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A Secret Report to the Pope

This much is confirmed: Pope Benedict XVI received a secret report from a commission consisting of three cardinals he had appointed to investigate the leak of confidential Vatican documents. "The commission has done its work," a spokesman for the Vatican said. Did the contents of that report so dishearten Benedict that he decided to renounce the papacy? The Vatican spokesman, Rev. Federico Lombardi, responded this way to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica when it made this connection: "We are not running after all the speculation or the fantasies or the opinions that are being expressed on this issue." And, he said, the three cardinals had agreed not to give out any information. (Translation improvements gratefully accepted.) So, as we used to say in the press room, the lid is on.To say the least, this report sounds intriguing. As Inside the Vatican Editor Robert Moynihan put it in his email newsletter, "Today a veil of secrecy was shredded in this eternal city." But what it means is unclear for, as Moynihan wrote, "It is a story that in many ways seems the plot of a novel."In a story on the report, La Repubblica quoted a source who said it describes violations of the sixth and seventh commandments - allegations of homosexuality and theft - involving a supposed scheme by outsiders to gain influence within the Vatican by blackmailing officials who are gay. The report was said to have been written by three cardinals - Salvatore De Giorgi, Julian Herranz, and Josef Tomko. (All are over 80, too old to vote in the upcoming conclave.)The story isn't on a very strong foundation; it's based on an unidentified source's recounting of a few portions of the report rather than on the report itself. It follows an article in the Italian magazine Panorama by a noted writer on the Vatican, Ignazio Ingrao, who wrote that the report mapped out a who's who of Vatican infighting. Ingrao also has been quoted as saying that La Repubblica misrepresented his scoop to make the pope look bad. Nonetheless, Ingrao predicts that the report will weigh on the minds of the cardinals during the conclave.It's hard to know what to make of all this. The news story could well have some accurate facts about what's in the report but still be terribly exaggerated. To say that the report drove Benedict to resign likely oversimplifies the situation, as David Gibson notes. But as long as there is no official account from the Holy See about the contents of the report, unofficial and perhaps highly biased versions of what's in it will fill the void, perhaps as a result of tips circulated by competing factions within the Vatican. The impulse to secrecy won't work now, any better than it did when the Vatileaks scandal broke.It looks as if Pope Benedict was serious about finding out the truth. The next pope will decide whether to let the faithful in on it.Update: The Vatican's Secretariat of State issued a statement Saturday lamenting that unverified or even false news reports are circulating. The statement viewed the news reports as part of an attempt to influence the way cardinals vote in the upcoming conclave, saying that much as state authorities once tried to apply pressure to the process of selecting a pope, now public opinion is being used.Interessante

About the Author

Paul Moses, a professor of journalism at Brooklyn College/CUNY, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015).



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There has to be a growing, gnawing consciousness that B16s resignation maybe little more than Ratzinger orchestrating his exit without the door hitting him on his [b _ _ k s _ _ e] on the way out.It does no good to minimize the damage this man's leadership has brought to the church. As Andrew Sullivan wrote in his blog, we can all regret "The Lost Promise of Joseph Ratzinger."

Why is this report being released only to those attending the conclave? How sanitized might it be? Will the full unexpurgate contents be released to the entire church and then let the chips fall where they may?Can we really expect the possibly criminally complicit to actually take the corrective actions necessary? Will the next pope have the integrity and cojones to do what needs to be done?

I didn't intend to imply that those attending the conclave will necessarily see the report. Wish I knew the answer to the other questions.

When you don't tell the truth, you are subject to continual embarrassment. The truth shall set you free. Rome has never believed this.

No doubt Benedict knew there are homosexuals in the Vatican. But if one of them was someone whom he trusted, and that one managed to deceive him, then that would probably hit him very hard, as did the butler episode. Sad to reach his age and be duped in a major way, if that is what happened.Poor man, whatever the story or non-story.

I read somewhere that there is only one copy of the report, that it is under lock and key, and only the new pope will get it.

"I read somewhere that there is only one copy of the report, that it is under lock and key, and only the new pope will get it"Now that the 3 secrets of Fatima are all public, we need a new mystery anyway.And I think its fine if there are some gay Italian Cardinals; I would have no problem with one of then becoming the next Pope.

