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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.

Nuns at odds with Vatican meeting this week

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. Mike Jones

    CNN is morphing in to another shill for Obama (see MSNBC).
    Obama insulted Poland yesterday, all over in the news except the two Obama political PACS known as

    MSNBC, CNN

    May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      except for the video news story on cnn about how the poles are upset over the comments of course.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • GAW

      You're trying too hard Mike.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      oh and the story on msnbc site as well of course.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  2. stonedwhitetrash

    How could a simple homeless nomad like Jesus who preached that nothing here on earth really matters approve of the Catholic Church? My opinion on this comes after studying many versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John

    May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Mike Jones

      Your screen name explains what you are very well.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • Marc

      Studying the bible is like studying "Where the Wild Things Are" and then telling the story to others saying it was true and we need to follow the story in all our beliefs.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • sam stone

      Gee, Mike, what an insightful comment.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Truth Hurts

      Agreed, but my questions come after reading the Catholics' Avarice, Envy, Lust, and Gluttony

      May 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      *** after studying many versions of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John...

      And like many Christians, you picked the one you liked best, right ?

      May 30, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  3. southhillspgh

    Man evolved from an ape-like ancestor.... Discuss amongst yourselves.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
  4. Truth Hurts

    Wow, some people actually still believe in god? a god that hasn't shown 1 iota of evidence that he exists? you had us, you supernatural bs'ers worked for a couple of thousand years, but science gives us truth – take your voodoo to the idiots who still believe

    May 30, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • mari

      FREE CHOICE "truthhurts" FREE CHOICE. do you know what that means pal? it means that we are ALLOWED to believe what we like.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • Truth Hurts

      Mari with that nonsensical reply, you are the PERFECT religious idiot

      May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Cedar Rapids

      except of course if we make the wrong choice we are apparently punished for all eternity for it. Its like a mafia boss putting a gun to your head saying "do what i say or you will die, but its totally your choice."
      plus of course theres the whole if god knows everything that will ever happen then he already knows how your life will play out and where you will go and so the whole idea of free will is simply an illusion.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      Well said truth.

      Mari take your meds dear, you are starting to foam.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      *** FREE CHOICE. do you know what that means pal? it means that we are ALLOWED to believe what we like.

      No, just carefully taught.
      You are taught to believe something, but you are lead to believe it is your own choice.

      May 30, 2012 at 3:57 pm |
  5. Nikki

    "a better manger who can get the shop in order"

    CNN: Do you mean manager or mangler?? Not too many mangers around these days.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Bill

      Lots of "managers" around, what the Vatican [and America] needs is a Leader!!

      May 30, 2012 at 10:15 am |
  6. J.C.

    "The investigation should be carried out inside the Vatican and not outside."

    And that, in a nutshell has been the Vatican's problem for the last several hundred years.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • mari

      i agree that there needs to be more transparency. especially when it comes to priests. there NEVER should have been ANY cover up with priests.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:16 am |
  7. Bill

    And this time I thought the Pope was selected by God. Guess Martin Luther was right.....

    May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Marc

      Atheism has nothing to do with government – it's when you forse people to believe or not believe is the problem; the choice for one's belief is not the issue – the issue is someone imposing their beliefs on other people. Just remember, the way Muslim and Christain societies flourished – the crusades and the like thereof are the root of your religions – killing in the name of god to all those who would not convert to your beliefs; I'm sure that's what Jesus wanted.. ignorant, pure and simple.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:18 am |
    • RoadRunner, Albuquerque, NM

      Martin Luther was right!

      May 30, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • David

      @Bill – Please don't be taken in by an article about the Vatican written to CNN.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:23 am |
  8. andres

    It pains me to see the Catholic Church in yet another mixup. It is unfortunate that the Church is led by humans. After all they suffer from all of the same frailties as the rest of us and by extension inflict damage on the Church

    May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      Except these men were ‘chosen’ by their god. God speaks to them and guides them..blah blah blah.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Papal infallibility seems to be in decline.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:22 am |
  9. whatajoke

    wheres my holy grail mr templars

    May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
  10. Marc

    It's embarrasing that in this day and age we still have a government that pretends to take its orders from god and impose its rulings on 1/5 the population of the world – simply barbaric. Once we rid the world of religion, this world will finally know peace.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:10 am |
    • mari

      so pray tell marc, how do you plan on "ridding" the world of religion? good luck pal. good luck.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • Bill

      Lets hear it for Atheism. It sure worked for the Communists in Russia and China.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • Jen

      Let's hear it for secular governments, like Canada and pretty much all European countries. These countries are ahead of the US in.....well let's see.....pretty much everything!

