“Vatileaks” And The Wolves

The Vatican investigating officers had just discovered all of them had been appointed by Pope Benedict.

I have published already a blog post concerned with the (worrying) leadership situation emerging – as it seems, in a rather incontrovertible way; unless some documents have been forged or there is crucial information we do not know; which both seem improbable – from the latest “Vatileaks” documents.

I see around me a reaction to these leaks I struggle to understand.

Firstly, let me say last time I looked the publication of confidential documents exposing scandals within an organisation was not called “leaking”, but whistleblowing.

If these documents are made public with an honest intention, I can’t see anything wrong with it.  No one seems to complain about the certainly extremely powerful whistleblower(s) who gave the Corriere della Sera devastating material about Annibale Bugnini and put an end to his career; and no one would have complained if Marcial Maciel would have been publicly exposed from within the Vatican when it was clear Pope John Paul II was either naive, or blind, or both. Still, some knew about Maciel and said nothing. How is this being loyal to the Church? How would blowing the whistle on him have been disloyal?  

Of course, the questions about the truthfulness and the real aims of the person or group of people behind this operation cannot be ascertained yet: they could be mischievous schemers wanting to sabotage the Pope, or honest people of God  wanting to free him from the grasp of people they consider too powerful, too dangerous, and too little attached to the Church. Still, I can’t see why the one hypothesis should be enthusiastically accepted, and the other discarded a priori.

As I have already written, the Vatican is clearly a sieve, where everyone who is anyone can have access to reserved documents and confidential information. Therefore, the following hypotheses are in my eyes both valid:

a) A group of powerful prelates (note they do not hesitate in saying “we”, at least wanting everyone to believe there is a group behind this initiative; and if this is so, it is easy to believe it is not a group without influence) has the pockets full of Bertone and Gaenswein for fully legitimate reasons, and has decided to give the Pope the alternative between getting rid of the two now, or waiting until they have been cut into very little pieces by several instalments of revelations concerning very, very bad practice. If this is true, the letters already revealed are clearly the last warning salvo: impressive enough in what they reveal, but without aiming at the two men directly. Always in this perspective (which is, clearly, only hypothetical) these people have devastating revelations in their hands, then if they are honest in their intentions they would never bark in such astonishing way without being able to bite accordingly. If this is true, the target of the first salvo is extremely clear: Bertone and Gaenswein have the Pope in their hands to such an extent that they move him to clearly questionable behaviour, creating a camarilla of people who take their own decision and keep everyone else, even very highly positioned Cardinals like Burke, out of the loop.

Concerning the SSPX, we can’t really say whether this group is for them or against them. It may well be that they see Bertone and Gaenswein as having too much influence, and fear that the two together have persuaded Pope Benedict to wait before he announces the reconciliation (no decision within May. Coincidence?) and might persuade him to postpone it sine die. Therefore, they proceed to fire on the two with all their cannons, until the Pope draws the consequences.

All this might be true or false, but I can’t see how anyone can say that it wouldn’t make sense. It is not that the Vatican corridors are populated by innocent school girls, be they friends or enemies of the SSPX.

b) A group of powerful prelates is concerned about the way things are going: the imminent reconciliation with the SSPX on the one side, and the personal power of Gaenswein and Bertone on the other. This is, in this scenario, motivated by pure thirst for power and influence, rather than from sincere desire to help the Church; or else, by an in itself sincere desire to move the Church towards, say, Cardinal Schoenborn. Therefore, they want to take both Gaenswein and Bertone  down, hoping that at that point the Pontiff will appoint people more able to move him toward VII/liberal/progressive decisions. Also in this scenario, either these people are merely slandering and hoping that some mud will stick, or they do have devastating evidence of the doings of the two and will only stop when they have both gone.

Again, all this might be true or false, but even with very innocent spectacles it is difficult not to see this scenario as at least possible. Still: must this be the only possible scenario?