'There is nothing concealed that will not be known, but if we can slow walk it until Judgment Day it won't come back to bite us on our pomposity." -- Luke 12:2 in the Lombardi translation

Robert Moynihan's next letter in The Moynihan Report explains why he wrote publicly about the very scantily substantiated LaRepubblica article. He was immediately criticized for it, but defends it well, I think. Go to the Letter #19, "Stop" at this address:

Here is what is done when you want to throw off the real reason for a resignation. You reveal three new facts that will get the media dogs going off in the wrong direction. You reveal a hit in the head in Mexico, then reveal a blindness in one eye, and then reveal about a two year old pacemaker. That should get the media hounds running away from any dossier. Say hello to KGB, CIA, Mossad.

"I read somewhere that there is only one copy of the report, that it is under lock and key, and only the new pope will get it."If it was written on a computer that is connected to a network, it's likely that it has been saved, emailed and/or backed up.Of course, given the Vatican's reputation for technical prowess, it might have been written with a goose quill and a bottle of ink.

"If it was written on a computer that is connected to a network, its likely that it has been saved, emailed and/or backed up."Or hacked. There must be people all over the world trying to break into the Vatican. Not for profit or national security or any reason other than pure malicious fun.

I have to agree with the Irish Times reporter Paddy Agnew. If there is a gay lobby in the Vatican, they have to be the most unsuccessful lobby ever.

Tomorrow's second reading to the Philippians' For many, as I often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of Christ..... Their minds are occupied with earthly things'I think 'earthly things' was the wording used in the dossier.

Esquire, today, brings some perspective:..."..What gives me a little pause is that the "secret gay cabal" theory is an old favorite among those curial powerbrokers for whom Machiavelli was something of a wimp. It also has been a regular trope of conservative Catholics seeking to defend the institutional Church's inexcusable behavior in the face of the sexual abuse scandal, largely through the rancid technique of implying that being gay and being a pedophile are so closely allied that the former have a reason for covering up for the latter. It also is an old-line reactionary conspiracy theory beloved of, among other people, the late crackpot Malachi Martin.The report under discussion comes from within the highest levels of the Vatican bureaucracy, from the clerics charged with investigating the "VatiLeaks" scandal wherein the pope's butler. There's a helluva lot more in the VatiLeaks documents than sins of the flesh. There's a whole rat's nest of bribery, nepotism, influence peddling and many other things not unfamiliar to those of us who have covered the state government here in the Commonwealth (God save it!). However, I think having someone take a bribe so that a Mafia chief can be buried next to a pope is a whole new level of grifting, at least in my experience. What better way to distract the world's attention from the fact that the entire Vatican bureaucracy is corrupt and should be broken into tiny pieces and tossed into the Tiber than to leak a report about a gay cabal, especially given that a good piece of your Catholic laity is predisposed to believe it anyway? Again, not saying the leak isn't true, it's just that, in the Vatican, there are always wheels within wheels."

All of this can be simultaneously true:Priests along with senior members of the Vatican bureaucracy were involved in sexual misconduct with prostitutes (doesn't matter if it is homosexual or heterosexual it is violation of their vows and public responsibilities). They are being blackmailed by these prostitutes and are therefore in a compromised position.Priest along with senior members of the Vatican bureaucracy are involved in theft, embezzlement and misappropriation of funds through the Vatican bank.Priests along with senior members of the Vatican bureaucracy are involved in accepting bribes and simony.Pope Benedict may have not only heard rumors and innuendo but was aware of a lot of smoke through his work at the CDF. He wanted a complete briefing. He, and his successor, now has that.That may have not precipitated his resignation but I think that he is aware that significant reform needs to occur internally. He is by temperament, age, and energy not in a position to address these issues but he understands that they are a priority and are not something that is going to disappear overnight or even in a few years. Added to this there are other broader issues involving the relevance of faith in today's age and the mission of the Church in terms of clear teaching that is important. He alluded to all of this in his resignation.One thing is clear, the cardinals are now aware that the public is aware of it as well. This should factor in their choice of a leader assuming that it is not the senior cardinals themselves who are involved.At any rate, now is the time to start thinking of the greater good of the church which is more important than their personal reputations or ambitions.

