December 24, 2020 (Steven O’Reilly) – Roma Locuta Est continues to explore and piece together the happenings surrounding and subsequent to the 2013 conclave which elected Cardinal Bergoglio, particularly as these relate to the ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Our articles to date on the subject have been assembled in the The Conclave Chronicles.
Roma Locuta Est recently came across an interesting piece of information on McCarrick. Before presenting it, let us review some of the background.
McCarrick and the 2013 Conclave
Archbishop Vigano in his Testimony had spoken of the “important part he (i.e., McCarrick) had played in his (i.e., Bergoglio’s) recent election” (p. 6); and of McCarrick subsequently traveling to China on behalf of Pope Francis in June 2013. On these topics, Archbishop Vigano wrote:
On the morning of Thursday, June 20, 2013, I went to the Domus Sanctae Marthae, to join my colleagues who were staying there. As soon as I entered the hall I met Cardinal McCarrick, who wore the redtrimmed cassock. I greeted him respectfully as I had always done. He immediately said to me, in a tone somewhere between ambiguous and triumphant: “The Pope received me yesterday, tomorrow I am going to China.”
At the time I knew nothing of his long friendship with Cardinal Bergoglio and of the important part he had played in his recent election, as McCarrick himself would later reveal in a lecture at Villanova University and in an interview with the National Catholic Reporter. Nor had I ever thought of the fact that he had participated in the preliminary meetings of the recent conclave, and of the role he had been able to have as a cardinal elector in the 2005 conclave. Therefore I did not immediately grasp the meaning of the encrypted message that McCarrick had communicated to me, but that would become clear to me in the days immediately following.
(Testimony by His Excellency Carlo Maria Viganò, Titular Archbishop of Ulpiana, Apostolic Nuncio)
As Vigano noted in his Testimony, McCarrick revealed his role in the election of Pope Francis in a lecture given at the University of Villanova in October 2013. In that lecture (here) McCarrick spoke of how an “influential Italian gentleman” (who he did not name) visited him at the North American College in Rome before the 2013 conclave. Roma Locuta Est believes a potential candidate to be the mysterious visitor is Andrea Riccardi, who had connections to both Bergoglio and McCarrick (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”: A Sant’Egidio Connection?).
Whatever the case, this unnamed visitor requested that McCarrick ‘talk Bergoglio up‘ with other cardinals. By his own testimony in his lecture, prior to this meeting, McCarrick was unaware of anyone ‘talking up Bergoglio,’ and presumably this included himself. One question and answer — entirely absent in the Vatican’s recent McCarrick Report — is whether McCarrick actually did what his mysterious Italian visitor requested, i.e., to “talk up Bergoglio.” Roma Locuta Est’s research turned up contemporaneous evidence that McCarrick did in fact “tout the praises” of Bergoglio before the 2013 conclave, and this according to a now-deceased USCCB employee (see HERE). Separately, a Roma Locuta Est source also provided us a first hand account of McCarrick exclaiming “we did it!” following the election of Bergoglio, a reference the source understood at the time to mean McCarrick and others had campaigned to elect Bergoglio (see McCarrick on Bergoglio’s Election: “We did it!” and The “we” in “We did it!” — and what they did).
In the The Conclave Chronicles, we have shown why Cardinal Bergoglio might have sought to enlist McCarrick in his campaign for the papacy. In all, the research supports what appears to be the Testimony’s implicit suggestion that Francis rewarded McCarrick for his help before the conclave. This reward apparently involved at least the lifting of the restrictions placed upon McCarrick by Benedict XVI. The reward possibly extended to Francis involving McCarrick to some extent in the Vatican’s diplomatic efforts with China.
McCarrick and Bergoglio, Sant’Egidio, and China
The Vatican’s report on McCarrick attempts to downplay the disgraced ex-cardinal’s role in the Holy See’s negotiations with China. Those negotiations would eventually lead to a Vatican-China deal, later reconfirmed, that many rightfully see as one which sold out China’s faithful Catholics to the Communist Party of China (e.g., here) and the State-run Church.
