Saturday, 3 October 2015

The Perfect End To A Perfect Week - For The Vatican Old Guard

Vatican acts after Polish priest reveals homosexuality - BBC News.

Oops! It'd been another bad week for 'Uncle' Pope Francis, the Pope trying to rehabilitate the Catholic Church after being rocked to its foundations as one scandal after another revealed the stinking cesspit the Vatican had become.

One of Hapless Frank's tasks was to make the Church look a little less bigoted and intolerant and a little more kindly disposed to women, homosexuals, non-Catholics, etc. Although little real progress has actually been made in practical terms to change the institutional and theological basis of this intolerance, all the noises Pope Francis has been making seemed to be the right ones, give or take the odd gaff, convincing even many liberals and Atheists into thinking he was actually sincere, and not just a front man put up to make the right noises.

His visit to the USA last week had been something a triumph and had had liberals swooning at his feet as he even made the right noises about climate change and Man's responsibility for the planet. This was no swivel-eyed fundamentalist telling us that Jesus was coming back real soon now and would take care of everything, so no need to worry about pollution or climate change or any of the worries so upsetting to corporate self-interests.

He even announced in advance of his visit that the Church was having a one-off special offer of downgrading the 'sin' of abortion for one year only! Provided they tell a priest about it, the millions of Catholics who have had pregnancy terminations despite it being a special 'mortal sin' according to their cult, will be let off by God. Well, at least it wasn't a buy-one-get-one-free offer. Yes folks! God so wanted Pope Francis to be liked in the USA, where Catholics get unwanted pregnancies terminated surgically like anyone else, that he downgraded a mortal sin to an ordinary one!

Presumably, life is a little less sacred this year.

Then the mask slipped and he had his now infamous clandestine meeting with Archbigot, Kim Davis, apostle of hate and darling of the intolerant extreme conservative Christian right, during which, according to her lawyer, he told her to stay strong in her determination to persecute gays and deny them their basic human and legal rights. In one ill-judged move, Pope Francis reverted to type just for a moment and revealed all the encouraging noises to be a sham. He sent a dog-whistle signal to the old guard to not worry; nothing has changed beneath the gloss of affable tolerance.

So disastrous was this that, almost as soon as the news slipped out, as it was bound to do - having scored a blow so spectacularly for the extremist fringe they were never going to keep it secret - that the Vatican went into an overdrive of frenzied damage limitation. It was just another meeting and Kim Davis could have been anyone. The Pope hardly knew her and didn't understand what she stood for. Anyway, it wasn't Pope Francis who set the whole thing up. A big boy did it! The big boy being the Papal Nuncio to the UsA, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò! Step forward, Archbishop Viganò, the Vatican's chosen scapegoat.

Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
Really? The Pope's personal ambassador to the USA didn't realise that what Kim Davis and her political disciples in the Christian extremist Republican Party stand for is the exact opposite of what Pope Francis claims to stand for? Pull the other one, please!

What are we to make of this denial? That Pope Francis is that easily manoeuvred by factions in the Church who care more about persecuting minorities than they do about rehabilitating the Church and supporting the Pope in his efforts to do so? That the Pope can blunder stupidly into giving encouragement to people who break the laws in his host country in the name of religious extremism? That there are even factions at a senior level in the Catholic Church who seek to undermine the Pope's authority?

And so, with Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò's help, Pope Francis managed to snatch failure from the jaws of victory and liberal America is asking itself how it had been taken in so easily.

But, from what we read in the New York Times, there was probably much more to this than meets the eye. Revenge, it seems may have been the motive and the stinking mess of Byzantine intriguing that characterises the Vatican civil service could well have been behind it. Archbishop Viganò might not have been the patsy he seems. The Pope may indeed have been duped into the meeting with Davis and might well have been as naive and out of touch as the Vatican are expecting us to believe.

Archbishop Viganò, a cultural conservative born into a wealthy family in Varese, received the title of archbishop from John Paul II in 1992. He later joined the church’s diplomatic corps, which is one of the traditional sources of power in the Vatican, and in 2009 was installed by Pope Benedict XVI as secretary of the governorate of Vatican City State, a position not unlike the mayor of Vatican City.

Benedict wanted the ambitious Italian to enact government reforms, but Archbishop Viganò’s efforts in that goal earned him powerful enemies. In early 2011, hostile anonymous articles attacking Archbishop Viganò began appearing in the Italian news media, the bulletin board of Vatican power politics. Archbishop Viganò appealed to Benedict’s second in command, Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, who instead echoed the articles’ complaints about his rough management style and removed Archbishop Viganò from his post.

Those appeals and protests, later leaked by the pope’s butler, became the heart of the church scandal known as VatiLeaks, which many church observers say contributed to the resignation of Benedict XVI.

In one missive copied to the pope, Archbishop Viganò wrote to Cardinal Bertone accusing him of getting in the way of the pope’s reform mission, but also of failing to make good on a promise to elevate him to cardinal. When faced with a transfer to the United States, he protested that the move would give heart to those opposed to his efforts to “clean up” the “corruption and abuse of power” in the Vatican.

On July 7, 2011, he wrote to Benedict that on issues of malfeasance inside the Vatican, “the Holy Father has certainly been kept in the dark.”

The question now is did Archbishop Viganò, left to linger in the United States as a new administration has taken power in Rome, keep Pope Francis in the dark or simply underestimate the off-message media storm that a meeting with Ms. Davis would provoke. Or, after executing orders from Rome, has he once again found himself being hung out to dry at the end of his career. In January, Archbishop Viganò will turn 75, the age at which bishops must submit a formal request to the Vatican for permission to resign. These requests are not automatically accepted, and bishops often stay in their appointments long after. It seems unlikely, church analysts say, that Archbishop Viganò will be one of them.

An alternative explanation is that a disgruntled cleric nearing the end of his career, who never got the rewards he expected, saw his chance and got his revenge on the Church.

Monsignor Krzysztof Charamsa with boyfriend.
"It's time the Church opened its eyes and realized that offering gay believers total abstinence from a life of love is inhuman.”
Now, to finish of the week, we hear that a senior Vatican priest, Msgr. Krysztof Charamsa from Poland, has been sacked for being gay and being in a loving relationship with another man. These gays are all very well, but I wouldn't want my priest to marry one!

Msgr. Krysztof Charamsa has decided to come out and call on the Church to recognise that insisting gay priests live a life of total abstinence from love is inhuman, on the eve of a Synod of Bishops in Rome in which Pope Francis will again seek to tone down the Church's officially hostile attitude to homosexuals who are classified as 'intrinsically disordered'.

The last time Pope Francis tried this he was unceremoniously slapped down by the Synod of Bishops who struck out his wording intended to acknowledge the worth as human beings of homosexuals and inserted the traditional statement of uncompromising hate and hostility for them.

There are few signs that the bishops have changed their collective mind in the intervening twelve months.

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