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Pope Benedict to retire at the end of the month

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Pope Benedict to retire at the end of the month

Post  Not Born Yesterday on Mon 11 Feb - 12:36


That's certainly a surprise!

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Re: Pope Benedict to retire at the end of the month

Post  AnnaEsse on Mon 11 Feb - 12:39

"You can run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Run on for a long time, Sooner or later God'll cut you down." (Johnny Cash)


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Re: Pope Benedict to retire at the end of the month

Post  Panda on Sat 16 Feb - 10:03

Pope Benedict XVI's resignation: A drama that beats any Dan Brown plot

The Vatican is awash with conspiracy theories about why the Pope is
resigning, but Benedict has had the last word

Who is plotting against whom?
Bishops and cardinals attending Pope Benedict XVI’s general audience at the
Vatican last month Photo: Getty

By Peter Stanford

10:00PM GMT 15 Feb 2013

After the initial shock came the speculation. Pope Benedict XVI surprised
even his closest advisers on Monday by announcing that he was standing down, but
within hours the Vatican was awash, not just with the inevitable talk of who
would succeed him, but also with whispers about the “real story” behind the
first papal resignation in over 600 years.

Once the curia – or Vatican bureaucracy – started chewing it over, the
theories it spat out were quickly flying around what the papal historian John
Cornwell has characterised as “a palace of gossipy eunuchs”. And from there it
is one short step to finding their way into the Italian press.

Dan Brown couldn’t have made it up. The ecclesiastical earthquake of a pope
resigning has been attributed, variously, to Benedict nursing a fatal illness;
to a head injury during his trip to Mexico last March that convinced him to
abdicate; to being forced out after an acrimonious meeting with a group of
senior cardinals two days before he announced his resignation; to his looming
disgrace over either dodgy deals done by the Vatican Bank, past cover-ups of
paedophile priests, or an “explosive” forthcoming report by a team of cardinals
on a tendering scandal; and to a strategy to secure the succession for his

All of which at first glance makes me and many Catholics seem hopelessly
naive for taking as read Benedict’s explanation in his resignation speech –
namely that he was too old, physically and spiritually, to continue to be chief
executive of a multinational church of 1.3 billion souls. Given that he is 85
and has always carried himself like a piece of delicate china, that sounded
perfectly reasonable in worldly terms, even if it was a radical move in the
history of the papacy, tantamount in some eyes to betrayal. (“One doesn’t come
down from the cross,” Cardinal Dziwisz, former secretary to John Paul II, has
remarked disapprovingly.)

But then, in what was hastily rebranded his “farewell mass” in Saint Peter’s
Basilica on Ash Wednesday, Benedict appeared to add fuel to the fire of claim
and counter-claim when he appealed to his Church to move beyond “individualism
and rivalry”. Could these be the coded final words of a deposed pope?

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Let’s assume for a moment the mantle of Robert Langdon (or GK Chesterton’s
Father Brown for those with longer memories and better taste in literature) and
examine the evidence offered by the conspiracy theorists. Back in November, they
point out, Benedict was busy reconfiguring his private office so it could better
support him in bearing the burden of being pope as advancing years took an ever
heavier toll.

His good-looking secretary, Mgr Georg Gänswein (known as “the Black Forest
Adonis” and “Mgr Clooney” in the Italian press, which has elevated him to the
front cover of Vogue), was promoted to be Head of the Pontifical Household, and
effectively gatekeeper to Benedict. Why bother going to all that trouble – and
the inevitably scurrilous headlines about “Gorgeous George” becoming the
Pope-in-waiting – if two months later you are going to resign?

And yet, simultaneously, the Benedictine nuns at the Mater Ecclesiae Convent
in the gardens of the Vatican were moving out while their building – which will
now house Benedict in retirement – was renovated. It suggests the Pope may have
been in two minds about his future, but that hardly constitutes a scandal. This
instinctively conservative figure, with a strong sense of history (he has a
penchant for wearing the colourful hats once sported by medieval popes), was
contemplating a radical decision. No wonder he needed time to think and pray
about it.

Then there is the pacemaker. The way the Italian press told it, Benedict had
been having secret treatment for a “mystery ailment” for months. The reality,
though, appears to be that he had a routine procedure to replace a pacemaker (or
its batteries) that he’d had since his days as a cardinal, and didn’t want any
fuss. He has nothing specific wrong with him, the Vatican press spokesman has
insisted, while a thousand medical experts worldwide have donned their virtual
stethoscopes to offer diagnoses based on recent papal photo opportunities.

