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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


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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.