WASHINGTON — Msgr. Jean-François Lantheaume, the former first counselor at the Vatican’s apostolic nunciature in Washington, D.C., has said that the former nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, told “the truth” in his explosive statement released to the press Aug. 25.
The 11-page document contains specific allegations that senior bishops and cardinals have been aware of the allegations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick for more than a decade.
Archbishop Viganò also states that, in either 2009 or 2010, Pope Benedict XVI imposed sanctions on the disgraced cardinal “similar to those now imposed upon him by Pope Francis” and that then-Cardinal McCarrick was forbidden from traveling and speaking in public.
In his statement, Archbishop Viganò says that these were communicated to McCarrick in a stormy meeting at the nunciature in Washington D.C. by then-nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi. Archbishop Viganò directly cites Msgr. Lantheaume as having told him about the encounter, following his arrival in D.C to replace Archbishop Sambi as nuncio in 2011.
“Msgr. Jean-François Lantheaume, then first Counsellor of the Nunciature in Washington and Chargé d'Affaires ad interim after the unexpected death of Nuncio Sambi in Baltimore, told me when I arrived in Washington — and he is ready to testify to it — about a stormy conversation, lasting over an hour, that Nuncio Sambi had with Cardinal McCarrick whom he had summoned to the Nunciature. Monsignor Lantheaume told me that ‘the Nuncio’s voice could be heard all the way out in the corridor.’”
CNA contacted Msgr. Lantheaume and requested an interview with him to discuss the account attributed to him by Archbishop Viganò. Msgr. Lantheaume, who has now left the Vatican diplomatic corps and serves in priestly ministry in France, declined to give an interview, and said he had no intentions of speaking further on the matter.
“Viganò said the truth. That’s all,” he wrote to CNA.
The full text of Archbishop Viganò’s statement lists numerous senior curial cardinals, during the last three pontificates, as being aware of Archbishop McCarrick’s alleged predatory behavior but either failing to act, or in some cases deliberately acting to cover-up his alleged crimes.
The former nuncio names three Vatican secretaries of state — Cardinals Angelo Sodano (now the dean of the College of Cardinals), Tarcisio Bertone and Pietro Parolin — as having failed to curtail Archbishop McCarrick’s behavior, or positively acting to support him.
“Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the current Secretary of State, was also complicit in covering up the misdeeds of McCarrick who had, after the election of Pope Francis, boasted openly of his travels and missions to various continents,” Viganò wrote.
Most controversially, Archbishop Viganò alleges that Pope Francis acted to lift the restrictions on Archbishop McCarrick shortly after his election as pope, in 2013.
Archbishop Viganò says that he met the former Washington archbishop in June 2013 and was told by the then-cardinal, “The Pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.”
In a subsequent meeting with Francis, Archbishop Viganò says he warned the Pope about the long list of allegations against Archbishop McCarrick but that the Holy Father did not respond.
Archbishop McCarrick is believed to still be residing within the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., under conditions of “prayer, penance and seclusion” imposed by Pope Francis.