Vatileaks: Its Wojtylians versus Ratzingerians – Giacomo Galeazzi

Pope John Paul II + Cardinal  RatzingerThe latest developments in the Vatileaks scandal and the interrogations of the Pope’s former butler, Paolo Gabriele, reveal a Holy See with a “double bottom”: old diplomatic guard against a new order; Wojtylians versus Ratzingerians. Indeed, the Roman Curia’s past is not passing and is hindering Benedict XVI’s reforming spirit. “Wojtyla power” endures. Despite the switch in operational roles due to age reasons, the Holy See is still dominated by the big shots that stayed on after the John Paul II era.

Next week, formal interrogations of Paolo Gabriele will conclude. Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi confirmed the imminent conclusion of the preliminary investigation phase today. This does not mean that the preliminary sentence of a remand or an acquittal will be given immediately but I hope it will be by end of July or beginning of August.” If Gabriele is put on remand, the formal debate procedure would begin in September. In the meantime, he is being held in the Vatican Gendarmerie.

John Paul II’s powerful personal secretary, Stanislao Dziwisz, was promptly promoted as Cardinal of Cracow, but other Wojtylians still remain in the Roman Curia and they are making their influence over papal bureaucracy felt. For example the dean of the Sacred College, Angelo Sodano and pro-Wojtyla cardinals Leonardo Sandri, Giovanni Battista and Jean-Louis Tauran. They are the leaders of the so-called “diplomatic school” which is at the helm of the ecclesiastical Academy in Rome’s Piazza della Minerva. The papal embassies which weave the network of Vatican relations across the globe are home to nuncios loyal to Sodano, such as Luigi Ventura (France), Pietro Parolin (Venezuela), Gabriele Caccia (Beirut) and Piero Pioppo (Cameroon). Set against the old diplomatic guard, since 2006, is the current loyal to the Vatican Secretary of State, the Salesian canonist, Tarcisio Bertone. Members of this current include the Curia cardinals and Salesian brothers Raffaele Farina and Angelo Amato. Crucially, Bertone’s lot have an influence on Vatican finances.

CardinalTarcisio BertoneIndeed, the financial “troika” is made up entirely of cardinals who are linked to the Secretary of State, Giuseppe Versaldi (President for the Prefecture for economic affairs), Domenico Calcagno (President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See) and Giuseppe Bertello (President of the Vatican City State Governorate). Then there is Bertone himself, who presides over the supervisory commission of cardinals in charge of monitoring the Vatican bank’s activities. The current papacy is the first in almost a century and a half to have two figures with no diplomatic background as is heads. Neither Ratzinger nor come from the Holy See’s diplomatic service. Nevertheless, Benedict XVI immediately proved he was a reformist, intent on changing the Curia around, doing away with decades of conspiracies of silence and consolidated monopolies in strategic sectors such as health and geopolitics. His aim has been to safeguard “non negotiable values”, namely the family, life and freedom of education.

But the resistance the old guard has shown towards the unification of dicasteries and the streamlining of the bureaucracy machine remains fierce. There is an unwritten law in the Vatican which says that if a Secretary of State does not come from the diplomatic corps (Villot for example), it is because the person elected Pope has worked in the diplomatic service (Paul VI for example). Once he arrived from Genoa, Tarcisio Bertone tried to change the Holy See’s course, from the strong political management of his predecessor, Angelo Sodano, to a government based “more on the Gospel and less on diplomacy,” declaring he wanted to be “a Secretary of the Church more than a Secretary of State.” At the root of this, is a complete reappraisal of an era in which the universal Church was constantly of core geopolitical importance and the attempt to return to a “normal” administration after John Paul II’s “belligerent” anti-communist Richard Williamsoncrusade. Hence Bertone’s attempts to stem the super powers of those movements and ecclesiastical groups in the Curia which still show remnants of the past.

