Did the Pope resign to avoid facing a major about-to-break scandal?

Why did the Pope resign?  Yesterday I had the opportunity to talk on-air with progressive talk show host Arnie Arnesen of WNHN, and after the show we began discussing the resignation of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. The resignation was sudden and almost unprecedented (the last voluntary resignation was in high medieval times).

There has since been lots of speculation about the cause (example here; another sample here). Benedict’s stated reason is his waning strength, but that hasn’t stopped the rumors. As Cardinal, Ratzinger was Pope John Paul II’s enforcement officer — he rode herd on the many sex scandals and their “containment.” Was he involved in crimes of concealment? Almost certainly, but there’s little direct public evidence. Is there new explosive documentation that could lay the dead cat of scandal at his personal door? Nothing has been revealed so far that’s worse than what we’ve seen (search for “Munich”), and Ratzinger has weathered those storms.

Still, why so sudden? Is there something about the timing?

Fr. Marcial Maciel and the Rhode Island courts

At that point in our discussion Arnie pointed me to a couple of links I hadn’t seen involving a Rhode Island court case against the so-called “Legion of Christ,” a Catholic group with very close ties both to John Paul II and Ratzinger, and its notorious (and sexually prolific) founder, Fr. Marcial Maciel. I bring up Arnie Arnesen because she personally knows one of the principals in the lawsuit and has additional information. I’ll add her contribution below the news pieces.

Pope

Pope via Shutterstock

So what’s the news regarding Maciel? This isn’t complicated, but it has a couple of pieces. Those are:

■ Who is Marcial Maciel and why is he notorious?

■ What are his ties to John Paul II and to Ratzinger (both before and after his election as Benedict XVI)?

■ What is alleged in the lawsuit against Maciel?

■ What’s going to happen on February 15? (Yep, a deadline, and just around the corner.)

I’ll deal with each piece in order so you can put them together easily. As I say, it’s not complicated, I promise.

Who and what was Fr. Marcial Maciel?

Marcial Maciel was one of the most prolific abusers of boys (and father of children by several women) in the modern history of the Church. John Aravosis wrote about Maciel in April 2005, when Ratzinger was first made pope. From John’s post about Maciel:

From ABC News:

“[Father Marcial Maciel] pushed my hand onto his penis. And I didn’t know anything about masturbation,” Juan Vaca, who was first abused when he was 11 years old, told ABCNEWS. “And he says, ‘You don’t know how to do it. Let me show you.’ And he gets my penis himself and starts to masturbate me. I was in shock.”

Shocking stuff, but we’ll leave it there. Needless to say, there’s an iceberg beneath that tip. More here. Maciel died, by the way, in 2008 and was active as a priest as late as 2005, when he was put out to pasture.

Maciel and his group of priests and seminarians (which Maciel treated almost like a harem) were also close to Pope John Paul II, and thus to Cardinal Ratzinger, John Paul’s “enforcer” as head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Ratzinger’s nickname there was “God’s rottweiler“.

A taste of Marciel’s relationship with Pope John Paul and the Vatican (my emphasis and paragraphing):

Called to accompany Pope John Paul II on his visits to Mexico in 1979, 1990, and 1993, Maciel was also appointed by the Pope to the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Formation of Priests in Circumstances of the Present Day (1990).  …  The golden anniversary of his priestly ordination was celebrated on 26 November 1994, with 57 Legionary priests ordained on the anniversary’s eve. … Maciel collaborated extensively with the pope [John Paul II], either in person or through members of his organization, the Legion of Christ. …

He received many donations from Mexico’s richest. Maciel and the Legion gave the Vatican money, and some claim that this kept for years the Church from acting over allegations of sex abuse by Maciel.

Investigative journalist Jason Berry wrote in an April 2010 article in The National Catholic Reporter, “the charismatic” founder of the Legion of Christ “sent streams of money to Roman curia officials with a calculated end … Maciel was buying support for his group and defence for himself, should his astounding secret life become known.”

Note the word “charismatic” above. That aspect of Maciel’s persona figures heavily in his success as a seducer, his success with the Vatican, his ability to acquire great amounts of money, and ultimately the lawsuit. In 2001, the Ratzinger-headed CDF was given a mandate to deal with the growing sex scandals in the Church, which means Ratzinger was in charge of all investigations of Maciel.

Bottom line on Maciel and the Vatican — Maciel was a prolific sexual abuser, incredibly charismatic, who led the “Legion of Christ,” a highly-favored organization of acolytes (priests and seminarians), many of whom were his victims. His group had a knack for getting the rich to give them money, much of which Maciel passed to the Vatican. John Paul was a big fan of Maciel (no, there’s zero indication of anything sexual). Cardinal Ratzinger was in charge of “dealing” with the Maciel scandals, along with all the others.

What about that lawsuit?

