Pope Primer: Sorting through an 11th-hour Vatican sex scandal

February 25, 2013 10:57:48 AM PST
As Chicago's Cardinal Francis George and his cardinal colleagues begin arriving in Rome to replace the retiring pope, they find themselves gathering under a new, unexpected and ill-timed Vatican cloud.

Church leaders were caught off-guard a few days ago by an Italian newspaper report that stated Pope Benedict XVI was resigning after he learned of a gay-sex network operated by some of his highest ranking prelates.

Vatican officials have strongly denied that the pope was motivated by such a revelation, saying that his age and health caused him to become the first pontiff to abdicate in 600 years.

However, the Vatican has not issued a blanket denial that a blackmail-prone, gay-sex network was uncovered.

The report in La Repubblica states that top churchmen-including some unnamed cardinals who have a vote for the new pope-have been blackmailed by forces outside the Vatican. "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandment" according to the newspaper, which is Italy's largest-circulation daily.

The suggestion is that high ranking Catholic officials involved in a practicing gay sect had knowingly violated Commandments prohibiting adultery and stealing. Rather than allowing their credibility and that of the Church to be tarnished, they reportedly succumbed to blackmailers.

Sordid details of the allegations are said to be included in a reports-hundreds of pages long-prepared by three cardinals who were appointed by the pope last year to look into the so-called "VatiLeaks" scandal.

In that public relations debacle for the Catholic Church, confidential papers were stolen from the pope's desk and later turned up in news reports. The records raised questions of corruption and misuse of money at the Vatican.

It was the pope's butler who did it...a daring theft considered one of the gravest security breaches in modern church history.

On Monday Pope Benedict is scheduled to meet with the three cardinals who prepared the report on the leaks, a report that itself has now apparently been leaked if the Italian newspaper is to be believed.

La Repubblica reported that the cardinals interviewed dozens of people inside and outside the Vatican and produced hefty dossiers. "The report is explicit. Some high prelates are subject to 'external influence' ? we would call it blackmail --by nonchurch men to whom they are bound by 'worldly' ties," the newspaper reported.


For centuries, governance of the Roman Catholic Church has been as transparent as a veal chop.

The Vatican, holder of the records, has never held itself out as a democracy.

When Chicago's Roman Catholic Archbishop Cardinal Francis George and his cardinal-colleagues select a new man to replace the retiring Benedict XVI, it will be by a process carefully executed within such very secretive traditions.

There will be pressure on the pope to circulate at least a summary of the investigative findings to the College of Cardinals, Vatican observers say. As the highest-ranking decision-making body in the Church, the 116 voting members of college will no doubt want to see what evidence there is that double-lives may have resulted in immoral lobbying by some of their colleagues.

Whether or not the pontiff provides the dossier to the College of Cardinals, after Monday's meeting with the cardinal troika that prepared the 300-page report, Benedict has already made a decision to hand the confidential files to his successor, according to La Repubblica.

Pope Benedict hopes that whoever is the next pope will be "strong, young and holy" enough to take the necessary action, stated the newspaper.

The mere surfacing of the scandalous report has been called "deplorable" by the Vatican Secretariat of State who issued a rare and pointed rebuke on Saturday. He sharply criticized "widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories, that cause serious damage to persons and institutions" and said that it may have been aimed at rigging the papal election.

Some Vatican experts said that a depiction of the institution as an unruly den of scheming Italian prelates could be intended to convince cardinals to choose a non-Italian pope. Such politicking and deal-making is known to be part of the process.

After Monday's meeting between the pope and the cardinal troika that prepared a 300-page report, Benedict has already made a decision to hand the confidential files to his successor, according to La Repubblica. Pope Benedict hopes that whoever is the next pope will be "strong, young and holy" enough to take the necessary action, stated the newspaper.


Although the grammar and sentence structure makes it difficult to follow at times, below is the direct translation from Italian of the newspaper report that has touched off a new Vatican controversy: Gender and career, blackmail the Vatican behind the resignation of Benedict XVI

Struggles for power and money in a secret report with the results of an investigation on Vatileaks delivered by three cardinals to the Pope hypothesized a gay lobby. The document will pass into the hands of the new pope, should be enough "strong, young and holy"

In these 50 years we have learned and experienced that original sin exists, always results in personal sins which may become structures of sin. We have seen that in the field of the Lord there is always the weeds. To the network of Peter are the bad fish. "

The weeds. The bad fish. "Structures of sin." It's Thursday, October 11, Santa Maria Bleak. This is the day the Church commemorates Pope John XXIII, fifty years from the beginning of the Council. Benedict XVI to the balcony and the boys gathered in the square of Catholic says: "Fifty years ago I was like you in this square, with eyes turned upward to watch and listen to the words full of poetry and We goodness of the Pope, then, happy. Filled with enthusiasm, we were sure that was to come a new springtime of the Church. " Short break. We were happy in the past. "Today, the joy is more sober, humble. In fifty years we have learned that human frailty is also present in the Church." What's the weeds, there are the bad fish.

No one understood, in the afternoon of October. The boys in the square cheered and cried the memory of Pope John. Nobody knew that two days before Benedict XVI again met Cardinal Julian Herranz, 83 years old, Spanish Opus Dei for him to preside over the commission of inquiry on what the newspapers call Vatileaks. The crow, the leak, the cards stolen from the apartment of the Pope Ratzinger Herranz updated regularly. Each week, in private conversation, from April to December.

