After Months of Silence, Francis Denies the Accusations – Repeatedly
When Viganò first issued his accusations, Francis himself remained silent. Indeed, he said he said he would not comment at all on Viganò’s allegations.
But on 28 May 2019, many months later, Francis finally broke his silence and did comment. Unsurprisingly, he denied knowing anything about the cardinal, Theodore McCarrick, and the allegations that he had sexually abused seminarians. But the way Francis denied knowing anything about it was most interesting. This is what he said in an interview:
“About McCarrick I knew nothing. Obviously, nothing, nothing. I said it many times, I knew nothing, I had no idea. And when he [Viganò] says that he spoke to me that day, that he came… and I do not recall if he spoke about this, if it is true or not. I have no idea! You know that I, about McCarrick, I did not know anything, otherwise I would not have remained silent.”
To paraphrase those well-known words: “methinks the man doth protest too much!” Eight times in that short speech, Francis denied knowing anything. It smacks of a guilty conscience. It certainly is overkill.
From his hiding place, Viganò responded to Francis’ vehement denials. He remained adamant that he had told Francis about McCarrick’s behaviour as far back as 23 June 2013. Therefore, “What the pope said about not knowing anything is a lie,” Viganò said. “He pretends not to remember what I told him about McCarrick, and he pretends that it wasn’t him who asked me about McCarrick in the first place.”
For an archbishop to call his own pope, the man believed to be the Vicar of Christ on earth, a liar: Viganò must be very certain of his facts.
Francis also suggested that Viganò was unreliable as a witness, because he had been involved in a court battle with his own brother concerning the management of their inheritance. This was a “shoot the messenger” tactic on Francis’ part. Viganò replied by saying that the court battle had “no relevance to the allegations regarding Cardinal McCarrick.” And he was absolutely right.
“What Pope Francis said regarding the Milan ruling and the family has nothing to do with anything, because it has been completely clarified. It was only a division of property between brothers. I accepted it to make peace. Neither me nor my brother appealed the ruling, so the story ended there. And it has nothing to do with McCarrick. It is one of the many stories that they [i.e. the Vatican and Francis’ advisors] raised to destroy my credibility.”