John Cornwell, a recognized Catholic journalist, says that the real reason the pope is resigning is because in doing so the whole Curia–the Vatican bureaucracy that is reportedly rife with financial and sexual corruption–must step down when he does. Thus, the pope is sacrificing himself to clean up the Vatican.
From John Cornwell:
Resignation isn’t in Benedict’s vocabulary. The real reason he has quit is far more spectacular.
It is to save the Catholic Church from ignominy: he has voluntarily delivered himself up as a sacrificial lamb to purge the Church of what he calls ‘The Filth’. And it must have taken courage.
Here is the remarkable thing you are seldom told about a papal death or resignation: every one of the senior office-holders in the Vatican – those at the highest level of its internal bureaucracy, called the Curia – loses his job.
A report Benedict himself commissioned into the state of the Curia landed on his desk in January. It revealed that ‘The Filth’ – or more specifically, the paedophile priest scandal – had entered the bureaucracy.
He resigned in early February. That report was a final straw. The Filth has been corroding the soul of the Catholic Church for years, and the reason is the power-grabbing ineptitude and secrecy of the Curia – which failed to deal with the perpetrators. Now the Curia itself stands accused of being part of The Filth.
Benedict realises the Curia must be reformed root and branch. He knows this is a mammoth task.
He is too old, and too implicated, to clean it up himself. He has resigned to make way for a younger, more dynamic successor, untainted by scandal – and a similarly recast Curia.
Benedict was not prepared to wait for his own death to sweep out the gang who run the place.
In one extraordinary gesture, by resigning, he gets rid of the lot of them. But what then? . . .
Rivalries between departments, vendettas between individuals, naked ambition, calumny, backstabbing and intrigues are endemic. . . .
Not surprisingly, some of the bureaucrats let off steam in unpriestly ways. Some are actively gay men who cannot normalise their lives with a partner because of Catholic teaching.
They frequent discreet bars, saunas and ‘safe houses’. On another level there are individuals known to have a weakness for sex with minors.
It appears the people who procure these sexual services have become greedy. They have been putting the squeeze on their priestly clients to launder cash through the Vatican. There is no suggestion that the bank has knowingly collaborated.But in January, Italy’s central bank suspended credit-card activities inside Vatican City for ‘anti-money-laundering reasons’.
The Pope was already furious over the theft by his butler of private correspondence and top-secret papers last year. The thefts were probably an attempt to discover how much the Pope knew of malfeasance within the Curia.
Then news of a Vatican sex ring and money scams reached his ears late last year. Benedict should not have been surprised. Hints of a seamy Vatican underworld have been surfacing for years.
In March 2010, a 29-year-old chorister in St Peter’s was sacked for allegedly procuring male prostitutes, one of them a seminarian, for a papal gentleman-in-waiting who was also a senior adviser in the Curial department that oversees the church’s worldwide missionary activities.
Last autumn Benedict ordered three trusted high-ranking cardinals to investigate the state of the Curia. This was the report that was delivered to him just weeks ago.
It was meant for Benedict’s ‘eyes only’ but details of a sex ring and money-laundering scams last week reached the Italian weekly Panorama. Then the daily La Repubblica ran the story.The timing of the report has coincided with fresh allegations of priestly sexual abuse in Germany. Meanwhile, Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Cardinal Sean Brady of Ireland have been accused of covering up paedophile abuse.
Benedict has resigned to ensure that the whole ‘Filth’ from many countries of the world right up to the Vatican centre is cleansed. He has given up his job to kick out all the office-holders and start again.
But surely it would have been within the pope’s power to just sack everybody without resigning. I suppose it isn’t clear who is guilty and who is innocent, so his gesture–if this analysis is correct and perhaps it isn’t–would just wipe the slate clean, leaving it to his successor to appoint all new people, if he would take the opportunity instead of just reappointing everyone as often happens.
When a cardinal–or Protestant pastor–who has been teaching against homosexuality is caught succumbing to homosexuality himself, the media charges “hypocrisy.” But while those who fall into such scandals show their lack of personal integrity, we can see a larger institutional integrity. Would we respect a cardinal or pastor more if, because of his personal proclivity, he changed the message of his church to say that there is no moral problem with homosexuality? It’s surely better to teach against one’s own sins.
That is to say, hypocrisy is indeed a grievous sin when one’s behavior contradicts one’s beliefs. But to deal with the hypocrisy, the solution is to change one’s behavior (which is not easy) so that it accords with one’s beliefs. Some people advocate changing the beliefs to accord with the behavior, thus being consistent while leaving the moral issue undealt with.
At any rate, the conclave of cardinals that will elect a new pope starts this week, with preliminary meetings scheduled to take place before they get down to voting.