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Pope says he is satisfied with secret report

The events surrounding Pope Benedict's resignation and the election of his successor will likely be the subject of inquiry for a very, very long time. Today, the Holy See issued a statement that served to heighten the intrigue further:

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.

Investigations ordinarily end with either a confirmation of allegations or a rejection. But in this case, we are told the investigation found that those in the Vatican who are generous and dedicated are working with generosity and uprightness - hardly a determination that needs to be reserved only for the eyes of the next pope. So obviously there is something more to it.  

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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The stream of unsavory news from the Vatican makes me yearn for a pope who is not from the Curia and who has impeccable integrity. I'd rather take the risk of the unknown, and opportunity for renewal, than the depressing continuation of this intrigue-filled little Vatican world.

The secrecy stressed here and in the elaborate instructions for the Conclave, might once have seemed merely a quaint tradition, a bit of Vatican local color. But "that stream of unsavory news" does begin to suggest that the Curia, the Papacy, and the College of Cardinals might have much to hide.Benedict's carefully ambiguous comment might as well apply to the faithful work of the three Cardinals as to the conclusions they were able to draw from their investigations: "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." That's vague enough to appear to agree with the next Pope's reaction to the report, no matter what it might be. And it tells us little or nothing about the nothing about its contents.

I was about to make a disparaging comment on the substance, or lack of it, in this announcement, but then I noticed what appears to be a mistake in the English translation. The original is in Italian, and I am sadly deficient there. But it doesn't seem to contain the absurd "generosity and dedication of those who work with uprightness and generosity."An oversight in translation is not necessarily a sign of disarray in the Vatican, but they are usually very good about such things. And as to substance, aargh!

If I understand correctly, this investigation was into who did the leaking, not into what the leaking was of. So all this means is that the pope has tried to find out who exposed the Vatican's dirty laundry, and it says nothing about the dirty laundry itself.

So does this mean that prior to the cardinals' investigation it *wasn't* possible to detect the generosity and dedication of those who work at the Vatican?

John Prior --- you're right about the absurdity of the English translation:". . . generosit, rettitudine e dedizione di quanti lavorano nella Santa Sede .. ." generosity" only comes once in the original (along with the rectitude or uprightness), rather than twice as in the English version. "The lady doth protest too much, methinks," as the Bard says in Act II of Hamlet.All institutions, all countries, all people, try to keep their dirty laundry hidden from view. Here, the Vatican is once again acting with perfect propriety. according to the norms of the secular world that Rome so often enjoys disparaging, but that all too often sets the agenda for church leaders. Is Beppe Grillo a practicing Catholic?

Luke, good question. I have to assume the investigation into U.S. women religious resulted in the same official conclusion.

Nicholas Clifford:according to the norms of the secular world that Rome so often enjoys disparaging .Example:Cardinal Weurls interview on arriving in Rome yesterday:"The secularism that is just engulfing our culture," he said, "will be weighing heavily on the hearts and minds in the conclave.""Those people who think they know the Gospel and it doesn't have any meaning for them, they're the people we have to find a way to touch, to invite once again to the embrace of Christ," he said. "That thought, that concern, that issue, is going to be something that we'll all carry with us into the conclave.Not one word about cleaning up the corruption and sexual scandals within the Church.I am reminded of Cardinal Suenens distinction, back in 1962, between ecclesia ad intra and ecclesia ad extra. Seems to me that ad intra should come before ad extra.

Another public relations fiasco! Who is in charge of PR at the Vatican? I don't remember such laughable moments during John Paul's pontificate. Were they there, and we just didn't notice?Honestly, it's like a parody. Saturday Night Live and Jay Leno will have a field day. This report revealed the generosity and devotion of those in the Vatican, and... must be kept secret. Only the eyes of the next pope may see it. Good heavens. Do they really think the public is so gullible?

Who is in charge of PR at the Vatican?A man from the St. Escriva personal prelature.

Thanks, Gerelyn. Opus Dei must not deserve its reputation. One would expect greater competence if the lore surrounding it were true.

Rita - see link:, he appears to be living up to the standards of Fox News.

Hi, Rita:I wonder if what you or I might consider incompetence is just the opposite. I think all the odd stuff coming out is meant to divert attention from what really matters to those who really matter.

"Actually, he appears to be living up to the standards of Fox News."Well said. Very dry. Thanks, Bill! "all the odd stuff coming out is meant to divert attention"Gerelyn, that's an interesting suspicion. I'm as open to theories as the next person. What do you suppose "really matters" in this instance, and to whom does it really matter? In other words, what might this divert our attention from? We'll take it as speculation.

