Thursday, June 13, 2013

Blackmail Vatican-Style: Gay Lobby?

Various news sources report that Pope Francis recently has referred to a "Gay Lobby" in the Vatican. The alledged group(s) use blackmail or the threat of blackmail to influence decisions and wield power. It's not simply an issue of homosexuality. Here's the New York Times article...

June 12, 2013

Pope Is Quoted Referring to a Vatican ‘Gay Lobby’

ROME — For years, perhaps even centuries, it has been an open secret in Rome: That some prelates in the Vatican hierarchy are gay. But the whispers were amplified this week when Pope Francis himself, in a private audience, appears to have acknowledged what he called a “gay lobby” operating inside the Vatican, vying for power and influence.

The remarks — which the Vatican spokesman did not deny and the participants at the private audience confirmed — appeared to be part of an effort by the pope to take on the entrenched interests in the Vatican that many believe were a factor in why the previous pope, Benedict XVI, resigned unexpectedly. They appear to underscore numerous reports in the prelude to the election of the pope, that corruption, blackmail and violation of one of the highest codes of Catholic conduct were part of the intrigue that scandalized the Vatican in recent years.

Francis, who portrays himself as a simple pope of the people, has made it clear that one of his highest priorities is to put the Vatican’s house in order. He has appointed a group of eight cardinals to advise him on how to overhaul the Vatican, and the head of the Vatican Bank has recently given a series of interviews to journalists — an openness unheard of under his predecessors.

“It’s pretty incredible that the pope said these things,” said Sandro Magister, a Vatican expert at the Italian weekly L’Espresso. “I don’t think there’s any doubt on the foundation of the phrases attributed to him. Otherwise they would have denied it.”
The pope made the remarks at the Vatican on June 6, while speaking to a meeting of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Religious, the regional organization for priests and nuns of religious orders.

“In the Curia, there are also holy people, really, there are holy people. But there also is a stream of corruption, there is that as well, it is true,” he said in Spanish, according to a loose summary of the meeting posted on a Chilean Web site, Reflection and Liberation, and later translated into English by the blog Rorate Caeli.

“The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there ... We need to see what we can do,” Francis continued, in the document, produced here verbatim.

On Tuesday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, did not deny the reports of Francis’s remarks, saying only that he had no comment on a private meeting — a marked shift from past months, in which the Vatican vehemently called such reports “unverified, unverifiable or completely false.”

Also on Tuesday, the Latin American group, known by its Spanish acronym CLAR, confirmed the remarks and issued an apology, saying it was distressed that its summary had been published.

Long the subject of speculation in Vatican circles, the term gay lobby had emerged most recently in juicy, unsourced reports in the Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica and a news weekly, Panorama, before the March conclave in which Francis, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, was elected.

Before his retirement on Feb. 28, the reports said, Benedict had been worn down by corruption scandals — including what they said was a network of gay priests inside the Vatican who used blackmail to gain influence and trade in state secrets.

A secret dossier compiled by three cardinals Benedict had asked to investigate a leaks scandal at the Vatican last year had revealed the network, which also included lay people who were aware of gay clerics inside the Vatican and who were in a position to blackmail them, the reports said.

Veteran watchers of the Roman Curia were unfazed by Francis’ remarks. One Vatican official, speaking on the traditional condition of anonymity, said he was not surprised that Francis had spoken of a gay lobby, but noted that the summary lacked “context and tone.”

“If you have an institution as big as the Vatican, there are some who will be homosexual, some maybe actively so,” the official said. “But whether there’s collusion or internal cooperation, I’ve certainly not been aware of it.”

Others said that the remarks were in line with the new pope’s emphasis on openness.
“A lobby of those who blackmail each other proliferates if you don’t talk about it, if there’s no air,” said Alberto Melloni, a Vatican historian and director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, a liberal Catholic research institute. “He’s right to talk about it, it breaks the mechanism in which omertà favors the use of blackmail. If no one talks about it, it’s a powerful weapon. In that way, he’s cut the issue down to size and conveys the sense that reforming the Curia is easy.”

“This is a question of blackmail and blackmailability, not homosexuality,” he added.
Two of the biggest internal threats to Benedict’s papacy, including a scandal of leaked documents, were driven by factions within the Vatican who used leaked information to vie for power. Those scandals contributed to Benedict’s decision to retire.

Writing in La Repubblica on Tuesday, the Vatican expert Paolo Rodari said that Francis had also mentioned the gay lobby in a meeting last month with bishops from Sicily.
In the summary of Francis’s remarks to the Latin American group, the pope said that he was moving ahead with improving Vatican governance, including with the committee of eight cardinals that he named in April. “I am very disorganized, I have never been good at this,” Francis is quoted as saying. “But the cardinals of the commission will move it forward.”