Keep in mind Maciel’s charisma and his ability to talk the wealthy out of their wealth. Here’s what’s happening in Rhode Island:

RI judge delays unsealing of Legion of Christ docs

A judge agreed on Friday to delay the release of documents related to a disgraced Roman Catholic organization called the Legion of Christ to give it time to appeal his earlier ruling unsealing them.

Superior Court Judge Michael Silverstein gave the Legion until Feb. 15 to ask the state Supreme Court to intervene in the tug-of-war over the records, which are from a lawsuit filed by a woman contesting the will of a wealthy aunt who left the Legion $60 million.

And about that contest will:

The wealthy aunt whose will is the focus of the current case, Gabrielle Mee, a widow, died in 2008. Mee’s niece Mary Lou Dauray had sought to challenge her will, saying Mee had been defrauded by the Legion into leaving it her fortune. … Dauray’s attorney, Bernard Jackvony, also had sought the documents’ release. He said the documents, compiled in the course of the lawsuit and sealed by a probate court judge in 2009, contain information about the Legion that isn’t known by the public.

All you need to know? A widow left $60 million to the Legion of Christ, and her niece sues for fraud. The suit has been making its way through the Rhode Island courts for years.

Unless the defense gets the RI Supreme Court to issue a stay by February 15 — the article is dated January 25 — the information in the lawsuit will be made public. It’s not the result of the suit that matters (though it matters to the niece). It’s getting at the info filed with the lawsuit, including discovery and all depositions to date.

Yep, someone did mention February 15. Just around the corner.

Radio host Arnie Arnsen knows some of the litigants

Now we come to Arnie Arnsen’s contribution. This is from one of her most recent shows. I’m embedding the audio so you can hear it for yourself. It’s speculative and she acknowledges that. But she’s no stranger to the family involved in the lawsuit.

As you can guess, her question is this — Is Ratzinger’s sudden abdication related to the release of these documents? She doesn’t answer the question, but the rumination is interesting. I’m embedding the first hour of Feb 11 show. The station had a power outage that took out their phone system, so you’ll hear some discussion of the phones. The Fr. Maciel discussion is fascinating, and Arnie provides a fair amount of documentation. The segment starts at 6:30. Listen:

“Bag man for the Vatican” — that’s how Maciel was described to her. A fascinating discussion, well worth your time.

Your bottom line

Keep an eye on this Rhode Island court case. If there’s a bombshell there, it will drop in just a few days, unless it’s further delayed. If there’s a motive other than “vitality” for Ratzinger’s sudden departure this could be it. If the information in this audio clip is documented in the papers that may be released on February 15, and if Ratzinger could be shown to know it, the consequences for Ratzinger and the Church could be explosive.

Or maybe something else is about to break regarding the butler’s leaked documents. With a past like Ratzinger’s there are many possibilities.

In any case, Ratzinger is making sure he’s no longer in the spotlight starting February 28 when his resignation is official. He gave himself just two week’s notice. Stay tuned.

GP

To follow or send links: @Gaius_Publius


Gaius Publius is a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States. Click here for more. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook.

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  • Melisstephan

    What happened to IMPRISONMENT for sex offenders?!!!!!!!!! Just because he’s a pope, should he be allowed to stay out of jail????!!!

  • Indigo

    All in all, it’s less hassle to just go ahead and die in office.

  • Ninong

    Mea Maxima Culpa was released three months ago (Nov. 15) in limited theatre distribution. It made it’s debut on HBO on Feb. 4. I watched it for the first time then. It was powerfully done.

    However, Ratzinger told a few confidants of his plans to retire/abdicate months before that, if reports are to be believed. We know that construction began on his new retirement quarters before that.

    The problems with the Vatican Bank have been ongoing for years. Just a little over a week ago Italy stopped processing credit card transactions for Vatican City State because they were unsatisfied with the Vatican Bank slow progress in complying with the reporting requirements of the European Union. Then, within days, the Vatican got a Swiss bank to process their credit card transactions, so ATMs in Vatican City are working again. They were only down for a few days. Money is money to the Swiss and they have never been known for compliance with reporting rules. And, Switzerland is not a member of the EU.

    I think another issue that is probably just as important a factor in his decision to abdicate is the mess inside the Vatican between Bertone and his rivals. That whole business about the butler stealing all those docs and turning them over to that Italian author who then used them as the basis for his best-selling book was probably encouraged by Bertone’s rivals.

    I don’t think Ratzinger had a handle on inside the Vatican or much interest in managing it either. Most of his experience was in an academic setting. JPII named him prefect of the CDF in 1981, so it’s almost certain that everything he did there (meaning everything he didn’t do) was on instruction from JPII. Then, in 2001, I guess things were getting too hot in the field, so Ratzinger directed all reports on sexual abuse were to go directly to him. Typical of his attitued was the way he handled that request from the Bishop of Oakland to defrock a priest guilty of child rape! That was delayed for years even though the priest himself joined in the request to be relieved of his vows/responsibilities. That last letter from Ratzinger leaked and was published online a couple of years ago. In it he tells the bishop of Oakland that he needs more time to consider the request because in such matters he needs to consider the potential harm that would come to Christ’s faithful if he granted the request to defrock. thus confirming the accusations against the priest. Then, a couple of years later he finally agreed and the priest was defrocked. I think it took more than six years from beginning to end.