George D has it about right except his constant mention of priests doing this and that. I say it is higher ranking prelates and BXVI favorites who may be involved. Lower level clerics and butlers can be thrown under buses with impunity. The Pope does not want the dirty job of outing and dismissing his fair haired protgs so he resigns and then they put out the medical excuses. Already one complainer was sent to the US nuncio job and the other to Malta which is farther than DC. There are no whistle blower places left.

A few days ago the BBC (broadcast over NPR) did an hour long program on of Benedict's legacy, his resignation, and what it meant for the future. The story was no better and no worse than you'd expect. Besides sex, there was also some talk of the checkered history of the Vatican bank and its real or imagined money laundering. But I was particularly struck by the answers given by a couple of third-world cardinals to the Beeb's speculation that a Third World pope might be in the offing. They pointed out (quite correctly) that the pope is the head of the whole Church, and we should not see someone being chosen simply to satisfy particular constituencies. What was incorrect was the suggestion that, guided by the Holy Spirit, conclaves thereupon chose the right man, regardless of nationality. Another example of Church leaders blaming the Lord for human failings. And, good or bad, never mind that from the death of Adrian VI in 1523 to the election of John Paul II, the Spirit's favor, strangely enough, always rested on an Italian). Do you suppose if the Canadian Marc Ouellet is elected, restaurants in Rome will start serving Poutine, that French-Canadian favorite? For those who don't know the dish (potatoes, gravy, and cheese) here's a definition from the Web:"Poutine is Acadian slang for mushy mess and is best described as a heart attack in a bowl."But there are many who love it.

I wonder if Marc's Quebec French is peppered with sacres:

Oh, a "secret gay lobby" blackmails who-knows-how-high ranking Vatican officials? Hmmm...First, any gay curial folk are blackmail-able only because of anti-gay teachings of the Church they themselves have either promulgated or remained silent about. I seriously doubt that heterosexual dalliances would raise any eyebrows in Rome, even in Vatican City. And obviously this need not be a "gay lobby." It would be a "greed lobby," people looking to profit on the gay hook-ups of vatican officials. If a lobby wanted to change Church teaching on homosexuality, they wouldn't blackmail these guys, they'd out them. OK, let's raise the heterosexual ante, and infer that high-ranking curial officials are cavorting with prostitutes, which probably would be enough to gin up a little blackmail. Why, then, are men who proclaim what a gift celibacy is to the Church, (and identify themselves as having that gift,) desirous of prostitutes anyway? Do they have this celibacy-gift or not? I will put in separate categories those who are regular customers and those who may have misbehaved once or twice, or in compromising circumstances (depression, etc.)In sum--if there's blackmail going on, the marks can be blackmailed basically because they have not been courageous enough to start a real conversation about sexual mores in the Church. Whether it's the teaching on homosexual relationships or celibacy, something's not right in these men's lives. (And yes, I'd say the same for married men who visit prostitutes regularly.) The best thing that could happen, imho, is for the whole lot of them, gay, straight or ambidextrous, simply to be outed. Generally I oppose involuntary outing of people, but these guys teach one thing and furtively live another. Out, out!! Let them speak for themselves in the light of day.

note that there is no human adult whose behavior has never been construable as inappropriate

there is no human adult whose behavior has never been construable as inappropriate

Perhaps. But in those instances there can be a public discussion of that and a decision made. For example, some female colleagues made a video in which another male colleague (not me) had "hot, hot, hot" superimposed. Granted, it was an inside joke but before it was made more public we had a a public conversation on how that could be construed. It got in to discussions about sexualizing people and whether if the tables were turned there would not be a different reaction, etc.Not saying the behaviour was inappropriate but it could certainly have been construed that way. However, we could have a discussion.There is a far cry from that and sneaking into a hotel room and seeing a prostitute or otherwise doing something that is, in fact, inappropriate. Obviously, when that happens people want it to be concealed. And people will go to pretty extreme lengths to conceal things even consensual affairs.When the Patreus scandal broke, I heard on intelligence person say that, within the intelligence community, it is a well known fact that people will succumb to blackmail and do a lot of things to conceal an affair. When you add on the added scandal of bishops and priests engaged in such conduct, then it is amplified. Loss of moral authority, loss of reputation, loss of character. A politician may be able to get away with this kind of conduct (and I say MAY consider Patreus, Strauss- Kahn, et al.) but religious are held to higher standards.

