"The current meltdown at the Vatican reveals 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 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 and the Pope fiddles over his new title.
Meanwhile, the Pope’s press officer has now 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” for papal influence and subsidies received a mortal wound with President Barack Obama’s strong re-election victory over the 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 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 the Pope 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!
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 Pope cannot change the Conclave rules fast enough to try to stem the bleeding as he packs 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 Pope is treating Cardinals as obedient fools, not as successors to the Apostles. He springs on them suddenly his resignation, then tells 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. These pressing imperatives require new leadership and real reforms now, especially to minimize prosecution risks.
Less than four months ago, the Pope tried unsuccessfully to take down the world’s most powerful leader, Barack Obama, in his re-election bid. Now the Pope flees 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 renew this papal geo-political overreach because Ronald Reagan thought he needed the Polish Pope to bring down the Soviets, but 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.
Very recently, Catholic theologian, Hans Kung, Dominican priest, Matthew Fox, and Oxford historian, Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, have weighed in on the current crisis. Their brief assessments must be listened to, or some Cardinals will likely be prosecuted sooner rather than later.
Fr. Kung just spoke of his former university colleague, Joseph Ratzinger, this week as reported here at: http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/theologian-hans-kueng-discusses-the-future-of-the-catholic-church-a-884080.html
The seemingly unending and substantially unaddressed Vatican scandals of child abuse cover-ups, sexual blackmail, financial corruption and managerial incompetence have reached a tipping point that made resignation the only option apparently. Shortly, perhaps this week, voting Cardinals reportedly may be told secretly some of what is in the confidential report of the three octogenerian non-voting Cardinals.
The Pope has now just 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 Pope is withholding from them, even as he now cuts down 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.
These papal challenges are already burdened by the overall dark, but as of yet insufficiently rejected, legacy left by ex-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and his Polish predecessor, so concisely summarized by Dominican priest, Matthew Fox, a student of key theologian, M.-D. Chenu, who theologically guided Joseph Ratzinger and Karol Wotyla at Vatican II, accessible here:
Meanwhile,well informed Oxford historian, Sir Diarmaid MacCulloch, has characteristically just put the Pope’s resignation and the Vatican’s current dysfunctional structure into an insightful, revealing and constructive historical perspective, in only a few words, accessible here: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2013/0223/1224330417995.html
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 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 Benedict not 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 Benedict lost so completely? 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 incompetence reigns."