Valdosta Daily Times

Top News

March 5, 2013

U.S. cardinals seek answers on Vatican dysfunction

VATICAN CITY — Cardinals said Monday they want to talk to Vatican managers about allegations of corruption and cronyism within the top levels of the Catholic Church before they elect the next pope, evidence that a scandal over leaked papal documents is setting up one of the most unpredictable papal elections in recent times.

The Vatican said 103 of the 115 voting-age cardinals attended Monday’s inaugural session of the pre-conclave meetings, at which cardinals organize the election process, discuss the problems of the church and get to know one another before voting.

The red-capped “princes” of the church took an oath of secrecy and decided to pen a letter of “greeting and gratitude” to Benedict XVI, whose resignation has thrown the church into turmoil amid a torrent of scandals inside and out of the Vatican.

“I would imagine that as we move along there will be questioning of cardinals involved in the governing of the Curia to see what they think has to be changed, and in that context anything can come up,” said U.S. Cardinal Francis George.  

The Vatican’s administrative shortcomings were thrust into stark relief last year with the publication of documents stolen from Benedict XVI’s desk that exposed the petty infighting, turf battles and allegations of corruption, nepotism and cronyism in the highest echelons of the Catholic Church.

The pope’s butler was convicted of stealing the papers and leaking them to a journalist; he eventually received a papal pardon.

The emeritus pope, meanwhile, remained holed up at the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo, his temporary retirement home while the discussions on picking his successor kick into gear in Rome.

No date has been set yet for the conclave and one may not be decided on officially for a few more days; the dean of the College of Cardinals has said a date won’t be finalized until all the cardinals have arrived.

Twelve more voting-age cardinals were en route to Rome; some had previously scheduled speaking engagements, others were due in later Monday or in the coming days, the Vatican said. Their absence, however, didn’t otherwise delay the conclave’s preparations.

Speculation has mounted that the conclave might begin around March 11, with the aim of having a new pope installed by March 17, the Sunday before Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week.

With 115 electors, 77 votes are needed to reach the two-thirds majority to be elected pope.

Those who were in Rome prayed together Monday, chatted over coffee and took an oath to maintain “rigorous secrecy with regard to all matters in any way related to the election of the Roman Pontiff.”

The core agenda item is to set the date for the conclave and put in place the procedures to prepare for it, including closing the Sistine Chapel to visitors and getting the Vatican hotel cleared out and swept for bugs or other electronic monitoring devices, lest anyone try to listen in on the cardinals’ secret conversations.

Yet the first day of discussion was rocked by new revelations of scandal after Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien admitted that his “sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”

O’Brien last week resigned as archbishop of St. Andrews and Edinburgh and said he wouldn’t participate in the conclave after four men came forward with allegations that he had acted inappropriately with them — the first time a cardinal has stayed away from a conclave because of personal scandal.

The Vatican on Monday refused to confirm whether it was investigating O’Brien, even though the Scottish church’s press office said the allegations had been forwarded to the Vatican and that it expected Rome would pursue the case.

Pressed to respond to reports of a fifth accuser who reportedly approached the Vatican directly in October with accusations, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Thomas Rosica, read O’Brien’s statement admitting to sexual misconduct and said the Vatican would say no more.

The Vatican and cardinals attending the session said the O’Brien case didn’t come up during formal or informal conversations.

“It’s a tragic moment for him,” George said.

At a briefing discussing the priorities for the future pontificate, George said the next pope will have to follow canon law and keep priests who molested children out of parishes.

“He obviously has to accept the universal code of the church which is zero tolerance for anyone who has ever abused a minor child and therefore may not remain in public ministry in the church,” George said. “That has to be accepted. I don’t think that will be a problem.”

Separately, the Vatican is still reeling from the fallout of the scandal over leaked papal documents, and the investigation by three cardinals into who was behind it.

American cardinals seem particularly keen to get to the bottom of the Vatican dysfunction, and they have had access to a very knowledgeable tutor, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the Vatican’s ambassador to Washington.

Vigano’s letters to the pope were the most explosive leaks of documents last year; in them, Vigano pleaded with Benedict not to be transferred after exposing alleged corruption in the awarding of Vatican contracts that cost the Holy See millions of euros (dollars).

Vigano was named the Vatican’s ambassador to Washington, and as such has been able to give U.S. cardinals a clear-eyed view of the true state of the Vatican, said Corriere della Sera commentator Massimo Franco.

“They have appreciated him very much because he doesn’t read the Vatican situation with a rosy lens, a rosy view,” Franco said in an interview.

In his new book “The Crisis of the Vatican Empire,” Franco paints a portrait of a Vatican completely falling apart, with financial scandals at its bank, backstabbing among its ruling class and the sex abuse scandal discrediting the church on the global stage.

“If we think of the pope, in a way the pope decided to sacrifice himself because he couldn’t change anything,” Franco said.

Coupled with the upheaval of Benedict’s resignation, the scandals have contributed to create one of the most unclear papal elections in recent times.

“It will be a very open conclave with a very unpredictable outcome,” Franco said.

In one of his last audiences before resigning, Benedict gave the three cardinals who investigated the leaks the go-ahead to answer their colleagues’ questions about the results of their investigation.

“There are members of the College of Cardinals who are interested in having information that has to do with the situation in the Curia and the church in general and will ask to be informed by their colleagues,” Lombardi said.

1
Text Only
Top News
  • Kingston’s loss means less clout for Ga.

    For two decades, Rep. Jack Kingston was a congressman who routinely crushed his opponents on election night — winning a new term every other year with vote totals between 63 and 77 percent.

    July 28, 2014

  • IMG_3745.jpeg Gas leak on West Adair

    A gas leak has occured on West Adair Street, between Tombs and Oak Street. The leak began just after 11 a.m.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • salmonella 2 copy.jpg Trial nears for suspects in salmonella case

    Three people accused of scheming to manufacture and ship salmonella-tainted peanuts that killed nine people, sickened more than 700 and prompted one of the largest food recalls in history are set to go to trial this week in south Georgia.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • AP4507280123 copy.jpg Today in History for Monday, July 28, 2014
    Today is Monday, July 28, the 209th day of 2014. There are 156 days left in the year. 
     

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Commercial driver training program expanding

    Department of Driver Services (DDS) Commissioner Rob Mikell announced recently an expansion of the commercial driver training program administered by the Agency’s Regulatory Compliance Division. DDS will now offer a Commercial Driver License (CDL) Instructor Training Class for customers who have applied to be CDL instructors. The session will provide additional guidance as the applicants prepare for the final exam.

    July 28, 2014

  • Tentative deal reached on VA reform

    The chairmen of the House and Senate Veterans Affairs committees have reached a tentative agreement on a plan to fix a veterans’ health program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records covering up delays.

    July 27, 2014

  • Heat advisory for much of South Georgia

    A heat advisory is in place for much of South Georgia until 7 p.m.

    July 27, 2014

  • 2 injured in western Georgia small plane crash

    Fire officials say two people were hospitalized after small plane crash in western Georgia. 

     

    July 27, 2014

  • Nuclear Construction_Rich(1) copy.jpg Promises of easier nuclear construction fall short

    The U.S. nuclear industry has started building its first new plants in decades using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and money and revive the once promising energy source.
    So far, it’s not working.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Deadline nears for alligator hunt

    Gator hunting is no longer reserved for University of Georgia sports fans, but hunters must file applications by the end of July.

    July 27, 2014

Top News
Poll

Do you agree with the millage rate increases?

Yes. We need to maintain services
No. Services should have been cut.
     View Results