    So there are a bunch of things but I think the biggest thing was that he’s in declining health (we just learned that he had a pacemaker when he was elected pope and just had the battery replaced a few months ago) AND he just found the job more than he was able or willing to deal with anymore.

    One thing that is revealing is that immediately after the death of JPII, Ratzinger ordered Marcial Maciel to step down from the Legion of Christ and retire to a life of penance and prayer. Lends credence to the general belief that it was JPII who was protecting Maciel and not Ratzinger. I seriously doubt that money sent from Maciel to the pope, if any, had anything to do with it. He was sending the money to others in the curia.

  • UncleBucky

    Hey. Maybe teh Gay can’t affect straight marriages, but has a big hand in toppling Pope Ratzinger. Could be, could be!

  • UncleBucky

    Maybe I’m right. Maybe there will be ReMaxxx signs all over different RCC church buildings so they can pay off whoever has the REAL DIRT on them.

    I used to be a Catholic. And now, given all of this, I am not amused. Plus, I have tried to “apostasize myself” and they never respond. We need a mass movement.

  • InjunTrouble77

    My personal theory – the pope knows that Jesus will be returning soon and is afraid that Jesus will chastise him for being such a narrow minded jerk.See christmaitreya.org for more info

  • eva

    Thank you for that!!!! I’m am sickened by benign words being used to describe the unthinkable.

  • eva

    Also, good info. I haven’t heard anything recently about the World Bank and Vatican bank scandal. You know your stuff. Keep it coming.

  • Eva

    What about the HBO special about the deaf school and Ratzinger involvement? Maybe it is a number of incidents that are coming to light at the same time. But be confident that all will be totally exposed. It’s actually biblical.

  • http://www.facebook.com/irm.alderman Irmgard Alderman

    Past time, don’t you think?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Brandel/100002756779628 Patrick Brandel

    He resigned because of the publication of Edelweiss Pirates Operation Einstein 4 weeks ago. It not only names the pope as an active member of Hitler Youth, that we all know, but goes into details of what the Hiter Youth did, and how fanatical he was as a member. The Catholic Church must want him out and a new one in before it breaks fully, it went live on Kindle just hours before he resigned.

  • Ninong

    He’s a former ski instructor, tennis player and helicopter pilot. All of that was before he decided to become a priest. He’s 56 now.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    OK

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    He is a charming hunk.

  • Ninong

    LOL

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    There you go. The pope announces his resignation just days before the court documents are scheduled to be released in the Marciel Maciel case, which is today, and meanwhile an asteroid explodes over Russia. It has to be the third secret of Fatima. Either that, or it was Mitt Romney’s planet. ;0)

  • Ninong

    I guess I should have just checked his Wiki profile. On 12 December 2012 he was made a titular archbishop as well as prefect of the papal household. He’s titular archbishop of an archaeological park! So he skipped bishop and went straight to archbishop without passing Go and without paying $200. I wonder if there’s enough time left to make him a cardinal? I always expected that Ratzinger would make him a cardinal sooner or later.

    I just read in the WaPo that Vatican City has solved their ATM machine crisis. Once again they can process credit card transactions inside Vatican City State via a Swiss bank. Italy stopped processing credit card transactions for Vatican City last week citing unsatisfactory compliance with EU regulations on the part of the Vatican. Switzerland is not part of the EU.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    He’s been promoted to Prefect of the Papal Household. Can you believe that? So now when Ratzi retires, he will be in charge of Ratzi’s new home, plus the residence of the new pope. AND, he’s got a new modeling career.

    http://i.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2013/01/16/article-0-16F57385000005DC-772_306x423.jpg

  • Ninong

    He already has a title. He’s abdicating his position as supreme pontiff and bishop of Rome. That would leave him with his title of cardinal. He would still be a cardinal but too old to vote in the next papal conclave. In other words, he would be a retired cardinal. I doubt he would make any public statements on anything once he steps down. He might even refuse to communicate with any of the other cardinals and only respond to private queries from the next pope. That would be the only way to ensure that he has absolutely no influence on the next pope’s authority.

  • Ninong

    I wonder what will happen to Bel Giorgio now?

  • pappyvet

    About-to-break scandal? Well, gee,I wonder what that could be about. Not sure but the tune “Where the Boys Are,” comes vividly to mind.

  • tweeter

    RI Supreme Court: no stay in Legion of Christ case; documents could be unsealed Friday

  • Ninong

    I hope this doesn’t come as a downer for you but everything you are talking about is public knowledge and has been for many years. Hitchens didn’t reveal anything knew. That May 2001 letter from the CDF has been known for years. Photocopies of it have been online for a long time now.

