UPDATE 28 August:
Italian Vaticanist Marco Tosatti was also involved. See this AP story in English: HERE
Tosatti said Vigano didn’t tell him where he was going after the article came out, knowing that the world’s media would be clamoring to speak with him.
As Tosatti accompanied Vigano to his door, he bent down to kiss Vigano’s ring — a sign of respect for Catholic bishops.
“He tried to say ‘No.’ I told him ’It’s not for you, it’s for the role that you (play) that I do it,” Tosatti said. “He didn’t say anything. He went away, but he was crying.”
Originally Published on: Aug 27, 2018
The blog of long-time Italian Vaticanista Aldo Maria Valli has his personal account of how Archbishop Viganò gave him his Testimony, which is rocking the Church from the depths to on high. The highest.
This is my translation. I used “Dragon” to transcribe it so I could work faster. There might be a goof here and there. Saying “Viganò” produced variations of “Vegan know”, for example. I’ll leave the format pretty much as it is on the writer’s blog. And if tenses aren’t always consistent… well… whatever. Sometimes he lacks “” in his own text. Deal with it. The meaning is clear. I’m a little loose with Italian “monsignore” and English “Archbishop”.
Così monsignor Viganò mi ha dato il suo memoriale. Ed ecco perché ho deciso di pubblicarlo
How Archbishop Viganò gave me his memo. And here’s why I decided to publish it.
“”Dottore”(in Italian, a not rare title), I need to see you”.
The tone of voice was calm, but I could hear a note of apprehension. On the phone was Msgr. Carl Maria Viganò the former Nuncio in the United States.
I didn’t hide my surprise, we had seen each other. Sometimes, on the occasion of public conferences, but I can say that we knew each other.
He explained that he is an avid reader, that he appreciates my courage and my clarity, sometimes joined with irony. I thanked him and I asked: why do you want to get together?
The response was that I can’t say it on the phone.
Okay, so let’s get together, but where?
I naïvely suggest my office then as a little bar that’s nearby, which is my second office.
“No, no, for heaven sake. As far away from the Vatican as possible, far from prying eyes”.
I am not by nature a conspiracy guy, but I can see that the Archbishop was seriously worried.
“So at my house? For supper? But my wife then some of my daughters will be there.”
“At your house is just fine”.
“Should I come to get you?”
“No no I will come with my car.”
And that’s how it happened.
When the Archbishop came, on a warm evening of early summer, I saw an older man than how I remembered him. He smiled, but right away you knew that something was oppressing him. He had a weight on his heart.
After introducing my wife and daughters, and after he blessed the table, to break the tension a little we joked about our common Lombard roots (he Varese, we from Rho). The Archbishop had arrived at the appointed hour, on the minute: in Rome that happens pretty rarely.
Then Viganò got down to business. He was worried for the Church, feared that at its summit there are people who are not working to bring the Gospel of Jesus to men and women of our time, but to bring confusion and to give in to the logic of the world. Then he began to recount his long experience in the Secretariat of State, as head of the Governorate of Vatican City and as Nuncio in Nigeria and in the United States. He gave a lot of names and cited many circumstances. For my wife and for my daughters it wasn’t easy to follow him. Even I, having been a Vaticanista for more than 20 years, sometimes struggled to get my bearings. But we did not interrupt him because we understood that he needed to talk. The impression was that he was a man alone, and sad for what he had seen around him, but not embittered. In his speech there was never a bad word about the many other people he mentioned. The facts were eloquent. Sometimes he smiled and looked at me, as if to say: “What do we have to do? Is there a way out of this?”
He said that he called me because, even not knowing me personally, he respected me especially for the courage and the freedom that I show. He added that my blog is read and appreciated also in the “sacri palazzi” (Vatican offices), even if not everyone can say it openly. [Tell me about it!]
I asked him something about his experience at the Governorate and he told about how he managed to save the Vatican a great deal of money, by making them follow the rules and by putting the accounts in order.
I commented: “So, Monsignore, after that clean up you certainly won’t have made friends!” He smiled again and said: “Don’t I know it! But if I would not have done it. I could not have respected myself.”
He is a man of a profound sense of duty. At least that’s what it seems. In just a few minutes we were on the same frequency.
My wife, a catechist at the parish, and my daughters were literally speechless in the face of certain stories. I always say, joking but not really, that good Catholics shouldn’t know how things work in the upper hierarchy, and this evening confirmed that. Nevertheless, I am not sorry to have invited the Archbishop to my home. I believe that the sorrowful testimony of this man, of this old servant of the Church, is telling us something important. Something which, even in its pain and its discomfort, can help our life of faith.
