7 Reasons Why I Believe Archbishop Vigano’s Accusations To Be Credible [Updated]


Make no mistake, we are living through a historic moment in the Church’s life.

I was deeply disturbed when I read the 11-page letter of the former Nuncio to the US, Archbishop Carlo Vigano, in which he accuses Pope Francis and dozens of cardinals and bishops of having knowledge of the credible accusations and settlements resulting from the sexual abuses perpetrated by Theodore McCarrick.

Please read the entire letter if you have not.

If Abp. Vigano’s accusations against the pope and the cardinals he names are true, the proper response from the universal Church is outrage and the only responsible thing for the pope and guilty cardinals to do is resign.

I think the next steps here are simple: the claims made in the letter must be thoroughly investigated both by the secular and Catholic press and by competent ecclesiastical authorities (if, ahem, any have the fortitude to do so).

Already Bishop Joseph Strickland has instructed his priests this Sunday to read a letter from him saying he believes Abp. Vigano’s allegations are “credible” and calls for a “thorough investigation” into them. More bishops need to come forward and demand a full investigation into the facts and say what they know out loud, in public.

There is now a coordinated counter-effort underfoot to discredit Abp. Vigano and his accusations, both by progressive Catholics and the mainstream media (led, of course, by the New York Times). They are attempting to discredit the letter primarily by attacking Abp. Vigano.

Other, more objective people are asking legitimate questions that leave room for doubt when it comes to some of the specific timelines and facts that Abp. Vigano asserts.

Before I go any further, one important point: I don’t care who turns out to be guilty. Now, of course, I will be devastated to find out that bishops, cardinals, popes etc. that I thought were good men turn out to be fallen men, terrible men, evil men.

But no one is above the law of God.

Even if it turns out Pope Benedict is guilty, I will and must accept that truth.

Journalists, in particular Catholic journalists, have a responsibility to pursue this story wherever it leads, in an unbiased manner. Again, history will judge them by their deeds. And not reporting what you know to be true can be a sin of omission as well.

So, as a commentator, here are my reasons for believing Abp. Vigano’s accusations are credible:

  1. Abp. Vigano would have to be a mad man to fabricate all of this — maybe he is. But he is either crazy or telling the truth. Either the bulk of what he said is true, and he has to know that investigations will corroborate what he says, or he has to know investigations will contradict what he alleges, and if that turns out to be the case then … what’s the point? This will be the end of his career and he will rightfully be punished.
  2. Critics have asked, “Why did Abp. Vigano wait now to come forward?” Well, obviously, the crisis is now. Pope Francis’ statement in reaction to the twin stories of McCarrick’s abuse and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report has been to say nothing about the particular guilt of bishops. The pope has kept Cdl. Wuerl in his position, and has reportedly said he plans no further particular actions in response to the current crisis. It’s business as usual at the Vatican. If Abp. Vigano was waiting to see if Rome would act, he must have concluded it wouldn’t without someone speaking out as he has chosen to do.
  3. Critics point out that Abp. Vigano may be guilty or complicit in the cover up of abuse. That may be true too! Unfortunately the people with the most knowledge of the cover up and system of corruption are most likely part of it, to some degree. This doesn’t mean they should stay silent. Quite the opposite! Still, Abp. Vigano’s statement would carry more weight if he would have also pointed the finger at himself – but who knows, he could be innocent. Again, him releasing this letter puts more attention on himself and his past actions. If he has something to hide, it counts in favor of the letter’s authenticity that he would nevertheless publish it despite the fact that he may be implicated and face punishment himself as a direct consequence.
  4. His explanation provides the simplest explanation for how McCarrick, despite his widespread deviant, predatory behavior and multiple settlements, continued to have a public life in the Church — up to and including frequent encounters with seminarians (he was allowed to retire to a seminary, for heaven’s sake!). Simply put, it’s extremely unlikely that no one knew this whole time, and that ultimately the cover up was not only extended to the Vatican but emanated from it.
  5. Pope Francis’ non-denial denial statement on the flight back from Ireland almost confirms the veracity of some of Abp. Vigano’s accusations for the simple fact that if it was all or mostly untrue, why not just say that?
  6. The most valid criticism of Abp. Vigano’s letter is that it is well-known and well-documented that McCarrick continued to enjoy a public life in the church after the claimed sanctions of Pope Benedict were issued – up to and including Abp. Vigano concelebrating Mass with (among others) McCarrick and McCarrick greeting Pope Benedict at his last audience after he had announced his attention to resign. However, Abp. Vigano’s letter clearly states that Pope Benedict’s top lieutenants, including Cdls. Levada, Sodano and Bertone were part of the cover-up, and were not only filtering the information they passed on to him, but actively undermining him in other ways. Second, it’s no surprise that McCarrick would flout the sanctions imposed on him by Pope Benedict if he felt he had adequate protection from the cabal. Third, it would be no surprise if Abp. Vigano, aware of what was going on but outranked and with no place to go, would smile and go along with the lie everyone else at the time was living. Finally, the appearance of McCarrick in Rome might have been for Pope Benedict yet another reminder that his sentences were being flouted and he was no longer capable of holding his office. We just won’t know for sure until every avenue is pursued.
  7. Today Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume, the former first counsellor at the apostolic nunciature in Washington D.C., told CNA that the former nuncio, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, told “the truth” in his letter, but “that’s all” he’ll say. The pressure these men must be under is incredible.

