Richard Cottrell

What a holy mess: the Vatican sinks into civil war

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By Richard Cottrell

Contributing writer for End the Lie

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (Image credit: Wikimedia Commons)

There are many striking similarities between the former Soviet Kremlin and the Vatican (which has been besieged by even more scandalsthan usual as of late).

Consider, for example, the question of organizational bureaucracy. Commissars equal Cardinals. It is easy to swap democracy and freedom preached in the name of the people for everlasting life equally pledged to the devout and faithful by the Catholic Church.

Possession of a party card could be seen as the equivalent of obedient presence at Sunday Mass.

There are no popular elections in the Roman Church. The Pope is chosen by his own internal clique, just as Soviet leaders clambered over each other to the seat of power.

Joseph Ratzinger, alias Pope Benedict XVI, reminds me strongly of Brezhnev in his final decline. Then the corridors and chambers of the Kremlin hummed with plots, horrific acts of political treachery occurred behind closed doors as the general secretary quietly faded away, like the smile on the face of the Cheshire Cat.

The communist system effectively died with Brezhnev.

That story is being repeated right now within the sacred precincts of the Holy See.

One Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, was moved to describe the commotion inside the Vatican as the “penultimate act of a medieval battle moved to the 21st century.”

This is slightly an understatement. The Vatican is gripped by a civil war of such bitterness and furious intensity it may never fully recover.

The issue, as with Leonid Brezhnev, is largely but not fully connected to the toxic issue of the succession. Ratzinger is 85 years old, increasingly infirm, and wheeled to Mass on a kind of trolley pushed by Vatican staff. He mutters wearily, “We are an old Pope.”

Benedict’s lament echoes the Pandorian plague of crises sweeping the Roman Catholic Church.

Last week, the Pope’s formerly intimately trusted valet, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested and thrown into a four by four meter cell in the Vatican’s tiny prison. He languishes there, charged with pilfering highly sensitive documents from the Pope’s personal apartments.

The whole of Italy is reeling from the ‘what the butler saw’ scandal. There is a natural prurient desire among the faithful to discover exactly what might have been so incriminating in these documents as to thrust the church bureaucracy into blind panic.

Short list:

– The Vatican’s own piggy bank, the Institute of Religious Works, is back in the headlines yet again, on grounds of deep involvement in age-old money-laundering connected to narcotics and arms smuggling rings.

– The spreading global scandal over pedophilia practiced by the clergy. The US-based organization Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP, established in 1991) has tabled a case against the church at the International Court of Justice in the Hague. The leading charge being crimes against humanity.

– From the strictly internal perspective, the struggle between rival factions to bag the highest office in the Vatican government: that of Secretary of State, whose occupant is effectively the Holy See’s prime minister.

In actuality, it is probably, all of the above. This is a cipher struggle for the papacy itself, the ignition factor in the raging civil war, even as Ratzinger sinks fast into the shades.

The present Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, is an equivocal figure who has taken a leading line designing the strategy to fight off the sexual abuse claims. But he did not do himself or the Church any favors by shifting the great weight of blame to homosexuals in the ranks of the clergy.

He would not have said this without the benign consent of his patron, Ratzinger. Bertone is also responsible for the amazing statement that bishops are under no obligation to report abuse cases among the clergy “because it would infringe freedom of speech.”

Bertone is named alongside Ratzinger in the case standing before the International Court. But even so, as La Repubblica observed, “Those who live within the Walls know that the game is larger, has many more players, and has been especially hard for a long time.”

Summoned back from the everglades, the Borgias would instantly recognize the following stanza. La Repubblica does not directly attribute the quote but clearly it echoes Ratzinger directly.

“In here, as to who guides me, and helps me to understand – there’s a good amount of blackmailers, an equal amount of blackmail, a mass of employees and a small percentage of people of faith: among them the Saints, that keep the Church.”

Here is a gloomy painting of a largely secular political structure, all those jewel-encrusted gowns, bells and fancy smells amounting to little more than a deceptive pageant designed principally for entertainment. Truly, a Roman circus.

The fascinating thing about the Vatican Civil War is the fact that it is being fought between rival gangs of theological conservatives. The reformista are nowhere in the frame. Whenever they appear, they are promptly dealt with. Example:

The Secretary of the Governorate of Vatican City (mayor, if you like) Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, sent a letter to Ratzinger, personally denouncing the systematic embezzlement, trafficking and conspiracy raging inside the Vatican. For good measure he attacked the Vatican’s back-tracking on the introduction of new anti-money laundering laws to bring the Holy See in line with western banking norms.

For these sins he was promptly sacked by Bertone, and sent into exile as apostolic nuncio (ambassador) to Washington.

