemning deforestation in the Amazon region; he inserted himself into the U.S. presidential election in 2016; and there is not a single migrant crossing some border illegally without Francis’ outspoken support. For heaven’s sake, the “Pope” even sent a video greeting to the American Football Super Bowl competition.
But on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2018, when he was asked to confirm or deny most serious accusations of covering up sexual abuse of a high-ranking Novus Ordo cardinal, leveled against him by “Abp.” Carlo Vigano, Francis suddenly had nothing to say.
During a press conference given aboard the return flight from Dublin to Rome, the “Pope” was asked to comment on the detailed and substantial accusations made against him. The reporter who posed the question was Anna Matranga of CBS:
Anna Matranga, CBS: Good evening, Holy Father. I’ll return to the subject of sex abuse about which you’ve already spoken. This morning, very early, a document by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano’ came out. In it, he says that in 2013 he had a personal talk with you at the Vatican, and that in that talk, he spoke to you explicitly of the behavior of and the sexual abuse by former-Cardinal McCarrick. I wanted to ask you if this was true. I also wanted to ask something else: the Archbishop also said that Pope Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, that he had forbidden him to live in a seminary, to celebrate Mass in public, he couldn’t travel, he was sanctioned by the Church. May I ask you whether these two things are true?
Pope Francis: I will respond to your question, but I would prefer last first we speak about the trip, and then other topics. I was distracted by Stefania, but I will respond.
I read the statement this morning, and I must tell you sincerely that, I must say this, to you and all those who are interested. Read the statement carefully and make your own judgment. I will not say a single word about this. 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. (inaudible)
Matranga: Marie Collins said that after she met you during the victims gathering, that she spoke with you precisely about ex-Cardinal McCarrick. She said you were very tough in your condemnation of McCarrick. I want to ask you, when was the first time that you heard talk about the abuses committed the former cardinal?
Pope Francis: This is part of the statement about McCarrick. Study it and then I will say. Yesterday, I had not read it but I permitted myself to speak clearly with Marie Collins and the group, it was really an hour-and-a-half, something which made me suffer a lot…. I await your comment on the document, I would like that. Thanks.
(“Full text of Pope Francis’ in-flight press conference from Dublin”, Catholic News Agency, Aug. 26, 2018)
The Novus Ordo pro-life news organization LifeSite has published a video clip of this explosive portion of the Q&A with Francis, and we are embedding it here:
In 2015, Francis demanded “absolute transparency” for the Vatican, yet his words on the plane are anything but transparent and straightforward. In fact, he sounds like someone who needs more time to figure out what to say. “Fr.” John Zuhlsdorf thinks he may have deciphered Francis’ cryptic message, and another blogger also has some interesting thoughts on the matter.
Meanwhile, in the diocese of Tyler, Texas, “Bishop” Joseph Strickland released a message he ordered to be read in all the churches of his diocese. Regarding the charges leveled against Francis, Strickland said unabashedly: “Let us be clear that they are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible.”
“Cardinal” Raymond Burke, too, weighed in on the Vigano testimony: “The declarations made by a prelate of the authority of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò must be totally taken to heart by those responsible in the Church. Each declaration must be subject to investigation, according to the Church’s time-tried procedural law.”
“Monsignor” Jean-François Lantheaume, a former official with the nunciature in Washington, D.C., has confirmed Vigano’s explosive testimony: “Viganò said the truth”, he is quoted as saying in a report released a mere four hours ago by the Novus Ordo Catholic News Agency.
It is interesting to see that some — but not all — commentators are responding to the scandal on what the National [Non-]Catholic Reporter’s Heidi Schlumpf calls “predictably partisan” lines. Novus Ordo apologist and Francis admirer Steve Kellmeyer, for example, claims to have figured out that Vigano has a “hidden agenda.” Journalist Michael Sean Winters calls Vigano a “trafficker in conspiracy theories who mixes fact, fiction and venom to produce something explosive but also suspicious” in a piece which he concludes thus:
Vigano is a disgruntled former employee. Such people are always a bit angry. They are also often a bit unreliable. He was always a crackpot. But, make no mistake: This is a coordinated attack on Pope Francis. A putsch is afoot and if the U.S. bishops do not, as a body, stand up to defend the Holy Father in the next 24 hours, we shall be slipping towards schism long before the bishops meeting in November. The enemies of Francis have declared war.
(Michael S. Winters, “Vigano letter exposes the putsch against Pope Francis”, National Catholic Reporter, Aug. 26, 2018)
A writer for the National Catholic Reporter being concerned about schism is an amusing idea, to be sure. Even Modernists can have a sense of humor!
What Winters says there is reminiscent of the warning issued by a certain “Fr.” Carlos Martins, who wrote:
I just spent the last two hours on the phone with a friend in the Vatican Curia. He said that the news of Archbishop Viganò has hit the Curia like an atomic bomb. Two things are universally noted regarding Viganò: 1) He is highly respected as a professional, and 2) His Curial positions gave him clear access to the damning information he reported. In other words, he is not a hack, and he is not relying on rumor. This makes his report absolutely worthy of belief.
In the words of the Curial official I spoke with this afternoon, what Viganò has reported “makes the Borgia popes look like saints.” The feeling in the Curia right now is that the response of Viganò’s enemies will to try to discredit him personally, both because of the impeccability of Viganò’s character and the impossibility of his having interpreted the facts incorrectly. Their only hope will be to try to take energy away from the perversion and corruption that he uncovered. They will likely state that he is a bitter man who is seeking personal aggrandizement after having been exiled from Rome. When this occurs, don’t buy into it. Viganò is retired. He has nothing personally to gain from this.
(Rev. Carlos Martins, “The Accusations by Archbishop Viganò are Legit”, Courageous Priest, Aug. 26, 2018; bold print given.)
In the next few days, perhaps weeks, Novus Ordos with public influence will have to decide whether the vessel with Francis at the helm is a sinking ship they had better abandon, or whether Francis will survive this and they had better stick up for their boss. The coming days will not be easy for the professional apologists and radio hosts, from Jimmy Akin and Dave Armstrong to Patrick Madrid and Steve Ray.
But no matter what may happen, for the time being, Francis has chosen the path of silence. It is ironic that during the very same press conference aboard the plane, the “Pope” said in response to a different question: “I’ll never say that silence is a remedy….” He doesn’t know how right he is, for this will not simply blow over.
Come to think of it, Francis is right about another thing: We can all draw our own conclusions.
Image source: shutterstock.com