In the days, weeks and months ahead, we must continue praying and fasting for our Church.

And if you are a bishop, what you say or don’t say, do or don’t do, is something you will have to account for before the face of God.

Because only the truth will set us free.

May Jesus have mercy on us all.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org


About Author


Thomas Peters, 33, grew up in Southern California and attended college in Michigan. He has two graduate degrees in theology. He began his award-winning American Papist blog in 2006, which went on to become one of the most popular Catholic blogs in America. He was one of a handful of Americans invited to the Vatican’s first-ever Bloggers’ Meeting in Rome. Peters has appeared in dozens of TV, radio and online media outlets over the years discussing the intersection of Catholicism and political activism, debating topics related to life, family and religious freedom, in addition to writing and speaking about the future of social media and online organizing. From 2010-2016 he served as an advisor to CatholicVote.org. He and his wife Natalie live in Washington DC. You can follow him on Twitter @AmericanPapist.


  1. Archbishop Vigano should be given protection from anyone who may attempt to silence him.
    If the accusations are credible, then these are really evil men and will stop at nothing to silence the people who are telling and seeking the truth. A thorough unbiased investigation should be performed to let the whole truth be known.
    If you remember the four dubia bishops who sent the letter to the pope asking for an audience but didn’t get the clarity that they are asking is very telling of the pattern of silence. I would not be surprised at all if Cardinal Caffara’s untimely demise (July 2017) two months after Cardinal Meisner’s death (May 2017), two of the four dubia cardinals were orchestrated by evil men. Both cardinals were reported to have died in their sleep and not directly from illness or trauma.

  2. Thank you, excellent article. Abp Viganò is a brave man and I believe every word he says. Mother Mary pray for us.

  3. What Arbp . Vigano failed to mention in his 11-page statement is that he covered up for the Archbishop of St. Paul when there were allegations against him. Thomas, you didn’t mention the crisis in the St. Paul Archdiocese under Arbp. Vigano’s watch. Also, what isn’t mentioned here is that Arbp. Vigano saw his appointment as apostolic nuncio to the U.S. as ‘punishment’ from the Vatican. Also, he is not a friend of Pope Francis. We need some discernment here, even though Vigano’s statement may have much truth in it. He does have an axe to grind with several Curia officials.

