Will Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who brought to light the existence of corruption in the Vatican, singling out those guilty, beginning with the highest ecclesiastical authorities, be punished for telling the truth? Pope Francis is examining this possibility – if it is true, as several sources confirm – that he has consulted Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmiero, and some other canon-lawyer, to study the possibility of canonical sanctions to inflict on the Archbishop, commencing with sospensione a divinis. If this news is confirmed it would be of extreme gravity, and somewhat surreal, seeing as the “expert” summoned to sanction Monsignor Viganò would be precisely Cardinal Coccopalmiero, who is being accused by the former-Nuncio of the United States, of being part of the “homosexual lobby” lording over the Vatican. It cannot be forgotten in any case, that the Cardinal’s Secretary, Monsignor Luigi Capozzi, is involved in a case of homosexual orgy, in which the position of his superior has still to be clarified.
But the underlying problem is another. The Catholic Church, inasmuch as it is a visible community, is endowed with a penal law, which is the law It possesses, to sanction the faithful who have committed violations of the law. It is necessary to distinguish, with regard to this, between sin and crime. Sin concerns a violation of the moral order; a crime concerns the transgression of the Church’s Canon Law, which is of course different from the laws of States. All crimes are sins, but not all sins are crimes.
There are crimes common to civil legislation and that of Canon Law, like the crime of pedophilia, but other offences are such only for Canon Law and not the penal Laws of States. Homosexuality and cohabitation, for example, are not considered crimes for most contemporary States, but remain grave crimes for the clergy that fall into them and as such are sanctioned by Canon Law. A crime, in fact is not every exterior action that violates a law, but only the kind of violation where a sanction is foreseen for non-compliance, according to the principle of nullum crimen, nulla pena sine lege.
The Code of Canon Law, as Padre Giovanni Scalese recently stated in his blog Antiquo Robore, considers not only the abuse of minors a crime, but also other sins against the Sixth Commandment: cohabitation and its scandalous situation, which includes homosexuality (Canon 395 of the New Code). These distinctions don’t appear clear to Pope Francis, who proclaims “zero tolerance” against civil offences, like pedophilia, but invokes “forgiveness” and mercy for the “sins of youth”, such as homosexuality, forgetting the presence of this crime in the laws of the Church.
But then, here is the contradiction: the laws of the Church are being invoked to strike, not immoral clergy, but the one who is denouncing the immorality of the clergy – Monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò, who in his Testimony did nothing other than follow the lines of the Church reformers, from St. Peter Damian to St. Bernardino of Siena, the great scourgers of sodomy.
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