As we have seen in these last years, the Vatican does not appear to be too apt at working in the field of public affairs. Somehow, one is always able to see through its attempts at trying to skew a piece of information.
At times – as with the March 2018 Vatican ‘Lettergate’ scandal – the Vatican’s attempts at manipulating a story are just too obvious. The Vatican was caught manipulating a letter written by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in order to leave out some remarks that could be interpreted as being negative toward Pope Francis. The fiasco let to Monsignor Dario Viganò resigning as the head of Vatican News.
At the time, Rome Correspondent Edward Pentin commented: “Increasing numbers of faithful Catholics are becoming alarmed and increasingly angry by what they see as a continual stream of deceptions, manipulations and scandals coming from the Vatican under Pope Francis.”
In this context of the Vatican’s awkward ways of exercising the art of public affairs, let us also consider the recently published letter of Cardinal Marc Ouellet addressed explicitly and personally to Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò and which likewise seems to have failed in its main mission of promoting the position of the Vatican.
Ouellet’s letter can, in fact, be interpreted as confirmation of essential claims of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò despite it being a base ad hominem attack on the archbishop – whose formal title Ouellet does not even once mention. (He does, however, mention Theodore McCarrick four times under the title “archbishop.”)
But a much more trenchant point needs to be made here. In one way, Ouellet has placed himself and the Pope into a corner. For, the Cardinal has now admitted that in 2006 there were indeed some sort of penalties, what he calls “certain conditions and restrictions” that were verbally placed upon then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Ouellet said in his letter that “the former Cardinal, retired in May of 2006, had been requested [sic] not to travel nor to make public appearances, in order to avoid new rumors about him.” While Ouellet tries to claim that one may not properly call it “’sanctions’ formally imposed by Pope Benedict XVI,” nobody would believe that the Congregation for the Clergy itself would ever dare placing any kind of sanctions on a cardinal without first getting the approval of the Pope. The very fact that some penalties were placed on McCarrick also implies that the “rumors” against him were taken seriously enough so as to remove him from public life.
Ouellet, once more confirming that there were, indeed, penalties placed on McCarrick, goes on a little bit later to say: “Thus, the Congregation’s decision was inspired by prudence, and the letters from my predecessor [Cardinal Giovanni-Battista Re] and my own letters urged him, first through the Apostolic Nuncio Pietro Sambi and then through you, to lead a life of prayer and penance, for his own good and for the good of the Church.”
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