Viganò’s extra-judicial trial of Francis. Ending abuse of power with the same?

pope francis cardinal mccarrick

Archbishop Viganò has published a second letter. LifeSite has a PDF, Scio cui credidi. In it, he describes the dynamic of what is going on:

“The pope’s unwillingness to respond to my charges and his deafness to the appeals by the faithful for accountability are hardly consistent with his calls for transparency and bridge building.”

Sure. That’s right. Almost 100%. But there’s one little bit that’s wrong in which one forgets the old maxim:

  • Bonum ex integra causa (It’s good if it’s all good).
  • Malum ex quocumque defectu (It’s bad if there is any defect whatsoever).

The presentation of Archbishop Viganò is almost 100%, but doesn’t quite make it all the way. So, what do we actually have here?

This is actually a final judgment rendered in an extra-judicial trial conducted by Archbishop Viganò over against the one who is called the Supreme Pontiff for a reason. The Bishop of Rome cannot legitimately be tried in an ecclesiastical court with or without the trappings of ecclesiastical fanfare, by Council or not. Saying something, whatever, and then demanding an answer is no way to go about things with the Pope. Making an accusation and being met by silence doesn’t always mean that one consents, the old Qui tacet, tacet consentire (the one who keeps silence, keeps silence in order to consent).

If one puts this kind of pressure on the Holy Father, there is all of a sudden something much bigger at play. It is a utilitarian usage of abuse (an insult to real victims) in order to bring about another agenda, the downfall not of a particular bishop of Rome, but the downfall of the papacy itself, the downfall of the Catholic Church. It’s all about power. It always is. Abuse of power is always ugly. It’s the old taunting “Nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah nyeah.” That’s NOT to say that there isn’t something to the charges. It’s the way of bringing items to the Holy Father that really does count.

Long time readers will know that I myself brought a couple of matters to the attention of the Holy Father quietly, without publicizing what those two matters were other than to say that one deals with the Holy See and the other with the McCarrick affair. There was a response, an awesome response, as I have reported. Anyway…

Fighting abuse of power with the abuse of power is no way to end the abuse of power. In doing exorcisms, one might notice that Satan is especially good at mind games in getting people to abuse power. That’s what he does.

“But it’s all about the children!” splutter the self-righteous abuse of power mongers. No, it’s not about the children, except to make a utilitarian usage of them, again. That’s offensive. There are other ways.

I’ll make you a bet:

  • I’m not a betting man, but I bet you that McCarrick will be dismissed from the clerical state in the not-too-distant future. The winner and loser of this bet have to say a Hail Mary for McCarrick and another for Pope Francis and another for the Church. Either way, do it.

Don’t get me wrong: 

I’m all for helping the Holy Father discern all that which is good and holy. I’ve done that with Benedict XVI. I’ve done that with Francis. Let me slightly edit Saint Paul’s words to the Ephesians (3:14-21), replacing “you” with “the Pope” so as to let you know my wishes for Pope Francis:

“I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant [the Pope] in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in [the Pope’s] heart[-] through faith; that [the Pope], rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that [the Pope] may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine, by the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”

  • What Saint Paul is talking about cuts through any mind games, any politics.
  • What Saint Paul is talking about is enough to bring any Pope to confirm his brothers in the faith.

What surprises me…

What surprises me is the almost non-existent theology regarding the papacy even by those who claim to be theologians, and orthodox to boot. Almost no one knows what Infallibility is about, what it’s consequences are. The extra-judicial judgment thing is just one more sign of ignorance as to what being the Bishop of Rome is all about.


Filed under Abuse, Missionaries of Mercy, Pope Francis

19 responses to “Viganò’s extra-judicial trial of Francis. Ending abuse of power with the same?

  1. James Anderson

    Isn’t the official way to request a clarification from the Pope the Dubia? Are there examples in the gospels of Jesus refusing to answer a request for clarification?
    Malum ex quocumque defectu would indicate that a lot of the things the Pope has said and done are bad. We know from history that many Popes have been bad. How do we differentiate the good from the bad?
    I have been in teaching positions many times over the years and I would say the two main responsibilities of a teacher are to teach truth and to do it in a way that enlightens rather than confuses those being taught.

  2. Jenna Payne

    I’m not sure I follow you here, Father Byers. Are you saying that Archbishop Vigano is abusing his power? Because many faithful Catholics are considering him a hero right now.

  3. pelerin

    Sometimes I feel as if I want to crawl under a stone until it is all ‘sorted’ to use the current ‘in’ phrase.

  4. sanfelipe007

    “It’s the way of bringing items to the Holy Father that really does count.”

    I agree; Vigano’ is going about this the wrong way. It’s so easy to be persuaded by the adversary that one is engaging in (possesses?) righteousness.

  5. Aussie Mum

    There is so much confusion about the current papacy that faithful Catholics don’t know what to believe. Some think he cannot be the pope, and some that he is the pope but should resign/abdicate, others that Benedict XVI is still pope, and still others that Pope Francis and Benedict XVI are pope together. Father, you have stated that Francis is indeed pope and no-one has the right to call for his abdication. I accept this, or at least I am trying to since I believe you to be a holy, well formed and informed shepherd. However, I don’t know what to make of Archbishop Ganswein’s assertion reported in the Catholic Register (May 23rd 2016). It reads in part:
    ‘that since Francis’ election, there are not “two popes, but de facto an expanded ministry — with an active member (Francis) and a contemplative member (Benedict).” He (Ganswein) added that this is why Benedict XVI “has not given up his name”, unlike Pope Celestine V who reverted to his name Pietro da Marrone, “nor the white cassock.” ‘
    Is this possible?