Last year a troika of three arch neo-theocon heavyweight cardinals, namely Camello Ruini, Angelo Bagnasco and Angelo Scola, met for a seminal private lunch with Ratzinger at the papal summer retreat at Castello Gondolfo, far from the prying eyes of Rome. Scola had been touted as a possible elevation to the papacy last time around.

The first course was Cardinal Bertone. All three demanded his head on the nearest plate.

Ratzinger dithered, the signal stripe of his papacy. But the tongs approached from another direction.

The Spanish cardinal Julian Herranz Casado hails from another wing of neo-theocon set. He was the nearest thing there is to a deputy Pope during John Paul II’s many illnesses, particularly after he was seriously wounded in the assassination attempt in on May 13, 1981.

At 82, Herranz Casado entertains no promotion hopes for himself. Rather, he intends that Rome should pass the throne of St. Peter to his photogenic “young” acolyte Cardinal Juan Thorne, whose seat is the Peruvian capital, Lima. He is, with Herranz Casado, one of only two Opus Dei initiates in the entire holy conclave.

Moreover at 68 he is still a “Giovanni” in his pontifical short pants and might reasonably anticipate a stabilizing reign of at least twenty years.

The problem is that the aforementioned Latin troika led by Ruini is determined to recapture St. Peter’s for the Romans. The very idea of a South American Pope is unmentionable heresy.

It was Herranz Casado, the so-called J. Edgar Hoover of the Vatican, who recently arrested the errant butler. This was seen as a warning shot to the Ruini Set of worse to come, if necessary. Yet Herranz Casado equally regards Bartone as a road block, in his case in passing the papal succession to his Opus Dei co-religionist Juan Thorne.

For the Ruini Set, an Opus Dei Pope is impossible to contemplate, quite apart from all the controversies that swirl around a sect seen by many detractors as a kind of Moonie-like organization inside the holy church.

Neither of these rival factions are remotely interested in cleaning up Vatican sleaze, especially those ill-gotten gains at the Sacred Bank which oil the Lateran State’s costly machinery.

Ratzinger’s single decision seems to be to cling to Bertone at any price, in which case the civil war is certain to intensify as the Pope’s reign drifts to an end. He says that he cannot contemplate changing horses now, dealing with a new prime minister at this late stage of his life.

But it is reasonable assumption – insofar as any assumption is reasonable in the dystopian environment of the Vatican – that he regards Bertone as the guarantor of a successor in his own image. Bertone is 77, roughly the same age as Ratzinger when he acceded as “humble laborer in the vineyard” as Vicar of Christ. But he is not the next Pope.

All Vatican watchers agree that the atmosphere inside the Holy See is thoroughly poisonous. The feuding and back-stabbing has reached an unprecedented pitch.

Effectively, except for ritual stage performances, Ratzinger seems to have given up on the job, except for the occasional Molotov cocktail.

Here’s one of them:

Corriere Della Sera, Milan, June 1st: “Pope Benedict XVI, accompanied by surprise by the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, has arrived in Milan for the pastoral and the VII World Meeting of Families. The presence of the Cardinal Bertone is an exceptional event, as the Secretary of State usually does not follow the Pope during travel in Italy.

The fact shows the intimacy of the Pope’s closest collaborator. Benedict XVI thus intends to confirm his faith and his closest collaborators and at the same time denouncing the many allegations that are raised against the Church.”

This amounts to a papal declaration of war on the Ruini crowd. It is also an extraordinary parallel with interpreting smoke signals from the old Kremlin of yore. In those days, who was in or out could be gauged from whether their images were photoshopped, as it were, from the podium atop Lenin’s tomb at the annual May Day parade.

We are also informed that Ratzinger sees the clergy abuse case placed before the International Court as sufficiently serious to confirm his co-defendant Bartone in the 2nd highest position in the Vatican state. To do otherwise might invite doubts when the church’s most urgent need is to stand firm.

He has not ended the civil war; rather he has prolonged it, albeit for pragmatic reasons of state.

Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive Press. You may order it using the link below (or by clicking here – Gladio, NATO’s Dagger at the Heart of Europe: The Pentagon-Nazi-Mafia Terror Axis):

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Edited by End the Lie

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11 Responses to What a holy mess: the Vatican sinks into civil war

  1. Anonymous June 3, 2012 at 5:04 AM

    what the hell is wrong with Bertone? he looks like a demon in that picture. I’m amazed it is not edited or photoshopped. he seriously looks demonic! Look at those eyes and that face! pure EVIL.

  2. Anonymous2 June 3, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Mr. Cottrell has an amazingly gifted way with words.
    I have read countless articles on the current state of the Vatican but never have I seen anyone use such finesse and style in doing so. Bravo.
    And you are right Anonymous,
    he really does look evil in that picture. Like a sort of demented raccoon. I guess the Vatican has made cuts in the make-up department too.