      • I tend to agree with you Thomas! What is needed is an official investigation that is led by persons other than clerics to provide transparency about the total situation. In retrospect, I now feel that Pope Benedict resigned because he was given the truth but was unable to act and clean out the nest of people who should have known better. When I was growing up, we were taught to have unquestionable Faith in the authority of the Priest. It is with this one bit of training that young people were abused and did not come forward! I have always been fortunate to have good honest priests around me so I have no real knowledge about abuses – but in the early 50’s if I was to tell my parents about anything like what has happened in other places, not only would they have laughed at the mere thought, but I probably would have had my mouth washed out with soap for making up stories and hurting the good fathers. “This is my personal opinion. I do not speak for my employer or anyone else.”

    • I agree, but I believe he is telling the truth. Even with out this letter, how did the pope not know about cardinal?

    • Please take a look a look at Archbishop Vigano’s statements released yesterday about the cover-up accusations in Minnesota. He is very specific as to the timeline and what he did and did not do and backs it up with the paperwork. He claims he was exonerated of these charges. This is worthy of an independent investigation, as well. However he again is offering evidence and a version that is very credible.

    • Fr. Hugo… Your comment is addressed in this article… https://www.catholicworldreport.com/2018/08/27/archbishop-vigano-responds-to-criticisms-of-handling-of-2014-nienstedt-investigation/
      We need to, once again, have a complete investigation of all allegations… Arbp. Vigano insists that he did not quash the investigation of Archbishop John Nienstedt, but rather suggested that Nienstedt be first heard out before further steps be taken: “To the bishops who came at the nunciature on April 12, 2014 I suggested to tell the Greene Espel lawyers that it appeared to me appropriate that archbishop Nienstedt be heard before taking this step – audiatur et altera pars – which they had not yet done. The bishops accepted my suggestion.” – quote from Arbp. Vigano…
      Arbh. Vigano also added *that an American lawyer, Mr. Jeffrey Lena, working for the Holy See, acquired documents from the Congregation for Bishops upholding Viganò’s account of events. Mr. Lena delivered a report to Pope Francis, according to Viganò, but the Vatican did not make any statement refuting what was reported by the New York Times. Viganò further says that a report was also given by the nunciature to Cardinal Parolin, and that report is on file at the Secretariat of State and at the nunciature in Washington, DC.* I believe we need to know what was in the report mentioned above before throwing Arhp. Vigano under the bus. And as far as his apt as apostolic nuncio to the U.S. being a ‘punishment’ on that I can not comment…yet… I am not saying that Arbp. Vigano may not be guilty of something, I just feel strongly that his character will be villainized by those who wish to squash his integrity in order to keep things status quo…

  4. Rich De Francesco on

    I just want the truth exposed to the light of day and then figure out how this never happens again to protect future generations. I fear, though, that by the time this happens the Church will be razed to the ground because of Federal investigations in various countries, the sale of church properties to pay for settlements, and widespread hatred of the church. I now see the prophecy from Akita coming true now. I also see what Pope John Paul II meant when he spoke about the church and anti-church and what Pope Benedict prophesied long ago about a smaller and more pure church. Lord help us and have mercy on us.

    • Pope Francis said he wants a poor church for the poor. In all this only the Americans are the ones who worry about money. Wheter liveral or worst conservatives. If we have no buildings we will be with the Pope. He is the Vicar of Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit and Christ’ promise to be with him will help him. Maybe one day you american people will learn and embrace the poverty of Christ. All American speaker, C west, s Hahnn, Jose Arrollo and many others do not care about the Gospel. You always make bussiness selling every single page you publish. Even if the pope were guilty, which I doubt, a true catholic can never speak ill of the supreme pontiff. Christ forgave all the aposttles from betrayal on the very same day of thei ordination as bishop. Wich a greater sin anyone commited by any of the priest or bishops in recent years because our bishops or priest sinned to a creature, but the applostles sinned against God himself and all of them were offer forgiveness and non of them was neither redused to the lay stay nor treated with mercy and compassion

      • You can’t have a Church for the poor without money.

        Schools/hospitals/churches all need money to stay open an operate.

        Vatican City needs money so the Pope can live there.

      • “true catholic can never speak ill of the supreme pontiff. ”
        You’ve apparently not studied history. Anyone who spoke ill of the Borgia Pope’s was not wrong and definitely true Catholics.