The Pope noted with growing concern the developments of the investigation: dozens and dozens of interviews with bishops, cardinals and lay people. In Italy and abroad. Dozens and dozens of reports reread and signed by the interviewees. The same questions for everyone at first, then interviews free. Cross-checks. Checks. A framework from which was emerging a network of lobby that the three cardinals divided by origin a religious congregation, for geographical origin. The Salesians, Jesuits. The Ligurians, Lombards.

Finally, that day in October, the transition to the thorniest. A network cross united sexual orientation. For the first time the word homosexuality has been given, read aloud from a written text, in the apartment of Ratzinger. For the first time it is scanned, although in Latin, the word blackmail "influentiam" His Holiness. Impropriam influentiam.

December 17, 2012, San Lazzaro. The three cardinals deliver into the hands of the Pope the result of their work. There are two volumes of nearly 300 pages. Two folders hard bound in red without the header. Under "pontifical secret", are kept in the safe in the Ratzinger. The only knows, besides Him, who wrote them. Contain an exact map of the tares and bad fish. The "divisions in the ecclesial body that disfigure the face of the Church," the Pope says nearly two months after the Homily Ash.

It's that day with those cards on the table, which Benedict XVl makes the decision so long meditated. It is in that week he meets his biographer, Peter Seewald, and a few hours after receiving the three cardinal says, "I am old, just what I did." Almost the same words, in that interview later published in Focus, who said in February the consistory for the martyrs of Otranto, "" worsening NA. "" We are an old Pope, "had already opened his arms many times in the past months, in confidential talks.

So the week before Christmas, the Pope makes his decision. With these words, says Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, another of the three inquisitors who prepare the "relationem" present at the time of renunciation: "He made a gesture of strength, not weakness. He did it for the good of the Church. He gave a strong message to everyone in the exercise of authority or power are considered irreplaceable. The Church is made up of men. The Pope has seen the problems and dealt with them as far-sighted initiative is particularly unusual. " He took upon himself the cross, in fact. Not decreased, on the contrary.

But who are "those who consider themselves irreplaceable?". Echo the words of the Angelus last Sunday's necessary "to expose the temptations of power who exploit God for their own interests."

The "relationem" is now there. Benedict XVI will deliver it into the hands of the next Pope, who will be strong enough, and young, and "holy" - hoped - to deal with the enormous work that awaits him. It is designed, in these pages, a geography of "improper influence" that a man very close to the person who has written it this way: "Everything revolves around the non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandment." Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. The credibility of the Church be shattered by the evidence that its own members violate the original wording. These two points, in particular. We see the sixth commandment, adultery. The report is explicit. Some prelates suffer "outside influence" - we would say blackmail - lay to which they are related by "worldly nature." Are almost the same words he had used Monsignor Attilio Nicora, then at the top of the IOR, in the letter stolen from secret chambers at the beginning of 2012: the letter was later published full of names omitted to cover. Many of those names and those circumstances resurface in the Report. From remote events, such as Monsignor Tommaso Stenico suspended after an interview aired on The 7 in which he told of sexual encounters took place in the Vatican. Emerges the story of the singers that liked to surround the Gentleman of His Holiness Angelo Balducci, the acts of a judicial inquiry. The locations of the meetings. A villa outside Rome. A sauna Quarto Miglio. A beauty salon in the center. The rooms in the Vatican itself. A university residence Trasone being leased to a private entity and claimed back from the Secretary of State Bertone, usually used as a residence address in Rome by an archbishop Verona. Mention is made of the center "Priscilla", which even from press cuttings appears to be due to Marco Simeon, the young San Remo today at the top of Rai and Archbishop Viganò as already pointed out by the anonymous author of the notes against him. Circumstances denials by the protagonists in the newspapers, but deepened and taken from the report in great detail.

The three cardinals continued to work beyond 17 December last year. They came up with the latest events concerning the IOR - here you can go to the seventh commandment - listening to men on whom he confides Tarcisio Bertone from his right arm, the powerful Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Genoese, born in 1966. They came to the appointment of the young René Bruelhart the direction of FIA, the financial authority of the Institute.

The third of the cardinals investigators, Josef Tomko, is the oldest and therefore the most influential of the triad. Ratzinger recalled him to 88 years in service. Slovak, had been with Woijtyla head of counterintelligence Vatican. He personally followed the thorny issue of including economic contributions to the cause of Polish as a delegate to the relations with Eastern Europe. After Monsignor Luigi Poggi, who died in 2010, is the last guardian of what today is called the Entity, the "Sodalitium pianum" of ancient memory, the Secret Service Vatican formally dismantled by Benedict XV, in the name of Ratzinger's predecessor. Because the symbols and gestures, to St. Peter, count much more than the words who is very familiar with the liturgies Vatican points out that. On the last day of his pontificate, Benedict XVI will receive the drafters of the three cardinals relationem in a private audience. Soon after, alongside Tomko, see the bishops and the faithful Slovaks in Santa Maria Maggiore. His last public hearing. February 27, St. Procopius the Decapolita, confessor. Then the conclave.