The Archbishop said: “I’m 77 years old, and I’m at the end of my life. The judgment of men doesn’t interest me. The only judgment that counts is that of our good God. He will ask me what I did for the Church of Christ and I want to be able to tell him that I defended her and served her to the last.”
That’s how the evening went. We had the strong sense that His Excellency hadn’t even noticed what he had on his plate. Between one bite and another he didn’t stop talking.
When I walked him to his car. I asked myself: So, in conclusion, why did he want to see me? Out of respect, and from a lack of confidence, I didn’t ask him that question, but, before taking his leave, he said to me: “Thank you, we will meet again. Don’t call me. I’ll get in touch with you.” And he got into his car.
I am a journalist and therefore in these cases my first impulse is to sit down at the computer and write everything that he told me, but I held back. The Archbishop did not forbid me to write. Indeed, he didn’t say anything to me about that. But it was beyond doubt that he had revealed certain things to me. I now understand that the meeting was a kind of test. The Archbishop wanted to see if he could trust me.
A little more than a month went by and he called me again. The request was the same as the last time, “can we get together?”
“Of course we can. Shall we meet at my house again? I ask this because there will be yet another daughter, the oldest, and there will be per two children, our grandchildren.”
“No problem”, Viganò said. “The important thing is that we too have a secure place where we can speak.”
And so His Excellency, the former Nuncio of the United States, returned to visit us. And this time he seemed a little less tense. You could see that being with this big and a little chaotic family was a pleasure. At a certain point his mobile phone rang. It was a video call from the United States. It was his nephew: “Oh, sorry, uncle, I don’t want to disturb!” Viganò smiled, amused, and showed with his phone the whole gang at the table, including the grandchildren. “What great company!”, His nephew said. And then, turning to me: “take advantage of the situation to tell him of my great esteem.” The tension relaxed. Our grandchild of three years swarmed on the monsignor and called him Carlo Maria. Viganò was amused and it seemed for a few minutes to have forgotten his crosses. But again, after the blessing of the table, the Archbishop was a river in full flood. So many stories, so many situations, so many names. But this time he focused more on his years in America. He mentioned the case of McCarrick, the ex-Cardinal known to be guilty of very grave abuses, and he gave us to understand that everyone knew, in the United States and in the Vatican, for a long time, for years. And they covered it up even so.
I asked: Everyone? Really everyone?
With a nod of his head. The Archbishop responded yes: everyone, really.
I wanted to ask other things, but it wasn’t easy to inject myself into the uninterrupted flood of dates, stories, meetings, names. The core of it was that even Pope Francis, according to Viganò, knew. Even so, he let McCarrick go about undisturbed, making a joke out of the bans that had been imposed by Benedict XVI. Francis new already by March 2013, when Viganò himself responded to a question from the Pope during a face-to-face meeting, he said that there was a thick dossier on McCarrick in the Vatican and there was nothing else to do but read it.
In respect to our previous meeting there was the news of the results emerging from the investigation by the grand jury in Pennsylvania, and Viganò confirmed that the general line was correct. Sexual abuses constituted a phenomenon more extensive than one could imagine, and it was not correct to speak of pedophilia, because in the vast majority of cases they were dealing with homosexual clerics who were on the hunt for adolescent males. More accurate, the Archbishop said, is to speak if anything of ephebophilia. But the point was that the network of complicity, omertà, cover-up, and reciprocal favors extended beyond all imagination, and reached the very heights, both in America and in Rome.
We were again thunderstruck. Because of my work. I had guessed some of it, but for kind of Catholics we are, born and raised in the bosom of Mother Church, it was truly difficult to swallow this bitter pill.
My question therefore was the most naïve possible: Why?
And the response the Archbishop gave froze my blood, “Because those fissures Paul VI talked about, through which the smoke of Satan would enter into the house of God, have become an abyss. The devil is at work on a huge scale. And not to admit it, or to turn your face in another direction, would be our greatest sin.”
I realized in that face-to-face moment, which the Archbishop so valued, really wasn’t private at all. He had spoken in front of everyone. I asked him if he wanted for us to go into another room, without my wife, daughters and grandchildren, but he said no, this is fine. We knew that it was okay. For us it was a little like listening to a grandfather who told stories about faraway lands, and we wanted so much that, at a certain point, he would say that it was only fiction. It was our Church. It was our supreme pastors. The real question remained: why did the Archbishop tell us all of this? What did he want from me? This time I asked him and he responded that he had written a memo containing all of these issues he had spoken about. Included were the meeting of 23 June 2013 with the Pope, when he, Viganò, told Francis about the dossier on McCarrick.
