Cardinals Can Disobey Gag Order for God's Sake!
By Jerry Slevin
March 6, 2013
American Cardinals and others want to keep the worldwide Catholic faithful, the guys who pay the bills, up to speed through media briefings. They also want to digest fully, if not read, the secret dossier on Vatican Cardinals’ scandals. The German Cardinals and others want a transparent and horizontal leadership structure (collegiality), regardless of the dossier’s revelations. The Vatican Cardinals want maximum secrecy and continued Curial domination with the present hierarchical structure. Who is right?
The Gospels have the answers. The Apostles talked freely and openly as equals to and with the first baptised Christians, the original People of God. The Truth made them free. No secrecy and no hierarchy. Case closed! The Gospels trump the Vatican clique’s orders every day of the week. Cardinals are under a clear evangelical mandate to disobey the corrupt Vatican clique’s gag order. If it were right for American Cardinals to give media briefings yesterday, and it was, it is right to continue to do so, and not be arbitrarily gagged apparently just because someone else leaked a report to La Stampa. Cardinals and journalists are not children and must not be treated as such!
Conclave Cardinals must reject unnecessary secrecy and end the Vatican clique’s domination of the Conclave. How? On matters of truth telling, individual Cardinals’ consciences must be the last word. God demand’s no less. All Cardinals, Catholics are told, are successors to the Apostles. More Cardinals must now show some Christian fortitude as the original Apostles did when it mattered most. It matters most now.
On restoring the consensual and horizontal structure that Jesus and his early followers left behind, Cardinals must abide by the majority decision of voting Cardinals. This has usually been the traditional rule for 2,000 years for Church decisions at councils and synods that had been undermined and stymied by successive Vatican bureaucratic cliques for a half century since Vatican II. All voting Cardinals are now equal and the Pope has exited and has no further authority. All voting Cardinals wear red dresses. None are redder than the other. Pretty simple!
Many of 115 electors are barely familar with each other and are suddenly going to pick a monarch for life. Why not just pick a new Pope’s name out of a red biretta similar to how Judas’ successor was chosen, at least then Cardinals cannot be manipulated by the Vatican Cardinal clique’s intimidation or by insufficiently informed Vaticanisti’s guesses? Life tenure may have worked for chieftains and kings appointed in the pre-modern era by small groups who knew each candidate well, but it makes little sense in a modern papal election. The antiquated procedures are the best evidence the Holy Spirit has not shown up yet at the Sistine Chapel.
If the key voting percentage can be changed and a Pope’s term can be ended by retirement, both of which the ex-Pope has done unilaterally, then the papal election procedure surely can now be changed quickly to elect a Pope for a fixed term, that could always be extended by a future re-election of the same Pope. The Cardinals are using procedures that may have made sense to elect a monarch for a small medieval Italian kingdom, but the procedures are really inadequate, even ludicrous, for electing the leader of a one billion plus worldwide organization in the modern era. There is no good reason, other than saving Vatican Cardinals’ jobs apparently, to continue with this medieval nonsense. If the procedures are not changed now, the next Pope will likely soon throw up his hands as Joseph Ratzinger apparently had to.
The well regarded and perceptive Oxford church historian, Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, has tersely captured the current revolutionary moment in his recent brief video interview here:
What can Cardinals do? For starters they can elect a new Pope for a fixed term, say three years, then meet thereafter with adequate preparation to address the structural management and numerous pastoral problems threatening the continued existence of the Catholic Church.
Over 2,000 Cardinals and Bishops a half century ago decided overwhelmingly at the Second Vatican Council that the Catholic Church’s governance structure desperately needed reform, in particular, power sharing mechanisms. Their will was thwarted by an entrenched Vatican Curia, or papal court, that controlled subsequent Popes and sought to protect their turf against worldwide bishops. This undercutting of the Council’s original decision, which ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, had strongly endorsed in 1965, that was intended to address the desperation of 1965 has directly led to the governance crisis of 2013 that hangs on a seemingly mythical “infallible thread”. By now, Cardinals must in their hearts and heads all know this firsthand, especially if they have become aware of the contents of the secret dossier on current Vatican scandals. What can and must the Cardinals now do?
Fortunately, two brief and pertinent resources are readily available to assist the Cardinals in their current deliberations. The first is a “blueprint” recently prepared by dozens of the world’s leading Catholic scholars and accessible by clicking on at:
The second resource is a 2008 column by an informed and dedicated Jesuit, UCBerkeley political scientist and author of the definitive works on current Vatican and episcopal governance, Thomas Reese. Fr. Reese offers some very pertinent proposals to reform Church governance that are accessible by clicking on here:
It is now or never, it appears, for the Cardinals. Intentionally or not, ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, who earlier unfairly tried to silence some of the authors of these helpful remarks, has now, by his fateful de facto admission of failure, made their contributions to Church reform that much more relevant and urgent.
The Vatican Cardinals, led by Cardinal Sodano, who has dominated them for over two decades, appear to be dominating the entire Conclave. So far reportedly the Conclave preliminary meetings have focused mainly on taking secrecy oaths and avoiding full disclosure to all Cardinals of the secret dossier on the Vatican Cardinal clique’s reported mismanagement of widespread financial corruption and sexual misconduct. Why is Sodano so concerned to keep the lid on the ongoing Vatican scandals? Why are so many other Cardinals, who do not have his Vatican immunity protection, accepting this?
Prior to the 1870 fall of the Papal States, more powerful European leaders decided to let Pope Pius IX lose his kingdom by not intervening to stop the invasion of Rome by Italian nationalist forces. These leaders had determined apparently that by 1870 the corrupt and inept Papacy had forfeited it right to rule a kingdom and had become a destabilizing force in Europe.
The shrewd Vatican clique of petty Italian princes at the time then apparently fabricated the seeming myth of papal infallibilty and retreated with their “Infallible Pope” to Vatican City for a half century until all other European monarchical threats had been eliminated by World War I.
The petty Vatican princes then re-emerged trying to regain power by wheeling and dealing with Fascists like Mussolini, Hitler and Franco. In the 1980′s, this geo-political strategy was extended to President Reagan who wanted the Polish Pope’s help in bringing down the Soviet Empire.
