Archbishop Viganò raises concerns about Cardinal in charge of next papal election
By Diane Montagna
January 31, 2020
|Cardinal Leonardo Sandri |
Photo by Franco Origlia
‘In the Heart of the Church we seem to glimpse the approaching shadow of Satan’s synagogue (Rev 2:9).’
In a new testimony touching upon the election of the next Pope, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has alleged that the cardinal whom Pope Francis recently approved to preside over the next papal conclave was involved in covering up the misdeeds of infamous Legionary of Christ founder, Marciel Maciel.
In a statement released on January 31 and titled “The faithful have the right to know” (see official English text below), Archbishop Viganò asserts that Pope Francis’s confirmation of Cardinal Leonardo Sandri as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals is a “masterpiece of deception.”
On Saturday, January 25, the Holy See announced that Pope Francis had confirmed the election of Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, 86, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, 76, as Dean and Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals respectively. The announcement came one month after Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 92, resigned as Dean of the Sacred College.
Francis’s approval of these elections “has gone almost unnoticed and yet conceals a devious strategy,” Archbishop Viganò writes.
The former apostolic nuncio to the United States contends that the confirmation of Cardinal Re as Dean of the Sacred College is “a cover for that other more effective appointment — of Cardinal Sandri — which has been prepared ad hoc to pilot the next conclave secundum Franciscum, that is, according to an updated and augmented edition of the St. Gallen Mafia.”
Role of the Dean and Vice-Dean
The Dean of the College of Cardinals presides over the Sacred College. When a Pope dies (or in the case of Benedict XVI has resigned), the Dean is tasked with communicating to all the cardinals that the pontiff has passed and summoning them to Rome for a papal conclave.
The word “conclave” refers to the time in which the cardinals are locked inside the Sistine Chapel to elect a new Pope. Only those cardinals who are under the age of 80 are eligible to enter the conclave and vote.
The Dean of the College presides over the conclave and also oversees what are called the pre-conclave “congregations,” at which cardinals discuss the logistics and planning for the conclave, and importantly, meet their brother cardinals and get to know their positions. All of the cardinals, even those who cannot vote in the actual election for reasons of age, are eligible to participate in the congregations. Such was the case with former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick in 2013.
The Vice-Dean’s role is to act as a substitute when the Dean cannot exercise his office. At 86 years of age, Cardinal Re, as newly elected Dean, is not eligible to enter into or preside at the next conclave and will therefore cede this role to 76-year-old Cardinal Sandri.
Cardinal Re will still oversee the congregations, but Cardinal Sandri, as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, will exercise the most important role — to preside over the election of the next Pope.
This is not a novelty. In 2013, after the resignation of Benedict XVI, for reasons of age, Cardinal Angelo Sodano ceded this role to then-Vice-Dean, Cardinal Re, who presided over the election of Pope Francis.
A web of coverup?
In his new statement, Archbishop Viganò recalls his first testimony in August 2018, in order to reiterate that “the person chiefly responsible for covering up the misdeeds committed by Maciel was then-Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano.”
“Unfortunately for him, Sandri also allowed himself to be involved by Sodano in this operation to cover up Maciel’s horrible misdeeds,” he adds.
Drawing on his first-hand experience as a member of the diplomatic corps and high-level official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, Archbishop Viganò testifies that through a series of “shady maneuvers,” Cardinal Sandri was transferred to Mexico, to replace Archbishop Justo Mullor, who “was removed from the Apostolic Nunciature in Mexico because he opposed the directives coming from the Secretariat of State to cover up the very serious accusations against Marcial Maciel.”
Archbishop Viganò writes:
“To replace Archbishop Mullor in Mexico City, it was necessary to appoint a person of unfailing loyalty to Sodano. Sandri had already given proof of this as Assessor for the section of General Affairs in the Secretariat of State. Serving at the time as Nuncio in Venezuela for just a little over two years, he was transferred to Mexico.”
This new testimony echoes his first, in which he wrote:
“It is known that Sodano tried to cover up the Father Maciel scandal to the end. He even removed the Nuncio in Mexico City, Justo Mullor, who refused to be an accomplice in his scheme to cover Maciel, and in his place appointed Sandri, then-Nuncio to Venezuela, who was willing to collaborate in the cover-up.”
