A few days ago I did a post about the ever-changing reporting of The National Catholic Register's Ed Pentin regarding the Vigano allegations against Pope Francis. I showed how Pentin keeps changing and revising his story as Vigano's allegations are slowly debunked.
When Pentin first broke the story about the Vigano testimony, he stated that the Register had confirmed that Pope Benedict knew about McCarrick and that the Pope Emeritus had taken "measures" against McCarrick, but he couldn't remember what those measures were. Pentin gave us no details at that time as to how he got this information or when.
When Pope Benedict's personal secretary flatly stated that Pope Benedict had never at any time confirmed Vigano's allegations and that this was "Fake News!" Pentin responded by saying that he had never reported that Benedict had said this.
Pentin tried to get around his initial reporting by stating for the first time that he got this information from an inside source.
Of course, that made no sense because the inside source would have had to talk to Pope Benedict, contradicting Pope Benedict's statement that he never talked to anyone about Vigano's allegations. Either the "inside source" was lying or Benedict was lying.
I know who I believe.
Since then, Vigano's allegation of strict sanctions imposed by Benedict against McCarrick has been basically debunked through overwhelming evidence that McCarrick never curtailed his public life in any way whatsoever.
The following is Pentin's initial reporting dated August 25, 2018:
The Register has independently confirmed that the allegations against McCarrick were certainly known to Benedict, and the Pope Emeritus remembers instructing Cardinal Bertone to impose measures but cannot recall their exact nature.Now Pentin reports the following in an article dated August 31, 2018:
As far as Benedict could recall, the source said the instruction was essentially that McCarrick should keep a “low profile.” There was “no formal decree, just a private request.”What?!
Pope Benedict supposedly knows that McCarrick is sexually terrorizing seminarians, and engaging in homosexual sex, and all Benedict does is tell McCarrick to keep a "low profile" and doesn't even make it official but just makes "a private request"??!!???
That stretches credulity beyond the breaking point. If that is true, then Benedict is as guilty as anyone in covering up bad priests. Does Pentin really want us to believe that?
On top of that, Pentin's article from August 31 completely contradicts his initial report. Pentin's August 25 report said that Benedict imposed "measures", but he didn't remember what the "measures" were.
Pentin's August 31 article says that Benedict remembered exactly what the "measures" were: it was a "private request" that McCarrick "keep a low profile."
Bam!! Vigano's testimony is blown out of the water!
In his testimony, Vigano states this:
. . . what is certain is that Pope Benedict imposed the above canonical sanctions on McCarrick and that they were communicated to him by the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Pietro SambiVigano claims "canonical sanctions" were imposed upon Benedict. But this is clearly contradicted by Pentin's "inside source" who now says it was no more than a "private request." Contrary to Pentin's initial reporting, that is not even CLOSE to confirming Vigano's allegations.
Some, such as J.D. Flynn from Pentin's paper, National Catholic Register, are now trying to cover for Vigano by saying that maybe he didn't really understand the difference between "sanctions" and "less formal verbal instructions":
It is quite possible that Archbishop Viganò has not grasped some of the implied distinctions contained in the phrase he chose, and includes in his definition of the term “sanctions” less formal verbal instructions.However, Vigano makes it very clear what he claims to be included in the "sanction", and this is very clearly much more than a "private request" to "keep a low profile:
But finally I learned with certainty, through Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, that Richard Sipe’s courageous and meritorious Statement had had the desired result. Pope Benedict had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis: the Cardinal was to leave the seminary where he was living, he was forbidden to celebrate [Mass] in public, to participate in public meetings, to give lectures, to travel, with the obligation of dedicating himself to a life of prayer and penance.The emphasized portion of this paragraph was highlighted in Vigano's original testimony.
Clearly there is no mistaking Vigano's meaning when he says "sanctions" were imposed upon McCarrick by Benedict. As Vigano clearly says, these sanctions were "similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis.
To try to infer that Vigano meant anything other than what he explicitly wrote is to tell us not to believe our own eyes.
Yet, since we know now, thanks to Pentin's reporting, the only "measures" imposed upon McCarrick consisted of a "private request" to "keep a low profile", it is impossible to believe that, according to Vigano's testimony, there was:
a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that [then] Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that “the Nuncio ’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor.”We are suppose to believe that the US Nuncio was having it out with McCarrick for over an hour about a "private request" from Pope Benedict to "keep a low profile?"
That just doesn't fly.
In his testimony, Vigano then tells us this:
Pope Benedict’s same dispositions were then also communicated to me by the new Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, in November 2011, in a conversation before my departure for Washington, and were included among the instructions of the same Congregation to the new Nuncio.
