Sunday, June 3, 2012

More Leaked Documents, More Upheaval, A Different Spotlight On Philadelphia

Pope Benedict gives Archbishop Chaput a big kudo, but you have to read to the end of the post to learn what it is.

The Vati-leaks scandal continues unabated by the arrest of the Pope's butler. New documents were published today by the Italian News Paper La Repubblica. Like the sexual abuse crisis, the leaking of Vatican documents is another never ending nightmare for the clerical system. The following is the first part of a longer article posted in Reuters:

No respite for pope as more documents leaked

Philip Pullella - Reuters - 6/3/2012

MILAN (Reuters) - Pope Benedict got no rest on Sunday from a leaks scandal when an Italian newspaper published documents showing that his butler was not the only person in possession of confidential correspondence indicating a Vatican in disarray.

Benedict, 85, ended a weekend trip to Italy's industrial and financial capital Milan with a closing mass for an international gathering in which he praised traditional Catholic family values and re-stated his opposition to gay marriage.

But in its Sunday edition, the Rome newspaper La Repubblica published documents it said it had received anonymously after the arrest of the pope's butler on May 23.

A note received by the newspaper said there were "hundreds more" documents and that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, was just a scapegoat. (Other reports say the butler is being set up as a scapegoat by Cardinal Bertone and the Pope's personal secretary, Msgr Georg Ganswein.)

The furore over the leaked correspondence, which shows power-hungry cardinals and scheming within the walls of the city state, has gripped the Vatican just as it was recovering from a long-running scandal over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the United States, Ireland and other countries.

One letter, dated January 16, was sent by Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American who heads a Vatican department, to the pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Burke complains that a decision regarding a liturgical matter was taken without consulting his office, which is responsible for such matters.

The person who sent Repubblica the documents also provided two letters signed by the pope's private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein. The newspaper said those letters had everything but the letterhead and the signature whited out.

 The newspaper said that in the note accompanying the documents, the person who sent them said the contents had been whited out "so as not to offend the Holy Father" but threatened to reveal the contents.....


While the butler, Paolo Gabriele,  languishes in a Vatican 'safe room', otherwise known as a prison cell, other leakers keep the storm moving along.  And like a real storm, it's hard to tell just what exactly is at the center of all this leaking, finger pointing, and scape goating.  I guess that's what makes it such a fascinating story.  Vatican apologists are doing their best to assure us the co occuring Vatican Bank mess is not related to the Vati-leaks story, but I find that hard to swallow, especially since Archbishop Vigano, the US papal nuncio, is a significant player in both stories.  As is Cardinal Bertone, and speaking of Cardinal Bertone and the Vatican Bank, the cardinals which over see the Board of Directors have accepted the Board's advice to dump Ettore Gotti Tedeshi as CEO of the bank.  We are told it was unanimous, except we are also told it wasn't unanimous, not really.   

As far as I can tell from piecing together multiple stories, Cardinal Bertone was not thrilled with the amount of capitulation Gotti Tedeshi was willing to give in order to get the Vatican Bank on the International white list of banks who are serious about money laundering.  Bertone had a number of concerns.  The first was to protect existing accounts from the new regulations, making only new accounts subject to them, and a second was affording protection to depositors who wished to remain anonymous for one reason or another. The only actual reason referenced was depositors whose money originated in totalitarian states and might be subject to confiscation.  In any event, the five Cardinals, of which Bertone is one,  finally agreed to accept the Board's recommendation, but they had to meet twice in order to come to agreement. Or whatever it is they actually came to agree on.