In his first testimony, Archbishop Viganò also stated that he informed Cardinal Sandri, along with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, about Theodore McCarrick’s decades-long abuse of priests and seminarians. Sandri was one of several high-ranking prelates who “knew in every detail the situation regarding Cardinal McCarrick,” he testified.
Cardinal Sandri’s links to the Legionaries of Christ and allegations that he kept quiet about Maciel’s misdeeds have been reported widely in both the Italian and English-speaking media, recently and in past years.
Archbishop Viganò notes his “long-standing friendship” with Cardinal Sandri that dates back 50 years to their shared time in the Pontifical Ecclesiastic Academy (a training academy for Vatican diplomats) and the Secretariat of State. He also affirms that his new testimony is inspired “solely” by the bond of that friendship and is offered “for the good of his soul, for the love of the Truth who is Christ Himself, and for the Church, His Bride, whom we served together.”
The former US nuncio also testifies that Pope Francis, having asked him about Sandri, knew about his character and the Mexico transfer, and “promoted [him] to Cardinal-Priest in May 2018 and a month later to Cardinal-Bishop, so that he might confirm him as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, a candidate prepared by Francis to preside at the next Conclave.”
Archbishop Viganò concludes: “The faithful have a right to know these sordid intrigues of a corrupt court. In the Heart of the Church we seem to glimpse the approaching shadow of Satan’s synagogue (Rev 2:9).”
The Faithful Have a Right to Know
We have just been through one of the most disgraceful episodes in which we have seen the prince of lies at work to discredit the book of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Robert Sarah by covering them with vile insults and vulgar insinuations, and the Pope’s jailer, as a judas, now also acting as a hitman. And once again we find ourselves dealing with another masterpiece of deception: the confirmation by the Pope of the elections of the new Dean and Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals by the Cardinal-Bishops. This has gone almost unnoticed and yet conceals a devious strategy. It should be borne in mind, in fact, that in June 2018 Pope Francis increased the number of Cardinal-Bishops, which had remained unchanged for centuries, promoting four new ones in one fell swoop. In this way he secured a majority in favor of him, as he has always done with the creation of new members of the College of Cardinals.
To Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, appointed Dean of the College at the age of 86 and therefore excluded from the next conclave, I wish an even longer life than that of his father. But his appointment is a cover for that other more effective appointment — of Cardinal Sandri — which has been prepared ad hoc to pilot the next conclave secundum Franciscum, that is, according to an updated and augmented edition of the St. Gallen Mafia.
I have a long-standing friendship with Cardinal Sandri that dates back to the time shared in the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, then during eleven years in the same office as secretaries to three Substitutes of the Secretariat of State, and seven years of collaboration once he was appointed Substitute for General Affairs in the Secretariat of State, having returned after just six months from his mission as Nuncio to Mexico.
“Amicus Plato sed magis amica veritas.” [Plato is my friend, but truth is a better friend]. This maxim, attributed to Aristotle, then taken up by Plato towards Socrates and later by Cicero, is explained by St. Thomas Aquinas in Sententia libri Ethicorum, Liber1, Lectio6, n. 4-5 as follows: “Quod autem oporteat veritatem praeferre amicis, ostendit hac ratione. Quia ei qui est magis amicus, magis est deferendum. Cum autem amicitiam habeamus ad ambo, scilicet ad veritatem et ad hominem, magis debemus veritatem amare quam hominem, quia hominem praecipue debemus amare propter veritatem et propter virtutem... Veritas autem est amicus superexcellens cui debetur reverentia honoris; est etiam veritas quiddam divinum, in Deo enim primo et principaliter invenitur. Et ideo concludit, quod sanctum est praehonorare veritatem hominibus amicis.”
That truth should be preferred to friends he proves in this way. He is the greater friend for whom we ought to have the greater consideration. Although we should have friendship for both truth and our fellow man, we ought rather to love truth because we should love our fellow man especially on account of truth and virtue… Now truth is a most excellent friend of the sort to whom the homage of honor is due. Besides truth is a divine thing, for it is found first and chiefly in God. He concludes, therefore, that it is virtuous to honor truth above friends.
