The pontificate of Pope Francis is heading into the sunset, as many admit by now, but a sunset can be stormy and no one knows how deep a night will follow it before the dawn finally comes up.
Cardinal Marx’s resignation from the archdiocese of Munich is one of the signs of the gathering storm, but there is another threatening cloud, all the more troubling in that it is brought not by the wind of progressivism, but by the wind of what is called traditionalism. The cloud has the shape, if not the identity, of an illustrious prelate: the Most Reverend Carlo Maria Viganò, titular archbishop of Ulpiana and former apostolic nuncio in the United States. So what is happening?
Archbishop Viganò has distinguished himself in service to the Church, always carried out with generosity and a spirit of dedication. After a brilliant diplomatic career, from 2009 to 2011 he was secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City, making many enemies through the decisiveness with which he acted to rehabilitate the finances of the Holy See. In 2011 Benedict XVI appointed him apostolic nuncio in the United States of America. He performed brilliantly in this position until April 12 of 2016, after he had reached the age of 75, when Pope Francis accepted his resignation. As Archbishop Viganò himself revealed on June 23 of 2013, he was received by the new pontiff and with his customary frankness brought him up to speed on the disastrous situation of part of the clergy in the United States, with particular reference to the case of Cardinal McCarrick.
The pope listened to him but did nothing, and on the contrary allowed the situation to get worse. The Bergoglian pontificate reached the acme of its crisis after the promulgation of the Exhortation Amoris Laetitia of March 19 2016. Archbishop Viganò’s growing concern drew him closer to the Catholics who were showing a spirit of filial resistance toward Pope Francis. Finally, on August 22 2018, the former nuncio of the United States published a dramatic testimony in which he brought to light the existence of a network of corruption in the Church, calling out those responsible, starting with the the highest ecclesiastical authorities. Archbishop Viganò’s revelations were never denied, but on the contrary confirmed by the measures that Pope Francis took against Cardinal McCarrick. Fearing for his safety but also for the sake of discretion Archbishop Viganò withdrew to a secret location where he still resides. Other statements followed the courageous first declaration, from the document Scio cui credidi of September 28 2018 to the long interview with the Washington Post of June 10 2019. What characterized these statements was that they were rare and circumscribed in their contents. Archbishop Viganò expressed himself firmly, but only on matters of which he had direct knowledge, with simplicity and nobility of language. This was the basis of his credibility.
In 2020, the year of the pandemic, something unexpectedly changed and a new Archbishop Viganò appeared onstage. When we speak of a “new” Archbishop Viganò, we are naturally not referring to his private persona but to his public identity, as appears from the barrage of statements that he began to publish, starting with the May 8 2020 appeal against the “New World Order.” This appeal did not fail to raise serious doubts in the Catholic world close to him, to the point of driving some of his friends and admirers not to endorse it. The tone of his ever more numerous publications became pompous and sarcastic, and the topics expanded to the fields of theology and liturgy, in which he had always said he had no expertise, stretching even to considerations of geopolitics and the philosophy of history, extraneous to his way of thinking and expressing himself. Two themes dear to the traditionalists, the liturgy and Vatican Council II, became his hobbyhorse, in the context of a philosophy of history dominated by the idea of a “great reset,” which through medical dictatorship and mass vaccination would lead to the extermination of humanity. Pope Francis, generally referred to as “Bergoglio,” would be one of the architects of this plan.
To those who knew him best, or those who had paid close attention to his statements, it was immediately clear that there were discrepancies between Archbishop Viganò’s statements of 2020-2021 and those of 2018-2019. One question keeps growing more insistent: is Archbishop Viganò really the author of the writings of the past year?
At this point a clarification has to be made. Using contributors for one’s own statements does not in itself have anything terrible about it. Popes and heads of state routinely use “ghost writers” who carry out research for them or give literary form to their ideas. Often athletes and performers also turn to journalists when writing their books of impressions or memoirs.
But there are two risks to keep in mind. First of all, someone who signs a text, whether he is the author or not, takes responsibility for it in terms of both the form and the content of the statement, and must be very careful to keep his thought and language from coming across as distorted.
In the second place, someone who acknowledges paternity of a text should give general guidelines so that the writer may act as his arm and not as his mind. It would in fact be dangerous for the “ghost writer” to be the one to determine the line of thought of the text’s signatory. And this can happen when the invisible author overshadows the visible one, on account of greater expertise or power of personality.
An even more dangerous situation would be the creation of such a relationship of dependence that the visible author could no longer do without the invisible one, whose disappearance or desire to push unacceptable content would create for the visible author a dramatic “communication void.”
The question we pose is therefore this: analysis of the language and content of the documents produced by Archbishop Viganò during the years 2020-2021 reveals an author different from that of the years 2018-2019. But if Archbishop Viganò is not the author of his writings, who now is filling in his words, and perhaps even his thoughts?
We would never have opened the case if so many good traditionalists were not presenting as a quasi-magisterium the statements, not of Archbishop Viganò, but of his “double.” A clarification is necessary for the good of the Church and of souls who have in Archbishop Viganò a point of reference, but also for the sake of the prelate who has served the Church so well and could continue to serve it. (Roberto de Mattei)
P.S. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has already been informed in private, by several persons, of the existence of this problem, for more than a year now.