Sunday, May 27, 2012

Further Notes on the Vatileaks-Vatican Bank Situation

1. From midday yesterday until this Sunday morning, the head article at Huffington Post (U.S. edition) has been "The Butler, with the Documents, in the Vatican."  Click the headline, and it leads you to an AP article by Nicole Winfield reporting on the arrest of longtime papal butler Paolo Gabriele.

And who should be featured in the article--now emerging as a seeming spokesman for the Vatican itself as the Vatican tries to spin both the leaks scandal and whatever's going on with the Vatican Bank--but Grand Knight Carl A. Anderson?  About whom I wrote yesterday . . . . 

My intuition about Anderson's involvement: his role will increasingly be that of English-language spinmeister for the Vatican in the intertwined Vatileaks-Vatican Bank scandal.  And this intuition also leads me to think that the uproar in the Vatican right now has everything to do with the Vatican Bank, with scandals having to do with handling of money--though the focus of much news coverage has been the leaking of secret Curial documents to the media.  And that there's a desperate need to keep the lid on the story, and to spin it in a damage-control fashion.

I also have very strong doubt that the papal butler is the chief actor in this drama, and am strongly inclined to agree with those who have been saying from the moment of his arrest that he's being scapegoated.  Whatever has the Vatican spooked now has to be very serious, if they're reaching for this level of dramatic (and, let's be honest, farcically lurid) level of damage control-scapegoating.

And that whatever is most likely related to $$$$$, if the Vatican Bank is involved.

2. And John Allen is reporting this morning that the Italian paper Corriere della Sera has just published a memo explaining why Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, director of the Vatican Bank, was fired.  

Guess who wrote the memo?  None other than Supreme Knight Carl Anderson.  Who, curiously, hits hard on that very word I highlighted in my posting yesterday: transparency.  The need for transparency in Catholic affairs and in the Catholic church's interface with the public.

Anderson is defensive about charges that there has been a lack of transparency in the process by which Tedeschi was booted--about why Tedeschi was booted.  And the word "transparency" has a curious ring coming from the mouth of the head of a Catholic fraternal organization that is thought to be funding--to a hefty amount--overtly political anti-gay initiatives of Catholic dioceses throughout the U.S., but which has never been transparent about such funding (as the dioceses thought to be availing themselves of it have not been transparent, either).  

For instance, when the Minnesota Catholic bishops mailed a video attacking marriage equality to every Catholic household in the state on the eve of that state's 2010 gubernatorial elections--when only one gubernatorial candidate, the Republican one, had made an issue of opposing gay marriage--there were credible allegations that the Knights played a key role in financing that political initiative.  Though the bishops never revealed the name of the donor or donors who paid for this expensive political initiative.

Hearing Carl Anderson talk about the need for transparency is a bit like hearing Imelda Marcos complain that she has too few shoes: the word "transparent" in his mouth just doesn't ring true.

4. Lots of highly placed commentators are echoing doubts about the role of papal butler Paolo Gabriele in the Vatileaks scandal, by the way.  They include Michael Brendan Dougherty at Business Insider, who finds something extremely fishy about the butler-did-it plot line, and American Vaticanologist John Allen, who is now expanding on the questions he had raised initially about the role of Gabriele in his first NCR article noting the hell breaking loose in the Vatican.  Allen was interviewed yesterday by Paolo Mastrolilli in Vatican Insider, and in the interview, reiterates his questions about whether a papal butler could be leaking the high-level documents that have made their way to the media from inside the Curia.

5. As all this news is breaking, it's important, I think, for American Catholics and those following news about the Catholic church in the U.S. not to let ourselves be diverted by these spectacles from the trial of top Catholic officials in Philadelphia, and the legal actions also underway against Bishop Robert Finn in Kansas City, who has just taken the unprecedented step of delegating away his diocesan legal authority as he faces criminal charges for having failed to report suspected child abuse.

Msgr. William Lynn, the secretary for clergy of the Philadelphia archdiocese on trial for endangering children by keeping known child molesters in active ministry, is trying--brazenly, many commentators think (see Monica Yant Kinney in the Philadelphia Inquirer today)--to depict himself as just an humble fall-guy in a cover-up planned far above his own head, a papal butler serving the overlords faithfully, as it were, and caught in a cover-up over which he had little control.

Many of those watching the Philadelphia trial think this gambit is not going to prove convincing to judge and jurors--any more convincing than the attempt to hinge the Vatileaks scandal on a papal butler is proving to many thinking people who sense that there's far more to the story going on in the Vatican right now than butlers, candlesticks, and libraries.

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