    Andrew Sullivan wrote about Marcial Maciel extensively several years ago. John Aravosis wrote about him in 2005. Even the mistresses and children have been known about for the past eight years or so. As far as the seminarians (and even at least one priest) who were raped by Maciel, that’s extremely old news. That was the basis of the investigation that was closed down by the CDF, reportedly on orders from JPII.

    None of that stuff is new. It has always been common knowledge that alleged sexual misconduct by clergy and religious was to be investigated by the local bishop in absolute secrecy — allegedly for the protection of the possibly innocent accused and to preserve the reputation of the accuser, who may or may not be telling the truth. That stuff goes back centuries. The Vatican has always believed that sexual misconduct was a “sin” that fell under their exclusive jurisdiction.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    Wasn’t that tedious??! It was like a study in attention deficit disorder. As for any more revelations about Ratzinger and Maciel, we may know soon.

  • Ninong

    I endured the whole tedious episode with Arnie Arnesen very late last night. When it was finally finished I could have kicked myself for being so stupid as to listen to all that rambling over absolutely nothing that isn’t already public knowledge. I guess I was waiting for some new shocking revelation but there was none!

    I don’t know what could possibly be in the court documents that isn’t already known other than possibly new instances of the same old same old. We already know that the initial reports of sexual misconduct by Marcial Maciel went to the Vatican in the 1950’s and that there were other reports in the 1970’s and later. I believe there were at least two or three serious investigations into his misconduct that were all closed by the CDF — obviously on orders from the Pope. Ratzinger is even quoted by another source inside the Vatican of raising the question with JPII and JPII’s response was, “why now?” In Italian, I guess.

    Then immediately upon the death of JPII, Ratzinger ordered Maciel to step down from his order and go into a quiet life of penance. I think the general sense inside the Vatican was that JPII didn’t want to see anything done about Maciel. All of the so-called Vatican secrets are leaked to the Italian press by different insiders who are each trying to undermine their rivals. Sometimes they are able to get the butler to do their dirty work for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Brandel/100002756779628 Patrick Brandel

    Yes he resigned because of what was just published in the book Edelweiss Pirates Operation Einstein, the Catholic church are trying to get him out and a new pope in before the news breaks fully, the novel explains in full details about his activities as a Hitler Youth Member. The pope lived with his family in Traunstein, Germany, a small and staunchly Catholic town between Munich and Salzburg. During World War I there was a prisoner-of-war camp located here where, ironically, Adolf Hitler worked between December 1918 and March 1919. The town is located near the region of Austria which Hitler came from. A few hundred yards away from the Popes’ house, a family hid Hans Braxenthaler, a local resistance fighter who shot himself rather than be captured again. The SS regularly searched local homes for resistance members. Although it is unknown who turned him in to the SS, it is believed it was the Pope, who later became a proud member of the Hitler Youth. It has now come out what his involvement was, published in the young adult novel ‘Edelweiss Pirates Operation Einstein’ the fictional story mixes factual evidence with fiction to make it easy reading and an adventure book for it’s target audience of boys 11-15. However the findings of the author Mark A. Cooper, from his research and interviews from families in the region have shed a new light the the Catholic Church would like to have kept hidden.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-Brandel/100002756779628 Patrick Brandel

    The novel Edelweiss Pirates that came out 4 weeks before he resigned outed him. The pope lived with his family in Traunstein, Germany, a small and staunchly Catholic town between Munich and Salzburg. During World War I there was a prisoner-of-war camp located here where, ironically, Adolf Hitler worked between December 1918 and March 1919. The town is located near the region of Austria which Hitler came from. A few hundred yards away from the Popes’ house, a family hid Hans Braxenthaler, a local resistance fighter who shot himself rather than be captured again. The SS regularly searched local homes for resistance members.
    Although it is unknown who turned him in to the SS, it is believed it was the Pope, who later became a proud member of the Hitler Youth. It has now come out what his involvement was, published in the young adult novel ‘Edelweiss Pirates Operation Einstein’ the fictional story mixes factual evidence with fiction to make it easy reading and an adventure book for it’s target audience of boys 11-15. However the findings of the author Mark A. Cooper, from his research and interviews from families in the region have given us new information on him.

  • VolintheVille

    Well there goes my idea, I thought he was getting out due to the upcoming changes in the HHCP (Holy Health Care Plan). He wanted to get out before it was going to change over to a single-payer system.