In addition, I would like to point out to a fatal flaw of the “poor Pope Benedict, surrounded by wolves”- mantra. Pope Benedict has ruled over the Vatican for now seven years with such absolute powers as no other ruler on Earth can claim. Every appointment and every decision depended from him. If wolves are circling around him, they are wolves he chose. If the Vatican is dominated by intrigues and falseness, this is intrigue and falseness he promoted to the top of the Vatican hierarchy. If there is rot at the top, it is rot he allowed to fester every step of the way. It is to me nothing less than astonishing that John XXIII, Paul VI and John Paul II should be burdened with the full responsibility of what happened during their pontificate, but this should not apply to Pope Benedict. The latter is, instead, either supposed to have an evil twin making all the wrong decisions and appointing all the wrong people while the real Pontiff is sleeping, or else he is thought to live in a crystal ball which completely isolates him from the outer world, and allows only the voice of the “wolves” to filter through.

Seriously, folks: such a naive cleric wouldn’t become Pope in the first place. Add to this that this particular Pope had been an old fox of the Vatican not for years, but for decades before he became Pope and I can’t believe there is one single trick in the book he hasn’t seen already. Therefore, the Celestine V argument most certainly does not apply to him.   

It can’t be that Popes are held accountable only when we happen not to like their ideological stance, but we start seeing “wolves” everywhere when we do. 


Posted on June 4, 2012, in Catholicism, FSSPX and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Mundabor,

    You are a brave man. But I support your comments 100%. This Pope had been a major player in the Roman Curia for more than two decades before his election as Supreme Pontiff. If ANYONE should have known the rot within the Vatican machinery, it was him. The fact that he chose to continue with a “business as usual” attitude set him up for these awful developments.

    To boot: Bertone lied to us about Fatima, and probably had poor Sister Lucia sign things she didn’t fully understand. I have no sympathy for him.

    It takes guts for you to say this. Kudos.

    • Thanks Senrex, but it takes no guts at all. I am sitting comfortably in my living room and neither my job nor my career prospects are at any risk. I frankly think the whistleblowers, if they have honest intentions, are far more courageous than I am.

      As for the Pontiff, I think he is simply a bad manager. Bad managers may be good at theology and even saintly men, but they pick the wrong people, don;t have the gut to act when the wrong people happen to be people they like, and are in general indecisive.

      Bad managers are not particularly respected by their employees. As we see in this case, when the whistleblowers are either playing a very savage defamation scheme, or else are in good faith but consider the Pope such an hopeless case that they have decided to wage war against the rot over his head. In both cases, this doesn’t exactly speak for his qualities as leader.

      In all this, the Holy Father isn’t capable to take a simple decision over a matter which he has been examining from every conceivable angle for the last 24 years, and it must now be another two or three months before a word is spoken.

      If you ask me this isn’t leadership, but the absence of one.


  2. I’m not entirely sure I agree with your assessment, but I respect it as an honest one. It is too easy to dismiss saintly men as impervious to fault. I certainly do not view Pope Bendict as a bad Pope – in many ways I believe he is exactly the Pope we need. However, it is clear that – wahtever is happening – that something is amiss in his maagerial assignment of duties and/or willingness to respond swiftly when his trusted delegates do their jobs poorly.

    With God’s grace, this will – in the end – not be a big deal. I fear, however, that this is a serious dysfunction and rift in the making, and yet another trial for the church. I hope I’m wrong.

    • Thanks Diatribe Guy.

      In a way, the Church is dysfunctional because it is human, and I do not know any other organisation able to be so poorly led and still survive. Ecclesia semper reformanda is, in the end, an originally Protestant motto we Catholics can well subscribe to.
      To me, in fact, this frequent bad management and constant surviving is actually evidence of the supernatural protection enjoyed by the Church. I have written many times about it and will, therefore, not lose any sleep on this.

      I also do not think this will be any serious earthquake for the Church: I mean like Vatican II, or the paedophile priests. What might be radically changed by it is the career prospects of some key people within the Vatican: Gaenswein and Bertone if their accusers are right, and the accusers themselves if they are wrong.


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