"It is...Our will that Catholics should abstain from certain appellations which have recently been brought into use to distinguish one group of Catholics from another. They are to be avoided not only as 'profane novelties of words,' out of harmony with both truth and justice, but also because they give rise to great trouble and confusion among Catholics. Such is the nature of Catholicism that it does not admit of more or less, but must be held as a whole or as a whole rejected: 'This is the Catholic faith, which unless a man believe faithfully and firmly; he cannot be saved' (Athanasian Creed). There is no need of adding any qualifying terms to the profession of Catholicism: it is quite enough for each one to proclaim 'Christian is my name and Catholic my surname,' only let him endeavour to be in reality what he calls himself." -- Pope Benedict XV, Ad Beatissimi Apostolorum 24 (1914)

Friday, February 22, 2013

Vatileaks: Pope to ask Commission of Cardinals to tell Conclave members the truth


The three-man commission of inquiry into the Vatileaks scandal is to divulge the contents of their report - which has so far been bound by pontifical secrecy – during the general congregations on the next Pope’s election


The cardinals who will elect the new Pope in the forthcoming Conclave are to be given further information on the Vatileaks scandal. At the beginning of next week, before he leaves for Castel Gandolfo on Thursday afternoon, Benedict XVI will meet with the three eighty-year old cardinals (Julian Herranz, Josef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi) who were put in charge of gathering information on the Vatican confidential document leak. The Pope will apparently authorise them to divulge the contents of their report - which has remained confidential under the code of papal secrecy - to cardinals during the general congregations on 1 March.

So cardinal electors will finally get the low down - directly from the Pope’s Vatileaks commissioners - on the real and official story behind the theft of the confidential documents from Ratzinger’s apartment and on the situation which led to legal action being taken against poison pen letter writer, Paolo Gabriele. The Vatileaks dossier contains information about the power struggles and conflicts that went on among the Church hierarchies, but it does not – the Holy See wished to stress – condemn any scandals or sex-abuse related blackmail. Cardinal electors will therefore go into the Conclave knowing the real version of the Vatileaks story, after months of assumptions, resentment and suspicions.

Perhaps it was this report that Benedict XVI had in mind when he appeared at the window of his private study on 11 October and mentioned John XXIII’s extraordinary speech to the Moon in which the late Pope sent a caress out to children before putting a dampener on the enthusiasm expressed by the young people from Catholic Action by mentioning the problems faced by the Church. “On this day fifty years ago – Benedict XVI said - I was in the square looking up at this window where the Good Pope, Blessed John XXIII, appeared and addressed us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry and goodness, words from the heart. We were happy, full of enthusiasm. The great Ecumenical Council had begun and we were certain that a new springtime for the Church was in the offing; a new Pentecost with a new and powerful presence of the liberating grace of the Gospel. Today too we are happy. We have joy in our hearts but, I would say, it is perhaps a more sober and humble joy. He then added: “Over these fifty years we have learned and experienced how original sin exists and is translated, ever and anew, into individual sins which can also become structures of sin. We have seen how weeds are also always present in the field of the Lord. We have seen how Peter's net also beings in bad fish. We have seen how human fragility is also present in the Church, how the ship of the Church is also sailing against a counter wind and is threatened by storms; and at times we have thought that the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.”

Before the start of the Lenten spiritual retreat which the Pope and Roman Curia are engaged in until Saturday, the Holy See’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, published an article (“Il tempo del silenzio” – “A time of silence”) on its front page, quoting the statements Benedict XVI had made to Peter Seewald and published in German weekly, Focus. “The Pope’s decision was not in any way influenced by the theft of confidential documents from his apartment,” L’Osservatore Romano underlined. “Numerous comments and news articles are being published on Benedict XVI’s decision.” The Holy See newspaper recalls that German journalist and writer Peter Seewald published three books based on two interviews with Cardinal Ratzinger and one with Pope Benedict XVI and started gathering material for a biography of the Pope which will not be complete before 2014. In the second half of 2012 he met with Georg Ratzinger and some old students of the Pope’s on several occasions and met Benedict XVI in person in the summer and in December.

When Seewald asked the Pope what the public could expect from his papacy yet, the Pope replied that he was getting on and that what he had already done was enough. This comment reveals the Pope’s dwindling strength and vigour which he later mentioned when he announced his resignation on 11 February.

According to the German journalist and writer, “the case did not perturb the Pope nor did it lead him to feel the weight of his ministry, even though he did find the whole affair incomprehensible. For the Pope, it was important, however, that the case be resolved through an independent justice system in the Vatican, without the interference of a monarch.”

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