This is all now ancient history and the papal charade of being a serious player in international politics is finished, with one big negative exception. The exception involves preserving world order, especially between two purportedly universalistic faiths, Christianity and Islam. Both faiths have much to offer the world in their core message and many overlapping virtues, assuming their competition is peaceful and tolerant.
It has not been peaceful or tolerant recently. The horrors of extremist militant Islamicists is reported daily. Moreover, the Vatican clique has stymied Christian unity. Christianity needs to be able to act as a relatively unified and constructive force for peace along with a moderate Islam.. The ex-Pope began his Papacy by insulting Islam gratuitously and consciously at Regensburg. At least one of the reported papal candidates, Cardinal Turkson, featured an anti-Islamic video at the recent Rome Synod, apparently with the Vatican’s approval. Cardinal Maradiago, according to Harvard Law’s Alan Dershowitz and others, has taken anti-Semitic positions, including by blaming the “Jewish media” for overstating the priest abuse scandal.
World order, especially in Africa, the Middle East and even Europe, cannot afford to let petty Vatican princes’ medieval pursuit of power, money and sex, jeopardize world peace, not to mention their perpetuation of evils perpetrated on children, women and others by the Vatican clique’s power driven theology.
European monarchs in 1870 let Italian nationalists invade Rome. Now, major powers, especially the USA and Germany, must let world prosecutors impose the rule of law on the Vatican, if the Conclave fails now to implement a major reform process that makes the Catholic hierarchy accountable, as it was in the Church that Jesus and his early followers left behind. Is it still possible for Cardinals to do this on their own? It is, but they must act prudently, purposefully and shrewdly, given the Vatican Cardinals’ home court advantage.
As Cardinals ponder these matters, they need also to keep in mind the largest missing group at the Conclave, women ! For some pertinent insights from a female theologian on this, please click on and read at:
A shrewd Roman lawyer, Cicero, much valued by the ex-Pope’s favorite, St. Augustine, often analyzed actions by asking, Cui Bono? Who benefits from the actions? In every negotiation, time favors one side, a famous executive management consultant once told me. If one side is in a rush, the other side can then gain strength in negotiations by delay.
Who benefits at the Conclave by rushing to elect a new Pope? Clearly, the Vatican clique and Joseph Ratzinger, the Shadow Pope, benefit by rushing the Conclave. The Vatican clique appears understandably to be in a hurry to get their man to re-appoint them to their positions that expired last Thursday with the Shadow Pope’s departure. If Cardinals want more of the same, they should accept being stampeded. If not, they must resist and fix the Church sensibly, which cannot be rushed.
Whatever loyalty a Cardinal thought he owed the Pope who appointed him, these two Popes are history now and no Cardinal owes them unswerving loyalty or blind obedience, only respect according to the Gospels which show that the Apostles thought for themselves when their conscience demanded. Thomas saw Jesus’ wounds for himself; he didn’t take Peter’s or other Apostles’ word for it.
Ironically, with no Pope now that has jurisdiction over Cardinals, each Cardinal is, in effect, an equal to each other, accountable practically only to the Gospels, to his diocese’s faithful and to his conscience, as was the case for centuries in the Catholic Church that Jesus and his early followers left behind before Roman Emperor Constantine and his successors turned things upside down. Divinely, it appears, Cardinals now have the once in a lifetime opportunity to conduct themselves like the Apostles conducted themselves after the Resurrection. Let us hope for the sake of God and the Gospels they take their time and use this divinely ordained opportunity wisely. It is that simple.
With a one-third voting bloc, Cardinals can take their time and enjoy St. Peter’s at Easter. They can run their dioceses well enough remotely, while they address the more important issues. Eventually, the Vatican clique will fold. If Cardinals do not stand firm, they will find themsleves at the mercy of the Vatican clique. Look at UK Cardinal O’Brien’s sacking and Cardinal Mahony’s shaming. Is each Cardinal comfortable that the skirt of his red dress is cleaner than these two disposable Cardinals’ skirts have been?
In the last decade, the Catholic Church managed well enough with a severely disabled Pope and a part-time octogenerian Pope who preferred writing books and listening to Mozart to managing serious problems, as he should have. The Church will not go to Hell now if Cardinals take the required time given by this unique opportunity to fix the Church. It may go to Hell if they fail now to fix it properly.
At least some of the Vatican clique have known the election was coming for some time, and have had time already to enhance the election prospects of their desired candidate. Most of them also already know what the secret dossier on Vatican mismanagement and corruption describes, and some of them have even read it and/or are featured in it.
Of course, most non-Vatican Cardinals are still trying to digest the unexpected resignation and have insufficient knowledge of whom would be the best candidates to consider. At present, they may be dependent on Vaticanisti pundits, who of course have their own agendas and interests in favoring particular candidates. Moreover, most of them have little actual experiences running a worldwide Church and often spend excessive time analysing the latest papal Tweet.
The Catholic Church is in a deep ditch; few even appreciate how deep it is. At least some of the Cardinals may face serious risks of criminal prosecution as a result, at least in part, of the incompetence and corruption of some in the Vatican clique. Absurdly, Cardinals are refused an opportunity to read themselves the secret dossier reportedly documenting the mismanagement and corruption. If Cardinals do not demand the chance to read the report, they are being very foolish and deserve the negative consequences they likely will face in the future.
The Vatican Conclave clearly shows before the world media the infinite gap between what Cardinals preach and what they do. Cardinals call publicly for a new pastoral Pope that will be transparent and then attempt to elect him secretly. The process is so secret that the essential secret new dossier on Vatican corruption will be kept secret even in the secret election sessions. Three octogenerian Cardinals reportedly will secretly answer questions about the secret dossier. Those Cardinals who are fully clairvoyant may be able to ask the right questions. Those who are not, might as will give Cardinal Sodano some signed blank ballots, so he can fill in the Vatican clique’s candidate, and then go home. Unbelievable!
