Archbishop Viganò in Hiding, Fearing for His Life After Bombshell Letter Accusing Pope Francis

FILE - In this Nov. 18, 2014 file photo, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò reads the Apostolic Mandate during the Installation Mass of Archbishop Blase Cupich at Holy Name Cathedral, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, Pool)

Archbishop Carlo Viganò has gone into hiding, in fear for his life after accusing the pope of covering up sexual misconduct in an eleven-page letter, the National Catholic Register’s Edward Pentin reported on EWTN.

Pentin is one of several journalists who broke the story about Vigano’s letter alleging Pope Francis knew about sexual abuse charges against the now retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.

Pentin reported on the story with new details from the Vatican on Monday:

Aldo Maria Valli, a journalist who works for Italian National Television, helped break the story on his blog after Viganò made the shocking revelations in a series of interviews that were arranged at his request.

Valli wrote that he had initially suggested meeting at his office or at a nearby bar for the interview, but Viganò objected, saying, “No, no, for heaven’s sake. As far as possible from the Vatican, far from prying eyes.”

So Viganò agreed to come to Valli’s home for the first interview.

According to Valli: “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.”

Viganò reportedly expressed his concern for the church, “fearing that at its summits there are people who do not work to bring the Gospel of Jesus to the men and women of our time, but to bring confusion and yield to the logic of the world.”

And then the archbishop launched into a long and melancholy monologue about 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. According to Valli, Viganò spoke almost non-stop, pausing only to take bites of food, and described events that rendered his wife and daughters speechless at times.

Valli quoted 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.”

After the archbishop left, Valli says he was tempted to rush to his computer and write down some of his “revelations.” But he resisted the temptation because Viganò had not given him permission to write about the conversation. The archbishop hadn’t given instructions one way or another, according to Valli, and it occurred to him that the archbishop wanted to see if he could be trusted.

Approximately a month later, Viganò called again, requesting a second meeting at Valli’s house. This time he focused on his years in America and dropped some bombs about the McCarrick case. The archbishop made it clear that for many years, the hierarchy in the U.S. and in the Vatican knew about the disgraced former cardinal’s sexual crimes, “Yet they have covered.”

When Valli asked if everyone knew about the cover-up, Viganò replied with a nod, “yes: just everyone.” And he made it clear that by “everyone, ” he meant Pope Francis too. “Yet he let McCarrick circulate undisturbed, making fun of the bans imposed on him by Benedict XVI.”

Viganò explained that the sexual abuse was far more prevalent than people realized, and it was incorrect to think of it as pedophilia because in “the vast majority of cases” it was a matter of “homosexual clerics that hunt for adolescent males.”

Shocked by the distressing revelations, Valli asked Viganò how such a thing could have happened. The archbishop 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, according to Valli, he met with Viganò for the third and last time at an undisclosed location.

The archbishop, donning dark sunglasses and a baseball cap, reportedly handed Valli the eleven-page document with the accusations. He also shared his letter with another Italian blogger and also with an Englishman, an American, and a Canadian, with the intention that they all publish the letter at the same time.

They ultimately decided to publish the letter on August 26 because the pope, returning from Dublin, would have the opportunity to reply by answering questions from journalists on the plane — which is exactly what happened.

Viganò now plans to flee the country.

According to Valli,  “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.”