Vigano warns of 'doctrinal abuse' undermining Catholic Church teachings, Robert Moynihan says

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, reads the Apostolic Mandate during the Installation Mass of Archbishop Blase Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral, November 18, 2014 in Chicago.
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, Apostolic Nuncio of the United States, reads the Apostolic Mandate during the Installation Mass of Archbishop Blase Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral, November 18, 2014 in Chicago. | Getty Images/Charles Rex Arbogast

The author of a new book about Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, a whistleblower on the sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, contends that in addition to the sex abuse scandal, a “doctrinal abuse” scandal also plagues the 2,000-year-old institution.

Robert Moynihan, the editor of Inside the Vaticanmagazine, wrote a book last year titled, Finding Vigano: In Search of the Man Whose Testimony Shook the Church and the World.The book is based on conversations Moynihan had with Vigano, the Vatican’s former ambassador to the United States, who has gone into hiding after publishing a letter accusing Pope Francis of covering for former U.S. Cardinal Theodore McCarrick despite the fact that he knew of the credible allegations of sexual abuse against him.

In an interview with The Christian Post, Moynihan spoke about the state of the Catholic Church in the United States as well as his conversations with Vigano. When asked what part of his conversation with Vigano surprised him the most, Moynihan responded that it was “the … torment that he felt” about “whether or not to come forward with allegations.”

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“Instead of just speaking about abuse in the [Catholic] Church, the abuse of young people by clerics, he started to realize that there was another abuse occurring, which was the abuse of doctrine. A doctrinal abuse that is not teaching the Catholic faith but teaching a kind of secular faith, changing the teaching on life issues, on moral issues, on the sacramental issues, and even on the divinity of Christ,” he remarked.

“And he said these modern thinkers are … committing a new type of abuse: spiritual abuse. So Vigano, who began as someone who was a whistleblower on cases of sexual abuse, became a whistleblower on the entire question of whether the Church is faithful to the teaching of all time or whether it’s becoming modernist and in some ways is abandoning and apostatizing from the traditional Catholic faith.”

Moynihan described the election of President Joe Biden, a Catholic who supports abortion rights, as the latest development in the “trend of compromising the Catholic faith in order to reconcile with the pluralistic society of the United States.”

According to Moynihan, this trend began in 1960 when John F. Kennedy successfully sought to become the first Catholic president.

Kennedy had to stress that “he was not an agent of the Vatican or of the pope” and assure the public that he could “be a reasonable leader in our country which included many non-Catholics, a majority of Protestants, many non-Christians, Jews (and) many atheists.”

Moynihan contended that “he never would have been able, I think, to win the election unless he had indicated that he was a member of this American pluralistic society.”

While the Catholic Church had previously worked to respect and teach its doctrines with “utter clarity,” by guarding them in a “high-walled castle,” Moynihan maintained that “the entire trend of the last 60 years has been to take down those walls, open the church up to the surrounding society, engage in dialogue with that society and then in the positive sense, hopefully influence that society in a positive way. Not remain separate from it or judgmental of it, but to be sort of a servant of that society.”

“The point we preach now is that a Catholic president and some leading members of Congress can say that they, as Catholics, would believe that abortion is immoral, that it’s the taking of a life, of an innocent child, but then support the legality in the general society, in a pluralistic society, of permitting abortion. And they’re even promoting it in a sense, they’re making sure it’s well-funded, easily available, etc.,” he said.

And therefore, there’s become a ... sort of crisis in … our thinking and action as Catholics, because some people are criticizing the obvious inconsistency with believing in the value of life but then accepting that you can take that life. … It’s a position that many people are taking, but it makes no … moral sense and some of our bishops have said this recently.”

Moynihan told CP about how, after Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles had congratulated Biden on his victory in the 2020 presidential election while expressing concerns about his positions on abortion and “the nature of the family,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago “criticized him (Gomez) and said this is not the time or place for you … to bring up any concerns about Biden’s positions.”

“Cupich represents the trend to compromise the Catholic teaching as part of a larger vision of engaging with the society. Recogniz[ing] that the whole society isn’t Catholic and that the Catholic Church, in some cases, cannot impose its beliefs and teachings on others who don’t have those beliefs and teachings,” he asserted.

Moynihan believes that on the issue of abortion, “we have to say it’s Catholic teaching that we defend life and we cannot support this widespread openness to the taking of innocent human life.”

He lamented that there is a growing division within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church about how to address the abortion issue. While he praised Francis for saying “strong things about the defense of human life and the dignity of human life,” Moynihan acknowledged that “he’s (the pontiff) received many people and embraced many people who have been favorable to abortion so-called rights.” This paradox raises questions about the pontiff’s pro-life witness, he asserted.

“Archbishop Vigano has been outraged by this uncertainty and has said it’s something that he prays the pope will recognize and change, that he will repent of his lack of clarity … his apparent lack of clarity on this issue,” he added.

“The progressive Catholics may believe that they are being faithful to Christ’s teaching of love your neighbor and that they … therefore have to reach out with love toward … all people, sinful and sinning and imperfect people.

'So the key to the entire matter is to love the sinner but not the sin, and when we lead people in sin without encouraging them to repent, then we are being unfaithful to the teaching of the Church and to the people that we say we care about. Because in the battle for the life of the soul, we cannot affirm people in their sinful behavior,” Moynihan added.

“We have to say we love them, that we encourage them to follow Catholic moral teaching, and this is the battle line up and down where the progressives seem not to wish to condemn the sin, not even to call it a sin. The conservatives call it a sin and they’re accused of not being compassionate and loving toward the sinner.”

Regarding the battle between the traditional Catholics and the progressives, Moynihan indicated that the progressives have the upper hand because of the influence of the mainstream media.

“I think this debate, because of the enormous power of the media in our society and the websites and the internet, the trend has been to change our teaching in the direction of the LGBT proponents. And I would say, probably we’re up to 70% even of Catholics who are accepting of many of these teachings, which when you examine them closely, are not in keeping with traditional Catholic teaching.”

While Vigano acknowledges the difficulties the Catholic Church faces, he is optimistic about its future, according to Moynihan.

“He is hopeful that by a special grace, a special sort of divine intervention, that we will return to sanity, that we will return to our faith, that we will repent of our wayward ways and that (by) doing so, we will strive to bring about a new age of faith and love of God and neighbor in the future and that it isn’t impossible.”

“He’s praying for this, he doesn’t know for sure when it will occur, but he’s praying; he’s even praying for Pope Francis. He’s praying for everyone and for himself that we all strive to do the will of God and to remain faithful to the commandments of Christ.”

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