It seems to me that one moral issue in all of this that has not been gone into is whether or not it is moral to inquire into such behavior or listen to claims that there has been such behavior. According to what I was taught as a child we should always think the best possible of others. However, if the sex scandal has taught us anything, it's that sometimes we *must* look into possibly bad behavior, and if told about it we must not ignore it. Labelling such reports "gossip" as one of the Vatican cardinals did just won't do any more.

"saying that much as state authorities once tried to apply pressure to the process of selecting a pope, now public opinion is being used.Interessante."E vero, no doubt. Gossip. Just a bigger back fence.

I'm not sure there's be much gossip if there hadn't already been evidence of a lot of concealed wrongdoing ... latest disturbing thing about the coming conclave - Cardinal O'Brien, one of those voting, has been accused of sexual misconduct by some priests -

If I'm not mistaken, the Vatican has not yet denied that the main points are true. Also, one of the accused, an important diplomat named Baldesero (sp?) has suddenl been sent to Columbia as nuncio (and been made a bishop). Looks like the same ole same ole to me.

If theVatican doesn't get a new bat that can swat away the centuries of pomposity I'm afraid the 'smaller sillier' predictions will come true. The strike out has been , the Reformation, the 19th century openings to democracy, Vatican II . Go for an Asian Pope.., they gave us Gandhi, Dali Lama, Buhhda....The HS is giving us 4 strikes this time, so even a small base hit might save the Church. The three Virtues needed are simplicity, simplicity and simplicity

"The conclave is a mechanism that serves to create a dynasty in a monarchy without children, so it's a complicated operation," said Alberto Melloni, the director of the John XXIII Center in Bologna and author of a book on conclaves.The voting rules for the conclave require a candidate securing an uncontested majority, so any effort to undermine rivals is "part of the great game of the conclave, whose tools include political attacks and efforts to condition consensus," Melloni added.

This story has gone viral. Raises the bar all over the place. Benedict keeps making moves. Will he share the meeting with the three cardinals? Who leaked it? Who put the pressure on. On Whom was the pressure put???? A conclave to boot. When we thought we heard everything.

"in those instances there can be a public discussion of that and a decision made." I think most "inappropriate" behavior happens in private (not in public professional roles) and I was criticizing the puritanical ideology of total transparency, of outing everyone all the time.Plato thought it was a mark of ill-breeding to remember and recount things people said or did when drunk.

With regard to the "update," blaming the media in this case amounts to blaming the messenger.

Readers of David Berger's Der heilige Schein will not be surprised by these Vatican leaks. The campy rightist Catholic world that book explores is just the kind of milieu that would have blackmailable indiscretions at its fringes. All the groupuscules Berger describes have hosted lectures by Cardinal Ratzinger, whose conservative piety and cut and dried notions of orthodoxy make him feel far more at home among them than with mature Catholic theologians.

The gay panic could also facilitate some sort of Opus Dei power grab, since they pose as an incorrupt order, able to purge the Vatican's Augean stables.As to Cardinal O'Brien, he could sue his accusers, who should have made their allegations 30 years ago, to the relevant authorities, if there is any substance in them.

From the holySeee Press Office:"The Holy Father received in audience this morning Cardinals Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko, and Salvatore De Giorgi, who formed the commission to investigate the leaks of private information. They were accompanied by the commissions secretary, Fr. Luigi Martignani, O.F.M., Cap.At the conclusion of their mission, the Holy Father thanked them for the helpful work they did, and expressed satisfaction for the results of the investigation. Their work made it possible to detect, given the limitations and imperfections of the human factor of every institution, the generosity and dedication of those who work with uprightness and generosity in the Holy See at the service of the mission entrusted by Christ to the Roman Pontiff.The Holy Father has decided that the acts of this investigation, known only to himself, remain solely at the disposition of the new pope."

