Edward Pentin began reporting on the Pope and the Vatican with Vatican Radio before moving on to become the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register. He has also reported on the Holy See and the Catholic Church for a number of other publications including Newsweek, Newsmax, Zenit, The Catholic Herald, and The Holy Land Review, a Franciscan publication specializing in the Church and the Middle East. Edward is the author of “The Rigging of a Vatican Synod? An Investigation into Alleged Manipulation at the Extraordinary Synod on the Family”, published by Ignatius Press. Follow him on Twitter @edwardpentin
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò has sought to clarify a court ruling in October which ordered him to pay nearly €2 million (approximatedly $2.2 million) of inheritance plus legal fees to his brother, a priest living in Chicago.
In a Dec. 3 statement issued through his lawyers (see text below), Archbishop Viganò said he had “already willingly paid” the amount to his brother, Father Lorenzo Viganò, and would not be appealing the decision.
Archbishop Viganò's lawyers said he was issuing the statement “In light of the recent unfounded news that appeared in multiple newspapers and other media outlets, regarding an alleged conviction for “fraud,” “theft” or misappropriation of funds, to the detriment of his brother.”
According to media reports, the inheritance has been a cause of contention in their relationship for years, and Father Viganò, a biblical scholar who has lived in Chicago since 2008, has tried to sue over the bequest numerous times. The October ruling was the first time he had succeeded in being rewarded any money.
Archbishop Viganò, who remains in hiding after publishing his testimony against Vatican corruption in August, said in the statement that his brother has been subjecting him to a “judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press” for over a decade, adding that the priest failed to inform “obliging journalists that the accusations” made against Archbishop Viganò had been “abandoned or dismissed in the 10 civil, criminal, and administrative cases attempted to date.”
Both brothers, two of six siblings, jointly held and administered their family’s substantial assets worth €20 million plus a cash sum of more than €6 million until Father Viganò left for the United States a decade ago.
The legacy was bequeathed to them by their parents who were “entrepreneurs in the industrial field,” according to today’s statement.
The statement went on to disclose that Father Vigano had made an “initial request” for €40 million which was a “grossly unrealistic figure in respect to the actual value of the entire joint ownership of property of the two brothers.”
It added that the Milan court ruling rejected this along with “all the other requests” from Father Viganò, and stated that as a result of the judgement, Father Viganò received “essentially what he would have received had he accepted the settlement proposals made by his brother, pro bono pacis [a concession made solely for the sake of peace], in the course of the proceedings.”
The statement also revealed that Archbishop Viganò had allocated most of the inheritance to “works of charity and religion” which include a seminary in Nigeria and a Carmelite monastery in Burundi, “and will continue to do so.”
Father Viganò, who began legal proceedings against his brother in 2010 and, according to today’s statement, has “refused any mediation from the family,” suffered a stroke in 1996 and is confined to a wheelchair.
He has lived in Chicago allegedly without ecclesiastical permission and, according to documentation obtained by the Register, he (or others acting in his name) has refused to respond to repeated attempts by Church officials to communicate with him.
“Archbishop Viganò,” the statement continued, “has nevertheless always suffered such attacks in silence in order to avoid further exploitation of the family’s legal affairs, which have nothing to do with the other well-known ‘institutional’ affairs that he has become involved in” — a reference to Archbishop Viganò's recent testimony in which he called on Pope Francis to resign over his handling of ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, and detailed an alleged “homosexual current” in the Vatican.
Problems between other members of the Viganò family and Father Lorenzo began in the fall of 2008, soon after all the siblings had agreed to share their inheritance to help works of charity, and for the Church. This included donating to the construction of the Carmelite monastery in Gitega, Burundi, and a novitiate for a missionary congregation in Burkina Faso.
In November that year, Father Viganò suddenly left Italy for Chicago unannounced. He later claimed he had done so to avoid being "kidnapped" by Archbishop Viganò.
Father Viganò reiterated this story in the Milan court hearing, saying he fled Italy "so as not to be chained,” an accusation the Viganò family has always denied.
