Vatileaks reveals a sinister power struggle in the Vatican to get an Italian pope next election – RIC

Vatican Flag“Last week an Italian newspaper ran a bizarre internal Vatican memo that involved one cardinal complaining about another cardinal who spoke about a possible assassination attempt against the pope within 12 months and openly speculated on who the next pope should be … and [how it would] increase the chances that the papacy returns to Italy after two successive non-Italian popes who have broken what had been an Italian monopoly for over 450 years.” – RIC

Pope Benedict XVICall it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.

“It is a total mess,” said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.

The Machiavellian manoeuvring and machinations that have come to light in the Vatican recently are worthy of a novel about a sinister power struggle at a medieval court.

Senior church officials interviewed this month said almost daily embarrassments that have put the Vatican on the defensive could force Pope Benedict to act to clean up the image of its administration – at a time when the church faces a deeper crisis of authority and relevance in the wider world.

Paolo GabrieleSome of those sources said the outcome of a power struggle inside the Holy See may even have a longer-term effect, on the choice of the man to succeed Benedict when he dies.

From leaked letters by an archbishop who was transferred after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, to a leaked poison pen memo which puts a number of cardinals in a bad light, to new suspicions about its bank, Vatican spokesmen have had their work cut out responding.

The flurry of leaks has come at an embarrassing time – just before a usually joyful ceremony this week known as a consistory, when Benedict will admit more prelates into the College of Cardinals, the exclusive men’s club that will one day pick the next Roman Catholic leader from among their own ranks.

“This consistory will be taking place in an atmosphere that is certainly not very glorious or exalting,” said one bishop with direct knowledge of Vatican affairs.

Tarcisio BertoneThe sources agreed that the leaks were part of an internal campaign – a sort of “mutiny of the monsignors” – against the pope’s right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Bertone, 77, has a reputation as a heavy-handed administrator and power-broker whose style has alienated many in the Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the central administration of the 1.3 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church.

He came to the job, traditionally occupied by a career diplomat, in 2006 with no experience of working in the church’s diplomatic corps, which manages its international relations. Benedict chose him, rather, because he had worked under the future pontiff, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in the Vatican’s powerful doctrinal office.

“It’s all aimed at Bertone,” said a monsignor in a key Vatican department who sympathizes with the secretary of state and who sees the leakers as determined to oust him. “It’s very clear that they want to get rid of Bertone.”

Vatican sources say the rebels have the tacit backing of a former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an influential power-broker in his own right and a veteran diplomat who served under the late Pope John Paul II for 15 years.

“The diplomatic wing feels that they are the rightful owners of the Vatican,” the monsignor who favors Bertone said.

Sodano and Bertone are not mutual admirers, to put it mildly. Neither has commented publicly on the reports.

Carlo María ViganoWhistle-blowing Archbishop

The Vatican has been no stranger to controversy in recent years, when uproar over its handling of child sex abuse charges has hampered the church’s efforts to stem the erosion of congregations and priestly recruitment in the developed world.

But the latest image crisis could not be closer to home.

It began last month when an Italian television investigative show broadcast private letters to Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of the Vatican City and currently the Vatican ambassador in Washington.

The letters, which the Vatican has confirmed are authentic, showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to contractors at inflated prices.

As deputy governor of the Vatican City for two years from 2009 to 2011, Vigano was the number two official in a department responsible for maintaining the tiny city-state’s gardens, buildings, streets, museums and other infrastructure, which are managed separately from the Italian capital which surrounds it.

Ettore Gotti TedeschiIn one letter, Vigano writes of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures and begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.

Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.

Other leaks center on the Vatican bank, just as it is trying to put behind it past scandals – including the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, which entangled it in lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi – “God’s banker.”

Today, the Vatican bank, formally known at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), is aiming to comply fully with international norms and has applied for the Vatican’s inclusion on the European Commission’s approved “white list” of states that meet EU standards for total financial transparency.

