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Keepin’ On Keepin’ On: Will Ratzinger/Benedict Become the Vatican’s “Holy Ghost” (Spook)?

The real new Pope is: a) on the left; b) on the right; c) both of the above

COMMENT: There are numerous indications that “fascist-friendly” institutional continuity will be maintained at the Vatican.

The Pope will have the title of “Emeritus Pope,” wearing white and interfacing with Georg Ganswein, the German Opus Dei operative who has served as the Pope’s right-hand man and who will serve the new Pope as well. 

As a result of this gambit, Ratzinger/Benedict may well be able to function as an eminence grise, wielding clandestine power behind the scenes.

The Pope’s proposal to move up the conclave of cardinals who will select the new Pope has also been seen as favoring a continuation of the reactionary bent of the Vatican, reminiscent in some ways of the Mohamed Morsi’s decision to speed up approval of the pro-Muslim Brotherhood constitution in Egypt.

In addition, Ratzinger/Benedict’s residence in the Vatican will shield him from any possible legal action, because of the Vatican’s status of diplomatic immunity. 

“Bene­dict To Be Called ‘Emer­i­tus Pope,’ Will Wear White” by Nicole Winfield [AP]; Talking Points Memo; 2/26/2013.

EXCERPT: Pope Bene­dict XVI will be known as “emer­i­tus pope” in his retire­ment and will con­tinue to wear a white cas­sock, the Vat­i­can announced Tues­day, again fuel­ing con­cerns about poten­tial con­flicts aris­ing from hav­ing both a reign­ing and a retired pope.

The pope’s title and what he would wear have been a major source of spec­u­la­tion ever since Bene­dict stunned the world and announced he would resign on Thurs­day, the first pon­tiff to do so in 600 years.

The Vat­i­can spokesman, the Rev. Fed­erico Lom­bardi, said Bene­dict him­self had made the deci­sion in con­sul­ta­tion with oth­ers, set­tling on “Your Holi­ness Bene­dict XVI” and either emer­i­tus pope or emer­i­tus Roman pontiff.

Lom­bardi said he didn’t know why Bene­dict had decided to drop his other main title: bishop of Rome.

In the two weeks since Benedict’s res­ig­na­tion announce­ment, Vat­i­can offi­cials had sug­gested that Bene­dict would likely resume wear­ing the tra­di­tional black garb of a cleric and would use the title “emer­i­tus bishop of Rome” so as to not cre­ate con­fu­sion with the future pope.

Benedict’s deci­sion to call him­self emer­i­tus pope and to keep wear­ing white is sure to fan con­cern voiced pri­vately by some car­di­nals about the awk­ward real­ity of hav­ing two popes, both liv­ing within the Vat­i­can walls.

Adding to the con­cern is that Benedict’s trusted sec­re­tary, Mon­signor Georg Gaenswein, will be serv­ing both pon­tiffs — liv­ing with Bene­dict at the monastery inside the Vat­i­can and keep­ing his day job as pre­fect of the new pope’s household. . . .

“Pope Will Have Secu­rity, Immu­nity by Remain­ing in the Vatican” by Philip Pullella; Reuters.com; 2/15/2013.

EXCERPT: Pope Benedict’s deci­sion to live in the Vat­i­can after he resigns will pro­vide him with secu­rity and pri­vacy. It will also offer legal pro­tec­tion from any attempt to pros­e­cute him in con­nec­tion with sex­ual abuse cases around the world, Church sources and legal experts say.

“His con­tin­ued pres­ence in the Vat­i­can is nec­es­sary, oth­er­wise he might be defense­less. He wouldn’t have his immu­nity, his pre­rog­a­tives, his secu­rity, if he is any­where else,” said one Vat­i­can offi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity.

This could be com­pli­cated for the Church, par­tic­u­larly in the unlikely event that the next pope makes deci­sions that may dis­please con­ser­v­a­tives, who could then go to Benedict’s place of res­i­dence to pay trib­ute to him.

“That would be very prob­lem­atic,” another Vat­i­can offi­cial said.

The final key con­sid­er­a­tion is the pope’s poten­tial expo­sure to legal claims over the Catholic Church’s sex­ual abuse scandals.

In 2010, for exam­ple, Bene­dict was named as a defen­dant in a law suit alleg­ing that he failed to take action as a car­di­nal in 1995 when he was allegedly told about a priest who had abused boys at a U.S. school for the deaf decades ear­lier. The lawyers with­drew the case last year and the Vat­i­can said it was a major vic­tory that proved the pope could not be held liable for the actions of abu­sive priests. . . .

. . . That would con­tinue to pro­vide him immu­nity under the pro­vi­sions of the Lat­eran Pacts while he is in the Vat­i­can and even if he makes jaunts into Italy as a Vat­i­can citizen.

The 1929 Lat­eran Pacts between [Mussolini’s] Italy and the Holy See, which estab­lished Vat­i­can City as a sov­er­eign state, said Vat­i­can City would be “invari­ably and in every event con­sid­ered as neu­tral and invi­o­lable territory”. . . .

“Pope may change con­clave rules before leav­ing: Vatican” By Philip Pullella; Reuters.com; 2/20/2013.