  5. Francis has a duty to answer allegations such as these. His refusal to answer is an answer in itself. Arbp. Vigano has nothing to gain and everything to lose by publishing this letter, and he still did it. I believe everything he said. May Our Lady protect him.

    • How can you aproach our lady when you call our Holy Father just Francis and address the Cardinal Vigano by his proper tittle. You americans have lots to learn from Pope Francis’ treu meakness and humility, which he learn from Christ Himself and by serving the poor. Vigano as well as you have never been close to the poor, thus makes you far from Christ Himself

      • And how do you know? Have you walked in my shoes? How do you know I haven’t been one of the poor, or for all you know, I run a soup kitchen. Your judgemental attitude is not of Christ.

  6. I don’t think these revelations will convict any members of the cabal, based on Abp Cupic’s recent comment in which he puts the blame for all this scandal on ‘clericalism’. A true disciple of Pope Francis. But thank God these revelations have come to light – our Church needs to be purified of all its filth.


    Great. letter and very courageous of the nuncio. It all makes sense. Hopefully more bishops will come forth like the Bishop of T Tyler.

  8. Archbishop Vigano seems credible to me because he has nothing to gain by this, whereas those who are trying to discredit his accusations, may indeed have a lot to lose.

    • EXACTLY! After Boston, you think the church would have learned. Sadly it didn’t and will now be brought into the light of day kicking and screaming! All involved in this corruption should pay the price. Even Pope Francis!

  9. Great to see Francis finally being judged as he’s gutting the Church. Vigano will be vilified but Francis is being exposed for a shameless liar and no defender of the Faith, let alone the children.

  10. Natasha Hunter on

    The total lack of ACTION on Pope Francis’s part tells me more than any pithy letter dripping in religious platitudes.
    Good God, man! And yes, you are a man, prone to error, your job and the company that keeps you in cassocks trembles on the line as never before! You need to DO something. Letters and refusing to speak are not going to do it this time.
    Back in the 2000’s, people were shocked. But we were willing to work thru our dismay and anger for the good of the Church.
    Now, after this last round, we’re mostly just pissed off as all hell! All of this, ALL of it should have been addressed and cleaned up sixteen years ago. We should not have to still be finding ants in the pantry we thought had been cleaned!

    A lot of you big guys speak of love and forgiveness.You’re all like, “God sees us but he understands!” Listen, did Christ understand the money changers in the temple? Did he just wag a finger at them and say, “Nor do I judge you”? NO. He drove them out, with a whip, (Have mercy. Some of you might actually like that), saying that they had made his father’s house a den of thieves.

    YOU, holy men of the Church, have made her a pick up joint for your depraved and disordered urges! And worse are the ones who have winked at evil and let it go on!

    You need to DO something. Either something along the lines of sackcloth and ashes ala Nineveh or by taking a page from US History and like Richard Nixon, resign.

  11. Make the list a full Octave with # 8: We already have some confirmation of Vigano’s charges: The Pope’s initial response to the abuse scandal in Chile, and his subsequent “actions” after his snubbing of the victims and indifference to the problem during the time he was actually in Chile.

  12. Excellent, Thomas. Thank you.

    Here’s one lodestar I’ve been guided us by through all this : the notorious refusal over several years of “zero-tolerance” Pope Francis to discipline the Belgian Cardinal Daneels for his attempted cover-up of a sex-abusing colleague bishop.

    Daneels was a friend of Cd Bergoglio, and a member of the St Gallen Mafia that engineered his election to the papacy in 2013.

    The expose of the Daneels cover-up occurred in 2010. When Pope Francis walked out on the balcony in 2013 to face the greeting crowd in 2013, Daneels was there at his side. Not only has zero-tolerance Pope Francis not since stripped Daneels of all his offices and ranks: he actually called Daneels, long since retired, out of retirement to attend the “Amoris Laetitia” Synods on the Family !! [Furthermore, he refused to allow a Vietnamese Bishop known for his orthodox views on sexual ethics and desirous of attending the Synod to do so, on the ground that he was past the age of retirement, even though it was a matter of weeks.] This travesty alone is enough to condemn Pope Francis.