“And so,” he said, “if you will allow me I will let you have my memo, which demonstrates that the Pope new and did nothing. And then you, after weighing it, can decide to publish it or not on your blog, which is very much followed. I want this to be known. I don’t do this lightheartedly, but I think that it is the only path remaining to attempt the reversal, an authentic conversion”
“I understand. Are you giving it only to me?”
“No. I will give it to another Italian blogger, and an Englishman, and an American and a Canadian. Translations will be made into English and Spanish.”
Even at this point, the Archbishop did not ask me to keep this secret. I understood that he trusted me. And so we agreed that, at his request, we should meet again and he would give me the memo.
After a few days he called me and we made an appointment. I cannot say where we met, because I gave my word.
The Archbishop came in sunglasses and a baseball cap. He asked that my first reading of the document take place in his presence, so, he said, “if there is something that doesn’t convince you, we can talk about it right away.”
I read everything. There were 11 pages. He was amazed at my speed and looked at me: “and so?”
I said: “It’s powerful. Backed up. Well written. A dramatic summary.”
He asked: “Will you publish it?”
“Monsignore, you realize that this is a bomb? What should we do?”
“I entrusted to you. Think about it.”
“Monsignore, you know what they’re going to say? That you want to get even. That you are consumed with rancor for having been sacked from the Governorate and other positions. That you are the snitch (corvo) who leaked the Vatileaks documents. They will say that you are unstable, in addition to being a conservative of the worst kind.”
“I know, I know. But that makes no difference to me. The only thing that makes a difference is to bring the truth to the surface, so that a purification can begin. At the point where we are now, there is no other way.”
I was worried. Within myself, at heart, I had decided to publish it, because I knew that this man trusted me. But I asked: “What effect will this have on simple souls? On good Catholics? Don’t we risk to do more harm than good?”
He noticed that I asked the question in a strong voice and the archbishop responded: “Think about it. Weigh it, with calm.” We shook hands. He took off his sunglasses and looked me directly in the eyes. The fact that he didn’t pressure me, that he didn’t seem anxious to see me publish it all, made me trust him even more. Was it a maneuver? Was he manipulating me?
At home I spoke with Serena and with my daughters. Their advice has always been important for me. What to do? These were days of questions. I reread the memo. It was backed up with evidence, but obviously we were dealing with Viganò’s version. I think that the readers will understand this. I will offer the Archbishop’s version, after which, if someone has arguments in an opposite sense, he can propose other versions.
My wife reminded me: “But if you publish this they will think that, by the very fact of publishing it, you are on his side. Are you okay with that?”
Yes, I’m okay with that. Will the judge be to be biased? Pazienza! After all, I am biased. When I act as a news man I act as a news man and nothing else, seeking to be as impersonal as possible, but on my blog I am thoroughly aligned and readers know very well how I think about a certain tendency that the Church has taken in the last few years. So if someone wants to show me documents that prove that Viganò lied, or that his version of the facts is incomplete or incorrect, I will be delighted to publish them too.
I spoke with the Archbishop on the phone. I told him my decision. We agreed about the day and the hour of the publication. He said that they would publish the others also on the same day and at the same hour. He decided on Sunday, 26, August because the Pope, during his return from Dublin, would have the chance to respond to questions from journalists on the airplane. He told me that among those who would publish it were added the daily “La Verità”. He told me that he had already bought an airline ticket. He was going abroad. He could not tell me where. I won’t look for him. His old mobile phone number doesn’t work anymore. We said goodbye for the last time. That’s how it went. It’s not that my doubts are ended. Did I do the right thing? Did I do something wrong? I continue to ask myself that. But I am at peace. And I reread the words that Archbishop Viganò wrote at the end of his memo: “Let us all pray for the Church and for the Pope, let us remember how many times he has asked us to pray for him! Let us renew our faith in Holy Mother Church: I believe in one holy Catholic and apostolic Church! Christ will never abandon His Church! It was born from His blood and it is reanimated continuously with His Spirit! Mary, Mother of the Church, pray for us! Mary, Virgin Queen, Mother of the King of Glory, pray for us!”
Aldo Maria Valli