So much news lately, so little time. Here we go:
1. Well, I guess that explains liturgical dance.
La Repubblica claims that Pope Benedict’s retirement was prompted by three Cardinals’ report on an influential homosexual lobby in the Vatican.
Now, I think the report is ridiculous — but only on the “retirement was prompted by” bit. Benedict has long been an advocate of Papal retirement and he was preparing for the move as far back as a year ago.
The homosexual lobby claim, on the other hand, isn’t ridiculous at all, and it’s not reasonable to think Benedict, a long-time curial insider, was somehow unaware of its existence until five minutes ago. Back when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, for instance, he denounced what he called “filth” in the Vatican, a conspicuously particular word choice that would seem to refer to something more repulsive than mere cronyism or book-cooking. Father Dariusz Oko wrote a damning piece recently about the pervasive influence of homosexuals in seminaries, chanceries, and the Curia, a group he terms the “homomafia.” And we need look no further for an example of its influence than the legacy of Archbishop-emeritus Rembert Weakland, whose aggressively subversive ministry culminated in his embezzling diocesan funds to pay off his illicit lover, and who deliberately shielded perverts in his diocese by threatening libel suits against those who reported their predations.
Meanwhile, another cardinal has been accused of perversion, though who knows if its mere opportunism or is motivated by the sense that the lid is about to be blown off this crap. (UPDATE: Cardinal O’Brien resigned this morning.)
Supposedly, the three Cardinals’ report will be presented to the College of Cardinals during the general congregation at the beginning of the coming sede vacante, so if there is any truth to the claim, they’ll know it going into the conclave. Which, if so, makes me slightly more hopeful that Benedict XVI will be succeeded by Pius XIII or Leo XIV.
Finally, check out the first two parts (here, then here) of Robert Moynihan’s investigation of the issue. His initial crediting of the claims gives way to skepticism on the grounds of the leftist Italian media’s usual incompetence and crookedness. But, note, the assignment of Mons. Ettore Balestrero to an obscure nunciature reeks of the typical Vatican policy of promoveatur ut amoveatur — promote so as to remove.
2. One of the good ones.
Disregard everyone currently being touted as papabile. The media almost always gets these things wrong.
Instead, if you want to keep your eye on a dark horse, consider Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, a disciple of the late Giuseppe Siri and a public enemy of the much-hated Tarcisio Bertone (who, incidentally, is rumored to be aggressively promoting the prospects of Timothy Dolan). If this conclave is going to produce a Pius XIII, it’ll likely be him.
3. Good luck, guys.
The fate of the SSPX will be entrusted to the next Pope, with Benedict’s final, last-minute outreach to them having failed to produce reconciliation.
I remember reading, some time ago, that Ratzinger was personally devastated at hearing the news of the Ecône consecrations and the resulting latae sententiae excommunications, and had since made it his mission to bring them home. Don’t expect the next Pope to have such a personal investment — or a persistent (and generous) style about it.
4. Bend the knee, dammit!
In advance of the coming conclave, Benedict has made a few critical changes to both the election process and the coronation ceremonies. First, he restored the rule, eliminated by John Paul II, allowing a Pope to be elected by simple majority if no winner has emerged after 33 ballots; the next Pope will have to win the traditional supermajority of the Cardinal-electors’ votes regardless of the ballot.
More importantly, though, he restored the practice, also abolished his predecessor, of requiring all Cardinals present at his inaugural Mass to come forth and publicly swear an oath of obedience to the new Pontiff. When Benedict himself was elected, the policy was instead to select only twelve Catholics to represent the entire Church for swearing that oath.
The inaugural Mass will also be somewhat more traditional, featuring more Gregorian chant and polyphony.
(UPDATE: As anticipated, the Pope has revised the guidelines governing the Papal conclave, allowing the Cardinals to move up the Conclave start date if all are present, extending the oath of secrecy to include technicians and the like who happen to be present, and punishing any violation of the oath of secrecy with latae sententiae excommunication.)
5. Benedict’s legacy.
It’ll probably be decades, even centuries, before we have a clear idea of what went on during Benedict’s pontificate. I suspect he will emerge as a man who, Hercules-like, sought to divert a river through the Vatican to clear it out, but who, sadly, was elected maybe 10 years too late for the task, as we are reminded by his poignant words to Bishop Fellay when holding audience with him at the Castel Gandolfo in 2005: “My authority ends at that door.”
Things are, to be sure, better off. I’m particularly hopeful that the assignment of Alexander Sample, sacred music afficionado, to the Archdiocese of Portland (home of the loathsome OCP) will go some way to restoring the American liturgy. And Benedict’s choice of bishops have far exceeded JPII’s, with the likes of Mahony and Clark giving way to Chaput, Burke, and Morlino. But his successor will still have a hell of a mess to clean up, including an out-of-control curia; an ailing, rebellious, and borderline schismatic Church in Germany and Austria; and an aggressively pernicious (and rapidly metastasizing) worldwide liberalism.
So pray for his successor, that, against all odds, we may be blessed with a worthy shepherd.