Wednesday, August 15, 2012

How Much Does The Butler Matter? No More Than Lay Catholics Insist

Paolo Gabriele is entitled to answers to his concerns about corruption in the Vatican.  All lay Catholics are, even us who aren't on Forbes list of powerful people.
The following excerpt is from the Guardian UK and author Catherine Pepenstir hasn't lost sight of the real issue in the Vati Leaks story.  Catholics have a right to some answers no matter how powerful Pope Benedict might be in the global scheme of things.

Whatever the butler's role, the Vatican has questions to answer

What Catholics need to see now is an investigation into the truth of allegations in documents allegedly leaked by Paolo Gabriele

.....The Vatileaks scandal has been a deeply embarrassing saga for the most senior echelons of the Catholic church, and it is surprising that it has attracted so little attention in Britain. The plight of 46-year-old Gabriele himself, for instance, has shocked Catholic observers. After his arrest he was incarcerated for 50 days, initially in solitary confinement in a cell deep inside the Vatican; then under house arrest in his apartment within the Vatican City State. Despite the Catholic church still using Latin as an official language, it didn't appear to understand habeas corpus. Yet human rights experts barely reacted to what was happening: when my publication, the Tablet, contacted Amnesty International about the butler's situation, it had nothing to say. (Nothing is surprising when it comes to the Vatican.  All one needs do is read Betty Clermont's work on Open Tabernacle.  The Vatican is a rogue state where even Amnesty International has to mind it's p's and q's in order to effect meaningful change in other areas.)

Only the LSE's Prof Conor Gearty, writing in the Tablet, pointed out the scandal of it, particularly given how vocal Rome usually is about human rights. But Vatileaks is a much more disturbing episode than just the treatment of one individual. First a television programme, then leaks in the press and eventually a book by the investigative journalist Gianluigi Nuuzi exposed thwarted efforts to deal with corruption within the Vatican City State, which the Catholic church runs.

Letters taken from Pope Benedict's desk are filled with complaints made to him by senior clerics about the hopeless bureaucracy of the church, comments that it is out of touch, and the frustrations of those working in the corridors of power. There were also revelations of infighting among Vatican officials, including those involved in the so-called Vatican Bank, otherwise known as the Institute for the Works of Religion. One series of papers revealed that the bank had found loopholes to exonerate it from full compliance with newly adopted international money laundering regulations. A bitter feud was exposed between those who want the Vatican admitted to the OECD's list of financially virtuous states and those who consider that this would compromise its Institute for the Works of Religion. (And all this came out before Etorre Gotti Tedeshi was fired, or the European watchdog Moneyval released it's report in which it said the over sight bodies were in place, but THEY HAD NEVER BEEN USED.)

Also adding spice to the mix has been the role of Opus Dei. Greg Burke, a member of the secretive Catholic organisation, has moved from Fox News's Rome bureau to help the Vatican with PR, and Pope Benedict has appointed Cardinal Julian Herranz, the former right-hand man of Opus Dei's late founder, to run the investigation into the leaks. And then there has been evidence of deep jealousies within the Vatican court, particularly of the pope's closest aide, his trusted secretary Monsignor Georg Ganswein, and his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone. That has caused many people to be sceptical that the butler acted alone, and to suggest that enemies of Ganswein and Bertone, as well as those who believe there is something rotten in the state of the Vatican City, were involved. Nuzzi himself says his source represents a group of people "fed up with crooks and power games". (Cardinal Bertone is Salesian who worked closely with Pope Benedict in the CDF.  Msgr Ganswein was educated in Opus Dei graduate schools. Again I urge readers to ponder the work of Betty Clermont.)

What Catholics need to see now is not only a group of clerics and the Vatican police, or gendarmerie, investigating the butler, but an investigation into the truth of the allegations in the leaked documents. The Catholic church's reputation is on the line, as it was over child abuse and evidence of cover-ups over that scandal.  (Spot on.  I don't care that the Vatican is going to put Gabriele on trial. I want to know how much truth there is in the leaked documents because I suspect there is a great deal of truth.)

The extraordinary work it does across the world with the poor, with migrants, in education and in running hospitals is in danger of being ignored if it remains so reluctant to admit scrutiny of its internal workings. The world, though, will nevertheless turn its focus to the petty intrigues of a medieval court. And that factional wrangling risks undermining the papacy itself. (Wrong!  The Vatican itself does no hand on work what so ever at all in the world with the poor.  It has a despicable track record of involving itself in global entities like the UN and hampering their ability to do work in the global community because the Vatican objects to birth control, condoms, and any sexual education which might mitigate over populating  individual families or educating young teenage women.  It's sexual teachings promote poverty.)


Catholics have a right to know how much of the documents leaked by Paolo Gabriele are accurate and truthful.  Just as Catholics have a right to know about the cover ups with clerical abusers and the financial decisions made by dioceses to pay off lawyers to defend the indefensible.

I am not stupid enough to think the Vatican and large Metropolitan Archdioceses in financial centers need the donations of rank and file laity, because they don't.  That's why the Carl Anderson led Knights of Columbus, the Knights of Malta, Opus Dei, the Legionaries, Legatus, and other similar elite Vatican clubs or religious congregations exist.  They pander to rich white men. It's their job to fund the Vatican and the Cardinal Dolan's, Wuerl's and Lori's of the powerful male clerical world.  They do that because the Vatican still has enormous global political power and it is still enormously useful in keeping wealthy rich white men in charge of most of the global wealth.  Which is why I maintain the Vatican is more worried about Melinda Gates, than it is Paolo Gabriele--as dangerous as his leaks are to the Vatican.  Melinda Gates understands the future of the world is about more than wealthy rich white men.  It's also about healthy all women and all their babies.  Do check out Betty Clermont's article because even though Pope Benedict is listed by Forbes as the 7th most powerful man in the world, Bill Gates is #5, and his wife is listed as #6 amongst powerful women.

By the way, you don't make either of these lists unless you represent huge wealth or huge political influence in the West.  As far as Pope Benedict and his predecessors, so much for Jesus' notions of solidarity with the poor or rich men getting through the eye of needles--even if that needle actually refers to a very narrow gate in old Jerusalem. 


  1. I'm honored, Colleen. Thanks, Betty Clermont (not anonymous)

  2. Thanks Colleen for your blog. I've posted this on my page in Facebook. While I'm here, thanks to you too Betty Clermont!!

    Fran Schultz (not anonymous)

    1. Thanks Fran, but Betty's stuff is awesome.

    2. Colleen, I can see Betty's work developing into a film documentary perhaps for the History Channel, or even Youtube. Both of you cover a lot of territory but in a different way.

      Fran Schultz

  3. Thank you for putting this matter into its proper perspective. It appears that the 'butler did it' for the right reasons!.

    1. I think he did too Trebert. I don't think we've heard the end of this because I don't think Paolo was the only person involved, which apparently the Vatican doesn't think so either because they have charged another layman. I'm of a mixed mind about this because I can see where lay employees might be particularly upset with clerical corruption, but it may be that lay men weren't the only ones upset with clerical corruption. At this point though, I don't see where the clerical system can ever correct itself.