Hilary White, Rome Correspondent

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Vatican, others confirm existence of gay scandal report: pope sets new transition rules

Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
Hilary White, Rome Correspondent
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ROME, February 25, 2013 (LifeSiteNews.com) – It is three days to the end of the pontificate of Benedict XVI and it is nearly impossible to keep on top of the rumours and speculation whirling around the Internet over his resignation and the upcoming conclave. The whole world wants to know what is really going on. Unfortunately, the real scope and parameters of what is currently unfolding will likely never be completely known. The best we can do is careful examination of what we do know, a judicious piecing together of the available facts.  

First we had Friday’s blockbuster story by La Repubblica on the 300-page report by three senior cardinals allegedly detailing the activities of a homosexual cabal, blackmail and manipulation of Vatican officials and possible financial misdeeds. Many have said that they believe the whole story is a hoax. Others have justifiably questioned how any journalist could have known anything about the report’s contents, given that there is supposed to be only one copy and that is in the pope’s private safe.

In our coverage on Friday, I was careful to use words and phrases like “allegedly” and “La Repubblica says”. It would have been impossible to decline to report at least that the story had been circulated because it was receiving such prominence, but we wanted to be cautious. Veteran Vaticanista Robert Moynihan, founder of Inside the Vatican magazine, is among those in Rome who have been asking these questions. This weekend, he speculated that, while it seems beyond possibility that any journalist could have actually seen the document, it is certainly plausible that information about it could have been leaked.

It has been said that it could not possibly have been leaked because the only people who have seen it are the three cardinals and the pope. But, Moynihan points out, there are also the people interviewed. These are people who live and work closely together, and it is certainly possible that they would have spoken to each other, or possibly to their families, about the questions they were asked and the answers they gave.

I sent the following email to Moynihan Saturday:

Robert,

You're forgetting another possible source of information.

A 300 page book, about 90,000 words, does not come into existence without at least one person doing the clerical work. It does not seem likely that three aged cardinals would be very fast typists or familiar enough with office equipment, let alone computers to do this themselves. La Repubblica does not say, but we can probably assume that it was not a hand-written manuscript.

Someone had to draft the questions, print the papers, collate the answers and produce the final report. This is work for at least two or three secretarial people aside from the cardinals. Then there are the cardinals' aids and office staff and their personal staff. All these people could have gained some access to the papers before they were collated. And certainly the secretarial people who put the final report together would have known quite a lot about its contents, if not, as you say, the whole thing.

“True dat,” he replied.

Today, Moynihan wrote of a conversation he had with Ignazio Ingrao, the journalist who broke the original story in the Italian magazine Panorama. Ingrao admitted that he had not seen the document nor talked with the cardinals.

“My work was a careful work of reconstruction,” Ingrao said. “I had been interested in the dossier for a long time, of course, and when the Pope resigned on February 11, my interest only increased. I very systematically sought out people in the Curia I thought might have been interviewed, and I spoke to them, one by one.” These 15 people gave him an outline of understanding what the questioning had been about.

About the “gay lobby” that his article said exists in the curia, Ingrao was definite. The theme “emerged because a few of the people who were questioned by the cardinals told me that the questions that they were asked were about this aspect…It was clear.

“The cardinals were specifically interested in this point. I heard this from several sources. I did not consider anything valid if I heard it from one source only. I required at least two or three sources telling me the same thing. If I heard it from two or more sources, if my sources confirmed one another, I knew I was hearing something with a basis in fact.”

The first Vatican response was to “neither confirm nor deny” anything about the cardinals’ work, and issued a media release rebuking media outlets for making things up. But today they changed their tune. The Secretariat of State issued a statement saying, “It is regrettable that as we draw closer to the time of the beginning of the conclave … that there be a widespread distribution of often unverified, unverifiable or completely false news stories that cause serious damage to persons and institutions.”

“If in the past it was the so-called superpowers, namely States, who sought to condition the election of the Pope in their favour, today there is an attempt to apply the weight of public opinion, often on the basis of assessments that fail to capture the spiritual aspect of this moment in the life of the Church.”

The question about whether such a report exists at all, however, was settled this morning when the Vatican issued a statement that, while not saying much in itself, at least confirmed that La Repubblica got the basic facts right. There is such a report, created by the cardinals named and Benedict has decided to keep its contents secret and give it only into the hands of the next pope. The brief statement also adds a new name to consider in the puzzle of how the information could have been leaked to the press, that of Commission Secretary, Fransican Fr. Luigi Martignani.

