•  ChurchMilitant.com  •  September 10, 2018

Nuncio’s defense in criminal case certain to turn on scope of enforceability of oath

For centuries, the mere mention of any violation of a “Secret of the Holy Office” was held to be something nefas — evil — abhorrent even to the imagination on the part of any true servant of the Vicar of Christ on Earth laboring in the Roman Curia. Then comes along Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, seasoned Vatican diplomat and former papal nuncio to the United States, who, in one fell swoop of penning his testimony, has done the unthinkable: apparently violate not once, but repeatedly the oath of pontifical secrecy he was solemnly administered to observe when he first assumed office in the Secretariat of State.

The question now is, can Viganò be prosecuted successfully in a court of law for what he and many say was such needed action, but what others would argue constitutes the nefarious crime of periurium — perjury?

To the knowledge of ecclesiastical historians, never before has such a high-ranking former papal legate of the Roman Pontiff divulged so many sensitive state secrets to so many people in such great detail in so short a period of time. The repercussions of Abp. Viganò’s actions were not just immediate in effect but are long-lasting in consequence. Many other dipendenti of the Roman Curia have knowledge of many, many things pertaining to their colleague office-holders.

The oath of pontifical secrecy that Abp. Viganò, as a member of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See and its diplomatic corps, has taken is the following [draft translation from Latin]:

I, standing before His Eminence the cardinal secretary of state, having touched the sacrosanct Gospels of God, promise that I will faithfully observe the pontifical secret in causes and matters which are to be treated under the same secret, such that in no manner whatsoever, under any pretext, either for a greater good, or for a most urgent and most grave reason, permit myself to violate the aforesaid secret.

I promise to observe the secret, as referenced above, even in causes and matters that have been completed, for which such a secret is imposed. Whereas if in some case it should happen that an occasion bring me to have a doubt about the obligation of the aforesaid secret, I will interpret [it] in favor of the same secret. In like manner, I know that a transgressor of this kind of secret commits a grave sin.

So help me God, and these His Holy Gospels, which I touch with my own hands.

According to art. 36, § 1 and § 2 of the Vatican’s General Regulation of the Roman Curia, all those who work in the Roman Curia are bound to observe pontifical secrecy regarding any matter of which knowledge they gain by reason of their service of the Holy See.

Does this mean that Abp. Viganò necessarily committed a mortal sin and canonical crime(s) for his having violated pontifical secrecy?

The patron saint of moral theologians and Doctor of the Church, St. Alphonsus de Liguori, has written the following opinions in his magnum opus, his Theologia Moralis [draft translation]:

One may manifest a committed secret [secretum commissum], at least without grave sin: … 4°. Out of a just reason, namely if observing the secret might lead to damnum commune[harm to the common good] … because in this case, the order of charity postulates that it may be revealed: wherefore even if you mightest have taken an oath, in this case, you mayest divulge [the committed secret]. … [III, 970] No one is bound by a secret, even should it have been promised by oath, when the secret leads to damnum commune [VI, 698].

“Common good” is the highest good of all, that inuring to the republic, or in ecclesiastical equivalence, the bonum ecclesiae.

In order to escape canonical liability for having violated the pontifical secret, and this multiple times, as it is being alleged by Cdl. Pietro Parolin, Abp. Viganò would have to show that he committed only apparent, not true perjury, due to the supreme need to protect harm to the bonum commune ecclesiae, the common good of the Church.

In this testimony, Viganò writes:

These homosexual networks, which are now widespread in many dioceses, seminaries, religious orders, etc. act under concealment of secrecy and lies with the power of octopus tentacles, and strangle innocent victims and priestly vocations, and are strangling the entire Church. … And how many other evil pastors is Francis still continuing to prop up in their active destruction of the Church! [my emphasis]

Provided that Abp. Viganò could prove the veracity of the above to the judges of the Tribunal of the Vatican City State or Commission of the Secretariat of State competent to adjudicate the alleged crimes for which he could be prosecuted, the former ambassador stands a very good chance, at least theoretically, of being able to escape punishment for his having risked everything, including his own spiritual salvation, in defense of the common good of the Church.

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  1. I would await comment from eminent canonista and historians on this question.
    It could be just as CM’s article states but it will be a very complicated matter to settle. There ARE legitimate occasions wherein secrecy matters greatly. And it is invariably risky to violate agreements to maintain it. The weight of allegations involving a vast criminal conspiracy can and ought to force the dilemma to be roundly discussed by truly competent ecclesiastical, moral theology and criminal law specialists.

  2. Anyone with an open line to Cd. Burke ought to contact him and ask for his professional opinion regarding claims made in the CM article.

  3. One surely wonders about the oath that was imposed on Viganó. It sounds *almost* Masonic in its rigorousness. The only thing that moderates that rigor is the clause:
    “Whereas if in some case it should happen that an occasion bring me to have a doubt about the obligation of the aforesaid secret, I will interpret [it] in favor of the same secret.”
    This at least leaves open that, if one has NO doubt that one is morally obliged to divulge certain things, one can do so.
    St. Alphonsus only confirms what the catechisms teach about a similar case, that not only is no one bound to keep an oath that binds one to do evil, but on the contrary, one is bound to break such an oath.
    Now the oath of the Papal Secret in itself has a good object, so the oath is good in itself. But if St. Alphonsus is right — and he is, after all, a Doctor of the Church, and especially respecting his moral theology — one may be obligated to break any oath if the circumstances change so as to make the keeping of that oath, per accidens, result in a grave harm to the common good.
    And that’s only common sense.
    But that’s not all.
    One could also make an argument that there is serious reason to think that Frankenpope was illegally elected (by the St. Gallen Homafia), and indeed specifically so that he could protect and further the Homafia’s agenda. In which case, even if he is, ex post facto, a real pope, he, specifically as pope, has no claim to loyalty. I’m probably wrong about that, but the consideration, at least, has to be made, even if the conclusion may be different.
    In any case, I would surely like to see Frankenpope and his minions take Viganó to trial for the alleged crime. It is hard to imagine how they would be able to convict him. It’s much more likely that a great deal more dirty secrets of the Chief Enabler and the Homafia would come out.
    And they don’t want that.
    I do believe that Viganó is in the clear.
    His main concern right now is probably just avoiding an untimely death — like what happened to Meisner and Caraffa.
    JMHO. I am not a canonist or moral theologian.

  4. Btw, St. Alphonsus was so brilliant he was admitted to practice law at age 14.
    I’d take his word on any matter.

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