In turn, I repeated them to Cardinal McCarrick at my first meeting with him at the Nunciature. The Cardinal, muttering in a barely comprehensible way, admitted that he had perhaps made the mistake of sleeping in the same bed with some seminarians at his beach house, but he said this as if it had no importanceI have to say, if someone told me that Pope Benedict had made a "private request" that I keep a "low profile", I might be muttering too, because that is like being whipped with a wet noodle. It is totally meaningless.
The following is the very heart of the allegations Vigano makes against Pope Francis:
Pope Francis has repeatedly asked for total transparency in the Church and for bishops and faithful to act with parrhesia. The faithful throughout the world also demand this of him in an exemplary manner. He must honestly state when he first learned about the crimes committed by McCarrick, who abused his authority with seminarians and priests.
In any case, the Pope learned about it from me on June 23, 2013 and continued to cover for him. He did not take into account the sanctions that Pope Benedict had imposed on him and made him his trusted counselor along with Maradiaga.As we have now learned from Edward Pentin, there were NEVER any sanctions imposed upon McCarrick by Pope Benedict. There was never any official action taken against McCarrick in any way. The most we have is a "private request" to keep a "low profile." And as we know, even if we accept the truth of this flimsy statement, it was never enforced.
So this is where we are at.
In his first report, Pentin says that Benedict imposed "measures" but he didn't remember what they were.
Then later in his reporting, Pentin said that Benedict imposed "sanctions" but he couldn't remember the "precise nature" of the sanctions.
Then Pentin reports that Benedict DOES seem to remember the "precise nature" of the "measures" or "sanctions" or whatever they were. That "precise nature" was that McCarrick was to keep a "low profile" (whatever the heck that means!), and that there was "no formal decree, just a private request."
Why isn't this making major headlines? According to Pentin, Vigano's testimony isn't good for much more than use as toilet paper.
But that, of course, is not stopping those who are trying to kick Pope Francis out of the papacy.
Vigano, who was so certain of every fact in his testimony, is now telling us that his memory isn't so good. This is what Pentin reports on August 31:
Speaking to the Register Aug. 30, Archbishop Viganò reiterated what he said in his testimony, that shortly before leaving Rome to begin his post in Washington in 2011, he “certainly” received a verbal instruction from Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, to inform McCarrick of the sanctions.How could Vigano remembering being instructed to inform McCarrick of sanctions when, as Pentin has told us, there were no sanctions?
Pentin continues with even more confusing reporting:
After arriving in Washington, he said he received “some instruction” from the same congregation, adding that his “memory isn’t helping me now” but that he believes it was a written instruction. The instruction would be found in the archives in the nunciature in Washington, or could be obtained from the Congregation for Bishops, he said.Vigano says his memory isn't "helping" him now. Well, his memory seemed in fine form when he was making accusations against Pope Francis, and stating with no equivocation that Pope Benedict issued sanctions against McCarrick.
Pentin's reporting continues:
“What I don’t know,” [Vigano] added, “is if Sambi also communicated in writing the measures taken by Pope Benedict to both McCarrick and Cardinal Wuerl. Certainly, he did so in person, summoning McCarrick to the nunciature, as I have stated.”Notice here that Vigano has now changed his story to say that Pope Benedict imposed "measures" upon McCarrick.
But Vigano now returns to his original story and says certain incidents prove he told the truth:
Archbishop Viganò also believes two other episodes prove that sanctions were issued: McCarrick’s transfer from a Redemptoris Mater seminary in Washington, D.C., to St. Thomas’ parish (although this happened in 2008, a year before the approximate date Viganò believes the sanctions were issued), and Cardinal Donald Wuerl’s decision to cancel a meeting between McCarrick and seminarians after being reminded of McCarrick’s abuses by Viganò.So Vigano says that his story of sanctions imposed upon McCarrick in 2009 or 2010 is proved by the fact that McCarrick was transferred from a seminary to St. Thomas' parish in 2008.
We are also to believe that the sanctions were imposed because Cardinal Wuerl canceled a meeting between McCarrick and seminarians. And Vigano, with no one backing up his story, tells us that this meeting was cancelled because Vigano "reminded" Wuerl of McCarrick's abuses.
Reminding Wuerl of the abuses committed by McCarrick does not equate to proof that there were sanctions against McCarrick. Sorry, Archbishop Vigano, your proof is no proof at all.
Pentin says he tried contacting other prelates to confirm Vigano's story, but no one will talk to him.
So Pentin goes back to his "inside source":
The source said the allegations of abuse of seminarians by McCarrick, now 88, were “certainly something known” to Benedict. And, he said, “Certainly, it was known that McCarrick was a homosexual, that was an open secret, all were very aware of that.” (However, it is important to note that there is no evidence that Church authorities either in the Vatican or in the U.S. were aware of any allegations of sexual abuse of minors by McCarrick until long after Benedict had resigned as Pope.)The source does not tell us when it became an "open secret" that McCarrick was homosexual. Vigano told us in his testimony that it was known during the pontificate of St. John Paul II. We also know that there were settlement payments made to seminarians in New Jersey as early as 2005.