Then followed a story by La Stampa’s usually well-informed Vatican Insider magazine that the document’s contents would be revealed to the cardinals in the conclave. Today this was contradicted by Fr. Lombardi at a press conference who said that the report would be exclusively released into the hands of the new pope. At the same time, further hints were offered that the Italian media reports were on the right track. A statement was read from Pope Benedict thanking the three cardinals for their work, saying that the report reveals “the limits and imperfections given the human component of all institutions”.

A little-understood aspect of Vatican politics, that is widely known in journalistic circles in Rome, is that Fr. Lombardi, the head of the Vatican’s official press machine, is hampered by difficulties with “access”.

It is one of the peculiarities of this pontificate that, unlike his predecessor Joaquin Navarro-Valls who spoke privately to Pope John Paul II regularly, Fr. Lombardi does not enjoy that kind of privileged access to Benedict. A fact that were it more widely known would have gone a long way to explaining some of the Jesuit mathematician’s more embarrassing public gaffes over the last eight years. It also helps us understand why the public statements of the Vatican press office and those of the various dicasteries are sometimes so different.

One of the strongest hints that the homosexual subculture in the Church is causing concern in high places is a statement from the cardinal archbishop of Sydney who called on the Vatican press office to respond to the report in “some constructive way.”

Cardinal George Pell, who spoke just before flying out to Rome on Friday, said, “I know nothing of the content of the report but whatever it contains it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy.” The Australian said he praised Benedict for his “courage for commissioning such a report”.

At the same time, questions and confusion over when, exactly, the conclave will start are being sorted out by the well-prepared Benedict. He issued a special motu proprio today saying that in case of a papal abdication, the required waiting time can be waived and the conclave date can be moved up.

Under the current rules we would have had to wait until March 15; now the cardinals can decide to get on with things a little more promptly, since there will be no need, deo volente, for a papal lying-in-state or funeral. Modern transportation has made it easier for far-flung cardinals to make it and a good number of them are already in town.

The voting cardinals will start the “congregations,” the preparation meetings after March 1, the beginning of the “sede vacante” or empty seat period, and Fr. Lombardi said that the decision on when the voting will start may still take some days after that.

The same document extends and strengthens the required oath of secrecy to appoint technicians to assist the cardinals “in assuring that no audio-visual equipment for recording or transmitting has been installed by anyone in the areas mentioned, and particularly in the Sistine Chapel itself, where the acts of the election are carried out.”

Significantly, Benedict has imposed an automatic excommunication (latae sententiae) on anyone violating the secrecy of the conclave.

A last interesting development from the weekend is the news that Benedict has also ordered the old oath of loyalty restored, to be sworn individually to the new pontiff by all members of the College of Cardinals. Monsignor Guido Marini, master of papal liturgical ceremonies, known as a strong supporter of Benedict’s liturgical reform, told L’Osservatore Romano that each cardinal present at the pope’s first Mass will come forward and offer his public “act of obedience”.

This is a change from the rules in place in 2005, when instead of the ancient ritual of oath-giving, 12 people were chosen to represent “all Catholics” three cardinals, a bishop, a diocesan priest, a transitional deacon, male and female religious and laity. Monsignor Marini said Pope Benedict personally approved the changes February 18th

Slowly the apparent chaos is coalescing into a pattern and it is confirming what most of the people I have talked to believe, that Pope Benedict is acting in a concerted and organised manner, almost as though he planned it all. He knows what he is doing.

The idea is also becoming more firmly dismissed that Benedict was reacting to the cardinals’ secret document; that he saw its contents and was so shocked and horrified that he sat down and in a kind of despair, penned a resignation letter. Such a suggestion shows that those making it know nothing of this man whose self-appointed primary task during his pontificate has been to clean up the “filth” that he identified even before it started. And before that, he sat up in his office in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for over 20 years and received information from around the world, as well as from his own back yard, on what was going on.

Far more likely is that Benedict commissioned the report as part of his larger work, that he was fully aware before he read it of the general parameters of the corruption, its nature and scale.

Indeed, two weeks after the announcement that so shocked and disturbed the Catholic world, two weeks of doing nothing but pore over news reports, blog posts, emails and messages, of talking with people in Rome and via Skype around the world, it seems that the existence of this report, as well as the other changes and items on Benedict’s to-do list, is one of the most cheering pieces of news we’ve had recently.

It indicates that the corruption is not the whole story, that Pope Benedict is battling to the very eleventh hour, and still has the situation firmly in hand, and that the work of his pontificate will not end on February 28th

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Cardinal Dolan: Debate on denying Communion to pro-abortion pols ‘in the past’

Lisa Bourne
By Lisa Bourne

As America heads into its 2014 midterm elections, a leading U.S. prelate says the nation’s bishops believe debate over whether to deny Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians is “in the past.”

