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. Truth Tellerz

    The pope fits every Bible description of anti christ. Every single one of the reformers believed this. They had good reason. The Book of Daneil 7: 24 and 25 these short verses alone contain about 6 prophecys that the papacy fulfills to the letter. The rest of Dan and Revelation also testify to this. Go and youtube " The Man Behind the Mask " by Walter Veith, if you have any love for the truth.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Man.....you would really be on to something if.....it were not so UTTERLY and UNBELIEVABLE ridiculous!! It is 2012 man!! Put your Demons to rest already and join us out here in REALITY. This country just gets dumber by the minute.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • PushingBack

      I love truth which is why I simply say to you all religion is a sham!

      May 29, 2012 at 8:49 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      You don't need to worry about the man behind the mask. It's the man behind the curtain you should be worried about.

      May 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm |
    • Fly Swatter

      Be then "in the world" but be not part of it is what I have come to believe.

      May 29, 2012 at 9:16 pm |
    • Fire And Brimstone

      *** UTTERLY and UNBELIEVABLE ridiculous!! It is 2012 man!! Put your Demons to rest already and join us out here in REALITY. This country just gets dumber by the minute.

      Some of us have had a light go on.
      I do NOT believe in religion or God.
      How can you make a prophecy in the bible, and then have it happen ?
      How about this.
      Once you write it down, now it must come true.
      It seems some people believe in the bible so much, that they will do whatever it takes
      to make sure these prophecies happen.

      I have a bible, and only keep it because it informs me of what "may" happen.
      In the hands of rich and powerfull people the bible is a very dangerous book.

      No "Demons"
      Just painfully aware of what "man" is capable of when it comes to beliefs.

      May 30, 2012 at 12:59 pm |
  2. Ang Sud-Un

    Robert Langdon, we need you here please.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      No, we just need Audrey Tautou. Everybody needs Audrey Tautou.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:31 pm |
    • kittyzen

      How about Betty White?

      May 30, 2012 at 2:51 am |
  3. Yarah

    A evangelical Church they teaches the Word, Not man made doctrines that have nothing to do with the Bible.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      They obviously don't teach English.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Oh, and sorry to dissappoint you Yarah, but the Bible is man-made.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:29 pm |
    • catholic engineer

      Protestant churches have constructed themselves on two doctrines of men: sola fide, and sola scriptura. Here's your problem, Yarah: no book will interpret itself to you; particularly the Bible since it is so very complex. So who interprets it for you? What is the authority used when interpreting scripture? Why, you yourself, of course. Are you an infallible interpreter of scripture? In the Protestant churches, everybody's his own pope. But this is not all bad. After all, private interpretation has given us over 30,000 Christian denominations to give us God's word according to our tastes.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:39 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      I had no idea the Evangelicals taught Greek Gnosticism, (the "word").

      May 29, 2012 at 9:02 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Your church has constructed itself on the fake idea of Scripture and Tradition. Your "traditions are cherry picking. You NEED to have only ONE interpretation REQUIRES a Papal authority system, cuz you are insecure. It's NOT about theology, or Philosophy. As ANY fundamentalist cult, it's about Psychology. There are now biblical scholars who know FAR more about the Bible than ANY cleric. We no longer need the priest "with the secret knowledge". NO ONE is an "infallible interpreter. Welcome to the Human Condition. If you really think there is ONLY one interpretation in YOUR church, you never met two priests, or have ever witnessed the Cardinals/Theologians DEBATE in Council.

      May 29, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • kittyzen

      The problem with evangelicals and The Word is that that's ALL they read! At least every evangelical I've ever talked to....no books, no newspapers, no scientific journals, nuthin'....(mispelled on purpose, in case anyone jumps on this and starts throwing darts.).....and when I point out that the Bible is pre-scientific era/knowledge, the two most frequent responses I get is "I only believe the Word of God." AND....."Do you believe everything you read?" Are you kidding me? I gave up trying to point out the obvious...any one out there care to try? Good luck.

      May 30, 2012 at 2:58 am |
  4. Yarah

    It's the fase doctrines that they have. That's why I left.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:20 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Where did you go?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:22 pm |
    • NorthAtlanticMonitors A1443

      False doctrines are the smallest of the Vatican crimes. Nevertheless, you made the right decision. Welcome back to humanity!

