Church in the World
Bertone accuses media of inventing VatiLeaks allegationsRobert Mickens - 23 June 2012
Pope Benedict’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone SDB, has accused Italian journalists of telling “lies” and “inventing fairy tales” in their coverage of the so-called VatiLeaks scandal.
“Many journalists are trying to imitate Dan Brown,” said the 77-year-old cardinal, referring to the author of novels that gave lurid and far-fetched accounts of the workings of the Vatican.
“People abroad are struggling to understand the vehemence of certain Italian papers,” he continued in an interview published on Thursday in Famiglia Cristiana, one of Italy’s biggest-selling weeklies.
The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano then splashed extensive excerpts of the interview on the front page of its Tuesday edition adding its own commentary. The article began with this list of words: “‘Pettiness’, ‘lies’, ‘slander’, ‘fables and legends about the life of the Church’ and ‘the desire to cause division, which comes from evil’.” These words were Cardinal Bertone’s reply to “the many insinuations that have been raging for weeks in the Italian press”, the paper said.
In his interview the cardinal claimed that at the heart of the VatiLeaks scandals was an “evil” design to destabilise the institutional Church. But he said this would fail because “the Church has an ability to regenerate herself that no other institutions or individuals have. It is clear that the Church is a rock that can weather the storms.”
Cardinal Bertone, whose removal is believed to be one of the primary aims of those leaking the Vatican documents to the press, denied that there was infighting and disarray in the Roman Curia. He said those who claimed this were trying to sow division and block Pope Benedict’s “great clarifying and purifying action” inside the Church.
The cardinal’s unusually hard-hitting and carefully placed interview came as three of his confreres were intensifying their efforts to get to the bottom of the scandal, which began in late January.
Cardinals Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi – members of the papal commission set up to investigate the leaks – met the Pope last Saturday to update him on their progress. Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said they had already interviewed some 23 individuals, including laypeople and clergy, as well as heads of various curia offices. He denied press reports that some prelates had already been identified as smuggling private documents to the press.
So far only Pope Benedict’s private butler, Paolo Gabriele, has been arrested in the ongoing affair. The 46-year-old father of three has been detained in a Vatican security room for nearly one month. Vatican magistrates this week refused his lawyers’ request that he be remitted to house arrest.
Meanwhile, it appears that the European Commission’s money-laundering regulators, Moneyval, are set again to reject the Vatican’s bid to be included in the so-called “white list” of financially transparent states. Italian papers reported this week that Moneyval had given the Vatican “partially compliant” or “non-compliant” marks on eight of 16 “key recommendations” necessary for acceding to the white list. The final ruling is to be announced early next month.
The Vatican asked the body to appraise its financial operations, including especially those of its “bank” (the Institute for the Works of Religion) in 2010 in an ongoing effort to comply with European financial regulations. The Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi SJ, said the outcome was “normal” and that it would take time to make the “white list” since this was a new endeavour for the Vatican.
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