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Vatican scandals lift lid on secret power struggle
May 29th, 2012
01:51 PM ET

Vatican scandals lift lid on secret power struggle

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - Bad luck comes in threes, even for the pope.

The past week has seen his butler arrested, accused of leaking secret papers from the papal apartment; the head of his bank sacked for incompetence; and a demonstration on his front doorstep by protesters demanding that he reveal what he knows about Italy's most famous missing-person case.

It's bad PR for the Vatican, but it may be more than that, experts say. It could affect who becomes the next pope.

The arrest of the pope's trusted butler, Paolo Gabriele, came just a day before the board of the Vatican Bank fired its director, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.

Two days after that, hundreds of people chanted "Truth, truth!" in St. Peter's Square, holding pictures of Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican employee who disappeared at the age of 15 and has not been seen in the past 29 years.

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No less a figure than the Vatican's chief exorcist said he suspected the girl had been abducted for sexual reasons, adding: "The investigation should be carried out inside the Vatican and not outside."

The timing of the demonstration was probably a coincidence, since conspiracy theories about Orlandi's disappearance have been swirling for decades and police investigations have gone nowhere, said the Rev. Thomas Reese, author of "Inside the Vatican."

But the butler and bank scandals are significant, and reveal a secret battle going on behind closed doors, he said.

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The effect of each event is the same: to weaken the authority of Pope Benedict XVI's second in command.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican secretary of state, is involved in a power struggle with his predecessor, experts say.

"The reason for this fight is that the secretary of state will have a strong influence over the next conclave which will choose the next pope," said Giacomo Galeazzi, a journalist at the Italian daily La Stampa.

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The late John Paul II's secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, is trying to sideline Bertone and put one of his own proteges in place before Benedict dies, Galeazzi said.

"The leaks will end when Bertone is out as secretary of state," he predicted.

He said he expects that Bertone, who will be 78 in December, would be replaced at the end of the year, but not by the cardinal Sodano wants.

Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, isn't the only one who doesn't like Bertone, Reese said.

Bertone "did what normally happens. He brought in his team, the people he likes, the people he trusts, and he put them in key positions in the Vatican," he said.

"There are people who had hitched their star to the previous secretary of state who thought by now they would become an archbishop or a cardinal, and they didn't," Reese said. "These people are unhappy and don't like Bertone."

Part of the reason for the butler and bank scandals is that the Vatican hasn't been run well in decades, Reese said.

"Clerics don't go to Harvard Business School. Bertone is a theologian. He doesn't have an MBA," he said.

And Benedict is no better, he said.

"He is a German professor. He's a person who is into ideas, not a manager, and yet he is running a 1.2-billion member organization," Reese said.

There's a faction within the Vatican that wants the next pope to be "a better manger who can get the shop in order," Reese said.

"A lot of people think that would be an Italian, of course," after two popes from outside of Italy, John Paul II from Poland and Benedict from Germany, he said.

But the undermining of Bertone may work against that faction, he said.

"Bertone is from the Vatican and is Italian," Reese pointed out. "People may say we need somebody from outside who can come in and knock heads together and make it work."

Reese isn't taking a position on where the next pope should be from, but he has strong views on what Benedict's successor should do: "The place really needs to be restructured and reorganized. It still operates in many ways like a 19th century European court."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Catholic Church • Pope John Paul II • Scandal • Vatican

soundoff (1,326 Responses)
  1. fsuonelove

    Just learn the truth about the Vatican. They will soon fall. A new age is coming. Goto one-evil.org. research the work done by Michael Tsarion. 9/11 was an inside job done by royal banking families

    May 30, 2012 at 9:16 am |
    • Death To Muggles

      fsuonelove.

      I have the banking families and the NEOCONS figured out.
      I am still trying to connect The vatican and The British Royal Family.
      But somehow they are all tied together.

      As a side note.
      It blew my mind when i discovered that The United States Of America
      After signing a treaty with the British after the war of independence,
      we are not a country.
      We are a "Corporation" .
      We are allowed to vote for a president from either party,
      as long as they are approved by the board of directors.
      I am still trying to find out who is on that board.
      But some of the names i have run accross are some of the
      most powerfull and influential "rich" people on earth.

      I tossed out my tin foil hat.
      Knowledge is power.