But the plan to bring lay entities and curial “schools” back to their original source fails; so much so that at one point (particularly when it came to appointments in dicasteries and dioceses), Bertone had to negotiate with movements and influential figures that dominated the Curia during Wojtyla’s pontificate. The Secretary of State therefore juggled the various factions, fighting against them one minute and supporting them the next. Benedict XVI’s papacy has after all always been a “pontificate full of obstacles.” The Roman Curia’s many pitfalls did not affect the universal value of Joseph Ratzinger’s teachings and on 19 April 2005 he was elected as Peter’s 264th successor, choosing Benedict XVI as his name.

In an audience with German pilgrims on 25 April, he said: “When the election results indicated I was going to “get the job” my head started to spin…” Three days before his speech to cardinals present in Rome, he had urged them: “Please do not stop showing your support.” But the honeymoon period did not last. Benedict XVI chose canonist Tarcisio Bertone as his Secretary of State and Vatican diplomats responded by declaring war on him. Bertone tried to remind them that he had been preceded by a great Secretary of State who was not a diplomat, Jean-Marie Villot, but at least John Paul II had a diplomatic background, as did Paul VI. Benedict XVI however is a theologian, whose extraordinary preaching in this third globalised millennium has not been safeguarded as it should have been or adequately adapted by the Curia.

Pope Benedict XVIThe lack of sufficient support on the part of the Holy See’s government and media was tangible during Benedict XVI’s apostolic visit to Brazil with the last-ditch attempts made by the liberation theologians. It was also evident during the Pope’s first visit to Africa, in the tough media and political campaign on the use of condoms as a means of preventing AIDS.

What weakened the liberalisation of the ancient rite further (through the motu proprio Summorum Pontificum), was the Curia administration’s destructive slip up, involving the revocation of the excommunication of British Holocaust denier bishop, Richard Williamson. No one, not even Bertone warned the Pope of Williamson’s unacceptable opinions on the Holocaust. Two years late, another scandalous incident occurred: the “Boffo case” involving the Secretary of State and the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) clan led by cardinals Bagnasco and Ruini who started a duel over an affair which now seems to have prefigured the Vatileaks scandal, with arrows being thrown at the director of Avvenire, the newspaper of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, and Vatican complicities. Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who was close to Cardinal Dean Angelo Sodano’s diplomatic wing, became the next victim. He was sent to the United States because of his antagonism toward Bertone and his condemnation of the “corruption” which according to him the Vatican is awash with. Finally, Gotti Tedeschi, the Vatican bank’s former director was accused of “inefficiency” and abruptly dismissed from his post. But Benedict XVI’s fight for transparency continues despite the resistance of the Roman Curia. – Vatican Insider, Rome, 3 July 2012

See also

One Response

  1. Do the old goats who are quarrelling over honours and precedence in the Vatican know what it going on in the dioceses? Do they care?

    Catholic priest in dock for fondling school boy – Deccan Chronicle – Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu – 14 July 2012

    Pudukottai, Tamil Nadu: A clergyman belonging to the Thanjavur diocese was arrested for reportedly misbehaving with a class 10 boy who travelled on his motorcycle.

    The 15-year-old boy, son of Ramaraj of Aravampatti village and studying in class 10 at Holy Mary higher secondary school at Thachangkurichi, was waiting for a bus at the bus stop with his schoolmates on Friday evening to return home.

    When he saw the priest riding a motorbike, he hesitantly asked for a ‘lift’.

    The clergyman generously obliged and made the boy sit on the fuel tank. But he reportedly misbehaved with the boy by kissing and hugging him during the ride.

    The shocked boy raised an alarm when the bike reached Komapuram bus stop and screamed for help. He also switched off the motorbike by removing the key.

    The priest snatched the key and sped away with him before the locals could come to the boy’s rescue.
    The public passed on the information to the drivers at the taxi stand in Gandarvakottai while a few of them chased the priest on their motorcycles.

    They intercepted the priest and rescued the boy near the Gandarvakottai taxi stand. They also handed over the priest to the police station.

    The priest was identified as George Stephen (40) belonging to Thanjavur diocese.

    Subsequently, the police registered a case under various sections, including misbehaving with the boy and threatening to murder him.


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