The election procedures can, of course, be changed at the drop of a red biretta. The Shadow Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, did it last week to try to speed up the Conclave, as he had earlier changed the most important provision on minimum required voting percentages. The procedures must be made transparent immediately for the sake of the Gospels the Cardinals just blaphemously swore secrecy on. You cannot elect a transparent Pope secretly; he will always be deeply tainted thereafter. As an earlier Pope tried to get Galileo to accept a change in the laws of physics, the Shadow Pope wants to get worldwide Catholics to accept a change in the laws of human behavior.
The Holy Spirit may be guiding the Conclave, although earlier Joseph Ratzinger said he thought otherwise given the large numbers of “bad Popes”. Even so, the Holy Spirit cannot do the impossible, that is, convert secrecy into transparency. Of course, the Conclave start date cannot be set until all voting Cardinals are present.
Reportedly, three of the nearby and important German Cardinals are still absent. Are they trying to make a statement about the Vatican clique’s attempt to rush the Conclave? Perhaps. After all, it was a brave German Cardinal, Frings, who a half century ago stood up to Cardinal Ottaviani, then head of the Vatican clique at the Second Vatican Council, and demanded power sharing be addressed. Ironically, Frings was then Joseph Ratzinger’s mentor, before the Shadow Pope opted for ecclesiatical careerism.
Meanwhile, the other sideshows continue. Cardinal Mahony, the wealthy and savvy non-Opus Dei enemy of Republican plutocrats and Catholic mega-donors in the USA, is singled out for shame for his involvement in the Conclave deliberations, as many other tainted Cardinals are hardly mentioned, despite serious unresolved abuse cover-up related matters, including Cardinals Brady, Burke, Levada, Rigali, Danneels, Dolan, O’Malley, Calcagno, Maradiago, Pell, Sodano, George, McCarrick, Egan, Castrillion Hoyos, Connell, Law, et al. It seems clear that some in the Vatican clique are trying to marginalize Mahony selectively, as Mahony amazingly just keeps on blogging as if he is without sin!
The extra burden of having so many Cardinals with cover-up stains on their hands was just made clear in the Washington Post at:
The ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, appears to have left the Cardinals with a very serious dilemma. The Vatican’s financial misdeeds had recently led Italian banking regulators to seize millions of dollars of Vatican cash, reportedly due to Mafia related money laundering. The regulators on January 1 closed down the Vatican’s credit card facility, reportedly related to financial irregularities. A major multinational bank recently refused to do business with the Vatican in Milan. The head of the Vatican Bank was recently abruptly fired. A senior Vatican financial cleric was just shipped to South America.
Reportedly, three senior Cardinals investigated these matters thoroughly and gave the Shadow Pope a secret 300 page dossier about these matters, yet Ratzinger will not let voting Cardinals read it. Reportedly, the dossier was a major factor in Ratzinger’s sudden resignation. How bad can the dossier be that even Cardinals are not being permitted to read it?
Some Cardinals have reportedly promoted the use of the Vatican Bank. For example, last April Cardinal Wuerl gave wealthy American donors from the Papal Foundation a tour of the Bank, apparently to show how safe and sound it is. Has Wuerl read the report? Cardinal George by his recent reported remarks seems comfortable with being denied access to the report. He may have forgotten how aggressive and determined U.S. Federal prosecutors nailed Chicagoan, Al Capone, on financial and tax crimes. Given the current adverse legal environment for some Cardinals, can they be too careful?
Cardinals hopefully have consulted their respective criminal lawyers to make sure they are acting legally with respect to this major dossier on “Cardinal Sins”. They do not want to be legally exposed to RICO-type charges they were part of a conspiracy to cover up illegal financial transactions with racketeers and/or other illegal groups. Some Cardinals evidentally have enough to do just trying to avoid criminal endangerment charges for their alleged cover-ups of priest rapes of children, and ought to avoid any prospect of racketeering charges on top of that. If the new Pope they now elect fails to curtail any potentially illegal conduct referred to in the dossier, will any Cardinals be held responsible as well for such failures? If they do not know fully what is in the report, how can Cardinals be sure?
Reportedly, these three senior Cardinals will tell the voting Cardinals what they need to know about the secret dossier. What if these octogenerians, who have their own agendas apparently, overlook some matters, even unintentionally? What if these omitted matters later appear as material omissions? What if the omissions seem to undercut the integrity of the man the voting Cardinals unknowingly soon elect to be Pope? Why are voting Cardinals so submissively taking such seemingly unnecessary risks? Why don’t they just bark back a little at the German Shepherd and demand to see the dossier with their own eyes?
It is like the Apostle Thomas were to have been denied a look at Christ’s wounds and, instead, Peter just said, “Trust me, brother!”. In evaluating their “brothers’” trustworthiness, Cardinals need to keep in mind the recent abrupt sacking of the U.K.’s Cardinal O’Brien and the gratutitous shaming of Cardinal Mahony. What the Hell is really going on here? Are the Cardinals successors to the Apostles or merely only the German Shepherd’s obedient puppies?
As likely the U.S. Cardinals, and perhaps some of the Italian Cardinals, at least may recall that my high school chum, Rudy Guiliani, bravely and boldly put elderly Mafia bosses behind bars on RICO related charges with 100 year sentences. Prior to these RICO prosecutions, these bosses thought they were invincible, as some Cardinals seem to think as well. Given the rapidly declining public support for some Cardinals, it is difficult to overestimate the likelihood that prosecutors will pursue some Cardinals on any charge they can if they see an opening.
The USA and Italian governmental authorities have for decades cooperated on racketeer-related financial transactions. Are they doing that now over the contents of the secret dossier? Will they be doing it in the future? Have Cardinals and/or their personal lawyers asked? If not, should they not consider asking?
For almost five centuries amidst European monarchical wars and rivalries, the Vatican has been able to postphone modernizing the papacy as Luther, Calvin and others fairly called for, given the clear conflicts between papal practices and Gospel mandates. The other European monarchs have been effectively gone for a century, the papal monarchy’s bubble has just burst and the mystical smoke is quickly dissipating. Reformation 2.0 is well underway and 117 senior celibates in red dresses cannot prevent it, as they are quickly finding out.