This whole flapdoodle will be used by people who don't get the pope they want from the coming conclave to cry "the fix was in" and discredit the winner. I would advise the cardinals not to vote for anyone who refuses to produce his Hawaiian birth certificate, but even that may not be enough.

Tom Blackburn aka Donald Trump.

The latest bulletin in the pre-conclave mess: Cardinal O'Brien of Scotland resigned before the accusations of sexual misconduct were made against him. He will not attend the conclave. This will leave the British without representation.Needed digression: Fr. Emil Kapuan, an infantry chaplain in the Korean War, will be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for bravery. He has also been nominated for sainthood. He certainly sounds like a saint.

The resignation and the allegations against Cardinal O'Brien are huge news. Perhaps one of the Commonweal posters will put something up soon.

Poor Roger "the Artful Dodger" Mahony - he can't cut a break! The modern day "Thane of Cawdor" Scottish Cardinal Sean O'Brien apparently has done what MacBeth wouldn't: eschewed his driving ambitions in the face of scandal and intrigue. Not such a happy camper in Glamis these days. The Bard, as usual, has some pertinent sentiments:"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,To the last syllable of recorded time;And all our yesterdays have lighted foolsThe way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,And then is heard no more. It is a taleTold by an idiot, full of sound and fury,Signifying nothing." (Macbeth V, i v, ii 19-28)In the wake of these salacious developments in Scotland, the political pressure will now only build for Mahony to also resign from the conclave. There must be a boat-load of cardinals who have some skeletons rattling around in their closets - no pun intended. It makes sense that if you wanted to diminish the pool of cardinal electors who just may be ready to swing over to the "side of the Force" from the Dark side and elect someone who will have an agenda to bring at least some of the cover-up and corruption to an end, you would just make sure that some really embarrassing stories about some cardinals' proclivities are planted in the scandal voracious media?!?! Very neat and clean: No fingerprints. Very Vatican-like way to deal with a political problem.I appears that B16, the consummate inside politician, continues to engage with his opponents among the cardinals for some Vatican-style close-in knife fighting. [Doesn't seem that Ratzinger has lost all his political muscle.] We are to believe that the age-enfeebled, I-want-to-continue-to-serve-the-church-from-the-safety-of-a-Vatican-monastery Ratzinger can't keep up with the weasels among the cardinals? Au contraire!If news reports are to be believe, Ratzinger has just changed the papal election rules by allowing the cardinals who will pick his successor to gather in conclave sooner, rather than later. [Custom and canon law apparently mandates a 15 day waiting period after sede vacant.] The net effect of such a power political move is to enable Ratzinger's buddies in the curia to force the selection in the conclave of one of their own very quickly before a viable candidate from "outside Rome" can emerge - cutting off any hope for a "reformer" [if there really is such a creature among the cardinals at this time].It would appear that Ratzinger's abdication has released a whole Pandora's box of political viciousness in public that we haven't seen from the cardinals since J23rd of fond memory was elected. All this must make the curia boys really nervous because we all know how that conclave turned out: Vatican2 with its historic aggiornamento! The hierarchy has been trying to put that genie back in the bottle ever since - that was all that Ratzinger, a traitor to his own work as a peritus at the Council, has ever lived for.Is it possible that the growing, howling wind beginning to blow on the Tiber just may be the flapping of the Holy Spirit's wings?

Michaelangelo Signorile brings a certain perspective (but you knew he would, right?): NewsPope allows cardinals to bring forward election of his successor25 February 2013"Pope Benedict XVI has changed the rules of the conclave that will elect his successor, allowing the College of Cardinals to bring forward the start date if all the cardinal electors arrive in Rome before the usual 15-day transition between pontificates.Benedict signed a "motu proprio", which was issued today, with some changes to the conclave rules established in 1996 by Pope John Paul II governing the election of a new pope. It is one of his last acts as pope before he resigns on Thursday.The Vatican has said it wants a new pope in place by Holy Week, which starts on 24 March. Having to wait the full 15 days after Pope Benedict resigns to begin the conclave to elect his successor would put the cardinals under increased pressure.However some cardinals have said proceedings should not start early, because the change will give a distinct advantage to cardinal-electors in the Vatican and closer to Rome who have already begun strategising for possible candidates to be the next pope.I love this: The Vatican has said it wants a new pope in place by Holy Week, .. The Vatican what disembodied entity is that? Says it wants . ???I enjoy The Tablet immensely, but this disinterested (right!) third party obfuscation is not up to their usual standards.

