Last March, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano dined on the outskirts of Rome at the home of a conservative Italian Catholic journalist. Over pasta, fish and white wine, the prelate poured out his concern for the future of the Roman Catholic Church.
It was the start of about five months of contacts and collaboration between Vigano and several conservative journalists and media outlets that would lead to one of the greatest crises for the Church in modern times.
In a bombshell statement published last weekend when Pope Francis was in Ireland, Vigano, the former Vatican ambassador to Washington, urged Francis to resign on the grounds he knew for years about the sexual misconduct of an American cardinal and did nothing.
The full extent of journalists’ involvement in the statement – from conception and editing to translation and publication – emerges from a series of Reuters interviews that reveal a union of conservative clergy and media aimed at what papal defenders say is a campaign to weaken the reformist Francis’s pontificate.
Since his election in 2013, conservatives have sharply criticized Francis, saying he has left many faithful confused by pronouncements that the Church should be more welcoming to homosexuals and divorced Catholics and not be obsessed by “culture war” issues such as abortion.
“The conservatives have declared war and they are convinced they can reform the Church with a frontal attack,” a senior Vatican prelate said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because “the line is silence” now. [Continue reading…]