    Vigano’s testimony is entirely in accord with this public, demonstrated past behavior of Pope Francis.

    Let us pray for all concerned.

  13. “Even if it turns out Pope Benedict is guilty, I will and must accept that truth.” I think you meant Pope Francis.

    As of today, another former Vatican official who has firsthand knowledge of all of these events has come forward to corroborate the accusations made in Archbishop Vigano’s letter, in fact, is mentioned in the letter. He is Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d’Affaires who was contacted by the Catholic News Agency (CNA) and although he declined to give an interview, he affirmed the veracity of the report by Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, just as Vigano said he would in his statement.

    “Vigano said the truth. That’s all,” he wrote to CNA.

    How many more may come forward to confirm Archbishop Vigano’s testimony? It’s not surprising that Progressives and the MSM are trying to discredit Vigano. This Socialist Pope Francis is a supporter of their causes, mass migration, open borders and Climate change, etc. progressive issues really have no place in the Catholic Church, just like homosexually and LGBTQ issues do not. This Pope has been more pre-occupied being a social justice warrior than being a good shepherd of his Church as recent events have shown us. If he knew of Carricks long history of deviance and even the molesting/assaulting of a minor child by Carrick in 1971, then he should step down and face the music like anyone else. How many more could have been spared horrible abuse if Francis had done his job??

  14. Still 50-50.
    Could be Viganò decided to “go first” and win by advantage? That way whatever the others say will be difficult to believe .
    I don’t know…
    I am almost certain that the true will not be known, the men involved are way too evil and are not ashamed nor repented. They aren’t even Catholic or religious in any way, otherwise, how do you explain their behavior?

  15. Pingback: Who is Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò? The Nuncio that accused Pope Francis of covering up McCarrick’s sexual abuse | PagadianDiocese.org

  16. As long as every guilty cleric is laicized. Resignations are not good enough. If these sins don’t warrant AT LEAST laicization, then apparently no sin does. Excommunication would be better, but personally I like the rite of degradation described on Fr. Z’s blog.

    We must root out this entire network. Like God wanted all the Canaanites dispatched, we need all these men gone, out of the clerical state, and some of them even in jail. We can’t let even one remain. The filth must go. The Church must be purified.

    I know I am not the only one tired of hearing about raping of minors; sexually harassing, grooming, and sodomizing seminarians; sodomizing each other; gay orgy busted at the Vatican; Italian “gay” prostitute with a list of dozens of his clergy customers; homo-erotic mural in the cathedral that features the bishop; so-called LGBT ministries IN FAVOR of sodomy” such as Out at Saint Paul; gay-friendly” parishes (see New Ways Ministry website). It must all end. Sodomite clergy, gone. Mural, sandblasted off the wall. LGBT ministries and sodomy-friendly parishes, shut down.

    If you tweet on Twitter, use #NothingLessThanLaicization and include @Pontifex and @USCCB in your message.

  17. Frances Ruocco on

    I am not condoning this horror, I had been thinking the seal of confession might have protected some of these abusers, but then they should have lifted the seal of confession in child abuse which I believe they have done this year much sooner. They also should have been protecting and teaching the children from the pulpit or at meetings that such behavior by any Priest or Bishop was very wrong. The children should known to go to their parents and then to the Police and report any and all cases of such abuse. I also think that every doctor that treats any abusers and then stated they were cured is as guilty in the cover up as the Priests, Bishops and Popes are, as well as planned parenthood if any of these children were girls who got pregnant and were forced to have abortions.

  18. An individual like McCarrick could not have risen to the top of the hierarchy without a network to assist him on the way who were of perversion similar to his. Archbishop Vigano in the position he occupied would had access to this kind of information. He has nothing to gain by revealing this information except the names and extractions from those who aid and abet these perversions. Let the investigation begin and let the chips fall where they. I believe a trustworthy lay individual with the appropriate background assisted by an expert in Canon Law such as Cardinal Burke could clean up the filth.

