Archbishop Carlo Mario Vigano and Pope Francis, in 2013 (Vatican video screengrab)
The New York Times writes about the contretemps between Archbishop Vigano and the Vatican over the 2015 meeting Pope Francis had with Kim Davis. Team Francis has responded to Vigano’s defense, and in so doing, has confirmed his basic narrative. Excerpts:
Archbishop Viganò said in the letter that he had fully briefed Francis and his top advisers, all of whom he named, about Ms. Davis and her “conscientious objection” to promoting same-sex marriage. He received approval from them all, he said.
On Sunday, Father Lombardi issued a joint statement with the Rev. Thomas Rosica, who has also spoken for the Vatican in the past, making note of “the fact that Viganò had spoken the night before the meeting (with Kim Davis) with the pope and his collaborators and had received a consensus.”
Father Lombardi and Father Rosica nevertheless said Francis had felt “deceived” by Archbishop Viganò. Contrary to the claims of the archbishop, they said, the pope was furious over the meeting, which threatened to eclipse the entire visit to the United States by derailing his message of inclusion.
In the days after the  media tempest about the meeting, the Vatican sought to distance Francis from Ms. Davis and put the blame on Archbishop Viganò.
The Vatican press office asserted that the pope had never received Ms. Davis in a private audience and said the pope had probably not been briefed. The Vatican instead highlighted Francis’ warm meeting at the Washington Embassy with a gay former student and his partner.
This week, an article in The New York Times quoted a Chilean abuse survivor, Juan Carlos Cruz, as recounting that Francis had told him that Archbishop Viganò sneaked Ms. Davis into the Vatican Embassy in Washington for the private meeting. The pope told him he had not known who she was or why she was a contentious figure, Mr. Cruz said.
Mr. Cruz recalled the pope saying, “I was horrified and I fired that nuncio.”
Archbishop Viganò, in the letter published on Friday by LifeSiteNews, a conservative Catholic outlet, said Mr. Cruz’s account had prompted him to set the record straight.
“One of them is lying: either Cruz or the pope?” he wrote. “What is certain is that the pope knew very well who Davis was, and he and his close collaborators had approved the private audience.”
On Sunday, the pope’s allies seemed to confirm that.
Well, how about that!
Maybe this just goes to show why the Vatican is being so tight-lipped about the Vigano charges. They know that if they tell anything approaching the truth, it will vindicate Vigano.
Today in Rome, Pope Francis gave a homily at mass in which he praised the virtue of silence. Excerpts from the news report:
Jesus himself showed that the best way to respond to scandal and divisiveness is to stay silent and pray, Pope Francis said Sept. 3 as he resumed his early morning Masses with invited guests.
“With people lacking good will, with people who seek only scandal, with those who look only for division, who want only destruction,” he said, the best response is “silence. And prayer.”
According to a Vatican News report on the homily, Pope Francis said that it was with his silence that Jesus defeated the “wild dogs,” the devil, who “had sown lies in the hearts.”
“It wasn’t people, it was a pack of wild dogs that chased him out of the city,” the pope said. But Jesus is silent. “It is the dignity of Jesus. With his silence he defeats that wild pack and walks away because it was not yet his hour.’
“This teaches us that when there is this way of acting, of not seeing the truth, silence remains,” he said.
How do you say “I am not a crook” in church Latin?
So: the Pope believes that he should not have to answer these very serious and plausible charges made against him by the former papal nuncio because he has judged Vigano a liar. This is weak. This is very weak. Given this Pope’s recent experience with sex abuse — he called the Chilean abuse victims liars, until it was proven that the Pope’s judgment was wrong, and he apologized — he has no reasonable expectation that the public should take his word for it in such matters.
Maybe Vigano really is a liar. If so, the Pope should speak to reporters and rebut Vigano’s charges, one by one. The Pope should tell the curial cardinals accused by Vigano of cover-up for McCarrick to speak to the media and tell them what they know. The Pope should hand over documents that discredit Vigano. If the Pope is not guilty of these charges, he has nothing to fear.
His unwillingness to address them, and instead to wear a cloak of Christlikeness, is an appalling evasion. The pro-Francis commentariat is declaring that the crisis has passed, and the Vigano charges have been routed. That’s wishful thinking. This Nixonian stonewalling does not look like strength, but like fear.
But look: now is the time for Vigano to reveal whatever documents he still has. There has been speculation that Vigano is holding more cards in his hand than he has revealed to this point. If this is true, the Archbishop should stop playing strategy games, and get everything he has into public. He should release them to a reputable mainstream media journalist, who can be trusted to report honestly on them.
In his homily today, the Pope indirectly called Vigano a liar (“had sown lies in the hearts”). Francis makes this insult while hiding behind a tissue-thin veil of virtue. If Vigano has further documents that can rend this garment once and for all, he should come forward with them now.