Archbishop Viganò has made efforts to bring his brother back to Italy: Documents made public during the Vatileaks scandal of 2012 revealed the archbishop had written to Benedict XVI in 2011 to say he would not be able to take up the post of apostolic nuncio to the United States because he had wanted to bring his brother back from Chicago to take care of him at the Vatican.
Father Viganò said in an interview at the time that, although he still suffered from his stroke, he had not been close to his brother for years due to conflicts over their inheritance, and that his illness was no reason for Archbishop Vigano to reject his new position.
Archbishop Viganò ended up accepting to become apostolic nuncio in Washington D.C. in the fall of 2011 and served there until he retired at the age of 75 in 2016.
In today’s statement, Archbishop Viganò’s lawyers noted a “painful personal relationship” between the two siblings, but added that the archbishop “deeply loves his brother Father Lorenzo and will never stop hoping and praying that his brother will make peace with him and resume relations with him, which he unilaterally, totally and suddenly spurned in November 2008, when he fled from Milan accusing his brother, Archbishop Carlo Maria, of wanting to kidnap him.
“This is also why, despite having valid reasons to do so, Archbishop Viganò did not appeal the judgement of the court, even though he considers it, in many ways, wrong and unjust,” the statement added.
It concluded by stating that Archbishop Viganò “intends to entrust his lawyers with the task of prosecuting by means of lawsuits any attempt to defame him.”
In light of the recent unfounded news that appeared in multiple newspapers and other media outlets, regarding an alleged conviction for “fraud,” “theft” or misappropriation of funds, to the detriment of his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò states the following:
1) The Court of Milan, by judgment no. 10359/2018 of October 9, 2018, ordered Archbishop Viganò to pay, in response to a judicial request for the division of assets and adjustment of their mutual debits and credit with his brother Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, the principal of approximately €1.8 million in response to an initial request from Fr. Lorenzo Viganò of almost €40 million, a grossly unrealistic figure in respect to the actual value of the entire joint ownership of property of the two brothers;
2) With the above-mentioned Court ruling, which neither of the two parties has appealed and which therefore has become final, the Court of Milan rejected all the other requests made by Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, who started the case against his brother, refusing any mediation from the family.
3) Archbishop Viganò has already willingly paid in full the amounts established by the judgment;
4) Fr. Lorenzo Viganò, as a result of the judgment, received essentially what he would have received had he accepted the settlement proposals made by his brother, pro bono pacis, in the course of the proceedings;
5) For over 10 years, Fr. Lorenzo Viganò has subjected Archbishop Viganò to a judicial siege and a veritable defamation campaign in the press, while failing to inform obliging journalists that the accusations of Fr. Lorenzo Viganò have been abandoned or dismissed in the 10 civil, criminal, and administrative cases attempted to date.
6) Nevertheless, Archbishop Viganò has always suffered such attacks in silence in order to avoid further exploitation of the family’s legal affairs, which have nothing to do with the other well-known “institutional” affairs in which he has become involved;
7) The assets came to the two brothers as the undivided inheritance of their parents, who were entrepreneurs in the industrial field;
8) Archbishop Viganò has allocated most of this patrimony to works of charity and religion, including the construction of a Seminary in Nigeria and a Carmel in Burundi, and will continue to do so.
9) As for the painful personal relationship with his brother, Archbishop Viganò deeply loves his brother Fr. Lorenzo and will never stop hoping and praying that his brother would make peace with him and resume relations with him, which he unilaterally, totally and suddenly spurned in November 2008, when he fled from Milan accusing his brother, Archbishop Carlo Maria, of wanting to kidnap him. This is also why, despite having valid reasons to do so, Archbishop Viganò did not appeal the judgement of the Court, even though he considers it, in many ways, wrong and unjust. Archbishop Viganò intends to entrust his lawyers with the task of prosecuting by means of lawsuits any attempt to defame him."
Inset photo: Inside the FIat Pax Carmelite monastery, Gitega, Burindi, whose construction was funded by the Viganò family inheritance.