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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Christian clerk fights on as Sixth Circuit orders her to issue gay ‘marriage’ licenses

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By Dustin Siggins

ROWAN COUNTY, KY, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- A federal appeals court has ordered Christian clerk Kim Davis to provide same-sex “marriage” licenses, but she’s refusing to give in.

Davis, a Democrat, says that her Christian beliefs will not allow her to issue licenses for same-sex “marriages.” Despite pressure from Democrat Gov. Steve Beshear, a lawsuit from the ACLU, and two federal court rulings, Davis has refused to issue any licenses while the matter is still working its way through the courts.

However, the Sixth District Court of Appeals said Davis must issue the licenses.

While critics say Davis must follow the law as a public employee, she says the First Amendment protects her decision even as a government worker. In addition to being sued by the ACLU, she has pro-actively taken her case to court.

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Beshear told all government employees that "you can continue to have your own personal beliefs, but, you’re also taking an oath to fulfill the duties prescribed by law, and if you are at that point to where your personal convictions tell you that you simply cannot fulfill your duties that you were elected to do, then obviously an honorable course to take is to resign and let someone else step in who feels that they can fulfill those duties.”

The initial court decision against Davis was stayed 10 days ago. Liberty Counsel's Mat Staver, whose organization represents Davis, told CNN that they might appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and are hoping the high court would issue a stay of the Sixth Circuit ruling in the interim.

A poll of Kentucky voters that was released last month found that 50 percent of the state backs natural marriage, while only 37 percent supported its redefinition. 

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Christians at Duke U refuse to read lesbian porn novel assignment

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By Steve Weatherbe

DURHAM, NC, August 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- Christian freshmen at Duke University are refusing to read an assigned graphic novel depicting masturbation and homosexual intercourse. The university says the assignment was optional and won’t discipline the holdouts.

Brian Grasso emerged as the spokesperson for the dissenters after he posted his decision on the Class of 2019’s closed Facebook page. Opponents have done their best to mock and deride the holdouts as ignoramuses who don’t belong at Duke, but Grasso has addressed all their jibes, first to Duke’s student paper and then in an op-ed in the Washington Post, intelligently and engagingly.

The book at issue is Fun Home, a fictional depiction by lesbian artist Alison Bechdel of growing up with a homosexual, suicidal dad and discovering sex with other girls. “After researching the book’s content and reading a portion of it, I chose to opt out of the assignment,” Grasso told Post readers, explaining he was not opposed to learning about homosexuality any more than he would be with the ideas of “Freud, Marx or Darwin,” though he might find them immoral too.

“But in the Bible,” he went on, “Jesus forbids his followers from exposing themselves to anything pornographic. ‘But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart,’ he says in Matthew 5:28-29. ‘If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away.’” He then cited St. Paul to support his argument.

Grasso knew Christians would be in the minority at Duke, he admitted, but what surprised him was that Duke would blithely assign something so obviously offensive to this minority. “Duke did not seem to have people like me in mind. It was like Duke didn’t know we existed, which surprises me.”

But Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization devoted to promoting American Catholic orthodoxy at Catholic universities, isn’t surprised. “American society has been moving away from Christian values or even neutrality, especially at secular institutions but even at Catholic and other Christian schools,” Reilly told LifeSiteNews. He urged Catholic and other Christian parents and high school students to choose their universities carefully.

Other freshmen have supported Grasso: Bianca d’Souza said the novel’s ideas were important but the salacious content unnecessary and offensive. Jeffrey Wubbenhorst wrote, “”The nature of ‘Fun Home’ means that the content that I might have consented to read in print now violates my conscience due to its pornographic content.”

But others from the class of 2019 responded, “Reading the book will allow you to open your mind to a new perspective and to examine a way of life and thinking with which you are unfamiliar.”

In the same vein students wrote the Duke student newspaper Chronicle, mocking the dissenters with references to a Dr. Seuss children’s book. “Mermaid Warrior,” for example, wrote, “I’m sure there are people who think Cat in the Hat sends bad messages. That’s a big problem I have with complaints like these, ‘I shouldn’t be expected to read stuff I disagree with!’ It’s like, guess what, there’s no way to find something that everyone will agree with.”

But Grasso makes clear his issue isn’t with disagreeable ideas at all. “I think there is an important distinction between images and written words. If the book explored the same themes without sexual images or erotic language, I would have read it. But viewing pictures of sexual acts, regardless of the genders of the people involved, conflict with the inherent sacredness of sex. My beliefs extend to pop culture and even Renaissance art depicting sex.”

Inevitably, Duke itself weighed in. The book was selected for summer reading by the freshman class, explained Duke’s vice president or public affairs, Michael Schoenfeld, “because it is a unique and moving book that transcends genres and explores issues that students are likely to confront.”

