After the Vatican's retired ambassador to the United States levied serious accusations against senior church leadership, including Cardinal Blase Cupich, the head of the Chicago Archdiocese issued a strong response to the allegations.
Cardinal Cupich, in Ireland for Pope Francis’s visit there, issued a statement concerning the shocking memo, which was critical of Pope Francis.
Retired Cardinal Carlo Maria Vigano, who had been the nuncio, the Pope’s representative in Washington DC, confirmed the release of the eleven page memo released late Saturday.
His testimony states both Pope Benedict and Pope Francis were aware of allegations that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused seminarians and regularly invited them into his bed.
Vigano says while Benedict sanctioned McCarrick, Francis lifted those sanctions and McCarrick went on to play an important role as an adviser.
Vigano was critical of the appointments of both Cardinal Cupich and Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark. Vigano suggests that Cupich and Tobin’s appointments were orchestrated by McCarrick, and Cardinals Maradiaga and Wuerl.
In his statement Cupich says “the former nuncio is confused about the sequence of these events.” He calls Vigano’s remarks “astonishing” and notes any conversations they had were supportive and congratulatory.
“Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants pastoral bishops, and I work each day to live up to that expectation in collaboration with many fine lay and religious women and men, my brother priests and brother bishops," Cupich said. "I am proud to serve the church in Chicago and I am grateful for the help I receive.”
Cupich also responded to Vigano’s remarks concerning “the causes of clerical sexual abuse as it relates to homosexuality.”
The cardinal pointed to the study done by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice which states “the clinical dates do not support the hypothesis identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.”
Finally, Cupich says the Vigano testimony, which he places the word “testimony” in quotation marks, needs “a thorough vetting” before “any assessment of their credibility can be made.”
Here is the full statement made by Cardinal Cupich:
"The former nuncio makes a number of references to me in his “testimony.” The first is in the sentence: “This is how one explains that, as members of the Congregation for Bishops, the Pope replaced Cardinal Burke with Wuerl and immediately appointed Cupich right after he was made a cardinal.”
"The former nuncio is confused about the sequence of these events. In fact, I was appointed to the Congregation for Bishops on July 7, 2016, and was named a cardinal on October 9, 2016.
"The second reference to me is in the sentence: “The appointments of Blase Cupich to Chicago and Joseph W. Tobin to Newark were orchestrated by McCarrick, Maradiaga and Wuerl, united by a wicked pact of abuses by the first, and at least of coverup of abuses by the other two. Their names were not among those presented by the Nunciature for Chicago and Newark.”
"I consider these remarks astonishing. The only substantial conversation I have ever had about my appointment to Chicago with the former nuncio was on September 11, 2014, when he called to inform me of the appointment. The former nuncio started the conversation by saying: “I call with news of great joy. The Holy Father has appointed you the archbishop of Chicago.” He then congratulated me upon hearing of my acceptance. That is the extent of any conversation I have ever had about this matter with the former nuncio. Moreover, the former nuncio personally participated in my installation ceremony in Chicago in November 2014 and personally presided at the imposition of the pallium the following summer, and on both occasions offered only supportive remarks and congratulations. As to the issue of my appointment to Chicago as well as the question of episcopal appointments in general, I do not know who recommended me for the Archdiocese of Chicago, but I do know that Pope Francis, like his predecessors, takes seriously the appointment of bishops as one of his major responsibilities. Pope Francis has made it clear that he wants pastoral bishops, and I work each day to live up to that expectation in collaboration with many fine lay and religious women and men, my brother priests and brother bishops. I am proud to serve the church in Chicago and I am grateful for the help I receive.
"The third and fourth references to me deal with my statements on the causes of clerical sexual abuse as it relates to homosexuality. Any reference I have ever made on this subject has always been based on the conclusions of the “Causes and Context” study by the John Jay School of Criminal Justice, released in 2011, which states: “The clinical data do not support the hypothesis that priests with a homosexual identity or those who committed same-sex sexual behavior with adults are significantly more likely to sexually abuse children than those with a heterosexual orientation or behavior.” John Jay researchers came to this conclusion after reviewing many studies on the topic. Their scholarly work is not to be dismissed out of hand.
"As for the rest of the “testimony,” a thorough vetting of the former nuncio’s many claims is required before any assessment of their credibility can be made."