Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Vatican - A Snake Pit of Hypocrisy

The Nazi Pope, Benedcict XVI, hasn't even left his throne yet and already a flood of dirt and exposes contained in Benedict's personal correspondence seems to be flooding out of the Vatican and the picture that is forming is not a pretty one.  Back biting, power struggles, and hypocrisy seem to be the principal hallmarks of the bitter old queens who run the Vatican.  These revelations, combined with the still exploding exposes of sexual abuse by priests - and the cover ups and obstruction of justice orchestrated by the Church hierarchy from the Pope on down, reveal an institutional church that deserves little or no respect.  A piece in the Washington Post looks at the growing flood of dirt.  Here are highlights:

ViganĂ²’s plight and other unflattering machinations would soon become public in an unprecedented leak of the pontiff’s personal correspondence. Much of the media — and the Vatican — focused on the source of the shocking security breach. Largely lost were the revelations contained in the letters themselves — tales of rivalry and betrayal, and allegations of corruption and systemic dysfunction that infused the inner workings of the Holy See and the eight-year papacy of Benedict XVI. Last week, he announced that he will become the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign.

The next pope .  .  .  . whoever he may be, the 266th pope will inherit a gerontocracy obsessed with turf and Italian politics, uninterested in basic management practices and hostile to reforms.

VatiLeaks, as the scandal came to be known, dragged the fusty institution into the wild WikiLeaks era. It exposed the church bureaucracy’s entrenched opposition to Benedict’s fledgling effort to carve out a legacy as a reformer against the backdrop of a global child sex abuse scandal and the continued dwindling of his flock.

It showed how Benedict, a weak manager who may most be remembered for the way in which he left office, was no match for a culture that rejected even a modicum of transparency and preferred a damage-control campaign that diverted attention from the institution’s fundamental problems. Interviews in Rome with dozens of church officials, Vatican insiders and foreign government officials close to the church, many of whom spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, mapped out that hermetic universe.

As the media hunted for moles, or “crows” as they are known in Italian, Gabriele’s office mate, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein — a former ski instructor and papal confidant known as Gorgeous George — cracked the case. Vatican gendarmes found 82 boxes of documents in the butler’s apartment and arrested him. He was tried, convicted and jailed for several months before the pope personally pardoned him.

“Seeing evil and corruption everywhere in the church, I finally reached a point of degeneration, a point of no return, and could no longer control myself,” Gabriele explained to Vatican investigators. A shock, “perhaps through the media,” Gabriele continued, could “bring the church back on the right track.”

While Benedict was the public face of the universal church, Bertone, for now, remains the private power broker who runs the Vatican on a daily basis. In 2006, Benedict appointed Bertone, his longtime doctrinal sidekick, to secretary of state — the second-most-powerful position in the Vatican. 

Bertone’s position also meant he presided over the Vatican Bank, a post he appeared to use to impede Benedict’s financial reforms.   Benedict, for example, had issued a decree for the Vatican to adopt international money-laundering norms to combat the financing of terrorism. This initiative would allow outside auditors to examine the Vatican’s financial books. For an institution historically allergic to scrutiny, this constituted a revolution. He subsequently created a Vatican watchdog to oversee a whole swath of financial activities, from the Vatican Bank to the Vatican pharmacy and supermarket. But the leaked documents depicted Bertone’s efforts to defang Benedict’s watchdog and to keep power for himself.

The next pope will inherit a government with a rather Byzantine approach to cleaning house, a place where demotions are peddled as promotions.  

The Vatican’s reaction to the leak scandal was not to address its inner flaws but to burnish its outer image.

There's more and it is a story of corruption, jealousy, peevishness and more - none of it, of course, consistent with the Gospel message.

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