The Vatican in disarray

The Vatican in disarray

By Phil Lawler | Jun 07, 2018

The past few weeks have brought several positive signs from Rome:

Each one of these new developments left some questions unanswered. (We don’t know how the Pope will react to the Chilean resignations, for instance; and the message to the German bishops could be read as “not yet” rather than simply “no.”) But at worst, these stories were not bad news for orthodox Catholics who have been shell-shocked by previous developments in Rome. Taken together, the welcome news items prompted both Jeff Mirus and myself to wonder aloud whether perhaps Pope Francis was shifting his sights. That question, too, remains unanswered—and is reason (as Jeff observed) for faithful Catholics to redouble their prayers.

However, to keep things in the proper perspective, it’s only fair to remark that there are also reasons to be discouraged about developments—or the absence of developments—at the Vatican. Casual readers may not have noticed, but…

  • Almost a full year ago (one week from today it will be exactly a year), the Vatican’s auditor general, Libero Milone, abruptly resigned. Milone was rushed out of charges amid a flurry of charges and counter-charges. No full explanation was ever provided, but it seems that top Vatican officials decided that Milone was exceeding this authority, although he had been promised “full autonomy and independence” to do his work. The Vatican announced that a replacement would be found “as soon as possible.”

    So are we to understand that it is not “possible” to find a competent auditor in the space of a year? Or, more likely, that no one capable of doing the job would accept it under the existing conditions?

    Milone’s sudden departure is part of a larger pattern, in which the Secretariat for the Economy—created to bring accountability to Vatican finances, has been effectively gutted:

    • The prefect of the Secretariat, Cardinal George Pell, has been on leave for nearly a year, and is unlikely ever to return to duty at the Vatican. He has not been replaced.
    • The cardinal’s #2 man at the Secertariat, Msgr. Alfred Xuereb, wasappointed in February as apostolic nuncio to Korea and ordained an archbishop. He, too, has not been replaced. So the office is left with no chief, no deputy, no auditor, and no real ability to carry out its vital mission.
  • The Congregation for Religious has been forced to issue a public denial ofcomplaints that it has been sheltering Luis Fernando Figari, the founder of the Sodality of Christian Life. Actually the Vatican has found Figari guilty of various abuses, and ordered his complete separation from the movement he founded. But he has appealed the sentence, and while the judicial process runs its course he remains in Rome. The process seems to be working in this case, albeit slowly. But complaints along these line will undoubtedly continue until the Vatican establishes a clear policy of holding leaders accountable for committing and/or tolerating abuse. To date we haven’t seen a clear commitment to effective discipline. And by the way, what is happening in Chile—where those bishops are still in place, waiting for the Pope to act on their resignations?
  • In Argentina, the La Plata archdiocese is regarded as second in prominence only to the Buenos Aires see. Archbishop Hector Ruben Aguer had governed the La Plata archdiocese for 20 years, compiling an admirable record as a defender of orthodoxy and the culture of life. In May, upon reaching his 75th birthday, he duly submitted his resignation to the Pope, as required by canon law. In most cases, a healthy prelate is allowed to remain in office for months, even years, after turning 75. But not Archbishop Aguer. As he discussed during his homily on the feast of Corpus Christi, he was called by the apostolic nuncio just a week after his birthday, and told that his resignation would be accepted immediately. He was not to remain in La Plata as a retired archbishop; he was not even allowed to stay for the ceremonial installation of his successor. He was, in short, rushed out of town.

    And who would replace him? Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez , a close adviser to Pope Francis, who has welcomed the radical changes of this pontificate by saying that there must be a target=”_blank” href=””> “no turning back.” The incoming archbishop is author of Heal Me With Your Mouth—The Art of Kissing. He is also, reportedly, responsible for drafting Evangelii Gaudium and for inserting a passage of his own work , from a controversial 1995 essay, into Amoris Laetitia. His appointment—and the abrupt way it was handled—indicates that Pope Francis has not varied from his pattern of rewarding his allies, nor from his harsh treatment of those with whom he disagrees.

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4 comments on “The Vatican in disarray

  1. [The Vatican is also in disarray concerning its “dicasteries” and “disasteries”]
    “Competent disasteries”
    Gloria.TV News – 6/7/18
    The affair surrounding the letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith denying Communion for German Protestants has received a hilarious turn. LifeSiteNews reported on June 4 that this letter had informed Cardinal Marx that – quote – the “competent disasteries” of the Holy See work on a clarification of this question. The letter actually speaks about “dicasteries” not “disasteries” although the difference between the two may not be big.