The Church’s Code of Canon Law states in Canon 915 that those “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.” Leading Vatican officials, including Pope Benedict XVI himself, have said this canon ought to be applied in the case of pro-abortion Catholic politicians. However, prelates in the West have widely ignored it, and some have openly disagreed.

John Allen, Jr. of the new website Crux, launched as a Catholic initiative under the auspices of the Boston Globe, asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan about the issue earlier this month.

“In a way, I like to think it’s an issue that served us well in forcing us to do a serious examination of conscience about how we can best teach our people about their political responsibilities,” the cardinal responded, “but by now that inflammatory issue is in the past.”

“I don’t hear too many bishops saying it’s something that we need to debate nationally, or that we have to decide collegially,” he continued. “I think most bishops have said, ‘We trust individual bishops in individual cases.’ Most don’t think it’s something for which we have to go to the mat.”

Cardinal Dolan expressed personal disinterest in upholding Canon 915 publicly in 2010 when he told an Albany TV station he was not in favor of denying Communion to pro-abortion politicians. He said at the time that he preferred “to follow the lead of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, who said it was better to try to persuade them than to impose sanctions.”

However, in 2004 Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI the following year, wrote the U.S. Bishops a letter stating that a Catholic politician who would vote for "permissive abortion and euthanasia laws" after being duly instructed and warned, "must" be denied Communion. 

Cardinal Ratzinger sent the document to the U.S. Bishops in 2004 to help inform their debate on the issue. However, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, then-chair of the USCCB Task Force on Catholic Bishops and Catholic Politicians, who received the letter, withheld the full text from the bishops, and used it instead to suggest ambiguity on the issue from the Vatican.

A couple of weeks after Cardinal McCarrick’s June 2004 address to the USCCB, the letter from Cardinal Ratzinger was leaked to well-known Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, who published the full document. Cardinal Ratzinger’s office later confirmed the leaked document as authentic.

Since the debate in 2004, numerous U.S. prelates have openly opposed denying Communion to pro-abortion Catholic politicians.

In 2008, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley suggested the Church had yet to formally pronounce on the issue, and that until it does, “I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people.”

In 2009, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington D.C. in 2009 said that upholding of Canon 915 would turn the Eucharist into a political “weapon,” refusing to employ the law in the case of abortion supporter Rep. Nancy Pelosi.

Cardinal Roger Mahoney, archbishop emeritus of Los Angeles, said in a 2009 newspaper interview that pro-abortion politicians should be granted communion because Jesus Christ gave Holy Communion to Judas Iscariot.

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However, one of the Church’s leading proponents of the practice, U.S. Cardinal Raymond Burke, who is prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, insists that denying Communion is not a punishment.

“The Church’s discipline from the time of Saint Paul has admonished those who obstinately persevere in manifest grave sin not to present themselves for Holy Communion,” he said at LifeSiteNews’ first annual Rome Life Forum in Vatican City in early May. "The discipline is not a punishment but the recognition of the objective condition of the soul of the person involved in such sin."  

Only days earlier, Cardinal Francis Arinze, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, told LifeSiteNews that he has no patience for politicians who say that they are “personally” opposed to abortion, but are unwilling to “impose” their views on others.

On the question of Communion, he said, “Do you really need a cardinal from the Vatican to answer that?”

Cardinal Christian Tumi, archbishop emeritus of Douala, told LifeSiteNews around the same time that ministers of Holy Communion are “bound not to” give the Eucharist to Catholic politicians who support abortion.

Pro-life organizations across the world have said they share the pastoral concern for pro-abortion politicians. Fifty-two pro-life leaders from 16 nations at the recent Rome Life Forum called on the bishops of the Catholic Church to honor Canon 915 and withhold Communion from pro-abortion politicians as an act of love and mercy.

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‘His bones are basically like paper’: Parents refuse to abort baby with rare condition

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By Kirsten Anderson

At just 11 weeks old, little Layton Diven is not like other babies. Every time his parents pick him up or cuddle him, there is a chance they will break his bones. In fact, Layton has already suffered more than 20 fractures in his short life – beginning at the moment of his birth.

Layton has Osteogenesis Imperfecta (OI), a rare disease that makes his bones brittle and prone to breakage. There are several types of OI, and Layton’s type, OI Type III, is the most severe type found among infants. Most babies born with the disease, like Layton, are born with multiple fractures, especially along the rib cage. Many struggle to breathe or swallow. The incurable disease is progressive, so it will get worse as he gets older.

Layton was diagnosed with OI in the womb, but abortion wasn’t an option for his parents, Chad and Angela Diven, who considered their baby a gift from God, no matter his condition.

