Beware of the Media Hysterics Surrounding VatiLeaks

Commentary by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS

It’s becoming increasing difficult to discern between the facts and the usual media hysterics surrounding the growing Vatileaks scandal which reached new heights this week with the arrest of the pope’s butler for allegedly leaking papal documents to the Italian press.

Although the Vatican has acknowledged that the leaking of these documents, which allegedly expose corruption in the Church’s financial dealings within Italy, will test the faith of Catholics in their Church, an official investigation into the affair has yet to confirm any of the wild allegations being tossed around in the media.

It all started last week when the head of the Vatican’s bank was abruptly dismissed. According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, 67, was removed as president of the Vatican Bank May 24, following a no confidence vote by the other four board members. Tedeschi served as the head of the bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion, since 2009. The reasons for his dismissal were outlined in an explanatory note by board member and head of the Knights of Columbus, Carl Anderson, which cited him for his “failure to carry out basic duties,” “abandoning and failing to attend meetings,” the “dissemination of inaccurate information regarding the Institute,” “polarizing the Institute and alienating personnel,” and “progressively erratic personal behavior.”

At about the same time, authorities arrested Paolo Gabriele, the pope’s private butler. This arrest was the culmination of several months of investigation into what has come to be known as “Vatileaks” in which numerous confidential documents about alleged corruption in the Church’s financial dealings were passed on to the Italian media.

These leaks became a sensation when they were published in a book written by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi entitled Sua Santita (His Holiness). Among other leaked documents, his book contained personal letters to the Pope. Nuzzi’s claims to have more than one source of information from inside the Vatican launched a new round of wild speculation about possible plotting and conspiracies among Cardinals vying for power in the Holy See.

The Italian media has gone so far as to claim that, according to other whistleblowers in the Vatican, the pope’s butler was arrested because the Church did not dare to implicate the cardinals who were behind the leaks.

“There are leakers among the cardinals but the Secretariat of State could not say that, so they arrested the servant, Paolo, who was only delivering letters on behalf of others,” claimed one of the so-called “leakers” to the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica.

This led to speculation of a widespread power struggle between the enemies and the allies of the Secretariat of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, which Reuters described as being “reminiscent of Renaissance conspiracies inside the Vatican.”

Vatican Spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi has “completely” denied that any Cardinals are currently being investigated by the Promoter of Justice, Nicola Picardi, and the Vatican Gendarmerie.

Lombardi also squashed rampant conjectures in the press about the Holy See targeting a “woman” who is allegedly very close to the Pope and in charge of coordinating some certain unspecified operations, calling these rumours “pure fantasy”. Reports of police carting “cratefuls” of documents and even professional photography equipment supposedly found in the butler’s Vatican apartment were declared false as well.

And then there are the women religious connected with the disgraced Leadership Council of Women Religious who have launched a global campaign to free the butler, claiming that Gabriele is a “political prisoner” and that the Vatican is “torturing” him.

” . . . (T)he Vatican is just as medieval as we have always said it was,” said Sr. Randi McNulty, a Sister of Mercy, to the National Catholic Reporter. “This just proves it.”

Beneath these hysterics are a few facts that should be kept in mind. The Pope took action against these leaks in April when he established a special commission of three cardinals, chaired by the Spanish Cardinal Julian Herranz, to investigate their source.

We also know that the chief prosecutor, Picardi, has completed the first phase of his investigation into the butler’s activities, which resulted in Gabriele’s arrest. The Vatican magistrate, Piero-Antonio Bonnett is in charge of carrying out the second phase of the investigation as to whether or not these charges should be tried in court or dropped.

None of us, including the press, will know the truth, until these investigations are complete.

Instead of behaving like people who have read too many Dan Brown novels, we need to remember that what the Church needs now is prayer.  “This is naturally something that can hurt the Church,” Fr. Lombardi said, “and put trust in it and the Holy See to the test.”

It has also deeply saddened our Holy Father, who Lombardi described as maintaining “the calm attitude and spiritual superiority that set him apart.” Everyone is working to “try to restore a climate of transparency, truth and trust, as soon as possible.”

© All Rights Reserved, Living His Life Abundantly®/Women of Grace®

2 Response to “Beware of the Media Hysterics Surrounding VatiLeaks

  1. As we all know there are scandals in every type of government there is even the smallest sovereign state in Europe, the Vatican. Temptation lives and lies within all human beings. We see this in ourselves and in others. Hopefully, we can resist. When we fall, we can pick ourselves up be remorseful and ask God’s for his forgiveness and we can start all over again with his blessings and mercy. This is the truth and this is the way for believers. Forgiveness is what God asks each and every one of us to do and we must always forgive. If God forgives our most grievous faults then we are expected to do the same for every person. We are taught to forgive and to love. Though hard as it might be it through forgiveness and love we will bestow many graces and blessings. What is most important to me is not the scandals nor the irreverence many people vocalize regarding the Vatican, Catholic Church, it is the word of God that is told/spoken at mass. It is the Catholic Church that I attend and hear the word of God. It’s where I enter the body of Christ and pray. Scandals will always be around in everything including families. We should forgive and have the faith and hope in Christ and all will be well.

  2. Frankly I am afraid that the timing of this whole thing involving both the butler and the finance incident will or may deflect the upcoming Year of Faith in October. The last Year of Faith was called for in 1967-1968 and it was also accompanied by Pope Paul’s “Credo of the People of God” in June 1968. However the whole year long event was completed overshadowed by the leaving of Clergy and Nuns as well as the great reaction to “Of Human Life” which was released in July 1968. I myself think the butler was a traitor to the Pope because he had the Holy Father’s trust. The media however is making things worse by trying to put its on “spin” on this issue like the Condom flack which they also distorted. I do hope these issues will work themselves out but the attitude of both the Italian and other Global Media is to be taken with a grain of salt-they have an agenda.