  • banat masr

    We do not seek to “destroy” the DNC or Obama. We seek to have our party and its leaders uphold the promises they have made. I am a lifelong Democrat, always will be, but until the Democratic party “gets around to” serious LGBT issues, I’ll be fine just sitting it out and not getting all wrapped up in the rhetoric: give us money, give us money, give us money, and on and on and on.

    http://www.chatalex.com/

  • nharnie

    I am arnie of wnhn…please read the slate article http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/fighting_words/2010/03/the_great_catholic_coverup.html?
    The Great Catholic Cover-Up
    The pope’s entire career has the stench of evil about it. by Christopher Hitchens…
    the last paragraph in Hitchens piece is about the Legion of Christ’s Leader Maciel. There is no one reason why this Pope is stepping down, there are hundreds and they are the victims of abuse followed by cover up who were denied justice. Before Benedict was Pope he was the enforcer for John Paul II, just read this from the great Catholic Cover-Up and you will understand why Fridays opening of documents cannot go unnoticed (I only pray it happens):
    Very much more serious is the role of Joseph Ratzinger, before the church decided to make him supreme leader, in obstructing justice on a global scale. After his promotion to cardinal, he was put in charge of the so-called “Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith” (formerly known as the Inquisition). In 2001, Pope John Paul II placed this department in charge of the investigation of child rape and torture by Catholic priests. In May of that year, Ratzinger issued a confidential letter to every bishop. In it, he reminded them of the extreme gravity of a certain crime. But that crime was the reporting of the rape and torture. The accusations, intoned Ratzinger, were only treatable within the church’s own exclusive jurisdiction. Any sharing of the evidence with legal authorities or the press was utterly forbidden. Charges were to be investigated “in the most secretive way … restrained by a perpetual silence … and everyone … is to observe the strictest secret which is commonly regarded as a secret of the Holy Office … under the penalty of excommunication.”

  • mr_ed

    Picture John Banner as Sergeant Schultz: “I know nothing…nothing!”

  • hollywoodstein

    Pope’s don’t normally resign/abdicate. Yes there was the Western schism in what 1415?. But not for health reasons. There is a tradition that there is dignity in the display of the failing mortal coil as most recently witnessed by JPII’s partially public decline.
    Something has caught up with Ratso. I only hope there wasn’t a deal to trade a resignation for a cover up.

  • hollywoodstein

    They can easily give him a title that will confer immunity.

  • Ninong

    Ratzinger was only 18 in 1945 when the war ended. He became archbishop of Munich in 1977. Before that he was an academic at a German university.

  • Ninong

    Ratzinger has someone in mind, if that’s what you mean, and everyone knows who he is: Angelo Cardinal Scola, Archbishop of Milan. That doesn’t mean he’ll be elected, although he probably has at least 50% support already. You need two-thirds.

    I don’t understand why the Irish bookies don’t have him odds-on favorite but maybe they have other sources. Everyone inside the Vatican knows Benedict would like to see Scola elected to succeed him.

    I don’t know anything about Scola but at least no one is talking about Cardinal Levada, prefect of the CDF (Ratzinger’s old job) and former Archbishop of San Francisco. There’s no way an American will get it. I think it will either be Scola or that Canadian cardinal. I don’t see it going to an African, in spite of what the Irish bookies think. I think it would go to a South American before an African.

    Don’t forget, the Italians still make up about half of the voting age cardinals. But if history is any guide, then anything is possible. No one expected John XXIII either, least of all John XXIII himself. He was a compromise candidate who wasn’t supposed to make waves. LOL

  • Ninong

    The Vatican knows exactly what was stolen and turned over to that Italian reporter, which was the basis of his book. The embarrassing stuff involved the Secretary of State, not the Pope. Unless you want to call a few checks for relatively small amounts made out to the Pope’s favorite charity embarrassing.

    As far as Marcial Maciel is concerned, all of this stuff was written about by Andrew Sullivan a long, long time ago. And John Aravosis wrote about Marcial Maciel in 2005. There was absolutely nothing that Arnie Arnesen said that was new. Nothing at all.

  • Ninong

    They don’t have formal extradiction treaties with any country, that I know of, other than sort of with Italy. The terms of the deal they worked out with Mussolini in 1929 said something about turning over a fugitive to Italy, if Italy asked for him and IF both Italy and the Holy See recognized the alleged crime as a crime. You could march a parade through that loophole.

    Back about 30 years ago when there was all that scandal involving the Vatican Bank, some Italian guy was on trial in Milan (if I remember correctly) and the judge ordered an American archbishop (Paul Marcinkus, head of the Vatican Bank) to come to court to testify. The Holy See refused! And that was the end of that. The court couldn’t touch him even if he left Vatican City because he’s a Vatican official carrying an official Vatican diplomatic passport. So the deal with Mussolini only applies to someone the Pope agrees is a criminal and the Pope agrees to turn over to the Italian authorities.

  • Ninong

    The Holy See owns a lot of property but not the kind you’re asking about. Besides Vatican City State, they own a lot of other obvious church property in and around Rome as well as a large portfolio of commercial real estate that has been reported to be worth at least $1 billion.

    Obviously it’s impossible to put a value on their priceless art collections but nobody expects them to sell any of that. Their commercial properties, all held in really complex hidden trusts, are another thing.