      May 29, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      I still want to know where you went.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:28 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Alien Orifice

      Where did you go?
      Close your orifice.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:03 pm |
  5. Darnel

    San Diego Police Department has been taking money bribes allowing racist mexicans access to IP Traffic Viewers to spy on me and cyberbully me.
    The racist mexicans have been bribing my former family members to lie to everyone who is involved that I live in their home or that I am in some other state. Racist mexicans use these cameras to hypnotize me and sell my life online and in mexico.
    Citizens of the city of San Diego has also been involved in covering up what has been going on, they have been paying these individuals to hypnotize me and watch me in the shower in my apartment when I was renting and in my car throughout the city. San Diego Police Department has been covering this up for the past 18 months. Please help!!!!!
    POC:Darnel J. Brown (6194087951)

    May 29, 2012 at 8:19 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Well ain't that about a biitch.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:21 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      There are pills for that.

      May 29, 2012 at 9:03 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      You been ingesting bath salts ?

      May 30, 2012 at 1:06 pm |
  6. TopView20

    One can only hope that the world will reach the collective threshold, and stomp out the evil Vatican once and for all. It is not a matter of faith, doctrine, or theology. Any human organization that rises above accountability and laws eventually self-destructs. What a great event it would be for the planet, if the Vatican were held accountable for even just a few of the innumerable inhumane skeletons in it´s closets. God does not live in Rome!

    May 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      God does not live in L.A. either. I am almost sure of it.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:23 pm |
    • NorthAtlanticMonitors A1443

      What is everyone waiting for? Endless murders, scandals, financial fraud, political assassinations, etc., etc. Even the highest world leaders are eventually tied to their crimes and brought to justice. Is the world so afraid of men in dresses and jewlery that the Church is forever exempt from common humanity?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:24 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      It is up to the Catholics to say Fuk You and walk away. As long as they don't, they are implicated in the evil doing. Catholics suck.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:33 pm |
    • jeff

      ok...then why has the church lasted 2000 years then? Not much of a thinker, are you?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:40 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Two thousand years? You think that's some sort of miraculous milestone? It's a blip on the radar, dude. In the face of scientific evidence and increasing knowledge, it won't be around two hundred years from now.

      May 29, 2012 at 8:42 pm |
    • Fly Swatter

      So Tom, what will life be like 2 hundred years from now if there's not going to be the church? Chaos perhaps?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:58 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      The origins of morality, and civil order do not rest in religion. Is the crime rate in Sweden higher than the US ?
      Take an Anthropology course.

      May 29, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      Why would you imagine that the church and religion are the only things preventing chaos and anarchy, you dimwit? As has been pointed out to you, there are many nations whose culture is secular that are far from chaotic.

      Too bad you'e so stupid you don't know that.

      May 29, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      He lives in New Jersey.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:07 pm |
  7. Anna Jones

    Wasn't a blind eye (holy "see") turned when the Vatican's envoy to Iraq startd the lies about yellow cake, WMD's and got the ball rolling for the war in Iraq? remember?

    May 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      Actually it was Iran's envoy to the Vatican. But follow the money...some VERY familiar faces show up !!!

      May 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm |
  8. Alien Orifice

    If there is one the the RCC and Republicans have is common, it is that the ONLY thing that matters is money. Period.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm |
  9. mirrose

    The trouble with Reese is that he sees the Church as an earthly "organization" only....not the "mystical" body of Christ on earth. That's been the trouble...lack of the mystical concept and prayer. If the morality of each was better based on that understanding, given by the Holy Spirit, there would be greater unity and obedience by all and not so many "individuals" with worldly agendas and lack of spiritual insight as the Pope sees himself and understands. It is just that worldly approach that Reese seems to so long for that has separated so many from God and His will for oneness. And....there have been years and years of Italians Popes without any perfect management style that's for sure so why that answer for solving problems that have existed for so long (only without the same immediate media attention of today) is beyond logic. Certainly there are better insights than this available than the usual kneed jerk but lacking explanations.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:13 pm |
  10. ertwngr

    Reese was ousted from America Magazine for being too anti-Catholic and antI-papal authority. He's got no credibility in Catholic circles and certainly isn't an insider. His gossip isn't informed, just blind speculation. He's been relegated to the Church's version of National Enquirer, with a circulation similar to CNN's.

