Does The Pope Refuse To Live In The Papal Apartments Because He Knows The Curia Will Try To Kill Him?
When the College of Cardinals elects the new Pope, they don't have a magic wand to give him-- and he's stuck with an entrenched, conservative Curia. And like all conservatives-- very corrupt. There's been a lot in the news lately about Pope Francis remarking on the "gay lobby" (or, more accurately, a gay subculture) in the Vatican. That's not really the story though. This week NPR interviewed Robert Mickens, Vatican correspondent for the British Catholic weekly The Tablet, who reminded them that "many of these people in the Vatican that are gay, and even acting out, are extremely conservative. I mean these are not people that want to change the church's teaching on homosexuality-- not at all." Sounds like the U.S. Congress, which is filled with self-loathing closet cases like Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Miss McConnell (R-KY), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Aaron Schock (R-IL), Patrick McHenry (R-NC), etc.
Mickens claims that "the big game is blackmail. It's a mutual recrimination system. That's what is really twisted about the whole thing. I know he is doing this, he knows I'm doing that, checkmate-- and that is how the game works. It's a bad, bad system." Also interviewed for the NPR report, Vatican analyst Marco Politi gets straight to the point: conservatives are corrupt.
The three hot issues in the Vatican Curia are issues about career, about personal ambitions; are issues about money-- which means corruption-- and are issues about sex... There was money laundering through the Vatican bank, money of the mafia. And in same time, in the '90s, there were big amounts of money for bribes for Italian political parties.
...Ezio Mauro, editor-in-chief of the daily La Repubblica, says that by speaking openly of these issues, the pope is trying to counteract mounting opposition within the Curia itself.
Ezio Mauro: The pope is keenly aware this power structure has entrenched itself underneath the legitimate government of the church. He is probably isolated but he intends to change things.
NPR: Francis has already made big changes from all previous popes. He has appointed a commission of eight cardinals from all over the world to help him govern and reform the church. And he has decided not to live in the papal apartments, preferring to stay in the Santa Marta residence on Vatican grounds. There, he has breakfast and meals with other guests, visiting prelates and even low-level Vatican employees. And he frequently puts his own coins in the automatic espresso dispenser in the corridor.
|Francis is surrounded by corruption and evil|
The NY Times speculates that Francis wants to root out the corruption among the Curia but that "changing the style of the papacy is far easier than changing the Vatican-- an ancient monarchy in which the pope is treated like a king, branches of the hierarchy are run like medieval fiefs and supplicants vie for access and influence. For decades popes have tried, and often failed, to change the Vatican. How Francis fares could define his papacy-- and determine whether the church can better serve its more than one billion faithful around the globe."
While the power of the pope is absolute, the vested institutional interests and vast bureaucracy of the Vatican are powerful, too. The waning days of Benedict’s troubled papacy were marked by complaints from ordinary Catholics as well as from powerful cardinals that the Curia had become too concerned with accumulating power and unresponsive to the needs of its followers.If you can ignore, momentarily, the divisive, hot button issues like LGBT equality and women's Choice, Francis' papacy has started out as pretty hopeful for progressives, particularly when it comes to economic and social justice issues. His message has been very strongly against the kind of greed-is-good credo that conservatives adore and pattern their lives around. This pope has been speaking out against consumerism and against the Austerity Agenda that is pulverizing working families around the world. He's making a lot of powerful enemies along the way. Do you think Catholic conservatives like Paul Ryan and John Boehner are thrilled when the Pope says things like "I think about those who are unemployed often because of an economic conception of society that seeks egoistic profit regardless of social justice?" Marco Rubio who changes religion the way a normal person changes his underwear probably contemplates switching back to Mormonism or whatever cults he's been in when he hears the Pope saying "The Pope has the duty, in Christ’s name, to remind the rich to help the poor, to respect them, to promote them. The Pope appeals for disinterested solidarity and for a return to person-centred ethics in the world of finance and economics." It must send shudders of horrors down the backs of arch-reactionaries and acolytes of Greed and Selfishness in the Senate like Pat Toomey, David Vitter, Jim Risch and Joe Donnelly.
For Francis to change that, he must contend with power centers within the Vatican that revolve around things like money, real estate and the distribution of resources, but also foreign policy, ideology and church doctrine. Beneath the pope, a handful of powerful cardinals preside over nine congregations, including ones that manage religious orders, global missionary work, the liturgy and the naming of bishops, as well as 12 pontifical councils. A single department oversees the process of selecting new saints.
The most powerful administrator, after the pope, is his secretary of state, who plays a critical role in guiding church affairs, setting the foreign policy agenda and controlling access to the pope.
Benedict selected Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a canon lawyer, who wielded tremendous power as the main gatekeeper, alienated many inside the Vatican and was widely seen as more interested in Italian politics than in global affairs.
The intense dissatisfaction with his management worsened long-simmering turf wars.
“For some time in various parts of the church, including among people extremely faithful to it, critical voices have been raised about the lack of coordination and confusion which reigns at its center,” Cardinal Paolo Sardi of Italy said to the pope in February 2009, in one of the letters published last May in the tell-all book, Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI.
Those leaks raised the stakes by embarrassing even the pope. They showed the deluge of personal requests made of Benedict, but also included complaints of corruption by a senior Vatican official who was transferred after trying to rein in cost overruns.
...“The cardinals are accustomed to being treated like nobility,” said Jason Berry, author of Render Unto Rome,” a book examining the finances of the church. “The cardinals have de facto immunity. Under canon law, they are never punished. The other problem is that popes are very, very reluctant to shake up the political culture that elected them.”
Critics of the Curia say these traditions have nurtured a hierarchy of promotions and positions based on personal favoritism and connections. That structure is at once unwieldy and uncoordinated, they say, while being overly centralized, stirring resentment for the nontransparent and nondemocratic ways in which it renders judgments.
Last year, the powerful department known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith-- the same office that convicted Galileo of heresy and ran the Inquisition-- ordered a controversial reprimand of American nuns for challenging church teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood.
Yet when a committee representing the leaders of different religious orders sought a meeting to clarify the nun issue, the Vatican response was murky at best, with no single department accepting responsibility for the investigation.
“There seems to be a kind of culture of secrecy in the Curia,” said the former superior general of a religious order who, like many others interviewed for this article, asked not to be identified in order to speak frankly. “Occasionally, they would send out a questionnaire for consultation on some issue. But basically, the Curia is a self-contained system that functions by itself.”
Even insiders complain that communication among various departments is slow and fractured. When the Vatican announced a plan to enable traditionalist Anglicans to find a home within the Catholic Church, it surprised even Cardinal Walter Kasper, the Vatican official overseeing the church’s relations with Anglicans. The announcement occurred while the cardinal was out of town.
...Pope Francis seems intent on changing this culture. He wore a simple white cassock when he was introduced as pope and later made reference to his “brother cardinals,” rather than addressing them as the customary “your lordships.” Last Saturday, the Vatican said Francis would provisionally reinstate all existing department heads, as is customary. But Vatican watchers say the very fact that he issued the statement, rather than staying silent, indicates he may install his own team relatively quickly.
Those who know the Vatican understand that changing it will not be easy.