The former Vatican ambassador to the United States, who called on Pope Francis to resign over allegations that he was covering-up child abuse by priests, says corruption has reached the top levels of the Church hierarchy.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who has gone into hiding over fears for his safety since his 11-page testament released over the weekend, told an Italian journalist that he did not act out of anger or revenge.
“I spoke out because by now the corruption has arrived at the top of the church hierarchy,” Archbishop Vigano was quoted as saying.
The 77-year-old papal ambassador, who is known for his conservative views, said that he has “never had feelings of vendetta and rancor in all these years.”
Vigano also said that he was “serene and at peace” after publishing the letter, but saddened by what he described as subsequent attempts to undermine his credibility.
He claimed there was a “conspiracy of silence not so dissimilar from the one that prevails in the mafia.”
In the letter published on Sunday, Vigano accused Pope Francis of having known for years about the sexual misconduct by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the former archbishop of Washington, but preferred to ignore those allegations and instead rehabilitated him as a powerful figure in the American church.
Vigano accused a long list of current and past Vatican and US Church officials of covering up the case of Cardinal McCarrick, who was forced to resign last month.
Pope has declined to respond to the allegations.
Where is Vigano?
The Italian journalist Aldo Maria Valli, via whom Vigano has been communicating, said that the archbishop had “purchased an aeroplane ticket.”
Recounting a meeting with Vigano, Valli said the archbishop told him he would leave the country.
“He cannot tell me where he is going. I am not to look for him. His old mobile phone number will no longer work. We say goodbye for the last time,” Valli said.
Vigano said in the letter that he was being punished for uncovering corruption in the Vatican.
He wrote that Pope Francis and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI were aware of sexual abuse by McCarrick, who led churches in the Washington region from 2001 to 2006.
The letter has prompted reaction from within the Catholic community. The church’s conservatives, who regard the Pope as unsuitably liberal, called for a full investigation into Vigano’s allegations.
The Pope was in Ireland when the letter was released on Sunday. During his 36-hour visit to the country, he apologized to people in Ireland and “begged for God’s forgiveness” for several abuse scandals within the Irish church over many decades.
If proven, the allegations would be extremely damaging to the reputation of Pope Francis and the Vatican, which has already come under pressure since the pontiff prompted international outrage in January by defending a controversial bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by a fellow Chilean priest.
The Vatican was rocked this month by a devastating US report into child sex scandal that accused more than 300 priests in the state of Pennsylvania of abusing more than 1,000 children since the 1950s.