In its statement, CLAR added that it had not made a recording of Francis’s remarks, but that those present, a half-dozen men and women, had written a summary of his points for their personal use. “It’s clear that based on this, one cannot attribute with certainty to the Holy Father singular expressions in the text, but just the general sense,” the statement said.

The summary also quoted the pope as saying that he had not imagined he would be elected pope. He said he had come to Rome “only with the necessary clothes, I washed them at night, and suddenly this ... And I did not have any chance!” the summary read. “In the London betting houses I was in 44th place, look at that, the one who bet on me won a lot, of course...! This does not come from me,” he added, indicating it had been God’s will.

Gaia Pianigiani contributed reporting.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Remembering Andy Greeley

Chicago priest, Andrew Greeley, passed away last week at age 85 – five years are a debilitating accident. Eugene Kennedy, an inactive priest and friend of WEORC, paid Andrew a touching farewell in the weekend’s Chicago Tribune.

My brother Andrew

A friendship often tested, left to languish, and then

June 02, 2013|By Eugene Cullen Kennedy

Andrew Greeley, who was so deeply involved in the things of time, broke free of its shackles last week to enter fully the eternity whose boundaries he had broken, as easily as a champion miler does the tape, on almost every day of his long and remarkable life.

I knew Andrew for half a century and, thinking of his quick smile and his twinkling eyes, I recall him telling me once that he expected heaven to be a homecoming, the scene of a family reunion whose joy is not threatened, as it is so often in time, by the certainty that its magic and mystery will end with sundown.
Although he led and enjoyed a very public life in which he broke Teddy Roosevelt's mantra by speaking loudly and carrying a big stick in confronting the injustices and shortcomings he identified in the interlocking worlds of church and state, if, in other words, he acted like the scrappy Irishman whose persona he at times mischievously inhabited, I remember Andrew as a man who did not live nearly so much as a Celtic battler as he did the contemplative life of a monk who wanted to cast light on the depths of human existence.

That is why, of all his titles and degrees, he preferred that of priest and, through the many talents with which he was gifted, he saw his first calling as a minister to the needy and brokenhearted all around him. If that sometimes led him into places and into people's lives in unexpected and sometimes uncalled for interventions, he always entered with the heart of a priest who, in the words Pope John XXIII used to explain why he convened Vatican Council II, wanted "to make the human sojourn on Earth less sad."

It is no surprise that he wrote a series of mystery novels featuring a hero based on his own musings about himself, Father Blackie Ryan. These were really glints from his preoccupation with and absorption in mystery with a capital M. That, as he understood from the Catholic tradition, is, far more than religious practices or even creedal statements, the core of real religion.

That mystery includes the things some people think incompatible with the existence of God, the storms that strike haphazardly, the deaths of the innocent, the losses that pile up in the lives of good people, the heartbreak that is often found in the heart of the greatest of love stories. Andrew drew on these themes even in the novels that Graham Greene would have classified as "entertainments." These notions emerged as the fruit of the contemplation of the world to which, in quieter and deeper times, he immersed himself unself-consciously. Unlike many Christians, and even unlike many priests, he strove to practice what he preached every day.

We called each other friends and counted on each other but our friendship had been tested by times in which we drifted apart but could still hear each other's voices. Irish brothers have a way of falling out and then finding each other again. In our case, the cause of the falling out is complex and now irrelevant. The finding of our friendship again was the important thing and it was all his doing.

When I had cancer surgery and was sitting quietly, sorting out the situation with my wife at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Andrew came through the door to bring me his blessing, to cheer us up, and, in less than the time it takes to tell about it, to restore our friendship. As he said to me later with a smile, "Reconciliation is supposed to work that way." But he was the architect of the renewal of our friendship for, as he also said to me later, "I wasn't sure if you would throw me out of the hospital room."

That generous, brave, big-hearted man is the one I remember, the priest caught up in contemplating the mystery of our existence who in both word and deed lived by it. Andrew was caught up in the mystery of suffering beyond our capacity to understand it for the last five years of his life. His death has freed him from the grip that time had placed on him and has now allowed him to enter, like a pilgrim throwing his crutch away at Lourdes, the eternity whose depths were so familiar to him.

Remember him as you will, as novelist, professor, or even as a general agitator for the good and challenger of the bad, for all these are masks he wore at one time or another. I will remember him as a friend who bridged the gap of estrangement, who made our friendship whole again and did it by fully entering the mystery, even as he hails us now to join him at the family reunion he foresaw at the end of time.