Bertone was instrumental in putting the bank’s current executives in place and any lingering suspicion about it reflects badly on him. The Commission will decide in June and failure to make the list would be an embarrassment for Bertone.

The next pope?Italian Pope?

Last week, an Italian newspaper that has published some of the leaks ran a bizarre internal Vatican memo that involved one cardinal complaining about another cardinal who spoke about a possible assassination attempt against the pope within 12 months and openly speculated on who the next pope should be.

Bertone’s detractors say he has packed the Curia with Italian friends. Some see an attempt to influence the election of the next pope and increase the chances that the papacy returns to Italy after two successive non-Italian popes who have broken what had been an Italian monopoly for over 450 years.

Seven of the 18 new “cardinal electors” — those aged under 80 eligible to elect a pope — at this Saturday’s consistory are Italian. Six of those work for Bertone in the Curia.

Bertone, as chief administrator, had a key role in advising the pope on the appointments, which raised eyebrows because of the high number of Italian bureaucrats among them.

“There is widespread malaise and delusion about Bertone inside the Curia. It is full of complaints,” said the bishop who has close knowledge of Vatican affairs.

“Bertone has had a very brash method of running the Vatican and putting his friends in high places. People could not take it any more and said ’enough’ and that is why I think these leaks are coming out now to make him look bad,” he said.

Pope Benedict XVIPope “Isolated”

Leaked confidential cables sent to the State Department by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican depicted him as a “yes man” with no diplomatic experience or linguistic skills and the 2009 cable suggests that the pope is protected from bad news.

“There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the pope’s attention,” read the cable, published by WikiLeaks.

The Vatican sources said some cardinals asked the pope to replace Bertone because of administrative lapses, including the failure to warn the pope that a renegade bishop re-admitted to the Church in 2009 was a well-known Holocaust denier.

But they said the pope, at 84 and increasingly showing the signs of his age, is not eager to break in a new right-hand man.

“It’s so complicated and the pope is so helpless,” said the monsignor.

The bishop said: “The pope is very isolated. He lives in his own world and some say the information he receives is filtered. He is interested in his books and his sermons but he is not very interested in government.” – Red Ice Creations sourced from Yahoo News

3 Responses

  1. No respite for pope as more documents leaked

    * Pope says mass for one million at family event
    * Italian newspaper publishes more leaked letters
    * Pope re-states opposition to gay marriage

    By Philip Pullella

    MILAN, June 3 (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.

    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.


    The butler Gabriele, who is being held in a “safe room” in the Vatican’s police station, is expected to be questioned this week by a Vatican prosecutor who will decide if there are grounds to order him to stand trial.

    Gabriele, 45, is currently being held on charges of aggravated theft but if he is charged with divulging state secrets he could receive a prison sentence of up to 30 years.

    The person who sent the documents to the paper said Bertone and Ganswein were “those really responsible for this scandal”.

    During his weekend trip to Milan, the pope has made no reference to the affair, which began in January 2011 when an Italian television show first aired leaked documents alleging cronyism and corruption in the Vatican.

    Last week, Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi published the book “His Holiness,” which contained more documents.

    In his sermon closing the event in Milan, the pope, speaking to a crowd of one million who had come from as far away as Zimbabwe and New Zealand, stressed again that the family must
    be based on marriage between man and woman and open to the possibility of having children.

    The ceremony at a park in Milan’s northern outskirts was attended by Italian leaders including Prime Minister Mario Monti. The pope made no mention of the leaks scandal but spoke of the damage to family life that modern society can inflict.

    “The one-sided logic of sheer utility and maximum profit are not conducive to harmonious development, to the good of the family or to building a more just society” he said.

    “(This) brings in its wake ferocious competition, strong inequalities, degradation of the environment, the race for consumer goods, family tensions,” he said.

    (Reporting By Philip Pullella; Editing by Angus MacSwan)


  2. In the last para it says “There is no independence, no separation of powers, and the judiciary will never go against the wishes of the Holy See. It’s the archaic, unaccountable system of a sovereign prince.”