As Cardinals retreat behind Vatican walls, Protestants, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel and U.S. President Barack Obama, appear increasingly likely to be Luther’s and Calvin’s potential successors in helping to complete the reform of medieval Catholicism. The 2005 papal election Conclave followed the myopic media madness about Pope John Paul II’s funeral. The 2013 Conclave follows the pathetic Vatican escape of Joseph Ratzinger, now the first Shadow Pope, with Georgeous Georg, and the continuing media shock at the magnitude of the Vatican’s moral chaos. The scandals just keep on coming with no end in sight, one more troubling than the next.
The revealing new article by John Cornwell, an authority on modern Popes from Cambridge University, entitled ” … Why the Pope Really Quit”, will just add fuel to the reformers’ fires. It is accessible by clicking on at:
By contrast, the recent article by Fr. Paul Surlis, Catholic moral theologian, shows sadly the real opportunities that Joseph Ratzinger missed, and the Conclave must pursue now, if Ratzinger had only followed his own earlier views on the need to implement power sharing as endorsed at the Second Vatican Council overwhelmingly, accessible by clicking on at:
As an experienced international lawyer, I have counseled in tough crises many top executives in multinational organizations. I am quite confident that, despite the silly spin that the simplistic media and their shallow and opportunistic “experts” love, Conclave Cardinals are more worried about recent criminal convictions for child sex related crimes of senior officials, like Opus Dei’s Bishop Finn, Canada’s Bishop Lahey and Cardinal Rigali’s aide, Monsignor Lynn, than they are about their politically and financially driven theological “convictions” about birth control, clerical celibacy, gay marriage or women’s ordination. Fear of handcuffs will always trump fear of the “morning after pill” among senior Church executives!
James Weiss, a Boston College church historian, recently reported on NPR that the Vatican clique tried to get a dozen or so Cardinals to stay home from the Conclave, apparently to minimize media attention on their alleged possible “crimes”. Cardinals O’Brien and Mahony are known; who else were discouraged? Meanwhile, Cardinals’ apologists try to spin away from trouble with comments like “it is old news” or “maybe it was just a friendly kiss”. Cardinals who cavalierly condemned couples to Hell for wanting to plan their families are now begging for some “moral slack”. Sorry, guys, you will now reap what your have sown!
Unfortunately, the fundamentally flawed Conclave’s medieval procedures almost guarantee the Cardinals’ concerns about criminal convictions will not be adequately addressed. The agenda is set by the same octogenerian successors to petty Italian princes that orchestrated the current mess. Cardinals have inadequate access to relevant candidate information and are fatally dependent on the unreliable and biased Vatican clique for data. Cardinal candidates are not fully vetted now, as they surely will be by the media if one of them is elected.
While some media attention has been given to Cardinal Turkson’s apparent homophobic and anti-Islamic views, his 2011 support for more big bank governmental bailouts and 2012 apologia for financial robber barons has gotten little attention. Are plutocrats funding his bizarre efforts to get elected Pope?
Similarly, Cardinal O’Malley’s earlier reported attempt apparently to transfer funds from a nuns’ pension fund the help salvage his financially strapped Archdiocese has hardly been mentioned, let alone the continuing complaints of abuse survivors over his ongoing failures. Also, the potentially criminal implications of Cardinal Dolan’s shameful attempt to bury funds in a cemetery trust appear to be an underreported ticking legal timebomb.
A further example of the continuing negative disclosures to be expected on Conclave Cardinals is Fr. Tom Doyle’s informative recent analysis about Cardinal Mahony’s devastating effect on priest abuse survivors in Los Angeles, accessible by clicking on at:
This papal election process exhibits the same managerial incompetence that the Vatican clique has shown for decades in mismanaging the child abuse and financial scandals. It now seems inevitable that the real repair of the Catholic Church will have to await governmental interventions and prosecutions, likely and most significantly from Germany and the USA. World order cannot wait much longer for the 19th Century Catholic Church to enter the 21st Century. Too much is at stake to permit petty Vatican princes to continue to misbehave so harmfully.
The media nonsense, meanwhile, has already gotten out of hand, especially on TV. Uninformed pundits, aided by opportunistic so-called “experts”, are already reporting the Vatican power struggles as if it were the Papal Kentucky Derby. The important matter is not the horserace; it is the Vatican structure. If that is not addressed by the Cardinals seriously now, the Pope who makes the “Winner’s Circle” will surely rule as a Papal Loser. It is just basic Management 101.
Within a short period recently, (1) the ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, left all the Cardinals his “final” marching signals, (2) his oldest colleague, Hans Kung, gave his informative assessment and a final warning , (3) a senior German diplomat, solely on a personal basis and not in any official capacity, indicated perceptively that the deteriorating situation in the Catholic Church was adversely affecting desirable cooperation among Christian denominations and benefiting indirectly some militant Islamic factions, and (4) a major human rights group filed a comprehensive report with the well regarded UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on the Vatican’s worldwide cover-up of priest rape of children supporting the Committee’s pending summons to the Vatican to account shortly. The Vatican is subject by international treaty to the Committee’s juridiction and has for over a decade failed to comply fully with its treaty oligations.
The recent final signals to Cardinals are set forth in Cardinal Mahony’s unexpected recent report accessible by clicking on at: http://cardinalrogermahonyblogsla.blogspot.com
Hans Kung’s brief and perceptive recent analysis of the current papal election situation is accessible by clicking on at: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/28/opinion/a-vatican-spring.html?emc=etal&_r=0
Hans Kung’s recent final warning today about the ex-Pope’s shadowing of the next Pope is accessible by clicking on at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/28/hans-kung-pope-benedict-will-be-a-shadow-pope_n_2781248.html
The recent views, entirely the author’s own and not any official German government statement, of Research Professor Harald Braun, State Secretary of the German Foreign Office (equivalent approximately to the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State) are accessible by clicking on at:
The scathing up-to-date report on the worldwide priest child cover-up and the related summons details recently filed with the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is accessible in the link in the press release by clicking on at:
The Pope’s final signals to Cardinals in his recent last remarks seem clear: Cardinals, be docile, united and listen to his Eminence, Cardinal Sodano, while the ex-Pope “prays” for them in the next coming days, before he and Georg return to the Vatican, likely to rule some more by remote control. These private remarks were followed by a televised parade as each Cardinal exited and fawned on a receiving line of the ex-Pope, Georgeous Georg and Cardinal Sodano. Did any Cardinal miss the clear signals as to what ex-Pope, Joseph Ratzinger, and leader of the Vatican curial clique, Cardinal Sodano, expect? Probably not, since the nearly blind Cardinal remained home in Indonesia.