While the Vatican’s report on McCarrick mentions Vigano numerous times, the Report fails to address Vigano’s Testimony on the question of McCarrick’s relationship with Bergoglio, and in particular, any role McCarrick played in the election of Bergoglio (see Glaring Omission in McCarrick Report: What about the “Influential Italian Gentleman?”). That the McCarrick Report passes over their relationship and McCarrick’s role in the election in silence is a curious thing. These items are, after all, part of the public record and the McCarrick time line (cf Vigano’s Testimony, and McCarrick’s Villanova talk). Why did the Vatican report ignore them? That it did ignore them certainly gives rise to a well-grounded suspicion that something is being hidden from general view.
The McCarrick Report does touch in some detail upon McCarrick’s travels to China, alluded to in Vigano’s Testimony, as noted earlier. Vigano recounts conversing with McCarrick following the ex-cardinal’s audience with Pope Francis in June of 2013. It was then that McCarrick ‘triumphantly’ informed Vigano of his imminent trip to China on the very next day (June 22, 2013).
Curiously, according to the McCarrick Report, the ex-cardinal had apparently been planning his trip since late 2012 (cf McCarrick Report, p. 421) — months before his June audience with Pope Francis. Per the Report (emphasis added):
With respect to China, in late 2012, Cardinal McCarrick and Consultant 1, who had arranged and obtained funding for McCarrick’s travels to China from 2001 to 2006, began to plan McCarrick’s first return trip to China for the month of June 2013. Before the trip, McCarrick wrote to the Chinese Ambassador to the United States that he was going to China “without any agenda or program, only to unofficially observe the development of China since my last visit in 2006.” Upon his return, McCarrick provided Pope Francis with a report regarding his travels.
(Source: McCarrick Report, p. 421)
The McCarrick Report is frustratingly, if not intentionally ambiguous here. Precisely, when did McCarrick write the Chinese Ambassador to the United States? Was it in December 2012 or was it immediately before his trip in June 2013, possibly subsequent to his audience with Francis? Further, if the McCarrick Report had access to the ex-cardinal’s correspondence with the Chinese Ambassador, why not provide the full text of McCarrick’s letter/email, as well as the Chinese Ambassador’s response? Surely, all of this would provide a fuller context regarding the nature and purpose of McCarrick’s trip to China. Why has it not been provided?
Taking the McCarrick Report’s account at face value (for the moment), McCarrick had obviously been planning his trip in December 2012. If that is the case, McCarrick must have informed Bergoglio of his plans to travel to China during the papal audience (June 21, 2013), and obtained the Pope’s acquiescence and blessing to travel to China. Despite the McCarrick Report’s efforts to put some distance between Pope Francis and McCarrick on China, the Report demonstrates their goals for the Church in China were essentially the same:
“Cardinal McCarrick thereafter increased his visits to China, expressing the same hopes for rapprochement that he had during the papacy of John Paul II. As in the past, his trips to China were on McCarrick’s United States passport and were funded by private lay Catholic donors in the United States who supported his efforts to improve relations between the Catholic Church and China.”
(Source: McCarrick Report, p. 421)
As to the precise nature of these goals, one aspect of this story that needs to be explored in greater detail are (1) what was McCarrick’s concept of “rapprochement, and (2), who are these “private lay Catholic donors” in the United States who supported McCarrick’s ideas of “rapprochement” between the Catholic Church and the CCP. Were they, perhaps, American members of the Community of Sant’Egidio? We have previously alluded to the potential prime candidate to be the “influential Italian gentleman,” i.e., Andrea Riccardi. Riccardi is the founder of the Community of Sant’Egidio, a Catholic religious association so heavily involved in international affairs it is sometimes referred to as the “UN of Trastevere” (see here).
