Bertone Sets the Record Straight

By Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider
June 19, 2012

The Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone

The Vatican Secretary of State who is "at the centre of the fray" is on the attack, particularly against the press

The Vatican Secretary of State set four key things straight in yesterday's interview with Italian Pauline magazine Famiglia Cristiana. The title on the magazine's front cover - a quotation of a comment made by the Pope's right hand man was unequivocal: "Poison pen letter writers and the Vatican bank…pure slander". The cardinal made his stance known after the Substitute for General Affairs to the Secretary of State, Angelo Becciu and the Dean, Cardinal Angelo Sodano expressed their own positions (both published in the Vatican daily broadsheet L'Osservatore Romano). His stance shows a continuity with the messages he has been sending out both inside and outside the Roman Curia, recalling the unity of those close to the Pope and denying the existence of clashing factions among them.

During the interview, the Secretary of State attributed most of the blame for the Vatileaks scandal and the controversies over the dismissal of the Vatican bank's president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, to newspapers - particularly Italian ones. He claimed it was these Dan Brown wannabe journalists, with their inaccurate and poisonous information, their "pettiness" and "lies spread over the past few months", who portrayed the Vatican as a place mired in power struggles and tensions. Information which is simply not true. "In actual fact, there is a unity in terms of objectives and a collegiality among the Secretariat of State's collaborators that cannot be found elsewhere." "Personally – the cardinal said - I see no sign of any cardinals being involved or of a mysterious power struggle between ecclesiastical figures."

Bertone believes it is wrong to deduce that there are internal conflicts in the Vatican just by reading the documents published in Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi's famous book Sua Santità (His Holiness). Letters containing behind-the-scenes information on the Boffo case, on Mgr. Viganò's removal from the Vatican Governorate, the control of the Toniolo Institute - the "safe" of the University of the Sacred Heart - and on the Vatican bank's internal clashes. According to Bertone the stories written on these issues were all distortions, fabrications and just bad journalism. "Other countries find it difficult to understand the fierceness of certain Italian newspapers," the Secretary of State said.

Another criticism went out to Nuzzi, the Italian journalist who published the Vatileaks scoop which media across the world have been feeding on for months. The Pope's right hand man has stressed that the publication of the famous confidential letters constitutes "an immoral act of unprecedented gravity. It is an offense against a right which is explicitly recognized by the Italian constitution, which should be severely observed and enforced."

His comments in relation to the causes which the cardinal sees behind the Vatileaks scandal were just as biting. "The great project of clarification and purification of Benedict XVI has certainly bothered some people. His action to eliminate episodes of paedophilia among the clergy, to cite just one example, has shown that the church has a capacity of re-generation that other institutions and persons don't. The church is a rock that resists storms. It's an unequivocal point of reference for countless persons and institutions throughout the world and for this reason there's an effort to destabilize it." Bertone does not mention who is trying to destabilise the Church. But it is unlikely he was referring exclusively to Italian newspapers.

Finally, he commented on the issue of the Vatican bank. The Secretary of State stated that the "publication of the interventions made by the supervisory Council," which had obviously been authorised, shows that Gotti Tedeschi's dismissal as president of the Vatican bank "was not due to internal doubts regarding his willingness to work towards transparency, but to a deterioration in relations between advisors." The path towards greater "clarity and transparency" continues, the cardinal affirmed. One can only imagine what the Italian banker - who was removed from the presidency of the IOR in a way that has never been seen before, for reasons that were both morally and professionally damaging, receiving an embarrassing psychiatric report - has to say about this.


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