After touting its artistic value and noting that a Broadway adaptation won the Best Musical award for 2015, he noted that the book was not a requirement and there would be no examination or grading. He expressed the hope that Duke’s 1,750 freshmen would arrive with open minds willing to “explore new ideas.”

But for all that, Schoenfeld did not explore the issues raised by Grasso: morality, pornography and the sexualization of relations.

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Aborted babies’ hands too disturbing? Solution: chop them off before shipping the bodies

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By John Jalsevac
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August 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) - As if we needed more evidence that many of those in the abortion industry know perfectly well what they are doing, along comes the latest undercover video from the Center for Medical Progress (CMP).

The video includes disturbing undercover footage of a conversation with Cate Dyer, the CEO of StemExpress, a biomedical firm that acquires the bodies of aborted babies from Planned Parenthood clinics.

During that conversation Dyer infamously jokes with an undercover investigator about the need to warn lab techs ahead of time when a fully “intact” aborted baby's cadaver is being shipped to them.

But there it is: that hand, in all of its beauty, and its horror. Beautiful, as every hand is beautiful. Horrific, in that it is attached to a dismembered arm, yanked out of its socket, and swimming in a pool of the baby’s intestines and other body parts, to be bartered over and sold. 

“If you have intact cases, which we’ve done a lot, we sometimes ship those back to our lab in its entirety,” she says. "Tell the lab it's coming, so they don't open the box and" scream. "Their lab techs freak out and have meltdowns."

"Academic labs cannot fly like that, they are just not capable," Dyer adds condescendingly. "It's almost like they don't want to know where it comes from. I can see that."

But don’t worry, Dyer makes it clear she knows exactly where fetal tissue comes from, and isn't bothered in the least.  However, she agrees with a joke made by the undercover investigator, that if you’re going to be shipping the intact body of an aborted baby, it would be best to always make sure that the “eyes are closed.”

But surely the saddest part of the conversation comes when Dyer reveals how some of those squeamish lab techs manage to get around their natural repugnance at receiving little, perfectly-formed babies’ bodies in the mail, which they will then slice and dice – all in the name of “medical progress,” of course.

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She says that she often receives instructions from scientists who experiment on aborted babies that, "We need limbs, but no hands and feet need to be attached."

A curious request, no? But then again, there is something especially pesky about those tiny hands and feet, isn’t there?

Human hands are, after all, a true marvel of nature – so far surpassing in dexterity the appendages of any other mammal, the unparalleled tools that have enabled human beings to build empires, create art of breathtaking beauty, and to express themselves in myriad different ways. So marvelous, in fact, that Isaac Newton is reported to have said, “In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God’s existence.”

Not only are hands and feet useful, but they knit human beings together in intimacy: lovers will hold or squeeze their beloved's hands, and friends will soothe their friends in time of sorrow by taking their hands. And then there is the case of new parents, who will go into raptures over the hands and feet of their newborn babies, and speak, using the foolish language of love, of wanting to “eat” them. Mothers will shower their newborn babies’ feet with kisses, and tickle them, and will study and fall in love with every dimple, every crease.

Perhaps that is why so many people found the fifth (or was it the sixth? I’m losing track of the horrors) video so disturbing: that footage inside the lab, when the man behind the camera uses his tweezers to delicately lift up a dismembered arm, with the hand still attached.

That arm, it is true, would not have been half so disturbing, were it not for the hand. But there it is: that hand, in all of its beauty, and its horror. Beautiful, as every hand is beautiful. Horrific, in that it is attached to a dismembered arm, yanked out of its socket, and swimming in a pool of the baby’s intestines and other body parts, to be bartered over and sold. 

Before this, we have heard the lab techs on camera identifying the baby as a twin, at about 20-weeks gestation. In other words, a baby on the very verge of viability.

But no mother will gaze in raptures at those hands and those feet. Instead, Planned Parenthood will discuss how much they can “get” for each "specimen." And perhaps Cate Dyer will instruct her staff to cut off the hands or the feet before shipping the limbs to those too-tender-hearted lab techs who might “freak out” and “have a meltdown” at being forced to see too much of the truth.

But what does it say about us, and our politicians, that the videos with those pesky hands and feet are out there circulating, watched by millions, and yet we are not “freaking out” or having any meltdowns?

Instead, our politicians are dismissing the video as being "highly edited," as if David Daleiden of CMP is a CGI wizard who can conjure up dismembered limbs at will, and even though even Planned Parenthood has never denied the existence of those dismembered arms and legs, but has only implausibly denied that they are illegally "profiting" from the sale of the appendages - as if illegally profiting from the sale is somehow worse than the fact that they have dismembered the babies in the first place. 

If the dismembered hands and feet aren't enough to awaken our consciences, and to force our politicians to stop the massacre, what will be? I fear the answer to that question. 

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