In an article published on Monday, Aldo Maria Valli, a journalist who works for Italian National Television, writes that Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, whose 11-page letter accused the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church of covering up allegations of sex abuse by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, said the archbishop planned to flee Italy and go into hiding before his letter was published.
Valli had interviewed Viganò about the cover-up issue before the publication of the accusations. According to Valli, the first time they set up an interview, he suggested meeting at his office or at a nearby bar, but Viganò demurred, saying, “No, no, for heaven’s sake. As far as possible from the Vatican, far from prying eyes.” Valli then suggested Viganò come to Valli’s home.
Valli continues, “When the archbishop arrives, on a warm evening of almost summer, I see a man older than I remembered. He smiles, but it soon becomes clear that something oppresses him. It has a weight in the heart.” Valli writes that Viganò spoke of his experience in the Secretariat of State, at the head of the Vatican City Governorate and as a nuncio in Nigeria and in the United States.
Valli quotes Viganò saying, “I am seventy-seven years old, I am at the end of my life. I do not care about men’s judgment. The only judgment that matters is that of the good God. He will ask me what I have done for the Church of Christ and I want to be able to answer that I have defended and served until the end.”
Valli surmised that Viganò met with him the first time to see if he could trust him. After roughly one month’s time, Valli notes, Viganò called, asking for another meeting at Valli’s house, where he focused on his years in America. Valli writes, “But this time he focuses more on the American years. He cites the McCarrick case, the former cardinal found guilty of serious abuses, and makes it clear that everyone knew, in the U.S. and in the Vatican, for a long time, for years. Yet they have covered.”
According to Valli, when Valli asked if everyone knew about the cover-up, Viganò replied with a nod, yes: just everyone. Valli writes that he asked why such a thing could have occurred. Viganò answered, “Because those cracks mentioned by Paul VI, from which Satan’s smoke would have slipped into the house of God, have become chasms. The devil is working great. And not to admit it, or turn your face to the other side, it would be our greatest sin.”
A few days later, the men allegedly met for the third time, although Valli writes that he cannot divulge the place of the meeting. Viganò wore sunglasses and a baseball cap and handed Valli the document with the accusations. Valli writes that the fact that Viganò did not belabor him to publish the letter caused him to trust Viganò even more.
The two men ultimately agreed to publish the information on August 26 because the pope, returning from Dublin, would have the opportunity to reply by answering questions from journalists on the plane.
Then, Valli writes, “He tells me he has already bought a plane ticket. Will go abroad. He cannot tell me where. I will not have to look for it. The old mobile number will no longer be used.”