The New York Times reported that "some church officials knew for decades that the cardinal had been accused of sexually harassing and inappropriately touching adults, according to interviews and documents obtained by The New York Times."
Vigano tells us that it was because of the stonewalling of the various Secretaries of State that no action was ever taken against McCarrick.
It was at this point in Pentin's reporting that we are told that the "source" revealed Benedict's "private request" that McCarrick keep a "low profile."
But the source puts the blame on McCarrick that he did not abide by this "private request":
The source also noted that, after he had retired as Archbishop of Washington D.C., McCarrick continued to be “very able” and “influential at high levels — ecclesiastical, cultural and political” and so could ignore the measures imposed upon him.So we are suppose to believe that Nuncio Sambi laid into McCarrick for over an hour, but McCarrick just walked away and did his own thing, and neither Sambi nor anyone else did anything about it?
“Effectively, he was able not to hear what he had to hear,” the source said.
But he added that McCarrick “knew better not to appear here in Rome,” although he did continue to visit on occasion and, because of his influence, “continued to say ‘I can do this and that for the Holy See’ even though he had no permission.”How did the source confirm that McCarrick knew better than to appear in Rome? As the source said, McCarrick seemed to have no qualms about traveling to Rome.
However, Pentin tries to cover for his source as follows:
This appears to correlate with this Aug. 29 report in America magazine by Michael O’Loughlin, which lists many of the public Masses, engagements and international travel McCarrick took part in during the years Archbishop Viganò claims he was sanctioned. Also notable is mention of a low-key 80th birthday celebration in which the cardinal “seemed to be avoiding the media.”Although there were no pictures of McCarrick at Benedict's 80th birthday celebration, it was reported in the media that he was there.
And here is McCarrick avoiding the media in Rome on the day Pope Benedict resigned:
It gets worse.
Asked why Benedict did not issue a stricter instruction seeing as McCarrick had flouted the measures, the source close to Benedict said that “as well as being very active, the media and public opinion didn’t speak any more about McCarrick, and sometimes it’s better if something is sleeping to let it sleep.”So now we are told that Benedict didn't do anything about McCarrick "flouting the measures" because the media wasn't paying that much attention to McCarrick and "sometimes it's better if something is sleeping to let it sleep."
The "source" just gave us the definition of "cover up." "If something is sleeping, let it sleep."
So according to the source, it is not Pope Francis but Pope Benedict who engaged in a cover up of McCarrick.
Pentin continues with this ridiculous reporting:
He said it was important to be “very careful and prudent with McCarrick,” noting that while McCarrick continued to make “many requests” for papal audiences, these were ruled out as “not possible” because such audiences would produce photographs that would give the misimpression that McCarrick’s situation remained normal for a retired cardinal.The source makes McCarrick sound like a bomb ready to explode at any moment unless handled in a "careful and prudent" manner.
And the last statement is the most ridiculous at all. Benedict didn't want to grant audiences to McCarrick because that would produce photographs that give the "misimpression that McCarrick's situation remained normal for a retired cardinal."
I guess they all got sloppy when the above picture of McCarrick being greeted by Pope Benedict was taken in 2013.
Has the source forgotten that as far as everyone in the entire world was concerned, McCarrick's "situation" was "normal for a retired cardinal"? It has never before been reported or even hinted at that there was a "private request" for McCarrick to "keep a low profile."
This last paragraph from Pentin makes the whole thing sound even more like a cover up. It makes it seem that the Vatican was actively trying to hide McCarrick from the media.
I must remind the reader that the "source" is making all of these statements on behalf of Pope Benedict in spite of the fact that Pope Benedict has clearly stated he has never talked to anyone about this matter.
However, Pentin seems to have forgotten that Pope Benedict made it crystal clear that he never has and never will talk to anyone about Vigano's allegations, because Pentin reports this:
Asked if the Pope Emeritus’ office would be willing to issue a statement to provide additional clarity, a spokesman said Benedict was “unable to meet” the request.
What a surprise that "Benedict was 'unable to meet' the request."
Pentin ends his article with this:
A number of questions still remain, however, in particular the following:The biggest question that remains is, why are you, Ed Pentin, still reporting on Vigano's testimony when you have, whether you realize it or not, completely debunked these allegations?
- Why were Benedict XVI’s purported sanctions against McCarrick never made public, and given only in the form of a private instruction?
- Why were the purported sanctions not properly enforced after they were ordered?
- What role did Cardinal Bertone play in the execution of Benedict’s order (in his testimony, Archbishop Vigano asserts that the cardinal had obstructed it)?
Ed Pentin certainly deserves an award for his reporting. It's called the Most Insulting To The Reader's Intelligence Award.