Which is why what I am about to write concerning Cardinal Leonardo Sandri is inspired solely by the friendship that has bound me to him for almost fifty years, for the good of his soul, for the love of the Truth who is Christ Himself, and for the Church, His Bride, whom we served together.
In the first audience that Francis granted me after the one on June 23, 2013 that I have already mentioned (in my first testimony), in which he asked me about Cardinal McCarrick, he asked me a similar question: “What is Cardinal Sandri like?” Caught by surprise by the question about a dear friend of mine, and feeling put on the spot, I did not answer. Then Francis, joining his hands in a characteristically Italian gesture, waved them back and forth — as if to say that Sandri “knows how to get by” — and he looked me in the eyes seeking my consent to his suggestion. So I told him in confidence: “Holy Father, I don’t know if you are aware that Nuncio Justo Mullor, President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, was removed from the Apostolic Nunciature in Mexico because he opposed the directives coming from the Secretariat of State to cover up the very serious accusations against Marcial Maciel.” This is what I told the Pope, so that he would take it into account and eventually remedy the injustice that Archbishop Mullor had suffered for not compromising himself, for remaining faithful to the truth, and for love of the Church. I reaffirm this truth here, so as to honor this faithful servant of the Holy See, on whose tomb, in the cathedral of Almeria, Spain, I celebrated a Holy Mass of suffrage.
I already wrote in my first testimony that the person chiefly responsible for covering up the misdeeds committed by Maciel was then-Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whose recent acceptance to resign as Dean of the College of Cardinals was linked to his involvement in the Maciel affair. He, in addition to protecting Maciel, is certainly no stranger to McCarrick’s promotions...
Meanwhile, Cardinal Francis Arinze deserves to be recognized for having opposed, within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Sodano’s attempt to cover up the Maciel case.
Unfortunately for him, Sandri also allowed himself to be involved by Sodano in this operation to cover up Maciel’s horrible misdeeds. To replace Archbishop Mullor in Mexico City, it was necessary to appoint a person of unfailing loyalty to Sodano. Sandri had already given proof of this as Assessor for the section of General Affairs in the Secretariat of State. Serving at the time as Nuncio in Venezuela for just a little over two years, he was transferred to Mexico.
I was a direct witness to these shady maneuvers (which those in charge would describe as normal personnel transfers) through a conversation they had on January 25, 2000, the feast of the Conversion of St Paul, while we were on our way to the Basilica that bears his name, for the closing of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The chain linking the dates of these transfers is very significant: on January 19, 2000, Archbishop Giorgio Zur, who had been President of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy (PAE) for only one year, was transferred to Moscow; on February 11, 2000, Archbishop Justo Mullor, who at this point had been in Mexico for just two and a half years, was appointed President of the PAE; on March 1, 2000, Archbishop Sandri was transferred to Mexico after spending only two and a half years in Venezuela. Just six months later, on September 16, 2000, Sandri was promoted to Substitute of the Secretariat of State, i.e., Sodano’s right-hand man.
The Legionaries of Christ did not fail to show their gratitude to Sandri. On the occasion of a lunch held in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall to honor the cardinals, including Sandri, who were created at the November 24, 2007 consistory, I was bewildered when Sandri told me in advance what he was about to tell Pope Benedict as he made his entrance: “Holy Father, you will excuse me if I don’t stay for lunch, but I am expected by five hundred of my guests at the Legionaries of Christ.”
Francis, after having repeatedly and obsessively referred to an unspecified “clericalism” as the cause of sexual abuse, in order to avoid denouncing the scourge of homosexuality, is now flaunting the most unscrupulous clericalism (an accusation he levels at others): he promotes Sandri to Cardinal-Priest in May 2018 and a month later to Cardinal-Bishop, so that he might confirm him as Vice-Dean of the College of Cardinals, a candidate prepared by Francis to preside at the next Conclave.
The faithful have a right to know these sordid intrigues of a corrupt court. In the Heart of the Church we seem to glimpse the approaching shadow of Satan’s synagogue (Rev 2:9).