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As the Pope Turns, the Villain in the Vatican

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HE WAS once called “God’s Rottweiler,” but the entanglement of scandal that has become Pope Benedict’s reign and will be his legacy is now morphing into the stuff of potboiler melodrama. Think Godfather III, the reality show edition.

The paper claims that around the time that Pope Benedict decided to step down, the pontiff learned of a faction of gay prelates in the Vatican who may have been exposed to blackmail by a group of male prostitutes in Rome. The revelations allegedly appeared in a 300-page report by three cardinals that the pope commissioned to investigate the release of internal documents by his butler, the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal. (A Vatican spokesman has refused to confirm or deny La Repubblica’s claims, and the internal Vatican report is reportedly stowed away in a papal safe for Pope Benedict’s successor to peruse.) [Foreign Policy]

The Vatileaks scandal requires a guide, however, even if you don’t have one you would end up at the same place. From July 2012, a partial list of leading characters, but remember, this is just the teaser:

The leaks point to at least three shadowy, interlocking plots: an anonymous campaign to undermine Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state and Pope Benedict XVI’s top deputy; a struggle over the future of the Vatican bank; and an effort by Italian cardinals to gain more influence over the choice of Benedict’s successor.

The Italian newspaper La Repubblica [ht HuffPost] broke the story wide, and today the Vatican responded with outrage and indignation, the perpetual position when attempting to protect a papacy.

(Vatican Radio) In this week’s editorial, Fr. Federico Lombardi, sj, speaks of the external challenges and pressures put on the Church since the resignation of Pope Benedict and leading up to the upcoming conclave. Fr. Lombardi is the director of the Press Office of the Holy See. Read Vatican Radio’s English translation below.


The journey of the Church in these last weeks of Pope Benedict XVI’s pontificate and up until the election of the new Pope – passing through the sede vacante and the conclave – is very demanding, given the newness of the situation. We do not – and we rejoice – have to carry the pain of the death of a much-loved Pope, but we have not been spared another test: that of the multiplication of the pressures and considerations that are foreign to the spirit with which the Church would like to live this period of waiting and preparation.

There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the spiritually naive to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another.

In the majority of cases, those who present themselves as judges, making heavy moral judgments, do not, in truth, have any authority to do so. Those who consider money, sex and power before all else and are used to reading diverse realities from these perspectives, are unable to see anything else, even in the Church, because they are unable to gaze toward the heights or descend to the depths in order to grasp the spiritual dimensions and reasons of existence. This results in a description of the Church and of many of its members that is profoundly unjust.

But all of this will not change the attitude of believers; it will not erode the faith and the hope with which they see the Lord, who promised to accompany his Church. According to the indications of Church law and tradition, we want this to be a time of sincere reflection on the spiritual expectations of the world and on the faithfulness of the Church to the Gospel, of prayer for the assistance of the Spirit, of closeness to the College of Cardinals that is preparing for the demanding service of discernment and choice that is asked of it and for which it principally exists.

In this, we are accompanied first and foremost by the example and spiritual integrity of Pope Benedict, who wanted to dedicate to prayer, from the start of Lent, this final stretch of his pontificate – a penitential journey of conversion toward the joy of Easter. This is how we are living it and how we will live it: in conversion and hope.

It should be noted that while the Vatican decried the media’s message, they did not deny the report itself.

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5 Responses to As the Pope Turns, the Villain in the Vatican

  1. spincitysd February 24, 2013 at 4:25 am #

    After almost thirty years of Papal drift I am not terribly surprised by the latest news. Both John Paul and Benedict had the really bad luck to be at the helm of the Papal ship when it encountered some serious shoal water. Granted they need not have hit every last rock and reef at hand, but that seems to be how it worked out. From the Pedophile Priests to the Magdalene Laundries it has been a sorry run.

    But that is only recent history, the Church lost the moral thread a long time ago. It lost that tread all the way back in the 1930′s when it reached a Concordat with Nazi Germany. There is even a historical argument that modern Antisemitism of the Nazi variety had its base in Roman Catholic anti-Jewish feeling. That may be a bridge too far but the Church’s willing support of right-wing authoritarianism or at least its soft-peddling of opposition does contrast poorly with its stout objections to Communism.

    Going deeper still is the Church’s conflict with Modernity. It’s been a rough two hundred years for the Holy See. From the French Revolution onward the Church has bee fighting a rear-guard action. The Church’s notions on whole range of issues has been getting less relevant as it soaks in the acid bath of Modernity and Post-Modernity. The whole lumbering autocratic edifice does not seem to have the ability to keep in step with the pace of change. As the 21st Century continues to ruthlessly separate the quick from the dead, the Roman Catholic Church seems more and more to not be with the quick. The festering corruption in the top ranks of the curia, plus all the other signs of corruptions at the more local level is a sign of an institution in deep crisis.

  2. secularhumanizinevoluter February 24, 2013 at 7:21 am #

    The ex-nazi head of the worlds biggest crime family steps down and will hide out in his compound for the rest of his brief life claiming “sanctuary”.
    When will humanity grow up enough to put aside these con-men and women who prey on the desperate and frightened.
    If you MUST seek solace in invisible friends at least don’t give over your minds, moneys and children to power crazy corrupt people.
    YOU can read the Bible, Koran, Book of Mormon or whatever yourself…you do NOT need an intermediary to tell you what GAWD wants from you.
    When you do THIS insanity…. up to and including child rape,poverty,burning nonbelievers to death, war, and genocide ….results.

  3. secularhumanizinevoluter February 24, 2013 at 7:23 am #

    And if you have any doubts about the evil possible when you marry superstition based nonsense to power look no further then our very own repugnantKLAN/teabagger/UBERChristofascist party and the wonderful things they try to do.

  4. Joyce Arnold February 24, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Rumors about this sort of thing began shortly after the surprise announcement. It’s not surprising the rumors were based to whatever extent in fact.

    Top down, authoritarian, we-and-only-we-have-the-right-answers is always dangerous.

  5. Taylor Marsh February 24, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Women. Needed.

    Nuns need not apply.

.... a writer is someone who takes the universal whore of language
and turns her into a virgin again.  ~ erica jong