by Richard Cottrell
May 27, 2012
Richard Cottrell is
a writer, journalist and former European MP
(Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At
The Heart Of Europe is now available from Progressive
ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)
The Holiest of Holies is anciently accustomed to red hot scandals -
the Borgias - but by any standards
the one that is rocking the sold marble pillars of St. Peter’s right
now is not only unique, but might quite possibly mark the funeral
rites of Pope Benedict’s disastrous papacy.
Editor’s note: In
other Catholic news,
a Catholic priest accused of molesting
multiple children has been discovered to be working as a
supervisor with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
At first sight, the arrest of the pope’s personal butler on charges
of stealing confidential correspondence to and from to Benedict XVI
looks like a passing spat at the kitchen sink.
Even the fact that Paolo Gabriele leaked some of the
sensitive material, dealing with the gross financial incompetence of
the Vatican authorities, to the media really only serves to confirm
what was always public knowledge anyway.
Namely, the Lateran State is an institutionally corrupt racket and
always has been.
The arrest comes a month after the Vatican gave an investigative
team led by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, a member of
Opus Dei - a cult-like body acting as a sort of Catholic purity
squad doubling as a large scale Moonie-style industrial fund raiser
- a full “pontifical mandate” to join Vatican police rooting out the
perpetrators of what the Italian media has gleefully dubbed ‘Vatileaks.’
Now Herranz is not just any old cardinal. He is the nearest thing
there is to a deputy pope, or the chief pope selection officer. He
is above all a master schemer and plotter, the veritable Machiavelli
of the Vatican.
During the fading days of Pope John Paul II, he swanned around
organizing secret congregations of key members of the conclave in a
quiet suburb of Rome, specifically to rig the election of the next
It is widely accepted that Benedict, the former Herr Joseph
Aloisius Ratzinger, was Herranz’s personal pick for St. Peter’s
Throne, thus bringing to St. Peter’s the first German pope (who as
we know donned the arm band of the Hitler Youth).
The miniature Vatican state increasingly resembles the old Soviet
Union and the crooked politics and in-fighting of the Moscow
Politburo with each passing day.
It is an open secret in Rome that Benedict is, shall we say, past
his prime. The verb in Italian is rimbambimento, or
approaching senility, a rather harder take on the English meaning
‘dotage’. In polite language, he finds at 85 that the cares of the
papacy are bearing down and begins to prepare for the succession
before his own heavenly ascendancy.
He has just ordained another twenty-two very old men as cardinals,
which strongly suggests that he considers his earthly tenancy is
drifting to an end. Put another way, he is pre-decease
gerrymandering the Vatican Politburo.
Once the Vatileaks storm broke, the story goes that
Ratzinger called in Herranz, the J.
Edgar Hoover of the Vatican, to sniff out the ill-doer.
There is a lot that is significantly unbelievable with this account.
The Vatican, which covers an area not much bigger than Grand Central
Station, is really one large village where the principal industries
are gossiping and papal politics. Oiling the cash register and
industrial money-laundering comes third and supposedly the chief
line of business, that of praising the Lord, a way-back distant
So it stands to reason that in order to wrinkle out someone leaking
the pope’s personal letters, then seek ye first among those in the
said pope’s personal coterie.
Like any good county house Agatha Christie-type murder in the
English shires, it ought to be a very simple task to prove the
butler did it.
Yet Ratzinger calls in his pet attack dog Herranz to take on the
case like Sherlock Holmes in a red dressing gown. In no time at all,
the butler has his collar felt, the Vatican internal police being
led by the nose to a vast stash of sensitive contraband stuffed in
his private flat.
The much-touted serious leaks published this year include a letter
from Carlo Maria Viganò, the former deputy governor of
Vatican City, denouncing inflated contracts with friendly companies,
false invoicing and missing cash.
We got to hear of the over-charging for constructing the annual
Christmas nativity scene on the apron of St. Peter’s.
What all this earns from serious Vatican investigators is a yawn.
Nothing to see here, move along.
Another distraction is the exciting story of the Italian journalist
Gianluigi Nuzzi, who described how a Vatican take on Deep
Throat fixed secret briefings on the juicy bits in an anonymous flat
within sight of the Holy See.
I am afraid Nuzzi is either remarkably gullible - or not entirely
telling the whole story. I do not question his good intentions, but
none of the exposures which have so far reached the glades of public
attention are especially remarkable.
They are, to put it simply, plain old hat.
There is a real fire behind the smoke, that is for certain. I think
it has everything to do with obscuring the massive pedophile scandal
which has engulfed the Roman Church and threatens to bring its
pillars crashing down.
Ratzinger will be chiefly remembered less for his saintliness than
all his frantic efforts as Pope Pompiere - the Fireman Pope -
to extinguish the flames of
serial child abuse which has
continued unchecked within the cloisters and vestries of the church.
Christ’s injunction to "suffer the little children to come to
me" have taken on a whole new black meaning during his
Ratzinger consistently squashed efforts to bring guilty priests to
justice, an obstinacy which is close to destroying the church in
He has openly protected senior prelates who have resisted the
exposure of serial priestly abusers in,
the United States
Notable example, Robert Finn,
bishop of Kansas City, indicted in October 2011 on failure to report
suspected child abuse when child pornography was found on a computer
belonging to a priest.
This of course reeks of careful
selective tamping down of the scandal. Finn is affiliated with Opus
Dei, and therefore seems likely to escape with a light rap on the
The church however cannot indefinitely escape demands for many
millions in compensation.
Given that we heard recently that Rome’s nastiest ganger, the
assassinated boss of the
Banda della Magliana, Enrico de
Pedis, managed to get a diamond-studded vault in the basilica of
Santa Apollinare, then the Vatican treasury should have no problem
In that respect the fates indeed move in strange ways.
The tomb was opened on a prosecutor’s order to see if it contained
the remains of
Emanuela Orlandi, a 15 year old
Vatican citizen who it is widely suspected was raped and then
murdered in January 1968 by a vice ring operating within the sacred
Additional bones were discovered (the body of de Pedis was strangely
uncorrupted) and tests are now being conducted to assess whether
they are those of the missing girl.
The election of a new pope is traditionally marked by white smoke
puffing from the chamber of the electoral consistory. Black smoke
means a blank in the efforts to pick the winner.
Right now smoke is the key to distracting attention from what I
strongly suspect may be the real panic within the Vatican, namely
that some if not many of the purloined documents are connected with
the papal efforts at the highest level to cover up the child sex and
Was the butler looking for a payoff? If so he should have remembered
the fate of the commander of the elite Swiss Guards, who act as the
pope’s personal praetorian guard.
In January 1998 Alois Estermann and his wife were murdered in
their Vatican flat by another officer of the guard, who then
conveniently shot himself.
The motive for the slaughter in the Vatican has never been
determined, but there are strong evidential reasons to suspect they
were intended to suppress knowledge of sex trafficking. The guards,
after all, are supposed to see everyone who comes and goes within
the portals of the Holy See.
The butler meanwhile is shut up in the Vatican’s tiny prison, where
he is presumably being educated by
the Holy Inquisition concerning
what to say next.
So long as Vatileaks is confined to fiscal shenanigans, then raging
pedophilia, the real Vesuvius threatening the pope and his legacy,
might be contained, at least to some degree.
Did I forget to mention that Benedict’s successor will be
Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne,
Archbishop (and arch-conservative) of Lima, the capital of Peru. At
a mere 68 years, he’s a stripling. He’s also a member of Opus Dei,
one of only two cardinals with that persuasion.
The other is
Julián Herranz Casado.