      May 30, 2012 at 3:21 pm |
  2. prophet

    the best believers in God have always been converted athiests and there are many of them

    May 30, 2012 at 9:14 am |
  3. prophet

    How many of you can Forgive the catholic clery, There are some who can but unless the catholic clergy accept this Forgiveness and repent they have no redemption.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:10 am |
  4. Colin

    "No less a figure than the Vatican's chief exorcist". Can you even believe this utter nonsense. What a complete joke, in the 21st Century. An exorcist!! Do thay also have a chief "elf hunter" and a chief "fairy killer" running around the Vatican, competing for attention with the principal "unicorn trainer?"

    Ya gotta love the Catholics. They make it so easy for we athiests to make our point and open young minds to the nonsense of religion.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:07 am |
    • fsuonelove

      Religion is made up to enslave man, but a creator does exist

      May 30, 2012 at 9:10 am |
    • Colin

      it does, it is called DNA and natural selection.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  5. prophet

    somebody on here write that there is no jesus etc, and that is because the greeks and the catholics changed The Name of Our Saviour to suit themselves. Our Saviour did Come and did what He Did but not how the chrstians teach and show. They took The Truth and turned It to deceive people.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am |
    • fsuonelove

      No. U are wrong. Jesus is another made of sun god who fits the role of coming from the clouds to save humanity. These stories have been passed along by royal families to control the population. Jesus Christ are stories which depict the heroism and life of Julius Caeser. Pharoahs and caesers had children together.. cleopatra

      May 30, 2012 at 9:09 am |
    • fsuonelove

      Before "Christianity" they were known as "heliocentrics". Helio means sun

      May 30, 2012 at 9:13 am |
    • Sockness Monster

      *** fsuonelove

      No. U are wrong. Jesus is another made of sun god who fits the role of coming from the clouds to save humanity. These stories have been passed along by royal families to control the population. Jesus Christ are stories which depict the heroism and life of Julius Caeser. Pharoahs and caesers had children together.. cleopatra
      -----------------------------------------------------

      Close.

      Julius Ceasar and Cleopatra had a child together.
      Cesearean.
      Julius ceasar was declared a god by the roman senate, Cesearean was the son of god.
      Cleopatra, ruler of Egypt (A Pharoah) declared herself the reincarnation of the virgin goddess Isis.
      So Cesearean was the son of a virgin mother.
      JC – Julius Ceasar – Jesus Christ.
      The name Jesus Christ translates into "Son of Isis"

      To make a long story quick.
      Ceaser is murdered. Mark Antony (Soldier under Ceaser)
      Gos to Egypt, marries Cleopatra and they have 3 children.
      Twins (boy/girl) and another boy.
      ** Cesearean is now the hier to both the Roman throne and the Egyptian throne.
      Rome declares war, defeats Egypt, before her death Cleopatra sends Cesearan into exhile
      to Tibet, where he studies Buddism for 13 years.
      The man now sitting on the throne in Rome is Octavian, Ceasers adopted son.
      Cesearean returns to reclaim his throne under the name Jesus Christ
      and reunites with his 2 brothers and sister (Mary Magdalene)
      But Rome finds out (Thanks to the Jewish priests)
      And "Cesearean" is arrested and crucified.

      The victors write the story.
      The vatican edits it.

      May 30, 2012 at 3:38 pm |
  6. fsuonelove

    U guys realize the Vatican is completely lieing about religion. Research akhenaton and the religion of atonism the real "Moses"

    May 30, 2012 at 9:03 am |
  7. fsuonelove

    Soon the truth will come out.. and we will understand why the Vatican has spread its reaches across the entire earth, murdering free people along the way and burning any history books which contradict their beloved "made up" Jesus Christ

    May 30, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  8. prophet

    but really there is no secret in the vatican, its obvious what is happening, just look at it since it began 1800 years ago, what secret, their evil is obvious

    May 30, 2012 at 8:59 am |
    • fsuonelove

      Their evil is obvious as they have been working with the royal families to mind control the human race. We are spiritual beings.. one with earth and the stars

      May 30, 2012 at 9:05 am |
  9. fsuonelove

    Wonder ehh chruches feed Jesus birth on Dec. 25?? It's solar worship. Jesus is the "sun" we are his disciples.. we are the 12 tribes of Israel. They are simply the 12 signs of the zodiac

    May 30, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  10. MoreUrgent

    @ Rational Libertarian ... Catholic Church is a private organization..
    w r o n g
    the Vatican State is a full-fledged state and the Pope enjoys immunity as its head of state – which his lawyers conveniently and frequently use in numerous cases to avoid prosecution.