Here is a news report on Cardinal O'Brien's resignation:

The confusion in the church is so great that it might be a good idea to delay the conclave for a few months so as to give people a chance to do some serious reflection and consultation.

The timing of the O'Brien affair suggests a successful plot to remove one undesirable voter from the list.


As to Cardinal OBrien, he could sue his accusers, who should have made their allegations 30 years ago, to the relevant authorities, if there is any substance in them.

Well, let's wait to see how it all plays out. Let the process unfold in a reasonably public fashion.Recently, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada took testimony of First Nation people who were abused in residential schools, frequently run religious orders of priests and brothers. are not witch hunts. These are responsible, orderly commissions whose aim is truth and reconciliation. I, personally, know of one woman who is in her 80's and testified. My wife typed up her testimony. She is, and remains, a devout Catholic and is supported by the priest and community as well as many others. I am glad that the priests, deacons, and lay people that we are connected with are not hyper-defensive about the whole process. As someone who has accompanied a few woman in their legal journey of charging their stepfathers with sexual abuse stemming 15 - 20 years ago, I can assure you that full standards of proof beyond a reasonable doubt needs to be presented even in older cases.What occurs is this. The accuser lays out a full timeline of time, dates, and events in as specific detail as possible. This includes where the event(s) occurred and contemporaneous witnesses, if not to the event, to the fact that the person may have confided this to them at the time. These people are then contacted by the police and asked to make a statement.Additionally, the accuser can name as many other family members who experienced similar things (rarely is it just one). These people, too, make statements. Again, the statements have to be as complete as possible and this means explaining how and where they were touched (in detail). What was said, etc.Once all of this information has been compiled, a charge is laid and the accused has the opportunity to rebut any claim. Following that process, the complete criminal process unfolds.Not every case merits charges due to thin evidence (which does not mean that the event did not occur).Removal of statute of limitations, which we have in Canada, is important for justice to take place.

PSTherefore whatever you have said in the dark shall be heard in the light, and what you have whispered in private rooms shall be proclaimed on the housetops. (Luke 12:3)

The pope really has done nothing about O'Brien. O'Brien was already slated to retire next month, and according to the Vatican, he could still vote in the conclave, although he seems to have decided himself that he won't now.

There seem to be several parallels between the O'Brien affair and the Rembert Weakland affair - including, iirc from the earlier case, the device of accepting an already-proferred resignation.

We all know that O'Brien's suggestion that the new pope might consider removing mandatory celibacy from the priesthood of the Latin Rite had absolutely nothing to do with the unveiling of this story.I am far from a fan of Keith O'Brien, but I am not stupid enough to think that certain entrenched reprobates in high places didn't pull out this trump card in time to "persuade" him to fast and abstain from the conclave. (Well, it IS Lent, isn't it?)It's time to consider the sweet smell of love and the stench of greed (John 12:1-8)

RSN takes a more humane look at the O'Brien affair than most reports have done.

According to the reports, the participants in O'Brien's affairs were not willing. They were coerced, so it seems, and were in an unequal power relationship.It is not like he was drinking with peers and one thing led to another. These were not his peers. Big difference.More like Maciel lite but Maciel nonetheless.

"Following that process, the complete criminal process unfolds."The Cardinal is accused of "inappropriate" behavior, not criminal behavior.

"Inappropriate" activities of a "worldly nature"...whatever the term we want to apply. The larger point is that he won't be participating in the conclave and his fate can be left to whatever, hopefully, fair process that is appropriate to get to the truth of the matter and arrive at a fair resolution.Now if only Roger Mahony would reconsider. His colleagues....are unlikely to lean on him but perhaps he too can consider the greater good of the Church as a whole.

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