  19. Arthur McGowan on

    “I believe X is credible” is redundant. It is sufficient to say, “I believe X.” Or: “X is credible.”

  20. Arthur McGowan on

    Who knew?

    I first heard about McCarrick in 2002. Because I’m a Church insider? No.

    I heard about McCarrick on BILL O’REILLY’S PROGRAM on Fox New Network.

    O’Reilly had Richard McBrien as a guest. They discussed McCarrick’s being a homosexual.

    They did not name him–but it took me very little time to find out who they were talking about.

    BTW: Richard McBrien lived off-campus at Notre Dame with a concubine for years. This was known to absolutely everyone on campus. What this means is that several presidents of Notre Dame, several bishops of South Bend, and several bishops of Bridgeport (McBrien’s diocese) all knew, and did nothing.

  21. Archbishop VIgano might have to enter an Archbishop protection program before this thing is over.These are serious allegations to say the least. If it turns out to be true just remember that this Church was founded by Jesus Christ and it will be swept clean. There are many things happening that have been a long time in coming andI think are part of His divine plan. The gates of hell will not prevail but buckle up because it is going to be a rough ride. J Seuss I trust in you.

  22. Pingback: Viganò Watch: Tuesday First Edition – Big Pulpit

  23. This calls to mind Pope Benedict’s cryptic statement to Bishop Fellay during their brief moment alone several years ago: “My authority ends at that door.”

  24. If McCarrick was flouting the supposed sanctions and Vigano knew it, he needed only to go to Pope Benedict and inform the Pope. Not difficult.

    As papal nuncio in the US, getting a private papal audience to inform the Pope of the misdeeds of an American bishop would have been easy, barely an inconvenience.

    Vigano never mentions having done this.
    It’s almost as if he’s lying about the whole thing.

    • “As papal nuncio in the US, getting a private papal audience to inform the Pope of the misdeeds of an American bishop would have been easy, barely an inconvenience.”

      But as a nuncio, Abp. Vigano was subject to the Vatican Secretary of State and was obliged to report such matters to them. If a nuncio requests even a private audience, the Secretary of State will know of it sooner or later (especially since it’s his job to oversee papal audiences). It’s hardly unreasonable for Vigano to have continued to go through proper channels, and it is unjust and unfounded to accuse him of a mortal sin or even to suggest he’s committed the sin of lying.

  25. I believe Pope Francis is in Christ. I believe he does the best things for each individual case. I dont the Cardinal accussed here was any threat to anyone at present and I think Pope Francis knew that too. Pope Francis has to think in the light of Gods Mercy ansd in the light of eternity which I think no one here is seeing. We tend to like negative news. To jump a band wagon of persecution even of the Holy Father. God bless and Mary keep. Paul Brady WA state.

    • Natasha Hunter on

      You put your phone number out for the world to see!

      And with all due respect; thinking that McCarrick is not a threat to anyone is…it’s whistling past a graveyard! Honestly!

  26. Drain the Catholic Swamp of everyone who is guilty, from top to bottom, then don’t stop there. Eradicate all Error and the Sin of Modernism from the rank and file of Holy Mother Church. Give Jesus back His Church!!!!

  27. I enclose an important read from the Washington Post from 2014 on McCarrick. It has many quotes from McCarrick himself, who unknowingly back ups the claim that Pope Benedict had put him out of service. (he claims he did not know why) and he happily conveys how Pope Francis did have use of his services. Though he was certainly not going to be admitting his evil actions and sanctions to the reporter in this pro-McCarrick piece. The article helps the time line, and supports the sanction claim made by Vigano.

  28. Psalm 146:3 “Do not trust in princes, In mortal man, in whom there is no salvation.”

    Psalm 118:8 “It is better to take refuge in the LORD Than to trust in man.”

  29. Matthew 18:6 “but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.”

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