Signs of the Times – part 27
Originally posted, March 5, 2013.
On Feb. 11th 2013, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would resign as head of the papacy – to take effect on Feb 28th. Since that time there has been much speculation about the reasons behind his dramatic announcement, which is unprecedented in modern times (no pope has resigned for the last 600 years). The official reason for the resignation is, of course, that standard excuse given for most sudden and unexpected resignations – health reasons (Benedict could not use the other standard excuse for resignations – wanting to spend more time with his family).
The health excuse, for the resignation, is almost certainly a cover story, for the following reasons: firstly, there have been no recent reports about health problems affecting the Pope. On the contrary, for an 85 year old his health has been remarkably good. In fact, following the day of the announcement, a Vatican spokesman said: “Pope Benedict XVI’s decision to resign is not due to ill health but the inevitable frailty that comes with aging.” He added, “His general health was normal for a man nearing 86 years of age.” Fr. Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See Press Office, Feb. 12, 2013. Therefore, what we can glean so far is that, the pope is in good health, but he has fears for the future.
Secondly, there is a very good reason why popes do not have pension plans (it is, or at least was, always expected that they would stay in office until death). The reason is: it is very dangerous for the Catholic Church to have more than one Pope alive (even if one is not officially reigning) at the same time. This is because disgruntled elements (all churches have them) within the church could easily claim that Benedict is still the legitimate pope, giving them grounds to refuse allegiance to the new pope. [This has happened before in Catholic history – there was a time when there were three popes – known as the Great Schism 1378-1417 – (also called the Western or Papal Schism)]. Therefore, to ensure the integrity of his office and the security of the Church, it was Benedict’s duty to stay in office until he left office at the end of his natural life – thus leaving the papacy unencumbered for his successor. Therefore, there must be some very compelling reason to force his retirement – the official story is simply unconvincing.
So what is the real reason for Benedict’s resignation? If we indulge in a little speculation (and at this point all anybody can do is speculate – until further information is forthcoming) it would appear that Benedict’s health is a crucial factor – but not because he is in bad health – but precisely because, he is still in relative good health. To explain why Benedict should take the extraordinary step of resigning, while he still has enough of his health intact (and thus ensure obedience to his commands), we need to understand that there is definitely something strange (some would say nefarious, immoral and reprehensible) going on at the Vatican.
The Vatican has always been a place of intrigue and mystery – and lately we need to add scandal, criminality and cover up – [financial criminality involving the Vatican Bank, and a myriad of sexual abuse cases]. These problems have exacerbated the perennial struggle for power between the various factions in the Catholic Church. Georg Ratzinger, (Benedict’s bother, also a Catholic priest) has shed some light by offering his comments (during a press interview), on the resignation: “Within the church a lot of things happened, which brought up troubles, for example the relationship to the Pius Brotherhood (one of the disgruntled factions) or the irregularities with the Vatican, where the butler had let known indiscretions.” www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/02/13/pope-f13.html
Thank you brother George, for pointing us in a very interesting direction – the recent case of ‘Vatileaks’ – due to Benedict’s butler (Paolo Gabriele) leaking sensitive Vatican documents to Italian journalists. The butler was sentenced to a prison term of 18 months (he served less than 3 months because Benedict forgave him). At his trial the butler revealed his reasons for leaking the documents, he said, that he was trying to protect the Pope from what he called “evil” and “corrupt” elements in the Vatican.
Some of the documents that he leaked, dealt with corrupt practises regarding Vatican contracts and taxes, and they also revealed the bitter disputes within the Vatican over how to deal with an investigation (by the Italian government) into money laundering by the Vatican Bank. One document sensationally alleged that there was a plot (within the Vatican) to murder Benedict. This document mentioned by name, Tarcisio Bertone, the Holy See’s (the political wing of the Church) secretary of state and the Vatican’s second most senior figure. www.advocate-online.net/opinion/column-opinion/when-benedict-became-joseph-inside-the-popes-shocking-announcement-3332/ [All of this might seem far-fetched if it were not for the fact that this has happened before. Many pundits, commentators and researchers believe that Pope John Paul I (who reigned for only 33 days) was murdered because he was personally investigating the Vatican Bank’s role in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal – which involved links to the infamous masonic P2 lodge, the Mafia, and several suspicious deaths and at least one proven murder (the death of the president of the Ambrosiano Bank, Roberto Calvi, nicknamed ‘God’s Banker’, was originally declared a suicide, but later up-graded to murder)].
So here we have an aging Pope, still in good health, but approaching that time in life when he, in all probability, is about to lose his faculties. At the same time there are powerful forces within the Vatican that are trying to manipulate events so that they are not charged with criminal conspiracy (and perhaps worse, even murder). [Of course, those trying to frustrate the investigation argue that: if all was revealed the image of the Church would suffer irredeemable damage – which of course it would – and not just its image]. So the stakes in this battle are very high.
So what are the Popes options? He really only has one option, he has to resign. If he stays in office and he continues to weaken to the point where he cannot function both physically and mentally, then the papal office is open to whoever is strong enough to seize it, and use it to their own advantage. The person most likely to operate in this fashion (becoming the power behind the throne) would be the second-in- command, the secretary of state, Tarcisio Bertone – the man who was allegedly involved in a plot to murder the Pope. This limbo-like situation (with someone or some faction in the background manipulating a dysfunctional pope) could go on for several years.
Alternatively, Benedict, while still mentally alert, could resign, and hand the papacy to a younger and stronger individual – someone who presumably could and would stand up to the “evil” and “corrupt” factions in the Vatican. Indeed in his interview with the press the pope’s brother Georg stated that this was precisely Benedict’s reason for resigning, Georg said: “And he thinks that with a reduced workload he couldn’t carry on this great responsibility, that a younger person is needed to capture the problems of today’s time and who has the power to do what has to be done.” The Huffington Post, 02/12/2013. So resigning in favor of a younger and stronger (and therefore more able) pope is the obvious solution to the Pope’s dilemma. In addition, while he is still alive and while he is mentally alert, he can influence the selection of the new pope – the new pope will almost certainly be appointed with Benedict’s blessing.
More than likely, the new pope will have as much success with the “evil” and the “corruption” in the Vatican that all previous popes have. History reveals that the popes either participate in it themselves and/or turn a blind eye to it, or they die prematurely. Benedict has chosen a new path to deal with the problem – resignation – let someone else deal with it. As for the rest of us, we should heed the warning, “Come out of Babylon my people” (Rev. 18:4).