By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
July 4, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, a former papal ambassador who has accused Pope Francis of covering up sex abuse, has stated that the Vatican’s third most powerful prelate, Archbishop Peña Parra, was never given an “open and thorough investigation” for troubling accusations of sex abuse that date back decades. Archbishop Viganò said the high-ranking prelate was not investigated despite the existence of what he calls a “terrifying dossier” sent to Pope Francis that gives names and dates regarding his alleged misbehavior.
Viganò states that one accusation, involving Peña Parra seducing two candidates for the seminary in 1990, was reported by the alleged victims’ parents to the police, and the veracity of the accusations were confirmed in writing to the Secretariat of State by both the rector of the major seminary and by seminary’s spiritual director.
Archbishop Viganò told the Washington Post in an unpublished section of an interview that was recently obtained and published by LifeSiteNews that Pope Francis “essentially ignored” the dossier on Archbishop Peña Parra while appointing the Venezuelan to a top position in the Vatican.
Viganò states that one accusation, involving Peña Parra seducing two candidates for the seminary in 1990, was reported by the alleged victims’ parents to the police, and the veracity of the accusations were confirmed in writing to the Secretariat of State by both the rector of the major seminary and by seminary’s spiritual director. Viganò told the Post that “I have seen these documents with my own eyes,” and the documentation as well as that of other accusations should still be on file in the Holy See, “if it has not been destroyed.”
Archbishop Edgar Peña Parra, who was installed in October of last year as the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, the second in charge of the most influential Vatican dicastery, has been under a cloud of suspicion following reports in the Italian media in 2018 of an investigation made by his bishop in the 1980s regarding accusations of homosexuality made against him anonymously. However, the accusations mentioned by Archbishop Viganò are far more serious, including sexual predation against seminarians, adultery, and even a deadly sex game.
“This might even be a scandal surpassing that of McCarrick, and it must not be allowed to be covered by silence,” says Viganò.
LifeSiteNews reached out to Archbishop Peña Parra for comment but did not receive a reply.
‘Terrifying dossier’ on Archbishop Peña Parra
According to reports in the Italian media, in 1985 a letter was sent from Peña Parra’s then-bishop mentioning anonymous accusations of homosexuality against him as a seminarian, and calling him a “sexually sick person.” The letter was sent by Domingo Roa Pérez, Archbishop of Maracaibo, to Pío León Cárdenas, Rector of the Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Palmira, Venezuela, where Peña Parra had been a student. Roa Pérez expresses concern about the accusations and asks if León Cárdenas can confirm or deny them. No further correspondence has emerged to indicate the outcome of the investigation. LifeSiteNews has obtained copies of the anonymous letter containing the accusations as well the letter of inquiry written by the archbishop in response.
However, according to Archbishop Viganò, the Vatican for decades has been in possession of much more damning accusations against Peña Parra, information which has never been revealed publicly. Viganò mentions a “terrifying dossier” sent to Francis by a group of faithful Catholics from Peña Parra’s home diocese of Maracaibo in Venezuela, led by one “Dr. Enrique W. Lagunillas Machado.” The document was titled: “Who really is Msgr. Edgar Robinson Peña Parra, the New Substitute of the Secretariat of State of the Vatican?”
Viganò says that the accusations made in the letter have been known by the Vatican’s Secretariat of State since 2002, and that Viganò himself learned of them while he served as a Delegate for Pontifical Representations. LifeSiteNews has obtained a copy of the dossier from a trusted source and can verify that its contents match Archbishop Viganò’s descriptions.
In addition, Viganò claims that a journalist from Maracaibo, Gastón Guisandes López, made “serious accusations” implicating Peña Parra and other priests of the diocese in the sex abuse of minors and other “possibly criminal” acts, in 2000. He says that the following year, Guisandes López went to the apostolic nuncio in Venezuela, Archbishop André Dupuy, and although the nuncio refused to receive the journalist, he reported to Rome that he had made hair-raising accusations against Peña Parra, accusations that were partially confirmed by a diocesan official.
In addition, Viganò claims that a journalist from Maracaibo, Gastón Guisandes López, made “serious accusations” implicating Peña Parra and other priests of the diocese in the sex abuse of minors and other “possibly criminal” acts, in 2000.
The nuncio reported that Peña Parra was accused of seducing two students from the minor seminary (a high school that prepares students to study for the priesthood), in September of 1990. The accusation included the specific location of the sexual abuse, which was a parish church led by a friend of Peña Parra’s, Fr. José Severeyn. Viganò says that the abuse was reported to the police and confirmed by the seminary rector, Enrique Pérez, to the Secretariat of State, adding “I have seen these documents with my own eyes.”
Even more horrifying was a second accusation reported by the apostolic nuncio, who says that Peña Parra and Severeyn were vacationing on an island together in Lake Maracaibo when they were involved in the death of two people, both presumably males, who were killed by electrical shock. The Maracaibo dossier also mentions this accusation, and adds that “the two corpses were found naked, with evidence of macabre homosexual lewd encounters,” in the words of Viganò.
Although the accusations were “grave,” writes Viganò, “not only was Peña Parra not required to face them, he was allowed to continue in the diplomatic service of the Holy See” – an accusation that would apply to the curia of Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict. Viganò considers the case of Peña Parra to be so bad that it “might even be a scandal surpassing that of McCarrick,” and notes that the archbishop is a close associate of the scandal-ridden Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, and the cardinal’s now-disgraced former auxiliary bishop, Juan José Pineda Fasquelle, having formed a strong friendship with the latter while serving in the apostolic nunciature in Honduras from 2003 to 2007.
Viganò writes that these accusations were reported to the Secretariat of State in 2002 by the then apostolic nuncio in Venezuela, Archbishop André Dupuy, and they have remained on file both in Venezuela and in the Vatican ever since, accessible to high officials of the Holy See. Viganò names “the Cardinals Secretaries of State Sodano, Bertone, and Parolin and the Substitutes Sandri, Filoni, and Becciu,” among those with access to the information, “if it has not been destroyed.”
Viganò regards Cardinal Parolin as particularly culpable in the matter, given his earlier assignment as Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela.
“Particularly egregious is the behavior of cardinal Parolin who, as Secretary of State, did not oppose the recent appointment of Peña Parra as Substitute, making him his closest collaborator,” he writes. “Even more: years earlier, in January 2011, as apostolic nuncio in Caracas, Parolin did not oppose the appointment of Peña Parra as archbishop and apostolic nuncio to Pakistan. Before such important appointments, a rigorous informative process is made to verify the suitability of the candidate, so these accusations were surely brought to the attention of cardinal Parolin.”
Viganò adds that “cardinal Parolin knows the names of a number of priests in the Curia who are sexually unchaste, violating the laws of God that they solemnly committed themselves to teach and practice, and he continues to look the other way.” He regards Pope Francis’ as having even more “grave” responsibility, for “having chosen for an extremely important position in the Church a man accused of such serious crimes, without first insisting on an open and thorough investigation.”