Hans Kung’s remarks well summarize what is at stake for Catholics in this election. The human rights abuse report well summarizes what unaccountable Popes can do if unchecked.
Sadly, Cardinals are unlikely to buck the Vatican clique, although some like Cardinals Pell and Mahony, are giving indications of resistance, if not revolt.
Cardinals have now begun the spectacular sideshow in Rome to try to save many in the Catholic Church’s hierarchy from criminal prosecution and/or financial bankruptcy. The Catholic Church’s current salvation is, however, really in the invisible hands of Protestant political leaders in Berlin and Washington DC, as the Church’s salvation during the Reformation was principally in the hands, not of the Council of Trent, but of the Catholic Holy Roman Emperor, then ruler of much of Europe and the Americas.
Some of the Vatican Cardinals’ sinful ways have been publicly exposed, but other subservient and unorganized Cardinals acting alone, even with a new Pope, are not expected to have the clout to change these Vatican Cardinals’ unChristian ways, notwithstanding the mystical webs that will be spun to the contrary over the next few weeks.
Some Cardinals desperate recent ploys, such as mentioning permitting married priests and the “morning after pill”, citing the ex-Pope’s management failures and calling for the election of almost any Cardinal but a European, especially an Italian, may have helped some uninformed journalists meet a daily deadline, but they are really just insignificant distractions. Meanwhile, the audacious attempts of Joseph Ratzinger, and others like Cardinals Mahony (LA), O’Brien (Scotland) and Egan (NY), to portray themselves as victims are both pathetic and predictable. Similarly, Cardinal Pell’s surprising criticism of the new ex-Pope for mismanagement and resigning his papacy are too little too late and likely just some defensive posturing as Pell faces soon an extensive royal commission investigation in Australia.
Ironically, the effects of two World Wars have put the fate of Catholicism, headquartered in a weakened Italy, in the hands of two Protestants, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and President Barack Obama of the USA. Germany and the USA are principal sources of Vatican funding and sources of several local, and likely imminently national, governmental investigations of priest sexual abuse of children and the related hierarchical cover-ups.
Providentially, Joseph Ratzinger has already made investigators and prosecutors tasks much easier by inadvisedly having his senior Opus Dei Cardinal oversee the compilation a 300 page dossier of current Vatican “Cardinal Sins” that inevitably will soon be in the hands of prosecutors, supplemented likely by the mistreated butler’s equally revealing and damning testimony. Indeed, Cardinals who acquiesce in not reading and acting on the secret dossier, as appears to be their reponsibility, may leave themselves open to allegations of conspiracy with respect to past and ongoing crimes alluded to therein.
The Vatican Cardinals have so far already made clear that they have little fear of investigators from the International Criminal Court, the UN Committee, Ireland, the UK, Belgium, Chile, Australia, the Netherlands, Canada and other less powerful nations. It is time for Merkel and Obama to stop passing the investigation buck and step-up to protect innocent children in their countries. It is almost inevitable politically they will soon have to follow Australia’s Prime Minister Gillard’s bold investigation initiative. Merkel and Obama would be better off speaking up now. Hopefully for them, the Conclave Cardinals will then show some initiative and take some of the heat from “see no evil” Catholic traditionalists and plutocrats.
Perhaps, new U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, should pay a visit to Vatican clique member, Cardinal Burke, whose 2004 edict against Kerry being offered communion likely cost Kerry the Presidential election, as recent unbridled U.S. Bishops’ slurs against Obama, such as outrageous comparisons to Hitler and Stalin, sought to deny him his recent re-election victory, that apparently hastened Ratzinger’s resignation.
The setting of the Conclave historically has recently been well described briefly by Anglican historian, Oxford’s Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, accessible by clicking on at: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0223/1224330417995.html
The setting of the current internal crisis, prematurely abandoned seemingly by Joseph Ratzinger, now ex-Pope Benedict XVI, has recently also been well described briefly by Matthew Fox, a Dominican theologian and former student of Pere Chenu, a Vatican II mentor to Ratzinger, accessible by clicking on at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/matthew-fox/the-dark-legacy-of-pope-benedict-xvi-_b_2720313.html
The election Conclave has been carefully orchestrated by octogenerian Vatican power brokers whose perspectives were formed early under Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and Franco. Merkel’s father, had, like Ratzinger, reportedly been a son of a policeman, as well as a mandatory Hitler Youth member and Third Reich soldier, who then studied Protestant theology at Heidelberg and Hamburg, while Ratzinger studied Catholic theology at Munich. Obama’s grandfather, who helped raise him, coincidentally fought the Third Reich’s forces in World War II, while Obama’s sister also studied at Heidelberg later. Both Merkel and Obama have been deeply influenced by their Protestant religious tradition, while Obama’s current chief of staff, Denis McDonough, is a devout Catholic and brother of a member of the Catholic hierarchy, who handled many priest child sex abuse claims. Earlier, Merkel served as Germany’s youth minister, while Obama worked in outreach at Chicago Catholic parishes. They all know the score.
Given these unusual historical confluences, it is significant that these Protestants will be the overbrooding presence at the Catholic Conclave. It is very important they step-up, to curtail the sexual abuse of children by priests worldwide and the siphoning off of brainwashed Catholics’ contributions to the successors of petty Italian princes still regnant in the Vatican.