    This means that the Secretary of State has the last word. In this case the Secretary of State is Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone who has positioned himself to be elected the next pope.

    So the butler has no chance of a fair trial as the documents found in his possession were against Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

    This is the Vatican’s judicial set-up! And this gang of medieval old goats–just look at the photos above: faces ravaged by wine and little boys–pretends to be the world’s guru and guide in ethics and morality!

    And human rights!

    What presumption! What arrogance!


  3. Vatican justice medieval – Silvia Aloisi

    * Lawyer fought Vatican prosecutors over 1998 murder case
    * Says Vatican judiciary lacks transparency, independence
    * Says arrested pope’s butler detained arbitrarily

    VATICAN CITY, May 31 (Reuters) – The Vatican’s justice system harks back to medieval times and is unlikely to provide the pope’s butler with fair treatment after his arrest for leaking confidential documents, according to a French lawyer involved in a previous case in the Holy See.

    Luc Brossollet is not involved in the so-called “Vatileaks” case shaking the papacy but he said his personal experience suggested the Vatican’s judiciary is under the thumb of the Holy See and allows scant regard for the rights of defendants.

    Brossollet was lawyer for the mother of Cedric Tornay, a young soldier in the Swiss Guard, the Pope’s personal protection unit, who was found dead in May 1998 in a Vatican apartment alongside the bodies of the corp’s commander and his wife.

    “The Vatican does not have a modern, democratic judicial system that guarantees the defendant’s rights. We are back to the Middle Ages. Even the Inquisition had some rules, but they don’t have any.

    They just do as they wish,” Brossollet told Reuters by telephone from Paris.
    “The Vatican promotes the respect of human rights anywhere in the world, but it does not adhere to the same principles in its own courtyard,” he said. “I think that poor butler is being detained arbitrarily.”

    After an official investigation, the Vatican concluded that Tornay had shot dead Swiss Guard commander Alois Estermann and his wife in a fit of rage over being passed over for promotion, before killing himself with the same weapon.

    Brossollet contests that version and has repeatedly urged the Vatican to reopen the case, saying the investigation was deliberately flawed and included forged documents to cover up the affair.

    The Vatican said at the time his allegations were offensive and groundless.


    The Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested by the Vatican police last Wednesday and has been charged with stealing confidential papal documents.

    He is now being detained in a “safe room” in the Vatican police station. The Vatican has no jail. His supporters say he is merely a scapegoat in a wider conflict between rival cardinals.

    He has been visited by his lawyer and his wife, is being allowed to attend Mass, and the Vatican – which is hunting other alleged leakers – says he will have all “the juridical guarantees foreseen by its criminal code”, which is based on Italian legislation dating back to 1913.

    The deputy Vatican spokesman, Father Ciro Benedettini, declined to comment on Brossollet’s allegations on Thursday, but said the Holy See would brief journalists on the justice system next week.

    Brossollet said the Vatican’s top prosecutor, who is named by the pope and is known as the Promotor of Justice, had very limited experience of criminal cases, because they are so rare in the world’s smallest state.

    He said the Vatican’s judiciary was not independent or transparent and paid scant attention to a defendant’s rights, noting that statements from Gabriele’s defence lawyer were being distributed by the Vatican’s own press office.

    Vatican chief spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said this was requested by the lawyer, who did not want to speak directly to the press.

    “I doubt that the butler’s defence lawyer will ever have access to the full documents in the case,” Brossollet said, adding that Tornay’s mother still had not been able to obtain access to her son’s judicial files after 14 years.

    Brossollet said that throughout the Swiss Guard case, he and his co-defender Jacques Verges – whose clients have included a Nazi war criminal and a Khmer Rouge leader – were refused permission to argue their case before Vatican officials.

    Only a handful of lawyers are allowed to work in the Vatican, and those who are not on that list must win special approval to do so.

    “There is no independence, no separation of powers, and the judiciary will never go against the wishes of the Holy See. It’s the archaic, unaccountable system of a sovereign prince,” Brossollet said.


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