Vatican Diary / Double Slap, for Saint Egidio and for the Jesuits

The Chiesa
June 7, 2012

Among the documents that have gotten out of the Vatican are two that are an embarrassment to the "UN of Trastevere" and the superior general of the Society of Jesus. To the advantage of two cardinals: the American George and the Dutch Eijk

The disappearance of confidential documents from the Vatican continues without pause. And no one can predict how long it will continue.

The quantity of missing documents is certainly significant, and seems to concern almost exclusively the papers kept in the Apostolic Palace, the heart of the Roman curia, the building overlooking Saint Peter's Square that is the residence of Benedict XVI and his personal secretary, Georg Ganswein, in which the secretariat of state has its offices and in which secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone has his residence and office.

As of today, in fact, almost none of the documents published in various waves seems to have been stolen directly from other dicasteries or offices of the Holy See. Almost always, the papers addressed to these offices have been served up to the public only after they have passed through the Apostolic Palace.

So far, the only person charged with having taken documents is the pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, who certainly could have accessed part of the documentation published, but not all of it.

Still to be determined are the motivations that drove the document thieves to carry out their actions: money, the desire to clean house, or something else. And it is not known if behind this operation is a unified plan or hidden coordination.

In this regard, the backgrounders are a waste of time, as lacking in verified facts as they are intriguing. There are some who spin yarns about conspiracies "on the right" to force the resignation of a pope considered too weak. And there are some who hope that one of the results of this chaos could be the postponement of the full reintegration of the Lefebvrists within the Catholic Church, an event abhorred by the progressive ranks of the ecclesial world.

While the investigations continue in the Vatican through the inquiry committee of cardinals and the magistracy of Vatican City-State the only certain fact is therefore the papers made public so far, the authenticity of which has not been denied.

Some of these papers have been publicized with great media fanfare by those who received and published them, hardly experts on Vatican questions and therefore not always capable of fully evaluating their significance.

On the other hand, there has been no media attention, among the stolen papers, for the documents concerning two top-level realities of the Catholic Church, one old and one new: the Society of Jesus and the Community of Saint Egidio.


The Community of Saint Egidio referred to as the "UN of Trastevere" is known for its "parallel" diplomatic activity, which the local episcopates hardly appreciate and which the Holy See has always judged more as an obstacle than as a resource. Just as happens with the interreligious dialogue organized by the community, in competition with the competent Vatican dicastery.

A glaring proof of the irritation caused by this activism of the community founded by Andrea Riccardi who today is also a minister of the Italian government is given precisely by one of the Vatican documents that have now become public.

It is a coded cablegram sent from the apostolic nunciature of Washington to the Vatican secretariat of state on November 3, 2011.

It reports the contrary opinion of the cardinal of Chicago, Francis E. George, to the intention of the Community of Saint Egidio to bestow an award on Illinois governor Pat Quinn, a Catholic, for having signed the law by which this state abolished the death penalty.

The cardinal calls this award "inappropriate," because he explains Quinn signed the law on homosexual marriage, is in favor of abortion rights, and has produced the de facto exclusion of ecclesial institutions from the adoption of minors, by not exempting them from the requirement to place children with gay couples as well.

George knows well not only the politicians of his state, but also Saint Egidio, as titular cardinal of the Roman church of Saint Bartholomew on the Isola Tiberina, overseen by the community.

And the apostolic nunciature in Washington took his observations very seriously. It made them its own and sent them to Rome, in the cablegram signed by its first counselor, Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume.

The twofold 'no' seems to have been effective. In fact, there has been no word that the award has been conferred on Governor Quinn.


The other interesting document taken from the Holy See that has received no media attention except in Holland is the letter of accompaniment with which the superior general of the Jesuits, Adolfo Nicolas, sent to Benedict XVI a missive written by a wealthy Dutch couple, Hubert and Aldegonde Brenninkmeijer.

The successor of Saint Ignatius, after recalling that the two are longstanding and generous benefactors of the Church and of the Society of Jesus, does not get into the content of their letter, but stresses that he "shares the concerns" that they wanted to manifest directly to the pope.

A photocopy of the letter from Father Nicolas, in Italian, has been made public. But not that of the couple, released only in a somewhat shaky Italian translation.

The content of the letter is clear nonetheless. It is a tough act of accusation against the Vatican curia and the Catholic hierarchy in general. The rich Brenninkmeijers denounce the fact that money should play a central role in various offices of the curia, in some European dioceses, and in the patriarchate of Jerusalem. They accuse the pontifical council for the family of using gullible and acritical collaborators instead of employing personages who can and want to act in the sense of "aggiornamento" of Vatican II. They insinuate that in the most restricted circle around the pope, a considerable amount of power has been accumulated in a visible and tangible way, adding that they possess written proof in support of their charges.

The Brenninkmeijers do not accuse anyone by name, except in one case. After maintaining that in Europe there are growing numbers of informed believers who are separating themselves from the hierarchical Church without, according to them, abandoning their faith, and after lamenting the lack of "non-fundamentalist" pastors able to guide the flock according to modern criteria, the two spouses manifest to the pope not only their own discouragement, but that of many laypeople, priests, religious, and bishops over the appointment of the new archbishop of Utrecht, Jacobus Eijk.

This is what the two documents say. But no one has pointed out what happened shortly after the arrival of these letters.

Willem Jacobus Eijk, 59, cultured but "conservative" in both the theological-liturgical field and the field of morality, was appointed archbishop of Utrecht by Benedict XVI in December of 2007. The letter from Father Nicolas arrived at the Vatican on December 12, 2011, and was, as seen in the photocopy that has been released, seen and initialed by the pope on on December 14, 2011.

So then, those same days were the final phase for the list of cardinals to be created at the consistory that was later announced on January 6, 2012. And among the natural candidates for the red hat was Archbishop Eijk, since Utrecht is a see of firmly established cardinalate tradition, and his predecessor, Adrianus Simonis, had already reached the age of 80.

On January 6 of this year, in fact, Eijk's name was included among the churchmen who at the consistory of February 19 received the biretta, becoming the third-youngest cardinal of the sacred college.

Therefore, the "concerns" in his regard expressed by the wealthy Brenninkmeijer couple and endorsed by the superior general of the Jesuits do not seem to have harmed in the least the conviction of pope Joseph Ratzinger that he has chosen the right person for the leadership of the most important diocese of the Church in Holland.

If anything, they seem to have reinforced it.


On the friction between the Vatican secretariat of state and the Community of Saint Egidio:

> Vatican Diary / Sant'Egidio in supervised freedom (29.12.2011)


In "Corriere della Sera" of June 4, the historian Alberto Melloni took the current confusion as an opportunity to call for an institutional reform that would entrust the leadership of the universal Church to "a permanent collegial body" of bishops, with deliberative powers:

> Le tre riforme urgenti in questo pandemonio

And the following day, there was a reply from Archbishop Agostino Marchetto, one of the most severe critics of Melloni's ideas, especially of his interpretation of Vatican Council II:

> "Il pontefice sara sempre un bersaglio"


All of the articles from www.chiesa regarding the central government of the Catholic Church:

> Focus on THE VATICAN


English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.


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