The veil of secrecy that the Vatican has pulled over its financial affairs has been pierced by “Vatileaks” documents showing money mismanagement, administrative chaos and bureaucratic disarray.
“For centuries the Vatican has been a repository of state secrets, its own as well as those of foreign countries,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “The Vatican’s code of silence is often upheld to protect the confidences of churchmen around the world.”
Just who is violating those confidences by leaking documents is a mystery. But the Internet, constantly circulating rumors, seems to rule the Digital Age.
The Italian media are rife with stories of cardinals jockeying for prominence in future papal elections and infighting like politicians worldwide.
L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, recently described Pope Benedict as standing fast “before the wolves” amid “irresponsible and unworthy behavior.”
This clash of the cardinals and the Curia, center of church authority, is more about power than churchly deeds. Italian columnists say the deck is being stacked so that the next pope will be Italian.
But Benedict, 85 in April, is slowing down. The Associated Press hints that he no longer is in control of the Vatican. The New York Times suggests that the pope is more interested in theological matters than day-to-day affairs.
The financial scandal began with publication of letters from a Vatican administrator who begged the pope not to transfer him after he exposed millions of euros in cost overruns.
His reward for blowing the whistle? Assignment to Washington as Vatican ambassador.
Meanwhile, four priests are under investigation for using Vatican bank accounts to launder cash.
The Holy See is anything but holy these days.
New York Cardinal Dolan explained the financial corruption in spiritual terms: “This is the Holy Spirit calling the church to purification.”
Perhaps. But it is obvious that Catholic bishops are far behind the times in opposing birth control. They are also far behind their own flock.
The authoritative Guttmacher Institute, which studies reproductive health issues, notes that 98 percent of Catholic women use contraceptives.
Under President Obama’s policy, most health insurance plans must cover birth control for women, including contraceptive drugs. Catholic hospitals are exempt. But should they be?
Women’s health needs trump church doctrine. A doctrinaire church has no business running hospitals that people depend on for full health needs.
Bishops oppose the Obama policy under the bogus claim of religious liberty. As a Times editorial pointed out, clergy can “preach that birth control is immoral” but have no right to force its outdated doctrine on employees.
As one critic put it: “This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.”
The conflict would be settled once and for all with universal national health coverage. It is shameful that America, the richest country in the world, is without it.
Meanwhile, priestly pedophile refuses to be buried. Cardinal Egan of New York recently said, “I don’t think we did anything wrong. “
His Eminence is in denial. The American Catholic Church dismissed 700 priests in the past three years for sexual abuse. The Dutch Catholic bishops recently apologized for priestly abuse of 20,000 children.
The Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, expressed outrage at the Vatican’s attempt to cover up “17 years of revolting revelations.” He excoriated its report on the Cloyne diocese in County Cork:
“The report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism dominating the Vatican culture. Rape and torture of children were downplayed. Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal, the Vatican parsed and analyzed with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.”
U.S. judge errs
A U.S. district judge in Tacoma, Wash., was wildly off base when he ruled last week that the state of Washington cannot force pharmacies to sell the Plan B contraceptive if they have religious objections.
If pharmacists have religious qualms about selling contraceptives they should not be in the pharmacy business. They have an obligation to provide women with the drugs they need.
It’s a clear case of druggists foisting their moral scruples on consumers. Consumer needs matter, not the pharmacists’ religious fanaticism.
The judge, Ronald Leighton, used legal mumbo-jumbo to support his decision. But Nancy Pelosi, House Democratic leader, knows better.
She asks: “What is it that men don’t understand about women’s health? And why can’t they understand how important family planning is to women?”
Jake Highton teaches journalism at the University of Nevada, Reno. Contact him at email@example.com.