Sunday, May 27, 2012


A Vatican Soap Opera, life imitating art:

Jesus crushes the head of Satan:

It seems like the perfect storm. And one wonders if it isn't the messiness of life that so many of us experience on a more intimidate, less international scale. But it does make life in the Church interesting and prepares the way for more novels of intrigue about the Catholic Church in general and the Vatican in particular. It looks like the movie The Godfather on many different levels. (The Godfather Trilogy are three of my all time favorite movies). It also reminds me of Mel Gibson's movie, The Passion of the Christwhich so vividly shows the reason for the passion based upon Satan as the serpent and Jesus' ultimate victory especially with Jesus crushing the head of the serpent!

Pope Benedict is an intellectual and an academic. He has a sharp mind. But he may have delegated too much of the administration of his Vatican to underlings who just might be a bit too incompetent. But I have no inside information. But the Holy Father hasn't been served well by the men who are suppose to be supporting him.

The first major and international embarrassment came when early in his papacy the pope spoke the truth about Islam but used an indelicate example that infuriated many radicals in the Muslim community (which actually proved the point of what the pope was saying). This tiny gaffe led to the deaths of a few innocent people and protests against the Church on a bit of a grander scale.

Then there is the attempt by the Holy See to reconcile the SSPX to full communion with the Church. In lifting the excommunication of its bishops someone failed to inform the Holy Father that one of these bishops is a fascist who has some bizarre beliefs about the Holocaust and actually denies that it happened. This bishop is clearly not functioning on all cylinders. One has to wonder though if there wasn't a plan by those who surround the pope who disagree with the pope in his "ecumenical" outreach to the SSPX and his reform of the reform, to allow the Holy Father to fall into the trap set for him to embarrass him and derail a major aspect of his pontificate, the reform of the reform. Just wondering, I have no proof.

Then there have been a few security issues too. The same woman at two separate Christmas midnight Masses attacked the pope. The first was prevented, but the second she was able to take the pope down.

But now the biggest scandal of somewhat humorous but sad proportions revolves around the Vatican Bank which for years has be mismanaged and does not follow banking norms that Europe has established. (In fact The Godfather III scene with the man hanging from the bridge with money falling out of his pocket is based on the truth of the head of the Vatican Bank hanging himself (supposedly) sometime around the 1980's!) There have been a few scandals involving this bank which for other banks may have led to the government shutting them down or taking them over. The Vatican has been trying to implement good banking practices to comply with what regulating agencies in Europe are demanding.

However, the head of the Vatican Bank was fired by the Vatican just this week and in addition to that the Pope's butler was arrested by Vatican Police and put in Vatican jail for having leaked confidential documents and correspondence to the pope that puts some of the pope's men in a very bad light. You can't make this stuff up! Can it get any more interesting and any more sad than that? The leaked documents to a journalist by this butler who had no business have confidential correspondence in the first place has been big news in Italy and a book has just been released containing the correspondence, but the news has been minor here in the USA until now.

The devil is in the details and I mean that theologically and doctrinally and not just euphemistically or symbolically. There are powers and dominions at work here as well as principalities.

1. (His enemies from within the Church)The Reform of the Reform and doctrinal certitude and a recovery of the sense of the Sacred for the liturgies of the Church have been the hallmark of Pope Benedict's papacy and legacy as the Cardinal-head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. To say that Cardinal Ratzinger and Pope Benedict has made enemies for himself amongst the liberal clique of the Church in Europe and elsewhere would be an understatement. It seems to be payback time now to discredit him and humiliate him and many are taking pleasure in it.

2. (His enemies from outside the Church)The Holy Father's battle with the dictatorship of Secularism and relativism has made him enemies within the media, within radical liberal politics and in academia in Europe and the USA and has made him a target in the press. Most of this revolves around sexual issues: homosexuality and the nature of marriage, contraception and abortion, women priests and government interference in the teachings and practices of the Church. But the Holy Father clearly has enemies in the mass media, in radical liberal politics and in academia, a most unholy trinity!

3. (His enemies in hell) Of course the demons who hate the Catholic Church with their leader, the Prince of Darkness, Satan or Lucifer himself, is at the core of all of this, the last gasps of a spiritual battle these powers and dominions have already lost but continues to play itself out in time while in eternity it has concluded and they are vanquished having their leader's head crushed for eternity by the Lord Himself.




ytc said...

I don't know if you realize it Father, but it is ever so refreshing to hear (read) a priest actually talk about angels and demons.

Good God, how pre-Vateken Tew are you?!

Joseph Johnson said...

Based on articles I have read, I am strongly suspicious of Cardinal Bertone and his office of the Vatican Secretary of State. However, the problems this office causes are not limited to his (Bertone's) tenure. Apparently there has been a long-standing tension between the CDF (which Ratzinger used to head but even predating his tenure as Prefect there)and the Secretary of State. The Secretary of State usually seems to be on the "liberal" side of things while the CDF (what used to be called "The Holy Office") tends to be on the "conservative," or traditionalist, side (just my perception, mind you!).

The most recent example of this obstructionism by the Secretary of State had to do not with the Holy Office (my preferred term) but with the Congregation for Divine Liturgy's effort to reintroduce Gregorian Chant into more Papal liturgies and, ultimately, throughout the Church. It seems the Secretary of State has its own choir which it prefers to see used at Papal liturgies abroad which it sees as part of its diplomatic function in presenting its more progressive vision of the Church to the world.

Ultra-Fatimists (Fr. Gruner's group) will also point to Cardinal Bertone's role in denying that the Third Secret of Fatima has not yet been fully revealed. Considering Fr. Gruner's juridical status, I'm not as sure about that one, but it makes for interesting reading.

At any rate, (and based on the more credible and obvious things that have happened) I think the Pope needs to clean house at the Office of the Secretary of State. One major Vatican office should not be working at cross-purposes with another!

Joseph Johnson said...

Might I add:

Most people who have been following the Latin Mass movement over the last fifteen or twenty years, including myself, knew about SSPX Bishop Williamson's views (denying the extent of the Holocaust) BEFORE the lifting of the excommunications.

I remember telling a retired priest (who had regularly been our "fill in" priest) about this problem right before the excommunications were lifted. Now, if a small-town lawyer (with no connection to the SSPX) in southeast Georgia could know about Williamson, why didn't the guys close to the Pope know?

Anonymous said...

While tensions on theology and liturgy dominate discussions amongst the faithful and diocesan clergy, in reality much of the tension amongst higher levels of the clergy has to do with much more mundane matters of personal temperament and in Rome, with nationality. In other words, not much difference than the typical workplace politics.

If I had to place the source for the events of the Pontificate of Benedict XVI I would focus on the avalanche as a possible model. At the top, a Pontiff who prided himself on being somewhat indifferent to the Roman Curia (Blessed John Paul II), was replaced with one who could be considered (among many other gifts) a true administrator. Just below him, many of the key administrators (Cardinal Prefects) were replaced by "outsiders", the two most notable being Bertone and Levada. In contrast, just below them you have an actual increasing number of Italian Cardinals. At the bottom, you have lay workers whose daily routine has not changed in 200 years attempting to deal with the reality of Social Media.

Different layers each with different histories and attributes is the recipe for an avalanche. In the same way, it is also the likely cause for most if not all of the blunders the Vatican has seen in the last seven years.

the Egyptian said...

This (SSPX) bishop is clearly not functioning on all cylinders

The Roman Church has a few of their own who need a tuneup or trade in :>)