The current meltdown at the Vatican has revealed what so many Catholics shamefully preferred to overlook for years. It is truly a “Wizard of Oz moment”, as the international media has pulled back the papal curtain for all to see. The ex-Pope is trying to keep secret a 300 page report evidentally of massive criminal conduct affecting innocent children, among others, and documenting financial corruption. Papal Rome has just burned down, while the ex-Pope fiddled over his new title.
Meanwhile, the ex-Pope’s press officer has even suggested that the papal elections are so secret that reporters face excommunication if they report any leaks they receive from Cardinals about voting results. The Middle Ages are over! The papal “witch” is dead. Time to end the mystical nonsense and to protect and respect children, women, AIDS victims, gay persons and the many other groups that have suffered much, needlessly, as a result of a self-serving Vatican clique’s lust for power and wealth, with a little sex on the side. We have heard more than enough already.
The papal geo-political strategy following World War I of trading “papal blessings” with politicians in exchange for papal influence and church subsidies received a mortal wound with President Barack Obama’s strong re-election victory over the ex-Pope’s flawed anti-contraceptive and anti-gay marriage strategy. The Pope’s strategy has now breathed its last with the recent election trouncing of the ex-Pope’s preferred candidate, Italy’s Prime Minister Monti, by an ex-Clown Prince! It really is a good time for the Pope to leave the Vatican, and hopefully he will not return. He can pray and meditate better at Castel Gandolfo, and still claim sovereign immunity there as well under the Lateran Treaty.
Now secular leaders must act immediately to apply the rule of law to both Popes and the Cardinals. Enough with the winks and nods and special dispensations seeking political support. The International Criminal Court prosecutor must stop procrastinating and national leaders, like President Obama and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, must step-up and follow the admirable lead of Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, and Ireland’s Prime Minister, Enda Kenny. Subpoena the secret report and the Pope’s butler and put an end to the incessant rape of children by priests and the miaappropriation of Catholics’ contributions!
The escalating cracks in the Vatican’s walls are expanding almost at a geometric pace–truly breathtaking. One Cardinal is down, several are on the edge, and a desparate ex-Pope could not change the Conclave rules fast enough to try to stop the bleeding as he packed to leave town. This surely is the worst crisis since the Reformation, at least for the Vatican hierarchy.
To many of the remaining one billion plus Catholics, it is mainly Good News. The “First” will soon be returned to the “Last”, children will be safer, women will be more respected, family planning will be available to save more children from misery, Catholic scholars will again be able to think freely and aloud, and gay persons will be freed of oppression from too many conflicted and closeted gay hierarchs. Divinely, the Gospels wisely show us Jesus and his early followers rejected evil empires and hypocritical hierarchs; while valuing authenticity and children. Welcome back, Gospels. We missed you when you were gone!
The ex-Pope is treating Cardinals as obedient fools, not as successors to the Apostles. He sprung on them suddenly his resignation, then told them they cannot read the very relevant secret report about Vatican scandals that likely lead to his resignation. He wants to cut down the Cardinal’s pre-voting candidate review period, while the Vatican Cardinal clique has likely had plenty of time to scheme for their candidate. Will Cardinals play dead now or bark back at the departing German Shepherd? Or will the Cardinals just let the prosecutors and courts take control and implement reforms?
Cardinal Dolan already objected to shortening the pre-Conclave candidate review period. Will other voting Cardinals now join him and demand more time? By assembling a one-third voting block, they of course can take all the time in the world! Will they also demand to see the full secret report on the Vatican scandals, or will they just have to eliminate as a potential candidate any Cardinal who resides in Italy or who is being promoted by a Cardinal resident in Italy? Without a scorecard, how can you vote intelligently? On snippets of a secret report from octogenerian Cardinals who learned their early lessons ministering under Mussolini, Hitler, Stalin and/or Franco? The last two Popes showed us only too well the tricks learned by clerics with early experiences under Fascists.
Increasing numbers of Cardinals seem to be facing serious criminal prosecution risks that likely could increase rapidly unless the Vatican is reformed promptly and broadly. Last year, Philly’s Cardinal Bevilacqua avoided almost imminent prosecution by dying first and his top aide is in prison. Prosecutors and jurors will likely no longer give Cardinals the benefit of the doubt and the media is aggressively reporting Cardinals’ sins more often. The next Pope must confront these risks honestly and openly or the risk of imprisonment will almost surely only increase for Cardinals worldwide. The next Pope must require that abuse survivors are treated justly and that children are protected effectively. He must assure that hierarchical wrongdoers are exposed, removed and punished transparently and promptly. He must end the financial scandals; not just ship a key financial player to South America. He should consider closing down the Vatican Bank. These pressing imperatives require new leadership and real reforms now, especially to minimize prosecution risks for those Cardinals who can think for themselves.
Less than four months ago, the ex-Pope tried unsuccessfully to take down the world’s most powerful leader, Barack Obama, in his re-election bid. Now the ex-Pope has fled the Vatican a broken man. The earlier shrewd effort of Pope Pius XII, as papal diplomat and then Pope, to maintain the charade of a Vatican nation-state as a purported world power for the tiny remnant of a former petty Italian papal kingdom, the Papal States, is finally over. Pope John Paul II was able temporarily to prop up and extend this papal geo-political overreach, because President Ronald Reagan apparently thought he needed the Polish Pope to bring down the Soviets, That brief political alliance ended with a thud with President Obama’s re-election. The Vatican must now focus on spiritual matters and forget politics and anti-contraceptive and anti-gay marriage crusades. Papal political clout is now clearly just an historical anomaly.
The seemingly unending and substantially unaddressed Vatican scandals of child abuse cover-ups, sexual blackmail, financial corruption and managerial incompetence had reached a tipping point that made resignation the only option apparently. Shortly, perhaps next week, voting Cardinals reportedly may be told secretly some selected snippets of what is in the confidential report of the three octogenerian non-voting Cardinals.
The ex-Pope has indicated the voting Cardinals will not see the actual report dossier before they vote. How convenient! Are voting Cardinals that subservient? How can they sensibly vote when they are denied access to critical relevant information readily available that the ex-Pope is withholding from them, even as he now tries with Cardinal Sodano to reduce the pre-election review period and prepares apparently to continue ruling with Georgeous Georg from his nearby convent? Are the voting Cardinals really successors of the Apostles or only the German Shepherd’s obedient puppies? Will voting Cardinals have to leave the Conclave in disguise, like Pius IX left Rome, to avoid the inevitable outbursts of shameful scorn from worldwide Catholics?