EXCERPT: Pope Bene­dict may change rules gov­ern­ing the con­clave that will secretly elect his suc­ces­sor, a move that could move up the global meet­ing of car­di­nals who are already in touch about who could best lead Catholics through a period of crisis. . . .

The Vat­i­can appears to be aim­ing to have a new pope elected and then for­mally installed before Palm Sun­day on March 24 . . . .


But some in the Church believe that an early con­clave would give an unfair advan­tage to car­di­nals already in Rome and work­ing in the Curia, the Vatican’s cen­tral administration.

“A short period before a con­clave helps the cur­ial car­di­nals in Rome oper­at­ing on their home turf,” said Father Tom Reese, senior fel­low at the Wood­stock The­o­log­i­cal Cen­ter at George­town Uni­ver­sity and author of sev­eral books on the Vatican.

“The cur­ial car­di­nals are the ones that car­di­nals from out­side Rome turn to for opin­ions about the other car­di­nals. The longer the pre-conclave period, the more time non-curial car­di­nals have to talk to each other and to get to know each other. The longer the period prior to the con­clave, the less depen­dent out­side car­di­nals are on the cur­ial cardinals.”

There is spec­u­la­tion in the Vat­i­can that, if the rules are amended, the con­clave could start on March 10, last­ing a few days, and the new pope could be installed on March 17, both Sun­days. But much would depend on the length of the conclave.

Dur­ing the con­clave, car­di­nals live in a res­i­dence inside the Vat­i­can and vote twice in the Sis­tine Chapel. They are not allowed to com­mu­ni­cate in any way with the out­side world, nor are they allowed to lis­ten to radio, watch tele­vi­sion, make phone calls or use the internet.

Bene­dict has hand-picked more than half the men who will elect his suc­ces­sor. The rest were cho­sen by the late Pope John Paul, a Pole with whom the Ger­man pope shared a deter­mi­na­tion to reassert a more ortho­dox Catholi­cism in the new millennium. . . .



3 comments for “Keepin’ On Keepin’ On: Will Ratzinger/Benedict Become the Vatican’s “Holy Ghost” (Spook)?”

  1. Underground Reich connections?

    As his last substantive act as pope, Ratzinger appointed a fellow German, Ernst von Freyberg, an aristocrat and conservative Catholic, to head the Vatican bank. The appointment appeared to be a pre-emptive move, aimed at preventing his successor from picking his own bank chief.

    Von Freyberg’s appointment provoked new controversy, however, after it was revealed that the German shipbuilding company he chairs had manufactured battleships and U-boats for Hitler’s navy and is currently producing warships for the German government.

    A Vatican spokesman responded to questions about the propriety of naming an arms manufacturer to head the Church’s bank by insisting that the von Freyberg’s main line of work was building luxury yachts and that “he also organizes pilgrimages to Lourdes, he is a member of the Order of Malta, he takes care of the sick, so certainly he is a person with a notable human and Christian sensibility.”

    Posted by stu | February 28, 2013, 9:22 am
  2. Part of the common wisdom regarding the challenges surrounding a new Pope is the need to “rebrand” the Catholic Church. And to the now-Emeritus Pope’s credit, one of the final decisions he made – the decision to order UK’s most senior cleric, Cardinal Keith O’Brien, to resign and not attend the Vatican conclave where the new Pope will be selected – was probably a good ‘rebranding’ move:

    The Sun
    My friend Savile by Cardinal ‘Sin’
    Holy man and the sex beast

    By BRIAN FLYNN, Investigations Editor, and HARRY HAYDON
    Last Updated: 26th February 2013

    BRITAIN’S Catholic leader — sensationally fired by the Pope over a gay sex scandal — boasted of his close friendship with Jimmy Savile, The Sun can reveal.

    Cardinal Keith O’Brien formed a close bond with the BBC child sex beast over many years and paid a personal tribute to him after his death.

    Yesterday it emerged that O’Brien, an outspoken opponent of gay rights, was ordered to resign by the Vatican after male priests came forward to say he behaved “inappropriately” towards them in the 1980s.

    One said he was left needing long-term psychological counselling.

    The country’s most senior Catholic cleric had planned to hang on until his 75th birthday next month.

    But the Pope told him to go immediately, plunging the Catholic church in Britain into turmoil.

    The Cardinal — archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh — denies the allegations and is understood to be consulting lawyers.

    But he issued a statement yesterday confirming Pope Benedict’s orders and apologising for “failures” during his ministry.

    He paid tribute to his “friend” Savile after his death in October, months before the DJ was unmasked as one of the country’s worst ever child sex predators.

    He told the Scottish Catholic Observer: “My friendship with Jimmy Savile developed over many years since I was assistant priest in St Patrick’s Parish, Kilsyth.

    “We were always trying to fundraise, not only for the parish, but for a variety of local and national charities.”

    Savile was awarded the papal knighthood in 1990, a decision the Vatican later admitted regretting.

    Posted by Pterrafractyl | February 28, 2013, 11:11 am
  3. @Stu–

    We covered this and other Vatican-related matters in previous posts.

    It’d be good to keep current.


    Dave Emory

    Posted by Dave Emory | February 28, 2013, 6:01 pm

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