Whatever the truth of Viganò’s numerous accusations — and the detailed chronology and references to documents in his letter mean that sooner or later it will be possible to prove or disprove them definitively — there are other truths that require facing now. This is true especially for those of us who have defended the Holy Father against slander and caricature in the past. Francis has revealed himself as an old-fashioned clericalist who views the faithful with contempt. It is not my place as a layman to tell the Holy Father his business, but I can make no secret of the fact that I long for an end to his gaslighting pontificate.
But the hard truths that need facing extend far beyond this papacy. When Viganò’s letter was reported over the weekend, liberal Catholic journalists responded with coordinated messenger-shooting. One by one they abandoned their previous rhetoric about the importance of healing and dismissed the dossier out of hand. The response from conservatives and so-called “traditionalists” was to insist that their willingness to take Viganò’s accusations seriously had nothing to do with their — in many cases almost lunatic — hostility towards Francis in the past and everything to do with the moral imperative of showering sunlight, that best of disinfectants, upon filth.