At The Vatican: Vying Factions For Petrus Romanus Highlighted, Unknown Reasons May Keep Benedict On Past April At The Vatican: Vying Factions For Petrus Romanus Highlighted, Unknown Reasons May Keep Benedict On Past April
At The Vatican: Vying Factions For Petrus Romanus Highlighte

At The Vatican: Vying Factions For Petrus Romanus Highlighte

At The Vatican: Vying Factions For Petrus Romanus Highlighted, Unknown Reasons May Keep Benedict On Past April

by Steve Eastman, Raiders News Network

One thing we may be certain of is that Benedict XVI is the next to the last Pope in St. Malachy’s Prophecy of the Popes.  And both those who speak openly of his successor as Petrus Romanus and those who don’t, can’t help thinking about the upcoming Conclave.  No date has been announced since Benedict has neither died nor resigned, but that did not stop the National Catholic Reporter from featuring Papal Transition as a top story.

The article by John Allen starts by discussing the pontiff’s age.  Benedict turns 85 on April 16th, which would make him the oldest Pope in 109 years and only one of six in the last 500 years to reach that age while still in office.  Then Allen turns to perceived leadership problems and quotes Italian newspaper columnist, Galli della Loggia, who argues for "further strengthening of the role of the pontiff," preventing it from being "conditioned" by the personal rivalries and careerist ambitions of a handful of figures at the top of the system.  Current events from this past week highlight the existence of these agendas.

The closing of the Vatican bank account by JP Morgan Chase was a long time coming, but not generally expected.  According to Il Sole newspaper, the Vatican bank “had failed to provide sufficient information on money transfers.”  Reportedly, 1.5 billion euros passed through the account in eighteen months.  The closing comes at a time when the Vatican is trying to make the European Union’s (EU) “white list” of institutions meeting its transparency rules, especially in regard to money laundering policies.  The Holy See tried to rein in the situation a couple years ago and was looking forward to a clean bill of financial health from the EU, possibly in May.  Reuter’s columnist Pierre Briançon added to the embarrassment with the statement that “The Holy See’s financial arm has been seeking absolution for past sins for two years, but remains reluctant to confess to what it did wrong.”

An even more extreme example of Vatican leadership pulling in different directions came back into the spotlight this past week as reporters looked for another angle to cover the Pope’s trip to Mexico.  Actually, they didn’t have to look too far.  Former Mexican priest, Jose Barba, is co-author of a new book that claims Vatican officials knew for years that the founder of a religious order, the Legion of Christ, was a pedophile and drug addict.  Barba says the book — The Will not to Know — is based on 212 documents in a Vatican archive.  It seems the Church received the first complaint against Reverend Marcial Maciel in 1944.  Barba, and other former seminarians instigated a church trial against Maciel in 1998, accusing him of sex abuse.  Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who’s now Benedict XVI, was in charge of the office that received their complaint.  It took eight years for Maciel to be sanctioned, and he enjoyed John Paul II’s favor during that time.  Benedict says it took two years for him to learn the nature of the allegations.  Fox News puts it this way, “…with the Vatican's very decentralized fiefdoms, it's not surprising that accusations that may have landed in one official's hands were never forwarded on ….” is quick to point out, “it was Pope Benedict who pressed for disciplinary action against Maciel, eventually overcoming resistance by other Vatican officials.”

A third example of Vatican leadership pulling in opposite directions this past week involves stem cell research.  The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy for Life was scheduled to host a scientific conference on the subject April 25th – 28th.  The proposal raised some eyebrows in both the scientific and Catholic communities because the Church has long opposed the use of cells culled from the destruction of embryos, supplying the most common form of stem cell research.  But the flexible cells, which can generate over 200 types of human tissue, may also be taken from an adult donor or from placentas or umbilical cords.  The conference was scheduled to feature embryonic stem cell researchers including Alan Trounson, of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, and John Wagner, of the University of Minnesota’s Stem Cell Institute.  Academy officials had said this was okay because the researchers were also experts in adult stem cells.  This past week the conference was cancelled. An Academy member attributes this to “directives coming from a higher level of the Curia.”  This is especially strange since, according to the brochure, Pope Benedict XVI was scheduled to meet with participants at the concluding event on April 28th.

There is a second significance to the Pope’s planned appearance that is echoed in another recent news story.  Benedict apparently plans to remain in office past his 85th birthday on April 16th, despite conjecture that he might step down then.  The other story, originally appearing in the Italian newspaper La Stampa and repeated in, discusses the Pope’s interest in visiting East Asia.  The news sources quote Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, as saying the Pope “has often thought about a trip to Asia and examined the possibility of visiting those Asian countries where he has often been invited and that he deeply loves.”  Bertone adds, “Naturally, traveling in Asia is demanding, but it has not been ruled out a priori.”  Since a papal visit takes much preparation, it is difficult to see how a trip to Asia could occur before Benedict’s birthday.

There is still plenty of time for Petrus Romanus, the final Pope, to make his appearance on the world stage before the end of the year, as seems likely from a multitude of indicators. We may also be sure there will be a lot of manipulation behind the scenes from various factions in the lead-up to his appearance.

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