I knew a former Opus Dei man who was at first a very idealistic fellow. He was turned bitter by the OD training -- he was taught to be oblivious to the faults of people in authority. I had hoped that the other ODers would have learned a lot about clay feet from the Escriva brouhahas, but it looks like they've been permanently scarred by the brainwashing. Looks like this new PR man wouldn't know a crisis if it walked up to him and bit off his nose. Or maybe the cardinals just wouldn't listen to him?

Boy, didn't the stilettos come out with surprising speed and skill after just one day Scottish cardinal Keith O'Brien suggested that a married clergy was a welcome development for the future pontiff?The very next day after O'Brien's impolitic comment [Vatican-style], lurid stories of O'Brien's sexual harassment and assault (?) on seminarians and priests just miraculously found their way into the scandal voracious media. Yeah, I believe that: NOT!If you believe all this coming to public attention was all just coincidence, you must also believe that unicorns defecate in technicolor. The political attack on OBrien was done with the skill of a Vatican courtesan, with a certain Germanic flare.Good piece by David Gibson:

I'm so very glad that this soon-to-be-pope-emeritus is satisfied. I'll sleep better tonight knowing that.But until and unless the secrecy is lifted and the rest of us become privy to the results, pardon me if I don't think I can take it to the Vatican bank with any degree of spiritual security. And let's not forget, B16 doesn't have to live with cleaning up the mess for which he is partially responsible, so he can be as satisfied as he wants.

Gerelyn, thats an interesting suspicion. Im as open to theories as the next person. What do you suppose really matters in this instance, and to whom does it really matter? In other words, what might this divert our attention from? Well take it as speculation. What really matters to the rulers? Islam and China. See, e.g., an old McCloskey article from L'Osservatore Romano (If you're unfamiliar with McCloskey, the blurbs on his book are informative.) things that have been interesting, imho: the Gomes v. Mahoney bout. O'Brien. The Herranz secret report. And, as you pointed out, the PR from the Vatican. Is it clumsy, or is it adroit? We learn about the pope's post-retirement titles, his cat's name, his choice of shoes, but we haven't heard who the rulers have decided will be the next pope, or why they decided Benedict should step aside, or if the cardinals have been told who the next pope is to be.

Betty Clermont, in Feb. 12 Daily Kos, pulls a lot of it together:

The cardinals should be shown the secret report, says Tauran. Article from Reuters: that:French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said in a newspaper interview that the cardinal electors, who number 115 after O'Brien stepped down, should also be informed about a secret report on Vatican corruption prepared for Pope Benedict.The retiring pontiff has decided to reserve the report for his successor, but the three cardinals over 80 years old who drew it up will be allowed to inform the cardinal electors about some of its findings during next week's consultations. The cardinal electors cannot decide to choose this or that name to vote for if they don't know the contents of this dossier," Tauran told La Repubblica newspaper.

Isn't it only good form for the resigning pope to leave the decision on what to disclose to the new pope, who will have to deal with the fallout? What else did you expect him to do?

All this medievalia induces somnabulism as the red hats troop to the Sistine to go through the motions that will yield another dysfunctional pontificate, another ten years of despair.POSTPONE THE CONCLAVE, I say, and do some serious reflection and consultation about the parlous state of the RCC.Enough of the silly games.

Lots of silly games afoot here. In one of his latest letters from Rome, Robert Moynihan wrote that in Benedicts--shall we say--recognition of all of the good men in the curia, he was giving the bad guys notice that he wasnt playing his hand but the new pope would know who they were and would deal with them. Why the heck doesnt Benedict deal with them? Hes got 48 hours!

"Fr. Lombardi added that the three cardinals of the Commission will participate fully in the General Congregations [of the conclave], where they too will have the occasion to express their own convictions. But it was also pointed out that participants in the Congregations are also buond to secrecy." That's from an article in La Stampa explaining the new conclave rules, Sounds to me as though the members of the Commission will be able to discuss the findings of their investigation in the General Congregations, even though they can't give the final report to the cardinals. Hmmm. But all three member are over 80, so they won't be able to vote.

"Why the heck doesnt Benedict deal with them? Hes got 48 hours!"Why didn't he deal better with them for the last 8 years? He isn't going to grow a spine in 48 hours that he couldn't find in 8 years, as evidenced by passing HIS dirty laundry to his successor who might even be part of B16's dirty laundry.

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