    Therefore, the RCC is the ONLY religion on earth that enjoys these privileges.
    For instance, the Vatican can shelter internationally wanted criminals behind its walls – which it has done for decades.

    It's just a matter of time until other nations with certain interests (US for instance) will successfully put an end to this.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:56 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Exactly HOW are we supposedly putting an end to this?

      May 30, 2012 at 9:57 am |
  11. fsuonelove

    There was no historical Jesus Christ. Jesus is the "sun" the Vatican is fookig everyone into solar worship

    May 30, 2012 at 8:55 am |
  12. prophet

    whats unfortunate is the people that support the catholics, many are colluding with them as believers but many are innocent and it is these innocent ones that the the catholic clergy take advantage of. The catholic clergy are really an evil lot, ther are some that ust don't know but most are terrible and the worst sort of evil is the one that draws you in and they do to many people.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:55 am |
    • Primewonk

      So you think the Catholics are wacky nutters?

      Funny. Because the Catholics think the Baptists are wacky nutters. And the Lutherans think the Muslims are wacky nutters. And the Jews think the Episcopalians are wacky nutters. And the Pentecostals think the Mormons are wacky nutters.

      Get the idea? One think is abundently clear – when you step outside the bounds of religion and look back in – you all are nutters. Sorry.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:00 am |
  13. fsuonelove

    Learn the truth about the evil Vatican, as they soon will fall. One-evil.org

    May 30, 2012 at 8:54 am |
  14. prophet

    Our Saviour came to Save us from religion

    May 30, 2012 at 8:48 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      He didn't do a very good job, did he?

      May 30, 2012 at 8:50 am |
  15. prophet

    it will be natural disasters that will affect The Vatican they are destroying themselves with with their own greed and dishonesty and deceit, just leave them to it no one has to do anything, they will do it to themselves, they need to turn to Our Saviour.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:43 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      My savior is Johnnie Walker Black Label, humanity's true messiah.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:49 am |
  16. prophet

    the insecurities of the vatican are obvious, look at the vatican website and you will see that the picture of Mr Benedict has been altered so that he look like the pope that most people seemed to like.

    May 30, 2012 at 8:39 am |
    • fsuonelove

      The Vatican is evil. Enslaves man. And has funded every war the past 300 years..

      May 30, 2012 at 8:51 am |
  17. prophet

    Its not if the vatican will fall but when

    May 30, 2012 at 8:35 am |
  18. steve

    sounds like the pope won't make it to the end of the year. Bertone could put a knife square in his chest and they would say he died from natural causes. Thirst for power makes people crazy. Divine power makes people bat crap nuts.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:49 am |
  19. Freedom from religion

    no doubt, the catholic church is filthy. Let's expose the real crimes against children. We have only seen the tip of the iceberg on that issue. Who cares if the pope and crew, juvenile delinquents that never grew up, kill each other? No one.. The world should take over the vatican and arrest the pope and his pigs.

    May 30, 2012 at 7:20 am |
    • MoreUrgent

      Take over of Catholic Church: This is just a matter of time.
      The question is: which country will be first?
      Maybe Spain?
      http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2012/05/29/vatican-scandals-lift-lid-on-secret-power-struggle/comment-page-8/?replytocom=1350621#respond

      The Catholic Church in Spain also would have enough money to help the state with its financial crises,
      m o r e t h a n e n o u g h!

      May 30, 2012 at 8:18 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      No, we shouldn't "take over" the Catholic Church. The Catholic Church is a private organization and nobody has the right to "take over" the Church. Anybody suspected of being involved in the child s ex abuse scandal should be arrested and tried for their alleged offences. Also, let's tax them. That or abolish income and corporation tax (which I support).

      May 30, 2012 at 8:25 am |
  20. shaz

    where else you find the truest concept of God by all means except in islam... follow quran and turn to the divine guidence...

    May 30, 2012 at 7:13 am |
    • MoreUrgent

      You do read the daily news??? Who wants to live under the same conditions as in countries where Islam is state/predominant religion? Saudi Arabia, Syria :O, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan ..... No thank you!

      May 30, 2012 at 8:05 am |
    • Rational Libertarian

      How about I follow rational thought instead. You're religion is based on the archaic beliefs of desert tribesmen who worship an angry deity and a pederast.

      May 30, 2012 at 8:19 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.