“We weren't going to have an abortion, so he was born with the disease,” Angela Diven told KSLA. “God chose me for him, to be his mom, so I have to take that huge responsibility and do what's best for him.”

That responsibility comes with a heavy price. Layton requires 24-hour care, but both Angela and Chad have full-time jobs. He can’t go to regular daycare, because it’s not safe for him.

“You can't just pick him up like a normal baby,” Diven said. “You can't dress him like a normal child; his bones are basically like paper. He can't go to daycare because of his condition. He's medically fragile, and a daycare can't handle him."

Childcare costs are just the beginning, though – the treatments Layton will need throughout his life are expensive and may not be covered by insurance.

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Layton is currently receiving pamidronate IV therapy, which will help to strengthen his bones. But in order to be able to stand or walk, he will need metal rods implanted in his legs – an operation that will cost the Divens $80,000. The OI specialist coordinating Layton’s care is in Omaha, Nebraska, while the Divens live in Louisiana. As he grows, Layton will also require special equipment, such as a wheelchair, along with extensive physical therapy.

Despite the hardships they knew would come, the Divens stepped out in faith to bring Layton into the world. Now, they are reaching out to the internet for help to shoulder the financial burdens that came with their baby blessing. The family has set up both a GoFundMe and a Facebook page called “Lifting Up Layton Diven,” where people can receive updates on Layton’s condition and contribute to the cost of his care.

To donate to baby Layton’s medical trust fund, click here.

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Sources confirm Cardinal Burke will be removed. But will he attend the Synod?

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By John-Henry Westen

Sources in Rome have confirmed to LifeSiteNews that Cardinal Raymond Burke, the head of the Vatican’s highest court, known as the Apostolic Signatura, is to be removed from his post as head of the Vatican dicastery and given a non-curial assignment as patron of the Order of Malta.

The timing of the move is key since Cardinal Burke is currently on the list to attend October’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family. He is attending in his capacity as head of one of the dicasteries of the Roman Curia, so if he is removed prior to the Synod it could mean he would not be able to attend.

Burke has been one of the key defenders in the lead-up to the Synod of the Church's traditional practice of withholding Communion from Catholics who are divorced and civilly remarried.

Most of the Catholic world first learned of the shocking development through Vatican reporter Sandro Magister, whose post ‘Exile to Malta for Cardinal Burke’ went out late last night.

If Burke’s removal from the Signatura is confirmed, said Magister, the cardinal “would not be promoted - as some are fantasizing in the blogosphere - to the difficult but prestigious see of Chicago, but rather demoted to the pompous - but ecclesiastically very modest - title of ‘cardinal patron’ of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, replacing the current head, Paolo Sardi, who recently turned 80.”

At 66, Cardinal Burke is still in his Episcopal prime.

The prominent traditional Catholic blog Rorate Caeli goes as far as to say, “It would be the greatest humiliation of a Curial Cardinal in living memory, truly unprecedented in modern times: considering the reasonably young age of the Cardinal, such a move would be, in terms of the modern Church, nothing short than a complete degradation and a clear punishment.”

On Tuesday, American traditionalist priest-blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf also hinted he had heard the move was underway. “I’ve been biting the inside of my mouth for a while now,” he wrote. “The optimist in me was saying that the official announcement would not be made until after the Synod of Bishops, or at least the beginning of the Synod. Or at all.”

“It’s not good news,” he added.

Both Magister and Zuhlsdorf predicted that the controversial move would unleash a wave of simultaneous jubilation from dissident Catholics and criticism from faithful Catholics. The decision to remove Cardinal Burke from his position on the Congregation for Bishops last December caused a public outpouring of concern and dismay from Catholic and pro-life leaders across the globe.

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Both men speculated on the reasons for the ouster. 

Magister pointed out that Burke is the latest in a line of ‘Ratzingerian’ prelates to undergo the axe.

“In his first months as bishop of Rome, pope Bergoglio immediately provided for the transfer to lower-ranking positions of three prominent curial figures: Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Archbishop Guido Pozzo, and Bishop Giuseppe Sciacca, considered for their theological and liturgical sensibilities among the most ‘Ratzingerian’ of the Roman curia,” said Magister.

He added: “Another whose fate appears to be sealed is the Spanish archbishop of Opus Dei Celso Morga Iruzubieta.”

Fr. Zuhlsdorf observed that Pope Francis may also be shrinking the Curial offices and thus reducing the number of Cardinals needed to fill those posts. He adds however, “It would be naïve in the extreme to think that there are lacking near Francis’s elbows those who have been sharpening their knives for Card. Burke and for anyone else associated closely with Pope Benedict.” 

“This is millennial, clerical blood sport.”

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