    Each diocese owns all of the church property, and other assets, in that diocese. That’s why you see individual dioceses filing for bankruptcy (nine and counting in the U.S.) after the sex-crimes judgments against them get overwhelming. The Anglican church and Episcopal church are set up the same way. After the Episcopal church elected Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, Bishop of New Hampshire, several “conservative” parishes broke away (or tried to break away?) and filed suit against their diocese to take their churches with them. The position of the diocese was that you can break away all you want just stay off of our property because you don’t own it, we do.
    That confusion comes up at lot. In the case of a couple of those Episcopalian parishes, the parishioners were upset because it was their contributions to their local building drive that built the church. Some of them contributed large sums of money. Too bad.

  • cole3244

    i was raised catholic and have been an atheist since i was 17, i knew that religion was nonsense then and as time moves on religion is even more despicable then i realized, if that is possible.

  • runfastandwin

    Can we all stop using “sexual abuse” and start calling it what it is, child rape and sexual torture of children?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Ference/100003098896070 Mike Ference

    How does a catholic priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese
    convince 5-year-old boys not to report being abused?

    It’s simple; they scare the hell out of them. While PA law
    enforcement, elected officials and the media refuse to expose this horrific
    problem, I’ve tried for over 24 years to make them finally do their job; so
    far, not much success.

    One of the first things catholic priests did in the
    Pittsburgh Diocese is to threaten to kill the youngsters; most of the time this
    works. But to make sure that innocent children will do whatever they are told
    to do by dysfunctional sex freaks in cleric’s attire, sometimes they bring a
    kitten or puppy to the rape sessions. Why a kitten or puppy, you ask?

    The sicko priests allow the innocent children to play with
    the puppies and kittens so as to build an immediate loving bond. Then with no
    warning, the sicko catholic priest steps on the head of the kitten or puppy
    allowing the children to hear the whining and slow death of the helpless
    animal. After a few minutes the catholic priest crushes the head of the animal
    one more time slowly putting the animal to death. The young children forced to
    hear the crunching of the skull and the final gasp of breath.

    Just one more reason the Pittsburgh Diocese has covered up
    the sins of satanic catholic priests within the Pittsburgh Diocese. Sadly, what
    has been described to me happened more than once and the priest may still be
    active in the Pittsburgh Diocese. Yet, there is nowhere to go for help.

    Mike Ference reporting live from the commonwealth of PA –
    the Pro-Pedophile state.

  • Redwoodguy

    Maybe this will give Pat Robertson pause when he realizes the Actual Power of the Gays! WE just asked our friend, The Man, to get rid of this hideous monstrosity called the Pope and HE did! So watch your p’s and q’s Pat, or we’ll unravel the 700 or so deluded souls that think your verbal upchucks amount to anything other than he mutterings of a man who can’t find his mind, only his hatred.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Just checking the wiki, it looks like John XVIII (1004-1009) resigned specifically to retire.

    Celestine V (1294, 5 months) looks like he buggered off because despite being elected Pope, nobody in the Church hierarchy would obey his ordered. Unfortunately for him, there were plenty who didn’t want him to resign, and as a consequence, his successor, Boniface VIII, had him chased down and imprisoned so Celestine couldn’t be re-installed as an ‘anti-pope’ (there were lots of them right around then).

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    *shrugs* Perhaps. The detail I find rather interesting and ironic is there’s no shortage of Catholic Church sex, financial, and/or hypocrisy scandals to choose from.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    It’s a great theory, though. Can’t wait to hear what is in those documents.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    My guess, too, and why I’ve been saying that if Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Vatican chamberlain and Ratzinger’s top deputy is picked, this will be the ‘why,’ along with the health issues. Either him, or some other current Ratzinger favorite.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    Thank you. The idea of listening to an hour-long radio show just to get some details as to this theory was way more time than I wanted to spend.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    You may have something there. The Banko de Gambio launders hundreds of millions daily in speculation through Bank of America.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    My guess is that the old bastard has a few months to live and his going to Machiavelli his future grip on the ultra conservative by appointing his own successor. Scandal could bother him less. He’s been protecting child abusers and perverts for decades. This is a power move.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XOILKHmZBwc Ritorna Vincitor

    Let me spare anyone interested in listening to Arnie Arnsen’s audio 38 minutes of pure agony. At six minutes into the audio she proposes to read an article about Maciel. As she reads, she constantly editorializes, jumping from subject to subject, with added distractions due to the phone system, and attempts to google some additional information. Suffice it to say that Maciel was a horror story, though it would be far better to just look up the article she was reading and read it for yourself. Then at 33 minutes into the tape she finally finishes the article about Maciel, and then makes the suggestion that court documents which may be released on February 15th might contain information that will damage the Vatican. She doesn’t say what that information is. At 38 minutes into the tape she moves on to another subject, leaving the listener exhausted.

  • hauksdottir

    May we please say ABDICATE? Absolute monarchs do not resign.