  3. Pingback: Vatican leaks: No respite for Pope Benedict as more documents published Butler Paolo Gabriele believed to be one of 20 whistleblowers trying to oust pontiff’s prime minister, Tarcisio Bertone

  4. Anonymous June 3, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Great job. Just a couple of observations here. One is Card. Ratzinger as PDF broke with Card. Sodano before the death of JPII over the handling of predator clergy (most publicized Maciel founder of the Legion). Immediately upon becoming pope, he (BXVI) replaced the Swiss Guard with a hand picked crew to be his personal guard and advance men. That was the first time in four hundred years that had been done. That tells us BXVI knew before he became pope that he had enemies close by. Me thinks this a wise move unless he was suicidal and seeking the record for the shortest papacy in history of less than 33days. The second is, I think the pope is serious in his attempt to (as he sees it) purify the clergy and teach the layity the primacy of Life, (tinkering with the gnome{IVF,cloning, embryonic stem cell research} contraceptive mentality, abortion, putting a civil stamp of approval on homosexual acts and euthanasia). It does not seem to matter much whether anyone agrees with him. He holds the keys.

  5. Pingback: Catholic Church Faces Disruption and Banishment as Irish Cardinal set to resign

  6. Shark June 5, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    How can these people call themselves Christian with a straight face?And yes that picture looks so crazy it\’s hard to believe it is real.

  7. JuneAnnette June 6, 2012 at 11:08 AM

    This is a great read and a great analysis of what unarguably is the NEWS Story of the Century! Both the narrative along with the timetable are most informative. Mr. Cottrell is to be congratulated for his journalistic expertise in bringing the many facets of this story into such a concise and readable format.The heretofore impregnable walls of silence that have encased the Vatican have finally been breached. We owe the media a huge debt of gratitude for the accurate, comprehensive and in-depth coverage they have given us in these ongoing SCANDALS unfolding in real time within the unhallowed halls of the Roman Catholic “church”. The intense scrutiny the press has given to this organization has afforded the public a glimpse inside the inner workings of this diabolical organization allowing both Catholic and non-Catholic alike a basis on which to assess the viability, legitimacy and credibility of the Roman Catholic “church as a religious institution, which increasingly bears more of a resemblance to organized crime.The world community now knows there\’s nothing HOLY about the Roman Catholic “church.” and the only thing transperent about them is their obsession with secrecy and their penchant for cover up. The reason is equally transperent to all who look on .. . they have plenty to hide.

  8. JuneAnnette June 6, 2012 at 11:13 AM

    By way of a postscript I would add . . . SECRECY and COVER UP are the hallmarks of the RC “church”, but such practices are not agreeable to those who profess to be Christians!

    “For there is nothing covered, that shall not be revealed; nor hid, that shall not be known.” (Luke 12:2)

    This is one more nail in the coffin of this SCANDAL-laden organization before finally consigning her to the graveyard of ignominy and shame, whose crimes against humanity committed under the guise of religion and beneath the cloak of piety make them all the more reprehensible. Those who have brought the name and cause of Christ into such disrepute must now endure the universal contempt, scorn, derision and disdain being meted out to them by the
    worldwide community and reserved for those who commit the abominable sin / crime of child abuse. What a mockery Roman Catholicism has made of Christ’s Church. God however is not mocked! (Gal. 6:7)

    Many former Catholics like myself who have given these matters thoughtful and prayerful consideration have renounced the religion of Rome in order to wholeheartedly embrace the religion of Christ without contradiction. It is my fervent hope and prayer that many more will both hear and heed the command of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is found in Rev. 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

    JuneAnnette, a witness for Christ . . a Roman Catholic by tradition . . made a Christian by God’s grace

    “But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” (1 Cor.15:10)

    Roman Catholicism is not Christ’s Church!

  9. Anonymous June 8, 2012 at 8:39 PM

    The good thing is that we can sleep at night knowing that each and every one of these bastards will burn in hell!

  10. Anonymous June 10, 2012 at 3:32 AM

    The Rothschilds were reported to own 1/2 of the net worth of the planet, during the 19th century. The Rothschilds are \”keepers of the Vatican treasury.\” The Bank of England began as a branch of the Bank of Rome, by the Jesuits. One might also read \”The Secret Terrorists\” By Bill Hughes. All 5 people who died for their role in the Lincoln assassination were staunch Catholics. The USA suspended diplomatic relations with the Vatican from 1868 until the Reagan Administration. The alpha and omega of the NWO is the Vatican. The goal is to bring back the good old days of the Vatican. We called it the Dark Ages.

  11. Pingback: The Final Battles of Pope Benedict XVI

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