      May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • GAW

      Not so fast there. Just ridding the world of Religion will not automatically bring peace. You don't seem to know much about human nature. People will still strive for power whether there's Religion or not.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • Stephen

      I agree completely, Marc!!

      May 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @ mari
      He never said he had a plan.. So what was your point in asking a question for something he never stated?

      @ Bill
      You really don’t want to get into a p!ssing contest between atheism and relgion.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Scott

      Bill, that's communism, not atheism. What we want is for governments to say "no comment" on any sort of religion or religious-based legislature, like the Founding Fathers intended. This is often misconstrued as being anti-religion, but in reality, it just means that you make decisions based on facts and research instead of having an agenda (for or against).

      May 30, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Music_dav

      Religion is merely an excuse people use for doing what people want to do anyway. The problem with religion is people. There will not be peace on earth until people are gone from it. Whether a person believes in a god or not doesn't really change much, because greed and pride, which are the real reasons we fight each other, are human traits.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @ Music_dav
      That is just an excuse to shift blame from religion dav.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • brasicano

      Marc, if you think the world is messed up because of religion and to a certain degree I think so to, but you’d not want to imagine the world without it. Religion is a necessary evil, while you and I may know our boundaries, the majority of humans do not know it, that’s when religions come into play and in my opinion it only serves as social controller, it serves as a balancer and balance is the key in our lives. Just believe, you are much better off by seeing praying houses around your neighborhood and throughout the world, the day that they all are to be demolished, it will be the end of human civilization.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:49 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      *** mari

      so pray tell marc, how do you plan on "ridding" the world of religion? good luck pal. good luck.
      ----------------------------------------

      Education is a good start.
      Ever notice, most Republicans are Christian.
      Republicans dont like education, its for elite snobs.

      May 30, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
  11. New Gawker

    I agree their next pope really does need to be more of a manager. You can't run this enormous multinational multibillion dollar corporation without a business savvy leader. OH and it would help if he isn't a pedophile.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  12. Realdirect

    That old man is...the Devil.

    May 30, 2012 at 10:08 am |
  13. prophet

    we are praying for all of you on here especially fro the christians as they are the most misled. May God be with you all. Repent and turn from your sins especially the catholic clergy.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • mari

      "prophet" iam a christian, and i follow in Christ's footsteps. do you?

      May 30, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      Which god are we discussing?

      @Mari
      Does that include all of the teachings or just the ones you cherry pick? Because if you follow all of them you should turn yourself into the police immediately.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  14. prophet

    The Hebrew Calender was given by Our God and so again a catholic who needs educating to the fact that he has been misled

    May 30, 2012 at 9:44 am |
  15. prophet

    many people are praying for the vatican clergy to help them as they are of the worst type. There was a famous man who had suffered much and who was invited to meet with the pope of the time, and when this man was leaving the pope called to him as he reached the door and the pope said to him, can you pray for me. This pope knew that he was in a difficult situation and he needed help from outside of the vatican.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:37 am |
    • Marc

      Snap out of it dude – you're so out of touch with reality you might as well believe that the Earth is the center of the universe and that the world is flat and the sun goes around the earth and not vice-versa. When we invented god, those are the "beliefs" that we had. Why are people so ignorant that they can let go of those false beliefs, but not the one where we believe some guy who died over 2000 years ago is running the show... Simply ignorant and pathetic.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • mari

      marc, you can't expect everypne to believe as you do. thats why we have FREE CHOICE. if people want to believe the sun is a god, then that is their choice. it doesn't matter what you think. you can't tell people what to believe dude. they will believe what they want regardless of what you say. so stop wasting your time. go do something productive pal.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • GAW

      @ Mari When someone still lives in Mom's basement they need to find someway to bide their time. Without the CNN Belief Blog Marc would have to go elsewhere and intimidate others for their beliefs.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:27 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @mari
      If you really knew your own religion, you’d know that FREE CHOICE as you call it is an illusion.

      @ GAW
      Sad you are so easily intimidated. Perhaps chatting on a public site were others may have different views isn’t for those so weak in their faith.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Prop Fets

      And i was sitting on my porch and my car drove by so i yelled at myself
      where am i going .......

