The Vigano Enigma
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò

The Vigano Enigma

Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, like many others who find themselves at odds with Church authorities, has chosen to take his defense to the court of public opinion. In his June 29, 2024 statement, Vigano’s Statement [Translated] (spiritdaily.org), he claims that because the one accusing him is the actual schismatic, he is under no obligation to appear before his accuser. How can he be in schism from a Church that is no longer the Church founded by Jesus? “A schismatic sect accuses me of schism.”  Early on in his statement he declares “I do not recognize the authority of the tribunal that claims to judge me, nor of its Prefect, nor of the one who appointed him.” Again later in the document he states “I strongly reject the accusation of having torn the seamless garment of the Savior and of having departed from being under the Supreme Authority of the Vicar of Christ: in order to separate myself from ecclesial communion with Jorge Mario Bergoglio, I would have to have first been in communion with him, which is not possible since Bergoglio himself cannot be considered a member of the Church, due to his multiple heresies and his manifest alienness and incompatibility with the role he invalidly and illicitly holds.”  He makes a strong appeal to the heresies of Pope Francis, yet he does not tell us what is heretical and where Pope Francis and the magisterium have officially taught anything against the teachings of the Church. Vigano here, employs the logical fallacy of tu quoque, avoiding having to engage with criticism by turning it back on the accuser – answering criticism with criticism.

Not only does Vigano call into question the legitimacy of Pope Francis, but all of the Popes from St. Pope Paul VI to Francis.“Since it is not theologically tenable that the Church and the Papacy are instruments of perdition rather than of salvation, we must necessarily conclude that the heterodox teachings conveyed by the so-called “conciliar church” and the “popes of the Council” from Paul VI onwards constitute an anomaly that seriously calls into question the legitimacy of their magisterial and governing authority.” 

Vigano justifies himself by invoking his authority as a bishop.“I would break the oath taken on the day of my ordination and renewed on the occasion of my episcopal consecration. As the successor of the Apostles, I cannot and will not accept to witness the systematic demolition of Holy Church and the damnation of so many souls without trying by every means to oppose all this.” Further, “My defense is therefore not a personal one, but rather a defense of the Holy Church of Christ, in which I have been constituted a Bishop and Successor of the Apostles, with the precise mandate of safeguarding the Deposit of Faith and preaching the Word.”

If Vigano truly believes that the conciliar popes did not have legitimate magisterial and governing authority the logical conclusion is that the Chair of Peter has been vacant for 60 years. How then, can he claim to be a bishop and successor of the Apostles? There is a process for being elevated to the office of bishop which requires the direct approval of the pope. The Process for the Appointment of Bishops (diolc.org). If in fact, the “conciliar popes” have no legitimate authority or governance, then St. Pope John Paul II had no authority to appoint Carlo Maria Vigano a bishop in April of 1992. Quoting the Bull Cum ex apostolates officio of Paul IV, Vigano makes the assertion, “established in perpetuity the nullity of the nomination or election of any Prelate – including the Pope – who had fallen into heresy before his promotion to Cardinal or elevation to Roman Pontiff. It defines the promotion or elevation as nulla, irrita et inanis – void, invalid, and without any value… Paul IV adds that all the acts performed by this person are to be considered equally null.”  

If then, the conciliar popes actions are nulla, irrita et inanis – void, invalid, and without any value, and the acts performed by them are equally null, it can be concluded that Vigano was never raised to the episcopate. In fact, if that is the case, since the elevation of Paul VI to the chair of Peter on June 21, 1963, all appointments of bishops are null. If that is the case the appointment of 9,521 bishops, including his own, are null. Newly Elected Bishops in 2024 (gcatholic.org)  Imagine the implications if that were true. 9,521 not really bishops have ordained how many not really ordained priests who have celebrated how many not really valid sacraments with no really true Eucharist, and no truly forgiven sins in the confessional. Have the gates of hell prevailed against the Church? Vigano seems to imply they have. Vigano postulates that the Church is now the “antichurch”, that under the conciliar popes has moved on “from the clear and unequivocal formulation of Dogmas – to the present apostasy… when the absolute is removed from the Truth and relativized by adapting it to the spirit of the world… whereas for the Catholic believer the Church is One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic, for Bergoglio the Church is conciliar, ecumenical, synodal, inclusive, immigrationist, eco-sustainable, and gay-friendly.”  Is Vigano equating prudential judgements in pastoral ministry to dogma? One can belong to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church while exercising prudential judgements in non-dogmatic disciplines. Difference in opinion on the environment, immigration, how to minister to LGBTQ+ people, and ecumenical activity are not incompatible with being One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic.