What, though, of that rumoured showdown with an inner cabal of plotting
cardinals – the equivalents of the fictional Preferiti of Angels and Demons? Is
that what did for Benedict?

There is certainly ample evidence that the senior figures in his Vatican have
been jostling for position. Last year’s “Vatileaks” scandal – when the Pope’s
butler, Pablo Gabriele, was found guilty of stealing his master’s papers – drew
back the veil on a culture of character assassination in the corridors of power
in an independent state that answers to a higher moral code.

The principal target was Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the 78-year-old Vatican
Secretary of State (Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary run into one). He was
number two when Benedict, as Cardinal Ratzinger, ran the old Holy Office.
Supporters of the man Bertone replaced in 2006 as Secretary of State, Cardinal
Angelo Sodano, complain loudly of his lack of the diplomatic experience usually
required for the post. They accuse him of building his own power base as a
future pope by packing key Vatican posts with fellow members of his religious
order, the Salesians. Ironically the two men – Bertone as camerlengo (or
chamberlain) and Sodano as dean of the College of Cardinals – will now be
jointly in charge of running the Vatican in the interregnum between Benedict’s
departure on February 28 and the election of a new pope some time in March. That
should test their collegiality – the ecclesiastical equivalent of cabinet
collective responsibility.

But the internal rumblings go further than a personality clash. They even
stretch to money. The Vatileaks papers revealed that Archbishop Carlo Maria
Vigano, the cleric Benedict had appointed to turn the Holy See’s annual deficit
into a profit, felt he had been ousted in 2011, possibly at the behest of

And there have also been repeated suggestions that the Vatican Bank – which
has a murky recent history of alleged involvement in financial dodgy deals and
the mysterious death of the Italian financier Roberto Calvi – has once again
been getting itself into unholy waters of money laundering in its dealings with
a troubled Italian bank, Monte Paschi di Siena.

So all is not divine harmony within the Vatican, but a cursory reading of the
2,000-year history of the papacy suggests it was ever thus – schisms, factions
and even, some stories go, a woman in disguise on Saint Peter’s throne. Yet it
is a very big leap indeed from “individualism and rivalry” to the Pope having
been forced to resign.

As we discovered when British author David Yallop produced In God’s Name, an
international bestseller alleging that John Paul I, who lasted only 33 days in
1978 and died in mysterious circumstances, had been murdered by a group of
cardinals who feared that he was about to expose them. Yallop’s evidence was
subsequently blown out of the water. The truth was much more mundane. Running
the Catholic Church as absolute monarch had proved too great a strain for the
65-year-old former Patriarch of Venice.

His is a cautionary tale in every sense – about the wisdom of appointing men
near retirement age to such a taxing job, and of lapping up every whiff of
scandal and hypocrisy attributed to the Church. Which, sorry to disappoint you
folks, brings us back to Benedict’s own explanation of his resignation.

For all that it is extremely rare (though perhaps it may now become the new
norm), his choice to stand down is absolutely in line with canon (church) law.
Indeed, an ailing John Paul II is said twice to have penned resignation letters
as Parkinson’s disease reduced this once athletic figure to immobility and made
even speech slow and painful.

Perhaps it was the sight of his long-time boss struggling and eventually
dying in public that convinced Benedict such a course wasn’t for him. He will
have seen what we didn’t – those same turbulent cardinals jockeying for position
around the Polish pontiff and, reportedly, blocking the then Cardinal
Ratzinger’s efforts to start getting to grips with the paedophile priest

Recent history is full of “lame duck” popes. Paul VI spent his last years in
the mid-1970s locked away from view while the crew took charge of the ship of
state. And in the case of Pius XII, the wartime pope, his household, headed by
the formidable Sister Pascalina, ran the Church. She was, Benedict once remarked
of his compatriot, “the most powerful Bavarian ever in the Vatican”.

He was being too modest. If there were ever any doubt that he has claimed
that particular crown, the events of this week have nailed them. By resigning
Benedict has ensured his own place in history – but not in the annals of infamy.

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Vatican conclave tainted by scandal before it even begins

Post  Panda on Fri 22 Feb - 9:14

Vatican conclave tainted by scandal before it even begins

The conclave, the secretive process by which the Roman Catholic Church will
elect a new Pope, has been tainted by scandals affecting Timothy Dolan, a
contender for the papacy, and other cardinals.

