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Italian journalist says he helped write bombshell against Pope

Marco Tosatti said he helped Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano write and edit his 11-page testimony.

An Italian journalist who says he helped a former Vatican diplomat write allegations of sex abuse cover-up against Pope Francis says he persuaded the archbishop to go public after the US church was thrown into turmoil by sex abuse revelations in Pennsylvania.

Marco Tosatti said he helped Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano write, rewrite and edit his 11-page testimony, saying the two sat at a table in Mr Tosatti’s living room for three hours on August 22.

The journalist, a leading conservative critic of Francis, said Mr Vigano had called him a few weeks ago out of the blue asking to meet, and then proceeded to tell him the information that became the basis of the evidence.

The document alleges that Francis knew of ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s sexual misconduct starting in 2013 but rehabilitated him from sanctions Pope Benedict XVI had imposed.

The claims have shaken Francis’s five-year papacy.

Mr Vigano called for Francis to resign over what he said was complicity in covering-up McCarrick’s crimes. There is evidence that the Vatican under Benedict and St John Paul II also covered up that information, and that any sanctions Benedict imposed were never enforced.

The archbishop has kept largely quiet since the bombshell testimony on Sunday, and his whereabouts are unknown, and Mr Tosatti’s reconstruction provides the only insight into how the document came about.

The long-time correspondent for Italian daily La Stampa, who now writes largely for more conservative blogs, said after their initial meeting a few weeks ago that Mr Vigano was not prepared to go public.

But Mr Tosatti said he called him after the Pennsylvania grand jury report published on August 15 alleged 300 priests in six Pennsylvania dioceses abused more than 1,000 children over 70 years, and that a sequence of bishops had covered it up.

They are brought up to die silent. So what he was doing, what he was going to do, was something absolutely against his nature Marco Tosatti on Vatican diplomats

He said he told Mr Vigano: “I think that if you want to say something, now is the moment, because everything is going upside-down in the United States. He said OK.”

The two then met at Mr Tosatti’s Rome apartment.

“He had prepared some kind of a draft of a document and he sat here by my side. I told him that we had to work on it really because it was not in a journalistic style.”

He said he persuaded Mr Vigano to cut claims that could not be substantiated or documented “because it had to be absolutely waterproof”. They worked for three hours.

Mr Tosatti said he was aware of the implications of the document and what it took for a Holy See diplomat to reveal secrets he had kept for years.

“They are brought up to die silent,” he said of Holy See diplomats. “So what he was doing, what he was going to do, was something absolutely against his nature.”

But he said Mr Vigano felt compelled to publish out of a sense of duty to the Catholic Church and to clear his conscience.

“He enjoys a good health but 77 is an age where you start preparing yourself … he couldn’t have a clear conscience unless he spoke,” Mr Tosatti said.

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