    As for why the popenpooper is abdicating, my bet is on money. Sexual transgressions can be “forgiven” via a public confession, some flagellation or fasting, followed by absolution from god himself. People love a redeemed sinner and will wallow in it. Especially if the sin itself is no skin off their noses.

    Money, however? Financial theft and personal profit are not as forgivable for poor people who tithe in spite of not having enough money to feed and clothe themselves. A quarter of all money raised by the Church goes to Rome, and if that flood diminishes, those prelates will have a hard time keeping up the financial empire, bribing authorities to look the other way, and supporting their lavish lifestyles.

    Bubbles collapse.

    Take enough air out of it, especially with the further publication of the Vatican’s deal with Mussolini to not only become a sovereign State, but a rich one, and that sovereignty itself is threatened.

    If Vatican City is no longer sovereign, it might finally be forced to pay its water bill.

  • nicho

    Folks, we may have a winner!

  • nicho

    Casino!

  • ComradeRutherford

    The first words my wife said when she heard the Nazi Pope was resigning was, “What do they have on him?”

    Interesting that the Poop will live out his days in Vatican City, never to leave again.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Opus Dei

  • jenius

    Also of note, perhaps:

    – Jan 2ish: Italy blocks all credit card transactions in the Vatican.
    – Feb 11: Pope announces resignation.
    – Feb 12: Credit card transactions resumed.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    Disney Holy Land!

  • HeilMary1

    Or amusement park!

  • ganapathy hegde

    It is only tip of the iceberg. There is fear of shame all over. The good are dead already. May god take care of the bad

  • HeilMary1

    Maybe Maciel and other celebrity priests forced massive numbers of women to get abortions and/or hide their love children in Catholic adoption agencies? Many cases of forced abortions and adopted-out love children have already surfaced. There could also be memos admitting the purpose of the contraception ban is to keep pedophile priests supplied with endless victims. Anyway, the double standards for priests’ double lives would be game-over for the Vatican war on women’s reproductive health and LGBT rights.

    Also, I came across rumors that Ratzi was also involved in running the treasonous Vatican/Nazi ratlines that smuggled 100,000 Nazis to the Americas. Maybe Maciel helped with the ratlines also.

  • caphillprof

    With or without the diplomatic passport, I always thought the CIA should rendition Law back to Massachusetts. Where is Jason Bourne when you need him?

  • Butch1

    This is why his retirement apartment will be in the Vatican. He’s going no where. There’s sanctuary behind those walls. They’ve been holding Cardinal Law for a number of years now. ;-

  • cambridgemac

    No one presiding over a significant institution resigns with 3 weeks notice. Respect for the institution and concern for continuity demand time to prepare for the transition. So, what gives? Is the Church an exception to this rule? Or does the Pope have an agenda?

    I assume that Ratzinger has already lined up the votes for a designated successor – and giving more notice would give the opposition – which he has spent his entire LIFE reining in and silencing – time to organize. So why now? It’s either that he has a few months to live or a scandal is coming. These were my first thoughts. I was appalled to see the 2/12 NYT front page article that referred to him as a “quiet scholar” and noted that he wrote 3 popular books on the life of Jesus. Scholars don’t silence people – and this guy silenced the most insightful and progressive thinkers in the Church – Curran, Schillebeekcx, etc. Writing books doesn’t make one a scholar. And working for the NY Times does not make one either a thinker, an analyst, or a journalist.

  • http://adgitadiaries.com/ karmanot

    The real secret message: The holy mother said that a Bozo Clown standing under golden arches would appear in the Vatican cafeteria and the Pope would died of heart failure.

  • http://www.rebeccamorn.com/mind BeccaM

    While I agree there’s something weird about the timing, I’m having trouble coming up with a plausible scenario where an elderly Rhode Island woman (or the discovery findings associated with her disputed will case) could come into possession of documentation so incriminatory of a Catholic sub-organization that it would cause a sitting Pope to resign.

    I agree, the timing is weird, especially given the Catholic holy day calendar. On the other hand, I saw a report yesterday that Ratzinger had very recently undergone secret surgery to replace his pacemaker battery. My own theory is they may have discovered something during that surgery to indicate he has only a few months left to live.

  • Loona_c

    And there was speculation that it referred to the first John Paul, since he DID die, JP II didn’t. Anyway, Wiki has an interesting take on it all. Like I said the main thing I found interesting was Ratzinger’s name all over the story!

  • nicho

    I thought there was some talk that it predicted the assassination attempt against Wotyla. Although, you could also have interpreted it to refer to the actual assassination of Bishop Oscar Romero who was assassinated in 1980 in El Salvador by the death squads that were later financed by Reagan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/monoceros.forth Monoceros Forth

    Maybe Pope Ratso decided to give up the papacy for Lent?

  • nicho

    Time shares.

  • nicho

    Of course, there will be endless speculation about why he quit. I’m not sure this explanation, even if true, answers all the questions.