Timothy Dolan is considered to
have a chance of being elected Benedict XVI’s successor Photo: GETTY

6:04PM GMT 21 Feb 2013

Cardinal Dolan, the archbishop of New York, has become the latest cardinal to
be questioned over his handling of sex abuse by priests and victims in Ireland,
US and Belgium.

Of the 116 cardinals who will gather beneath Michelangelo’s frescoed ceiling
in the Sistine Chapel, several are embroiled in controversies connected to the
Church’s systemic failure to tackle sex abuse against children by paedophile

The question marks over the cardinals’ management of sex abuse cases are an
embarrassment for the Holy See, just as Benedict prepares to resign the papacy
next Thursday.

Timothy Dolan, the charismatic archbishop of New York, who is considered to
have a chance of being elected Benedict XVI’s successor, was formally questioned
about abusive priests in his former archdiocese of Milwaukee, just days before
his departure for Rome to take part in the conclave.

Cardinal Dolan, the president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops,
answered questions in New York about his decision to publicise the names of
clergy who had been accused of molesting children.

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The archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 until 2009, faces
allegations from nearly 500 people.

The 62-year-old cardinal was “eager to cooperate in whatever way he could”,
said a spokesman.

Cardinal Dolan is the second American cardinal this week to be scrutinised
over his role in the sex abuse scandals, which erupted in the United States in

Cardinal Roger Mahony, the retired archbishop of Los Angeles, is due to be
questioned on Saturday in a lawsuit over a visiting Mexican priest who police
believe molested 26 children in the 1980s.

Catholic groups in the US and Italy have called for Cardinal Mahony to be
barred from the conclave, but he insists he will attend despite allegations that
he shielded predatory priests.

"In the interests of the children who were raped in his diocese, he needs to
keep out of the public eye,” Andrea León-Grossman, a member of Catholics United,
said in a statement on the group's website.

“He has already been stripped of his ministry. If he's truly sorry for what
has happened, he would show some humility and opt to stay home."

At least three other cardinals due to participate in the conclave, which is
expected to start sometime in mid-March and could last for days, also have
clouds over their reputations.

Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland has resisted repeated demands that he resign
for allegedly failing to stop a sexually abusive priest in the 1970s.

Godfried Danneels, a Belgian cardinal, had computer files seized at his home
in 2010 over suspicions that he helped cover up hundreds of abuse cases.

Justin Rigali, another American cardinal, retired as archbishop of
Philadelphia in disgrace after a grand jury accused him of failing to do enough
to tackle abusive priests.

The sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church over the last decade
were so extensive that it was not surprising so many cardinal electors were
mired in controversy, said Robert Mickens, a veteran Vatican analyst for The
Tablet, the British Catholic weekly.

“If they banned all the cardinals who have mismanaged sex abuse or have been
involved in other unsavoury business, they’d end up holding the conclave in a
broom cupboard,” he told The Daily Telegraph.

“But under Vatican laws, cardinals cannot be excluded from the conclave for
any reason, even excommunication.”

The airing of dirty laundry came as Vatican analysts said the cardinals would
be desperate to elect as Pope a colleague who has been untouched by allegations
of infighting, intrigue and dirty tricks campaigns between senior figures in the
Holy See.

Evidence of poisonous feuding between rival power blocks was allegedly
uncovered by three cardinals, including a senior member of Opus Dei, who were
commissioned by Benedict to investigate the theft of confidential documents by
the pope’s butler, amid suspicions that he did not act alone.

Their dossier, which was presented to the Pope in December, found evidence
that there was a powerful gay lobby within the Holy See hierarchy, according to
Ignazio Ingrao, a prominent Vatican analyst.

“The part of the report that shocked the Pope the most was that which brought
to light the existence of a network of alliances and acts of blackmail of a
homosexual nature in several areas of the Curia (the powerful Vatican
bureaucracy),” he wrote on Thursday in Panorama, a respected news magazine.

The cardinals’ secret dossier was based on dozens of interviews conducted
over eight months with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests from many

Its findings will have a direct bearing on the conclave, argued Mr Ingrao.
“The report will in effect be the 118th cardinal inside the conclave. It will be
passed by Benedict to his successor and in all probability there will be a
meeting between ‘the two Popes’ after the election (to discuss it).”

One of Italy’s biggest daily newspapers, La Repubblica, ran a strikingly
similar front-page report alleging jockeying for power and blackmail against gay

Allegations of widespread homosexuality among the clergy in Rome have been
made by an Italian investigative journalist, Carmelo Abbate, in a book entitled
“Sex and the Vatican”.

Father Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, refused to comment on the

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Re: Pope Benedict to retire at the end of the month

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