The next Pope will surely be bogged down for years in ongoing worldwide governmental investigations, civil litigation and criminal prosecutions of the Church’s hierarchy that are now beginning to mushroom.
Here’s what well-advised Cardinals who want to survive can and should do, in my view as an experienced international lawyer and lifelong Catholic.
First, they must read my overall brief proposal to Pope Benedict XVI in my Washington Post column in 2010, accessible here:
Cardinals then need to join together and block by a one-third vote any papal candidate, otherwise acceptable, that will not agree publicly BEFORE installation to take the following three actions:
(1) Serve only a three year term subject to re-election thereafter. Pope Benedict just proved by resigning that the papacy is not a lifelong position.
(2) Appoint now a special commission to identify and recommend within nine months needed structural and pastoral changes, with specific changes preliminarily listed now for the commission’s consideration.
(3) Implement the needed changes so identified at a worldwide council held away from Rome within six months of receipt of the special committee’s recommendations as described in my Washington Post article.
Alternatively, Cardinals can just consider giving the Vatican clique their blank papal proxies, then hire expensive criminal lawyers and pray for a miracle. How do they really think God will respond?
Predictably, the “secret dossier” reportedly will not be publicly disclosed to the worldwide Catholic faithful whose contributions funded the report and the Cardinals’ opulent lifestyles. Catholics will once again have to wait until some of the slime is selectively leaked by some conniving Cardinal. Why doesn’t Ratzinger just release the full report now to everyone and give the new Pope a fighting chance to regain some of the diminishing trust of a majority of Catholics that Ratzinger lost so completely? What is he trying to hide? It will be on the Internet eventually anyway! How will the next Pope have legitimacy if the report contains negative information that might have prevented his obtaining the two-thirds vote needed to be elected in the first place. Once again, Vatican secrecy and incompetence reign.
As an experienced international lawyer, I am constantly surprised at how naive and/or ill advised so many Cardinals seem to be about their own personal prosecution risks. Now is the time to begin seriously to fix the Church, which will also surely reduce the risk of prosecution for many Cardinals. The Vatican clique seems to live in a legal fantasyland, perhaps hoping to forestall prosecutors for their few remaining years like Cardinal Bevilacqua did. Fine, but any Cardinals who plan to be around awhile need to wake up!
Just think about what’s coming in terms of governmental investigations in Australia, the USA (LA, Philly, Milwaukee, Washington DC, et al.) , Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Poland, and other European nations, and eventually nations in Latin America, Asia and Africa as well. Criminal lawyers will certainly be busy.The U.S. Cardinals can expect to spend most of the next decade in courts, civil, criminal and/or bankruptcy, assuming any of them return to the USA after the conclave and forgo seeking “Cardinal Law” Vatican immunity protection now.
Unless Cardinals take real steps now in the next couple of weeks, it will be business as usual for the Vatican Cardinals clique once the other Cardinals leave Rome, as happened tragically after Vatican II and as Cardinal Martini recently warned in his final testament.
The original model for the current imperial papacy was created coercively by Constantine and his successors beginning in the Fourth Century. It was tightened in the Eleventh Century and served a purpose for millenium in a European monarchical world that ended with World War I. It no longer is needed and is so tainted with corruption and secrecy that it needs to go the way of other monarchies, as Cardinal Martini with his recent “200 year updating” final advice surely contemplated.
This will necessitate changing the Vatican administration into one that serves, as Jesus contemplated, rather than one that is served. No wonder the Vatican clique picked Cardinal Ratzinger over Cardinal Martini in 2005. The Church cannot wait any longer to adjust to its new freedom from external political and military pressure. This is an opportunity for a New Evangelization, not the last chance for the Vatican clique to tighten their grip.
A Bishop of Rome could still be maintained to preside over the current spiritual tourist Disneyworld with Vatican museums, parades, custumes, Swiss Guards, etc. A networked worldwide church linked by modern communication that returns to the accountable oversight of local leaders, male and female, popularly selected is long overdue. It is also the structure Jesus and his early followers intentionally left behind and one that would curtail most of the Church’s current shortcomings.
Pertinently, among some of the relevant guidelines generally ascribed to Jesus are that he was opposed to a self-important, excessively scrupulous and overly indulgent religious hierarchy and that he thought children should be protected from harm. These points have neither been consistently understood nor respected in the Vatican for decades, even for centuries. The “Good News”, or the Gospels, have often been disregarded by the Catholic hierarchy where a Renaissance culture of opulence and celibate incomprehension of children still predominate today.
Where in the Gospels did Jesus say predatory priests are to be protected before innocent children, like the Vatican has done for decades, if not centuries? Where did Jesus instruct his followers to wear expensive outfits paid for by donations? Where did Jesus tell his followers to launder money like Cardinals reportedly do through the Vatican Bank?
If, as Ratzinger has clearly indicated, a Pope should go if he is unable to perform his duties, should he be removed if he is unwilling to perform or performs badly? Should there be term limits or maximum age limits? Of course, the only logical answer is yes to all of these related questions. But the Vatican is run by power politics, not logic, or even spiritual values for that matter. Some Vatican Cardinal will likely leak soon the real reasons Ratzinger is retiring. Why couldn’t Ratzinger wait until his refurbished convent was ready? What’s his rush?
It is time to restore Catholic leadership to the consensual approach that Jesus and early Catholics followed for over three centuries until Roman Emperors converted the Catholic Bishops, including the Pope, into an imperial bureaucracy dominated by a Vatican clique that dictated ruthlessly for 1,700 years, and still dictates, top-down to Catholics seemingly to fill the clique’s coffers.