    • Father George David Byers

      Ganswein is too poetic. The papacy is not an office to be manipulated but rather is one with the Bishop of Rome. Ratzinger abdicated the papacy by no longer being Bishop of Rome.

  6. Joisy Goil

    Growing up I always thought that priests (and nuns) were experts with our religion. I mean, that they would know much about the faith and devotions. That the faith would be their first and dearest priority. As an adult I was shocked to meet some religious who were clueless or disinterested. If they weren’t clueless they put on a great act. Fatima and Divine Mercy, are just two things I expected they would embrace and yet that was not the case. I am so confused.

  7. jrpayne827

    Joisy Goil, you are not the only one who is confused. It is such a shame that Pope Francis has let it come to this. We need to pray for him, as well as Archbishop Vigano, who is putting everything on the line for the bride of Christ.

  8. Joisy Goil

    jrpayne827, I agree with you 100%. only prayer will get us through this mess. I hold fast to, and find comfort in Jesus’ words that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church. When I was young I used to wonder why He said that. Now I understand.

  9. Mary E

    I pray for the Holy Father daily, and I’ve added prayers for Archbishop Vigano, Archbishop DiNardo, my own archbishop, William Lori, and for all priests.

    And, Father Byers, I will think about what you’ve said, and I will take the warning seriously and pray on it. Still, I’m not yet persuaded that Vigano’s approach, provocative as it is, is the wrong one. Perhaps it’s a product of desperation. Apparently, I don’t understand a lot of things about the Papacy because I don’t understand most of the points you made. (Embarrassing but true!). But I do understand that many faithful Catholics are in serious distress, and Vigano’s words have connected with that sense of distress, and with a feeling that some of the current crisis has come about because the senior leaders of the Church have become too “worldly,” too concerned with adjusting the Church to the evr-shifting demands of the world. So far, Pope Francis has not offered reassurance and guidance in a manner that I can understand. Maybe the Pope doesn’t have to. Maybe we shouldn’t need that reassurance. But when there is a leadership vacuum, people begin to fill the gap however they can. Which is dangerous in itself.

    Dismissing McCarrick from the clerical state would be a good gesture but at any rate, he’s merely perched at the tip of the iceberg. What happens after that? That’s what I would be interested in seeing.

    • Father George David Byers

      Totally agree.

    • jrpayne827

      Mary, that is an excellent post, and I whole-heartedly agree with you. Many faithful Catholics are looking at what AB Vigano has done, as being thrown a life preserver when in danger of drowning.

      I fully respect the office of the papacy and know that if we are to remain in the barque of Peter, we have to walk a fine line in these times. It’s just that so many of us have been in distress (as you so aptly put it), and the Pope has yet to come to our aid. As you said, maybe we shouldn’t expect that or need it. We are most likely spoiled by the Popes who came before Pope Francis: one of them already a canonized saint.

      On a positive note, Fr. Byers got a very good response to the things which he brought to the Pope’s attention. Praise God for that!

      Prayer, sacrifices, and personal holiness are what we can each focus on while things play out.

  10. sanfelipe007

    @ Mary E
    Thank you for your latest comment. I found it thoughtful and helpful. I thank you all for the strengthening of one another in the faith.

  11. Hidden One

    Father, please help me understand. Let’s suppose, going back in time to the summer before the 11 page testimony was published, that Abp. Vigano had consulted you. For the sake of understanding, let’s also suppose that all of his claims in that testimony and in his subsequent messages, are true. In that situation, what exactly would you advise him to do, and why?

    • Father George David Byers

      Give it to me and I’ll give it over. Because I can. A Pope cannot be dragged through a Church process. He doesn’t have to answer to a lesser authority which them would not be a lesser authority. Do the illegitimate nuclear option once and that’s it for your favorite Pope, like any other one. Politics and pressure is not the way to go.

      • jrpayne827

        Well, the Dubia didn’t work. And although that was a different issue, I think it teaches us that Pope Francis is going to ignore this kind of thing.
        Apparently AB Vigano saw no other way to let the faithful pew sitters know what is going on.

  12. Aussie Mum

    I think I am beginning to understand what Father Byers means. It took going back and forth between St Paul’s words to the Ephesians, as Father has written them above, and his response to a comment where he says “Politics and pressure is not the way to go.”

    Politics is a worldly, not a heavenly thing and is about the exercise of power by men (and women) affected by original sin. Members of the Church are also affected by original sin, but having been incorporated into Christ at Baptism means we have “put on Christ” and must strive to think and act as He does, not as the world does. This is particularly difficult today.

    Most of us have been raised in Protestant countries that are fast becoming Atheist ones, and this immersion in a rebellious atmosphere colours our thinking unless, like St Paul and Father Byers, we focus on the truth handed down to us from the Apostles and totally trust Our Lord as they did/do.

    Pope Francis might be a bad pope – I think he is – but we, with a few exceptions (the saints among us), have also become bad or at least poor Catholics. We don’t trust Our Lord and rely on Him as St Paul did otherwise we wouldn’t be viewing the dismal state of the Church through a political filter. I am guilty of this, but as Father Byers reminds us in response to another comment above, “Faith is not democratic”. Thinking like children of the world is what got the Church into this mess and it will only turn around when we think like children of God.

    The politically minded had Our Lord and the martyrs who followed Him killed, and when we give in to a political mindset we increase the very divisions in the Church that apall us and which we want not to exist. Instead we must trust in God and pray and be faithful like never before. Then, when we are what we should be, God will give us a pope who is as he should be.

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