Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Just Another Vatican Scandal?

"Between ourselves, these are two things that I have always observed to be in singular accord: supercelestial thoughts and subterranean conduct..." 
Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592)

Is it just another Vatican scandal? Or does the current "Vatileaks" episode portend events of much greater import than a butler stealing his employer's documents for financial advantage? Those old enough to remember the Banco Ambrosiano scandal of the 1980s will not be surprised to learn that money seems again to be at the heart of this scandal, while professional Vatican watchers believe the leaks flowing from high levels in the Vatican are the first covert operations in a war for the control and reform of the Vatican and the Papacy and thus the RC church. In particular, they are aimed at  forcing Benedict to remove Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone (# 2 in the Vatican after the Pope, pictured with Benedict XVI) who is reported to be stymieing  attempts to reform the Pope's bank, the Institute for Works of Religion (a Google search will turn up the history - some of it quite unsavoury - of this institution) and bring it into line with international ethical standards in banking (ironic, eh?).

If Bertone can be replaced with a figure more sympathetic to reform, the thinking reportedly goes, his replacement can build influence among the cardinals and, upon the death of Benedict, the next papal conclave will likely elect a reforming Pope to match him. The implications of that could be far-reaching, even world-historical in their significance, and they would certainly re-shape the Christian landscape, so to speak, in which we all must live. But we should not for a moment think that these developments would be entirely for the good. Yes, Rome needs a clean-up, but there are powerful liberal forces within Roman Catholicism who have been largely denied influence under Ratzinger/Benedict and who, in power, would likely take Roman Catholicism even further from historic Christianity than it is now:
"According to expert Bruno Bartoloni, the “Vatileaks” scandal may be the last straw for many in an institution dogged by bad governance and corruption. “This scandal has enormous consequences, it will create unease and exasperation among the cardinals,” he said.
“They want to find someone who can do a serious clean up. But in cleaning up, they risk starting a revolution,” he added."
Read the AFP story here.
If the commentator is proven correct (and at present that's a big if, but he presumably has sources inside the Vatican), it will not be the first time a reform of the Catholic Church has arisen from the stench of the Pope's finances. You might want to keep a weather eye on Rome for the time being. Meanwhile, I note that Benedict XVI seems to be getting frailer with each passing month. The 85 year old pontiff's mind may be alert, but his body is failing; he cannot now even walk up the aisle of St Peter's without assistance. If there are indeed reform conspirators within the walls of the Vatican, they may not have much time to effect their plan.


Lvka said...

Something tells me you're gonna enjoy these two posts very, very much, Father.. :-)

Matthias said...

I will probaly get excoriated but I believe the current state of play in the Vatican has come about purely due to
spiritual arrogance and pride
amnesia when it comes to history i.e The Reformation
A failure to follow Christ's command to live humbly and to sell all of ones possessions.
Now i note that there is a push for the Vatican to own the word "Catholic" (HT ArchBishop Cranmer) what sheer arrogance,which goes alongside the POpe dropping the title 'PATRIARCH OF THE WEST " thus alienating the orthodox Church. To quote Cramner "Yesterday, His Grace was rather amused by this story. Today, he is rather irritated by it." .