Catholics will not likely in their lifetimes have a better opportunity than in connection with the papal election to reform the Church, and at the same time to protect children as Jesus commanded. It is time to restore the consensual church management structure that the overwhelming vote of Vatican II Cardinals and Bishops contemplated would be adopted a half century ago before a minority of Cardinals like Ottaviani, Wotyla, Ratzinger, Sodano, Bertone, Levada, Rigali, Mahony, Law, Burke, Bevilacqua, Brady, Pell, O’Brien, et al., subverted its implementation.
Pope John XXIII issued in 1962 the main secrecy order on priest child sex abuse. But he also realized that accountabilty had to be restored to save the Church. He took the first step by trying to get the Vatican Cardinals to share power with the worldwide bishops. He died soon therafter and the Vatican Cardinals’ clique rejected power sharing craftily. Since then, they have installed compliant Popes who like the papal prestige and are happy to do the clique’s bidding.
But the democratic rule of law has run out of patience with clerical child abusers and Popes no longer have any effective political power, as the re-election of President Obama and papal political setbacks in the Philippines, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere just proved.
The International Sheriff appears to be on his way to Rome and the ex-Pope cannot hide for long with Georgeous Georg in a refurbished convent. Some of his own Cardinals, or his butler, may likely help nail him, it appears. Why didn’t the butler trust Georg? We may soon find out.
The Vatican clique’s unending stream of blunders, the latest including (1) appointing Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer as chief Vatican prosecutor of predatory priests, (2) appointing as part-time Vatican Bank “chief” a German investment banker, who is reportedly also overseeing a major arms dealer, and (3) the shaming of Cardinal Mahony publicly, selectively and gratuitously, while others like Cardinals Brady and Rigali got a pass.
But at this point does any of this matter to most Catholics worldwide? While it may seem overly pessimistic to say so soon that the next Pope will likely fail too, it is just being realistic; and yet there is also room for much optimism. The papal resignation is tantamount to an admission of failure and will lead to de-mystification of the papacy quickly. Ex-Pope and ex-Pontiff, Joseph Ratzinger, and his Vatican clique led by Cardinal Sodano et al., have already set the stage for the next failure.
The sudden call for a quick election conclave substantially diminishes any chance of a real opposition being mounted by non-Vatican Cardinals. Since the ex-Pope apparently knew for some time he would resign, the suddenness seems well planned. Ratzinger will soon be living a few hundred yards away from the new Pope in his refurbished retirement base, hardly a monastery, where he can continue to dictate policy by remote control.
The reason for some optimism is that the Vatican clique’s apparent raw power grab will now just accelerate the sinking of the Vatican Titanic that much sooner. Even overly trusting Catholics will see through the hierarchical charade. Various prosecutors and survivors lawyers can now be expected to be able to reach Ratzinger, who may lose his legal immunity in less than a week. Once the rule of international law starts pulling hard directly on papal threads, the Vatican hierarchy can expect to be quickly uncovered and forced to initiate reforms, perhaps after some senior officials face prosecution, which is likely not too far off.
For example, longtime Vatican Cardinal Rigali is still at risk of prosecution in Philadelphia where his predecessor, Cardinal Bevilacqua, last year apparently escaped a likely imminent criminal indictment for child endangerment by dying first! Their hapless senior aide, Monsignor Lynn, took the fall so far and is in prison.
Catholics are not and should not be waiting on Cardinals. Australian and Irish Catholics have already gotten their governments to act.Now many from different faiths and no faith all across the USA, and even worldwide, including some of those harmed by the abuse of the deaf victims in Milwaukee, have already signed my petition calling on President Obama to step up. They have indicated they have had enough with the domination of local prosecutors and legislators by the Catholic hierarchy and its well paid apologists and lawyers. The UN Committee on Children’s severe criticism of President Obama’s Department of Justice and the U.S. Congress, echoed by SNAP, just reinforces the need for the national investigation commission that the petition requests.
More signatures, including yours, will help accelerate the establishment of the U.S. national investigation commission, especially important now when the Vatican may be at a turning point.
We all have a moral obligation to protect children and signing a petition is a simple, yet potentially effective, way towards meeting that obligation. Please take a minute and sign it at: http://www.change.org/petitions/president-obama-investigate-child-sexual-abuse-by-priests-rabbis-religious-leaders
Please, as well, ask those you respect and who value children to sign it also. If you are active in a U.S. advocacy group, ask your leadership to support the petition. Similarly reticent progressive Catholic voices seem reluctant to press for the positive prospects of President Obama establishing a U.S. national investigation commission. With the UN Committee’s and SNAP’S lead, they need now to take a stand.
What are they all waiting for? Blogging, writing, debating and prayer, however admirable and well intentioned, have to date barely influenced the Vatican clique and their subservient U.S. Bishops on reforms and will likely do little more in the future, certainly in the near term as more children are raped by priests, while overly trusting Catholics continue to contribute enabling complicit bishops to protect priest pedophiles and predators perpetually.
It is a sad commentary on the docility and timidity of so-called progressive U. S. Catholics that a UN Committee in Geneva has to take the lead in calling for national action on a nationwide and pervasive outrage against innocent and defenseless children in the USA !
I have separately proposed that President Obama consider appointing First Lady, Michelle Obama, to chair the new Obama commission. She is well respected as a Harvard lawyer and devoted mother. She would be an ideal choice with her established credibility if she were willing to accept the appointment.
If the First Lady would oversee this, President Obama would still be able to focus on his many other priorities, including resisting the Vatican’s and its plutocratic Republican contributors’ unrelenting and opportunistic efforts to derail Obamacare over contraception insurance and immigration reform over gay marriage.
If there tragically were not over 200 million “unplanned” children living miserably in countries where Vatican lobbying effectively denied their parents access to affordable contraception, a dispute among octogenerian celibates over permissible forms of contraception would make good political satire! But sadly, the Vatican’s anti-contraceptive efforts, apparently mainly to please the Vatican’s plutocratic Republican donors by keeping family planning wedge issues in political play, will very likely only fail again, while these efforts continue nevertheless to burden families and children.
Please click on to the black text at the top of this column for my analysis of related topics.
Finally, I hope some of you will consider linking this statement to your comments at appropriate websites and/or circulating it to others via social media.