“What Did the Pope Know, and When Did He Know It”?

Robert Miller at First Things looks at some apparently contradictory statements in the Wielgus affair.

Wielgus … issued a statement in which he admitted that the allegations were substantially true and, surprisingly, that he had disclosed all this to Pope Benedict XVI prior to accepting his appointment.

… Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops told Corrierre della Sera yesterday that “when Archbishop Wielgus was nominated, we did not know anything about his collaboration with the secret service.” This, of course, flatly contradicts Wielgus’ admission and apology, which expressly and repeatedly said that Wielgus had fully disclosed his past activities to the Holy Father and the appropriate Vatican dicasteries, which had to include the Congregation for Bishops.

… Here, we have Wielgus saying that he made full disclosure to the Holy Father and Re expressly contradicting him. There might be some misunderstanding that explains this, but, frankly, I doubt it. Someone isn’t quite telling us the truth.  …

Now, either the Vatican knew about Wielgus’ past when it appointed him, as Wielgus says and as the Vatican’s statement in December strongly suggests, or else it did not, as Re now maintains. If the former, then the Vatican’s investigation of Wielgus prior to the appointment was grossly negligent, failing to discover information that was readily available in Poland. If the latter, as seems much more likely, then the Holy See exercised very poor judgment in making the appointment in the first place and even worse judgment in attempting to ram it through even after the truth about Wielgus became public. It stood by Wielgus while it knew he was lying to the faithful by denying the allegations. Many faithful Catholics looking at this situation will think that our bishops, rather than their critics, are the ones doing the real harm to the Church here.

Richard John Neuhaus responds to Miller’s criticism:

I wish I could say that the criticism is unwarranted. Perhaps we will have in the near future a clarification of what the Holy See knew and didn’t know, and why this matter was handled as it was.

Rod Dreher has some comments.