As we have reported before, both Bergoglio and McCarrick have long had close ties to Riccardi and the Community of Sant’Egidio (see The “Influential Italian Gentleman”: A Sant’Egidio Connection?), and perhaps, it is in these relationships we may better understand the end game for Church relations in China. For example, Sandro Magister, writing when Benedict XVI was still pope in February of 2012, said of the Community of Sant’Egidio: “The Vatican officials who deal with China judge the actions relative to that country on the part of the Community of Saint Egidio and of “30 Days” as more harmful than helpful, too submissive to the policies of Beijing. For the Community of Saint Egidio, this submissiveness to the regime has always been there, ever since it has dealt with China.” (see here).
Cardinal Zen too, as noted by Magister in the same article, has been highly critical of the Community of Sant’Egidio for its involvement in the affairs of the Chinese Church, for example “Cardinal Zen charges the Community of Saint Egidio with having invited with all honors to the interreligious meeting in Munich – organized with great pomp by this community from September 11-13, 2011 – a Chinese bishop in grave disobedience with the pope for having participated on the previous July 14 in the illicit ordination of a new bishop not approved by Rome but imposed by the Chinese authorities” (see here).
McCarrick and the White House, a US connection to the Vatican’s China policy?
As seen above, McCarrick, Bergoglio, and Sant’Egidio have had similar views on what ‘rapprochement’ between the Catholic Church in China and the CPP should look like (i.e., submissiveness to the regime, and support of state-appointed bishops). These shared views appear to extend to other components of the globalist agenda (e.g., immigration, climate change, etc.). It is unfortunate the McCarrick Report did not shed further light on which American Catholic donors supported McCarrick, and what their political affiliations, and or party links might be. However, we have our suspicions as to the sorts of Catholics who would support such a globalist or “Catholic spring” agenda for the Church (see Six Degrees of the “Influential Italian Gentleman”?).
This leads us to the curious bit of information — mentioned at the beginning of this article — that Roma Locuta Est recently came across. McCarrick met in the White House with Denis McDonough on July 18, 2013. At the time, McDonough was President Obama’s Chief of Staff. Previous to this post, McDonough had worked on the staff of the National Security Council as Deputy National Security Advisor. Vigano’s Testimony suggests McCarrick traveled to China on June 21, 2013; and the McCarrick Report states the ex-cardinal briefed the Pope “upon his return.” Consequently, given the timing, in all probability, McCarrick discussed his China trip with Denis McDonough later in July.
But here is the interesting thing. McDonough’s name is found only once in the McCarrick Report (p. 331), the reference being to McCarrick forwarding a report of a January 2009 meeting with McDonough to the Nuncio in Washington D.C. Yet, no mention is found in the McCarrick Report with regard to the July 18, 2013 meeting at the White House, nor of any similar such report of McCarrick’s discussion with McDonough — a senior White House official — being forwarded to the Nuncio in July of 2013. Why not? Did McCarrick not forward a report of this meeting to the Nuncio? If not, why not? If so, why no mention of it in the McCarrick Report? Did McCarrick deem the nature of the meeting so sensitive that he only reported back on its proceedings directly to Cardinal Parolin or to Francis? If this is the case, did Pope Francis send McCarrick to discuss China/Church relations with the Obama Administration? If so, why? Did the Vatican under Pope Francis seek support/help from the Obama Administration on its new China policy? What role did the Obama Administration, or then Vice-President Biden — as the Obama Administrations point man on China — play in supporting the Vatican’s deal with China?
Then again….perhaps McCarrick didn’t report back either to the nuncio or to Rome. In which case, we may wonder: what was he doing, and who was he doing it for?
Steven O’Reilly is a graduate of the University of Dallas and the Georgia Institute of Technology. A former intelligence officer, he and his wife, Margaret, live near Atlanta with their family. He has written apologetic articles and is author of Book I of the Pia Fidelis trilogy, The Two Kingdoms. (Follow on twitter at @fidelispia for updates). He asks for your prayers for his intentions. He can be contacted at StevenOReilly@AOL.com or StevenOReilly@ProtonMail.com (or follow on Twitter: @S_OReilly_USA or on Parler: @StevenOReilly).