Feb 24, 2013

Vatican Predictably Attacks the Messenger

Crossposted from Reflections Journal.

For the second day in a row, the Vatican responded to the "gay lobby" report in la Republicca. After an evasive statement on Friday, in which he refused to either confirm or deny the existence of a damning, internal report or its contents, Father Federico Lombardi took to Vatican Radio on Saturday to strongly condemn the media... and to refuse to confirm or deny the existence of the internal report or its contents.

Lombardi impugned the motives and methods of reporters in one of the longest, run-on sentences ever uttered.

"There is no lack, in fact, of those who seek to profit from the moment of surprise and disorientation of the spiritually naive to sow confusion and to discredit the Church and its governance, making recourse to old tools, such as gossip, misinformation and sometimes slander, or exercising unacceptable pressures to condition the exercise of the voting duty on the part of one or another member of the College of Cardinals, who they consider to be objectionable for one reason or another," he said.

It gets better.

Lombardi also questioned the moral authority of the media. "Those who present themselves as judges, making heavy moral judgments, do not, in truth, have any authority to do so," he said.

Get it? Only a religious authority like the Vatican dare sit in judgment of anyone's morals. It's not for the little people to make judgments about them. They can call gay people "objectively disordered" but the rest of us apparently lack the objectivity to call them hypocrites just because they hire male prostitutes... as they call gay people "objectively disordered" and actively lobby to deny them civil rights, respect, and basic human dignity.

"Those who consider money, sex and power before all else and are used to reading diverse realities from these perspectives, are unable to see anything else."

Says the spokesman for an institution that reeks of financial impropriety, is rife with illicit sexual activity, and has abused power on every conceivable level, with impunity. Lest we forget, this is the organization that took untold millions from a flagrant, prolific, sex offender, and went to tremendous lengths to bury the details of his many abuses.

I think it's fair to assume at this point that the la Republicca story is true. Lombardi has now spoken to the press twice without once saying that the substance of their reportage was untrue. He also did not dispute that the internal report in question factored into Pope Benedict's decision to resign. As per John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter, that was the only genuinely questionable aspect of the story. Too much prior history backs up the basic issues claimed to be in the report.

In terms of the story's specifics, I don't know whether it's accurate that a commission of three cardinals created by Benedict XVI to investigate the Vatican leaks affair, composed of Cardinals Julian Herranz Casado, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, actually considered possible networks inside the Vatican based on sexual preference, but frankly, it would be a little surprising if they hadn't.

Here's why. In 2007, Msgr. Thomas Stenico in the Congregation for Clergy was suspended after being caught on hidden camera making contact with a young man posing as a potential "date" in gay-oriented chat rooms, then taking him back to his Vatican apartment. In 2010, a "Gentlemen of the Pope" named Angelo Balducci was caught in a wiretap trying to arrange sexual hookups through a Nigerian member of a Vatican choir. Both episodes were highly public and caused massive embarrassment.

. . .

However, it's probably a stretch to draw a straight line between all of this and Benedict's resignation. For the most part, one has to take the pope at his word: He's stepping aside because he's old and tired, not because of any particular crisis.

Allen goes on to say that the cumulative weight of this and other, mounting scandals -- let alone the daunting task of cleaning up a fractured Vatican -- may be more than a man of his advanced years and flagging health is up to. So in that sense, it may well have been a contributing factor.

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