WASHINGTON - The Archdiocese of Washington is firing back after shocking allegations by a former U.S. ambassador.
Archbishop Carlo Vigano claims that Pope Francis knew about accusations of sex abuse against Washington Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and moved to cover it up.
Vigano, who served as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States from 2011 to 2016 is calling on Pope Francis to resign and says Cardinal Donald Wuerl's denials about McCarrick as "absolutely laughable."
Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington and around the world are shaken by the continuing accusations. Pope Francis himself refused to confirm or deny the blistering charges contained in Archbishop Vigano's letter. But senior contributor for the Catholic EWTN network Dr. Matthew Bunso says given Vigano's diplomatic experience, the allegations need to be taken as "credible & serious."
"We have two Cardinals named by Archbishop Vigano in this accusatory letter, the Pope himself now is falling under some question, we have to go some distance however before we can confirm any of that and as always is the case with journalism we have to be very careful about accusations," said Dr. Bunso.
Over the weekend, Bishop Carlo Vigano released an 11-page document claiming that Pope Benedict had placed restrictions on McCarrick's priestly duties back in 2010. Vigano then went to say that Pope Francis not only lifted those sanctions but went on to use McCarrick as a close advisor.
Vigano goes on to call out current Washington Archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl's continued denial that he knew of the McCarrick sex abuse allegations, calling them "absolutely laughable."
He writes Wuerl is "completely compromised" following the Pennsylvania grand jury report.
But, in his exclusive interview with FOX5 this month, Wuerl denied any prior knowledge of McCarrick's misconduct, which he says occurred in the past.
"The whole Cardinal McCarrick -- that awful revelation. Remember that we were told was decades ago, so I'm not sure -- that was decades ago, I'm not sure what, beyond what we've done. I'm not sure beyond what we have done now, we can say," said Cardinal Wuerl in an exclusive interview with FOX5's Tom Fitzgerald.
Late Monday afternoon, the Archdiocese of Washington issued a new statement on Vigano's comments:
"Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, has published a "testimony" in which he presents his views on Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and his appointment to Washington. Archbishop Viganò states that he "learned with certainty" that "Pope Benedict XVI had imposed on Cardinal McCarrick sanctions similar to those now imposed on him by Pope Francis." He then says that he (Archbishop Viganò) "repeated them to Cardinal McCarrick" at the Archbishop's first meeting with him at the Nunciature.
"Cardinal Wuerl has categorically denied that any of this information was communicated to him.Archbishop Viganò at no time provided Cardinal Wuerl any information about an alleged document from Pope Benedict XVI with directives of any sort from Rome regarding Archbishop McCarrick.
"Archbishop Viganò has not produced in his testimony any objectively verifiable proof that he in any way communicated to Cardinal Wuerl restrictions imposed on Cardinal McCarrick by Pope Benedict XVI. In fact, Archbishop Viganò's testimony says that he did not.
"Cardinal Wuerl has indicated that during his entire tenure as Archbishop of Washington no one has come forward to say to him, "Cardinal McCarrick abused me" or made any other like claim. The only ground for Cardinal Wuerl to challenge the ministry of Archbishop McCarrick would have been information from Archbishop Viganò or other communications from the Holy See. Such information was never provided.
"Perhaps the starting point for a serene and objective review of this testimony is the inclusion of Archbishop Viganò's tenure as Apostolic Nuncio to the United States in the mandate of the Apostolic Visitation already called for by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops."
Wuerl's spokesman also confirmed that the archbishop did cancel a meeting between McCarrick and a group of young male seminarians at the request of Vigano, but went on to claim that Wuerl was never told the reason for that request.