There are also multiple stories that the precipitating event for the barrage of leaking was the past consistory at which Cardinal Dolan got his red beanie.  This consistory irritated hierarchy around the world for two reasons, Vatican bureaucrats were over represented amongst the twenty two new Cardinals and too many of the new members were seen to be loyal to Bertone.  This is important because as Secretary of State, Bertone will be in charge of the next papal conclave.  This was seen as Pope Benedict stacking the deck in Bertone's favor as the next Pope.  It specifically irritated the Italian Bishop's conference, who were already at logger heads with Bertone over his attempts to horn in on their territory in Italian politics, because most of the new Italian cardinals were curial rather than men with any kind of pastoral experience.  The South was not pleased because too many of these new Cardinals were representative of the European or North American Church in which Catholicism is on a steep downward spiral rather than an upward curve.  This was seen as the old guard refusing to give way to the new.  It's probably for these reasons Pope Benedict has now scheduled another consistory for this coming December.  It is hoped the new appointees will give more balance to the College of Cardinals.

An overview of all of this though, is that it is all about money, politics, and personal ego.  Not exactly the things Jesus had in mind in his definition of spiritual leadership.  Sort of makes one wonder just where exactly Jesus' teachings reside with in Roman Catholic governance.  Locked up in some Tabernacle I suppose.

One other bit of news, which may or may not be related, is that the Pope announced Sunday in Milan at the World Meeting of Families that the next one will be held in 2015 in Philadelphia under the sure guidance of Archbishop Chaput.  I imagine by that time, Chaput's red beanie will not have a "P" on it.  I imagine that new red beanie will be his to wear after this December.


  1. It is obvious there is a big scuffle going on behind the scenes. Why and Who and How are speculative questions at the moment....I just think of a person I love and admire and desire to emulate who said "The truth will set you free." And He also said "I am the way, the truth, and the life." Unfortunately I don't see much evidence of letting this last statement motivate those whose secrets are now being revealed.

    1. One of the more fascinating aspects to all this backstabbing is no one from the progressive wing of the Church is involved in it. This is all the fruits of an internecine battle amongst various conservative cardinals and new movements like OD, all jockeying to get their 'man' in position to be the next traditional conservative pope. The first task in winning this war is to get the Bertone/Ganswein faction out the way, or get Bertone's enemies out of the way--depending on whose side you are on. Benedict is siding with the Bertone/Ganswein faction, but he hasn't got much of a choice since he's sort of stuck with them at this point. Who else is he going to trust? His butler?

    2. One of the more interesting aspects of this squabble is the feud between current Vatican Secretary of State Bertone, and former Vatican Secretary of State Sodano. Colleen, I think you are on to something with the observation that the infighting seems to be confined to the cranky conservatives in the Vatican.

  2. This type of infighting was bound to happen and when it becomes quiescent, it will only brew silently but more powerfully in the future. It is the Vatican step from ecumenism to cult. dennis

    1. The Ordinariate is not indicative of real ecumenism?

    2. It is sort of, but there has been zero outreach from the Vatican for any real ecumenical effort for Christian groups whose Christology and ecclesiastical structure is more progressive. Benedict is quite willing to go after what M Scott Peck calls Stage II spiritual formation, but loathe to even recognize their are people who are past that stage and the truth is people who move beyond Stage II do not ever go backwards--never ever ever.

    3. There's a lot of outreach to all groups, even ones with no Christology at all.
      I've never heard of Mr Peck, or "Stage II spiritual formation", so I really don't know what you mean there.

  3. Does anyone seriously believe the butler did it?
    As for Pope Ratzinger coming to Philly, this show how totally clueless the pope actually is. Does he expect to enter seated on a donkey with a submissive mob of laity spreading their garments on the ground before him? My preference would be a battalion of nuns armed with rulers prepared to rap him on his Teutonic knuckles.

    1. The way many of us Catholics feel, the Vatican would have to get the cheering sections from the "new movements" aka cults to cheer for the Pope. Those of us who feel differently would either not show up, or would be escorted to "free speech zones."

    2. That was funny Bill, and I needed a laugh really big time.

      Kathy, don't you think the Neo Cats ability to rally their guitars and troops for all these Papal roadshows is why the Vatican lets them keep their cult pretty much in tact? Good God, even Cardinal Burke thinks the Neo Cats are out of control and that says something. And yet, Pope Benedict seems to let them go the way JPII let the Legion do what they did. Makes one wonder it does, but you are right, they will be in force in Philadelphia.