  2. Phil and his “prairie dog” pal, Dr. Jeff. (so-called since every time they actually pop their heads up from their subterranean Neo-Kathlyx NO dens and write with objectivity…. poink! they pop right back down again in their next articles) have to cease crossing their fingers, whistling past the foggy graveyard of Vatican Twice and make a real effort to engage with traditional thinkers. It might open their eyes to the stark political games Revolutionaries have played since J23 kicked off the Revolution by calling for V2 in the first place.
    So, Phil, please stop hopin’-and-wishin’ for relief or reform from the Mob in the Motel 6. The place is crawling with mini John Gottis and Obamster groupies. What you’re looking at? It’s WHAT they do! Scams, marked cards and 3 Card Monte are their specialties.
    Tell Jeff. (And, here’s some alfalfa for each of you….)

  3. [Update on Librero Milone: Good news; presumably more to follow especially from Phil Lawler]

    Vatican Withdraws Charges Against Former Auditor General

    Libero Milone is told he will not be “subject to any criminal proceedings or convictions.” He claims he was the victim of falsified evidence because he was investigating financial misconduct in the Vatican hierarchy.

    Edward Pentin – 7/7/18

    The Vatican has withdrawn charges against its first auditor general, Libero Milone, who had claimed that his June 2017 arrest was an attempt to block his investigations into Vatican finances, where he reportedly was uncovering evidence of corruption.

    In an interview aired on the Italian television channel SKY TG24 on Saturday, Milone revealed that the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice and the President of the Vatican Tribunal had informed him that he was no longer “subject to any criminal proceedings or convictions.”

    The Register has learned that the separate inquiry conducted by the Vatican Promoter of Justice with Milone’s lawyers came to the conclusion that no evidence existed to support the accusations that had been lodged against him.

    Milone, a former partner with Deloitte, a multinational auditing and consultancy firm, was appointed in 2015 as the first auditor general of the Vatican with a staff of 12 people. Employed as part of the Pope’s financial reforms, he was summarily dismissed after a raid by Vatican police on his office in June of last year.

    The principal responsibility of the auditor general is to oversee the auditing of procedures, internal controls and laws on the part of dicasteries and other Holy See institutions, including the Governorate of the Vatican City State. Among other duties, he is required to submit annual audit reports and perform specific reviews and audits at the request of the Council for the Economy or the Secretariat for the Economy.

    Since his dismissal, Milone has maintained his innocence, telling reporters last September that “a small group of powers” were trying to defame his reputation.

    “I was threatened with arrest,” he said in September. “The head of the Gendarmerie (Vatican Police) intimidated me to force me to sign a resignation letter that they had already prepared weeks in advance.”

    Milone said in September that he “wanted to do good for the Church, to contribute to the reform process as I was asked, but they wouldn’t let me.” He added that although Pope Francis began his financial reforms with the best of intentions, “he was blocked by the old guard that is still very much present there.”

    He said those resisting reform felt “threatened when they understood that I could tell the Pope and [Secretary of State Cardinal] Parolin what I had seen with my own eyes in their departments and in their accounts.”

    Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciù, then the Vatican’s undersecretary of state and now the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, initially said in September 2017 that Milone’s claims were “false and unjustified.”

    “He went against all the rules and was spying on the private lives of his superiors and staff, including me,” the then-Archbishop Becciù told Reuters. “If he had not agreed to resign, we would have prosecuted him.”

    Speaking to the Register on July 3, a senior member of the Vatican police said Milone was dismissed for the reasons Cardinal Becciù gave at the time. “He did not have the permission to pursue the investigations he was carrying out and, more importantly, he did not have the competence,” the source said.

    But another source with detailed knowledge of the matter told the Register July 5 that Milone “had apparently stumbled upon certain and clear abuses of funds, and they could no longer wait to remove him.”

    The source added, “From the beginning of his mandate, the auditor general was marginalized and his work impeded: the old guard wouldn’t give contracts to his staff, they strove to wear down his staff’s nerves, and deprived him of access to the Pope.”

    During the early months of his tenure, Milone was forced to file a complaint with the Vatican Gendarmerie after he discovered his computer had been physically violated and hacked. The disclosure of that story gave way to the scandal known as Vatileaks II.

    The Register source said they would have let Milone continue if he hadn’t persisted with his “professional approach,” but together with Cardinal George Pell, the prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, he was becoming “increasingly effective” and “came too close to uncovering dangerous things.”

    “In the end, action had to be taken to stop him,” he said.

    The question now is what steps the Vatican will take to remedy the situation. Since his dismissal last year, sources say Milone has had his reputation badly and unjustly tarnished, leaving him unable to secure any further professional appointments or engagements.

    “In the real world, a case like this would result in far more than just an apology, it would result in automatic reinstatement, the receipt of back pay, and the awarding of damages, too,” said the Register source.

    The Register contacted the office of Cardinal Becciù for comment, but his secretary said on July 5 that he could not be reached as he was on vacation.

  4. We’ll see. I put a hold on my alfalfa order for this month, in case you’re right about Lawler. 😎

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