    May 29, 2012 at 8:10 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Reese hits a nerve, so the Catholic Church discredits him.
      And you believe it ?

      May 30, 2012 at 1:10 pm |
  11. Francis

    Bad news that "There's a faction within the Vatican that wants the next pope to be "a better manger who can get the shop in order," – a "manager" is probably the intended word – the world is being managed to extinction. A manger may be more useful for a future savior?

    May 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      Better manager.
      One that wont let the corruption come to public light.
      Too many leaks sink ships.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  12. safran

    doesn't like Bertone, Who said?

    May 29, 2012 at 8:06 pm |
  13. bill walker

    After all is said & done, much more will be said than done.. In just a few more centuries the RCC will be still be around for the sheep of that period in time. Just not as many, in the Western world at least.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:53 pm |
  14. maytim

    Oh no. Inside Vatican a place where it's highest level in the world has bad problem,. What're they need, money? They got plenty. Power who got more power then Pope? What's more they want????? Sorry place.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
  15. maloof

    The Pope is responsible for matters concerning faith and nothing else.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:46 pm |
    • ןןɐq ʎʞɔnq

      obviously not the safety of little boys

      May 29, 2012 at 8:02 pm |
  16. One one

    The RCC needs to revise their business model because they are loosing customers. After all, G od did it when he revised the OT to the NT. It enhanced the brand appeal and increased market share of the religion business for hundreds of years.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm |
    • jeff

      Actually the Church is the fastest growing religion that calls upon the name of Jesus. Not much of a numbers guy, are you?

      May 29, 2012 at 8:44 pm |
    • One one

      Here is my source. What is yours?

      Study finds that religion is heading toward extinction.

      Among other things it concludes:
      "religion may become extinct in Australia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Canada, Finland, Ireland, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Switzerland."

      "In 2008 those claiming no religion rose to 15 percent nationwide, with a maximum in Vermont at 34 percent,".

      "The study also found that "Americans without affiliation comprise the only religious group growing in all 50 states."

      Source: Foxnews.com, march 23, 2011

      May 29, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      *** jeff

      Actually the Church is the fastest growing religion that calls upon the name of Jesus. Not much of a numbers guy, are you?
      The fastest growing religion in the most poor and uneducated countries.
      The rest of us are smartening up.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:15 pm |
  17. Teresa B.

    You are quoting from Fr. Thomas Reese the former editor of the Catholic magazine "America" ???
    He is as left wing in the Church as left wing can get!

    May 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Fearless Freep

      The guy reports about corruption.
      Catholic church wants to discredit him, calls him a lefty.
      Lefy (in your mind) is a bad thing.
      So it worked.

      You are an idiot.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:20 pm |
  18. joe

    As Obama divided America he is trying to divide the Church. You could replace Obama in the previous sentence with the Communist News Network (CNN).

    May 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • dogface

      The Vatican is responsible for covering up child abuse of priests, for two doctrines of demons (forbidding to marry and abstaining from meats), and for supporting fascists in WWII. The Vatican should be put under Italian control so that everyone in the Vatican can be investigated and either exonerated or placed in Turkish prison.

      May 29, 2012 at 7:41 pm |
    • Alien Orifice

      Or force them to watch FOX "news" 24 hours a day! And make them go to church ON TV and watch Mega Church Evangelists every Sunday!! HA HA HA!!!!

      May 29, 2012 at 8:01 pm |
    • alex

      Its time for the anti-Obamas to take some responsability!

      May 29, 2012 at 8:04 pm |
    • yawn

      oh, please.

      May 30, 2012 at 3:08 am |
    • Fearless Freep

      Obama is so powerful he can divide the church.
      You right wing nuts are really out there.

      May 30, 2012 at 1:21 pm |
  19. One one

    Same old story. People competing for influence, power, and gold. The only difference between the church and any other business is the church claims to have gods endorcement.

    May 29, 2012 at 7:28 pm |
  20. coderjones

    since when is religion based on truth?

    why would these protesters think that the church is capable of telling the truth ?

    Greed is Greed – doesn't matter if its government, religion or just some dumb rich person ..... as long as money exists, greed will rule those in power

    The two worst things man has ever created – Religion, Then money

    May 29, 2012 at 7:25 pm |
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About this blog

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.