Attacking the Pope

Gianluigi Nuzzi

A recent book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi Sua Santità. Le carte segrete di Benedetto XVI (not translated into English yet, as far as I can tell) makes serious allegations about corruption in the Vatican. Here is an explanation from The National Post.

Q: How did this all start?
A: The Vatileaks scandal broke in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the Pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. But the whistleblower, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, was moved and is now the Vatican’s ambassador in Washington.

Q: But it didn’t end there?
A: No. At the weekend, Mr. Nuzzi published a book, Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, in which he released dozens of private letters to Pope Benedict, and other confidential Vatican correspondence and reports, including encrypted cables from Vatican embassies around the world.

Q: And what do they show?
A: A host of things. Some documents showed Vatican officials discussing one of the great unsolved mysteries in Italy, the 1983 disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee. That led to the reopening of a criminal investigation. The book also provides a window into the nexus between Italian banking, media power and the Vatican. In a letter last Christmas, Bruno Vespa, Italy’s most well-known television host, enclosed a cheque for $12,500 to the Pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, describing it as “a small sum at the disposal of the pope’s charity,” and asking for a private audience. The director of Italy’s Intesa San Paolo bank, Giovanni Bazoli, sent a $32,000 cheque, “with my most deferential salutations.” Other letters are written in obsequious baroque language, in which everyone — from Jesuits to government officials and Mercedes-Benz directors — seeks favours, recommendations and, most of all, the Pope’s ear.

Q: What about the ouster of the Vatican’s banker?
A: The sacking last week of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican Bank, may be part of a wider conflict over how to bring the secretive institution in line with international anti-money-laundering standards. He was removed over accusations of negligence and failing to fulfill basic duties. However, his defenders say he was trying to improve the transparency of the Vatican’s finances, and in the process upset powerful people.

Q: Anything else?
A: Some commentators have said the Machiavellian machinations that have come to light are part of a campaign of reciprocal mud-slinging by allies and enemies of the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

A lack of ethical behaviour at the Vatican is not really news for those of us who read the occasional news story, and this particular one was written several months ago. However, just last week, the Pope’s butler was arrested for leaking the confidential documents.

Q: And the Pope’s butler did it?
A: A lot of people think not, or at least, not alone. Paolo Gabriele was charged at the weekend with illegal possession of secret documents. But some think he is a scapegoat. “It doesn’t seem likely that he is the only one responsible for Vatileaks because many of the documents that came out didn’t ever pass through the Pope’s apartment where he works,” said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert for the Italian daily Il Foglio. The 46-year-old father of three — who was always considered extremely loyal to Pope Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, for whom he briefly worked — could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, he was reportedly “very serene and calm” Monday.

So, of course the Vatican is relieved to have these revelations out in the open so they can continue to be the ethical leaders of the world. Not quite.

The Vatican on Tuesday denounced the theft of secret papal documents as a “brutal” personal attack on Pope Benedict as a powerful group of cardinals hunted more culprits behind the biggest crisis of his pontificate.

A fucking brutal attack on the fucking Pope?  That seems to always be the answer the Vatican gives when accused of any ethical lapse. There have been worldwide scandals of child abuse, accusations of the pope’s Nazi past and now financial corruption and perhaps kidnapping and murder. When faced with incontrovertible evidence, the Church’s official response has consistently been to shoot the messenger. Deny, deny, deny, and if at all possible hide the evidence.

More and more we are faced with examples of the degeneracy of this organization, and the Vatican still demands respect with it proclamations on morality. A morality that denies women’s rights to personal autonomy; denies rights to gays, lesbians, and transgenders, victims of abuse, and others.

I just can’t understand how anyone can, in any way, support this organization.

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