      May 30, 2012 at 4:07 pm |
  16. catholic engineer

    Jesus chose twelve apostles. He hand picked them. One was Judas who betrayed Him. Another was Peter who denied Him. Another was Matthew the tax man. And people think that the Vatican should do better !
    The raw material Jesus used to build his church was weak human beings. That is the same raw material is used today.
    THe perfect people we regularly hear from on this blog don't qualify for admission to the church.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:32 am |
    • prophet

      you as a catholic are a very deluded misled individual and we are praying for you so that you get know Our Saviour The King of The Jews

      May 30, 2012 at 9:40 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Not to mention James and John (Mk 10:35-45) who wanted a position next to Jesus in the new kingdom. Power seekers.
      Again, Jesus used such people to bulid a following that would last over two millenia.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Yeah and Paul was a pedophile. I see the pattern.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:50 am |
    • catholic engineer

      @prophet Thanks for your prayer and concern. Sincerely. But surely you must know that had the Catholic church not preserved the message of Jesus, and maintained the scriptures, you would know nothing about Him. Have a good day, Sir.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Cq

      catholic engineer
      That's also a pretty good argument against believing everything related to Christianity, isn't it?

      May 30, 2012 at 10:13 am |
    • non-catholic engineer

      @catholic engineer, looks like you are ignorant of the fact that Catholics are NOT the only ones to preserve the legacy of Jesus. There are other Churches out there, some even better than the Catholic one, and some even older than it!

      May 30, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Tom, Tom the Piper's Son

      @catholic engineer
      Jesus didn’t build a church in any sense. Learn your own mythology before posting scrub.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Listen up Toilet Engineer

      Jesus was supposed to die on the cross, right ?
      Somebody had to turn him in so the soldiers could arrest him, right ?
      So wasnt Judas just following orders ?
      Why is Judas a traitor when he was just fullfilling a prophecy ?
      What, did Judas pick the short straw ?
      Did Jesus ask Judas to turn him in ?

      You see, the church had a big problem with this story.
      So what did they do ??????
      Ta da !!!!!!
      He did it for a handfull of gold.
      Bullship.

      May 30, 2012 at 4:15 pm |
  17. prophet

    The vatican reads everything on here, this is a fact, so keep telling them what you think, they have a specific computer system dept that no one has been able to get into. Why thye need this, who knows.

    May 30, 2012 at 9:31 am |
    • MarkinFL

      ??

      May 30, 2012 at 9:51 am |
    • Primewonk

      @ Mark – Shhh. If Prophet believes it, it must be true. I bet he also sees black helicopters flying overhead, and sees secret messages on the back of interstate roadsigns.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • TheCompany

      "...secret messages on the back of interstate roadsigns"
      Damn, their on to us.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:08 am |
    • TheCompany

      or "they're" if you prefer

      May 30, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Cq

      And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, "Only in his hometown and in his own house is a prophet without honor." Matthew 13:57

      prophet must consider himself right at home on this board then.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:20 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Now, now, leave Prophet alone.
      He is drawing crop circles with a crayon.

      May 30, 2012 at 4:39 pm |
  18. prophet

    all this bad news and cnn allow advertisements next to pictures of people who have been ......

    If the vatican have no morality how can we expect cnn to

    May 30, 2012 at 9:26 am |
  19. Andy

    The vatican's chief exorcist???
    That says it all.
    What century are these people living in?

    May 30, 2012 at 9:25 am |
    • catholic engineer

      Andy, if a malevolent being of pure intelligence exists, It won't be subject to our calendars.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:39 am |
    • MarkinFL

      Umm, point is that believing such a thing exists is SO last millennium.

      May 30, 2012 at 9:52 am |
    • Jon

      Irrelevant, but whatever you say...

      May 30, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • ME II

      @catholic engineer,
      What do you mean "if"? You doubt that there is a need for priests to exorcise demons from people? Surely, you don't believe that these people are suffering from mental health issues and should be treated with modern professional care. That would be heresy, wouldn't it?
      /sarcasm

      May 30, 2012 at 10:14 am |
    • Cora Grace

      Satan is and he can be found. He is everywhere and affects everything. Doesn't matter at all if that concept is seen as old fashioned. If you don't know the enemy you can't fight him and that is just fine with him.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • MrHanson

      So Mark, believing that life isn't a big meaningless cosmic accident, and that the cell isn't a simple protoplasmic blob like Darwin said, is so last millenium?

      May 30, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Cq

      Andy
      They're living in the same century as the people who believe the world is only 10,000 years old, that evolution is false, and that they will magically disappear some day right out of their clothes. Yup, it's just like the Dark Ages out there.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • ME II

      @MrHanson,
      Not sure what you mean about cosmic accidents, but Darwin's knowledge about the cell was from and in the last millennium, so yes it is. You do know that the man died in 1882, right? It would be strange if his knowledge weren't of the last millennium.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:34 am |
  20. prophet

    what is really abhorent is ccn allowing advertsing next to massacared people, this is disrespectful and abhorent is it not

    May 30, 2012 at 9:22 am |
    • mari

      "prophet" if you hate CNN so much, WHY are you on its message boards? hypocrite.

      May 30, 2012 at 10:11 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.