Vigano concludes once again, tu quoque, deflecting the charges against him back onto the magisterium. “I equally condemn, reject, and refuse the heterodox doctrines expressed in the so-called “post-conciliar magisterium” that originated with Vatican II, as well as the recent heresies relating to the “synodal church,” the reformulation of the Papacy in an ecumenical key, the admission of concubinaries to the Sacraments, and the promotion of sodomy and “gender” ideology. I also condemn Bergoglio’s adherence to climate fraud, a mad neo-Malthusian superstition engendered by those who, hating the Creator, cannot help but also detest Creation, and man along with it, who is made in the image and likeness of God.”

Like Pope Francis or not, his papacy and magisterium have not officially taught any errors against the teachings of the Church. Pope Francis seems to like to initiate dialogue around uncomfortable topics, and he often seems a little vague, opening the door for what appears to be a possibility for changing Church teaching. However, Pope Francis has on many occasions confirmed Church teaching on controversial topics. Vigano accuses Pope Francis of the heresy of a synodal church. Pope Francis strongly rebuked the misuse of the synodal process, especially with the German Church.

Pope Francis decries German Synodal Way as ‘neither helpful nor serious’ | Catholic News Agency. And German bishops halt move toward establishing a Synodal Council at Vatican’s request | Catholic News Agency. Pope Francis has confirmed that the Synod is not a democratic process to be used to change, by popular vote, the teachings of the Church in matters of homosexual marriage, gender ideology, the ordination of women and the hierarchical structure of the Church.

Vigano also accuses Pope Francis of promoting sodomy and gender ideology. That is not consistent with what Pope Francis has publicly affirmed. He has firmly stated that the Church cannot bless homosexual relationships because the Church cannot bless sin. Pope: Church open to all, but ‘no’ to blessings of same-sex unions – Vatican News He has called Gender Ideology the Ugliest Danger of our time. Pope Francis: Gender ideology is the ugliest danger of our time – Vatican News. As to Pope Francis and his views on climate change, vaccinations, immigration and other matters of non-dogmatic issues, he is welcome to exercise his prudential judgement, as are any of the Catholic faithful.

Vigano, as many others in the Church today, holds a declinistic view of the world. Declinisim remembers the past as better than it was and expects the future to be worse than evidence suggests it will be. If nothing else has been learned in 2,000 years since the founding of the Catholic Church, it is that things change. In the Church, things change slowly over decades, moving at the speed of Church. Scripture teaches in Ecclesiastes:

What has been, that will be; what has been done, that will be done. Nothing is new under the sun. Even the thing of which we say, “See, this is new!” has already existed in the ages that preceded us. There is no remembrance of the men of old; nor of those to come will there be any remembrance among those who come after them. 

Ecclesiastes 1:9-11

This time of upheaval in the Church is nothing new. There have been good popes and bad. There have been faithful bishops and not so faithful. There have been changes in liturgical practices, disciplines, science, Church attendance, persecutions in various countries, governments interfering with and trying to influence the Church leadership and doctrines. The Church has persevered and remained because Jesus promised it would and the Holy Spirit moves within it. The Church is holy, but not all its members are. God must have a sense of humor. He gave His spotless bride, the unblemished and Holy Church, into the hands of fallible men to administer. 

What can be done? In all of this, trust in Jesus and His promise. Do not give up on the virtue of hope for the future. Live an authentically holy Catholic life, immersed in prayer and the sacraments. Pray for the end of division not only in the Catholic Church, but in Christianity as a whole. Do this and the peace of Christ will not be stolen from your heart.

May the Lord grant you His peace!

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Written by
David Seitz