    Far from taking him out of the spotlight, his resignation — which is extraordinary and unique — and the speculation around it, puts him in a more intense light.

    He is the first pope to resign without any obvious extenuating circumstances. When Gregory XII resigned in 1415, there were actually two pope claiming the top spot. They had competing groups of cardinals. And everybody had weapons, armies, and princely allies available to them. It was not unknown for a pope to strap on his sword and go fight in the streets. The church was in schism — and the popes agreed to resign to resolve the schism. Nothing like that going on here.

    If all of these things come to light — and he is in the center of the action — then his resignation will serve only to convince people of his guilt. “Aha, that’s why he did it.” From a damage-control point of view, the best thing for him would be to sit tight and tough it out. It’s a lot harder to successfully attack a sitting pope than one who cut and run.

    I stick by my theory that he’s reaching the end and he wants to have a hands-on role in the naming of his successor and not leaving it to chance. He’s spent the last 30 or so years working very hard to turn the church into a right-wing political organization. He doesn’t want to see that ruined by the cardinals accidentally picking someone who might move in the other direction.

  • nicho

    My thoughts exactly. Bugging out two weeks before Palm Sunday is unthinkable. Not only that, but dragging other ordinaries out of their dioceses to travel to Rome. However, and this is a new twist, the Vatican said they were sure there would be a new pope in place for Easter. This means they’ve got six weeks to plan a conclave (which was probably already in the works before the announcement) and settle on a candidate. My suspicion is that Ratzinger has already hand-picked his successor. The cardinals will fly to Rome, rubber stamp his choice, and be home in no time at all.

  • nicho

    No, he will have a diplomatic passport from the Vatican — just as Bernard Law does. And, I’m not sure Vatican City has any extradition treaties with other countries.

  • Loona_c

    Ok, this sounds crazy, but waaaay back when there were 3 messages from Fatima about the Catholic Church. Two were released (about war and Russia) and the third was supposed to be released in 1960, but wasn’t until 2000 something. The big secret turned out to be rather benign. If indeed that was the real message. However I’d always heard speculation that it was about corruption, etc. within the Church. (Hello!) So I googled and up came wiki with a nice explanation. But the funny thing was Ratzinger’s name (as Cardinal) was all over the release of the message. Conspiracy buffs: have at!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/James-F-Moran/517083476 James F Moran

    As a priest (and victim of clergy abuse) when I heard of his “early retirement” and the apparent “rush” I was confused. With Holy Thursday just around the corner – and the celebration of the establishment of Priesthood (and Eucharist) it is odd that he would not stick around for that, as well as the remainder of Holy Week and Easter. There has to be something else pushing this other than health – unless there is more to the health issue that we are not being told!

  • jomicur

    Local parishes and all their property are in the name of the bishop. When a new bishop is installed in a diocese, there’s always a big public ceremony, full of pomp and circumstance. But the real transfer of power happens behind the scenes, when the old bishop transfers all the property in the diocese to the new one. (Whether the bishops are required to give the pope or the corporate Vatican title to the property, I don’t know, but it wouldn’t surprise me in the least.)

  • http://twitter.com/JConabicycle Jesus H. Christ

    Why would the Pope cut it so close to the bone? And why would he wait until the END of Feb. to resign if the documents are to be made public in the MIDDLE of Feb? I don’t disagree that the catholic church has a lot of explaining and apologizing and house cleaning to do, but I am not sold on the cause-and-effect scenario you are postulating.

  • Naja pallida

    Except they’ve already said that they’re basically going to make him a nice little retirement home and keep him sequestered for his remaining days at the Vatican. I just don’t see an extradition hearing taking place. :)

  • S1AMER

    If that’s why he resigned, he needs to hire a new lawyer. Pronto! Once he’s ex-pope, under international law, he’ll become a common citizen of Vatican City, and he’ll lose whatever protections being chief of state provides him now.

  • UncleBucky

    Another thought. Who owns the parish churches, schools and diocesan infrastructure in every diocese?

    To preserve their parishes, will parishioners try to separate themselves from the RCC?

    The specters of Henry VIII and Luther will be laughing and laughing and laughing…

  • UncleBucky

    Mmmm, the Vatican might need a bit of foldin’ money, eh?

    ReMaxxx sign going up in front of St. Peters. Either one buyer or they can part it out. Condo-fication of the Papal Palaces might do it… :D

  • GaiusPublius

    Yep. Fixed it. Thanks.

    GP

  • Steve O’Donnell

    That was my first hunch, there must be another shoe to drop… but honestly, what could shame these people. These sociopaths have no remorse, no guilt, no shame. The Vatican will never acknowledge their role in the Priest sex scandal.

  • cqg

    That’s “niece”, not “daughter”, right? Small nit but precision is important.

  • http://blogvader.tumblr.com/ Blogvader

    Someone, somewhere, has a photo of him executing Jews, I’d wager.

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