Friday, February 15, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI Quits and Leaves a Shameful Legacy

So Pope Benedict XVI quit. While I was watching the video of his speech the thought running through my head was, I wonder how much his attire for the event cost. I have no good opinion of popes in general. I think the concept that the man and the men who vote him in are somehow sacrosanct and channeling the word of God, is ludicrous. 

But there was one pope who captured my imagination. He didn’t really want to be pope but he accepted the role and then not only wasn’t anybody’s pawn, but had ideas of his own. Albino Luciani, later to become Pope John Paul I, was born on 17 October 1912 in the Veneto Province of Northern Italy. He believed that the church should be a spiritual haven for people, that it should not be a wealthy organization and that priests, bishops and popes should be spiritual leaders. Strange concepts admittedly. 

When Pope Paul VI died, those supremely spiritual creatures the Cardinals huddled together to choose the next pope and after the 4th ballot the result was none other than our humble fellow Luciani who was by then pretty high up the Roman ladder. Rumor has it that the Cardinals were initially split down the middle between two candidates, neither of whom was Luciani.

Ultra conservatives wanted Giuseppe Siri who preferred a conservative interpretation, and even a reversal, of Vatican II reforms. Sounds like the GOP and their man Mitt. Then Ryan. Then Rubio. But I digress. Slightly more moderates wanted the more liberal Giovanni Benelli but he was opposed because he was too autocratic. It didn’t sound like much of choice. More rumor has it that Siri actually won the 3rd ballot and was somehow persuaded to not accept it. Of course we’ll never know, because those Cardinals vote from an enclave – which admits no outsiders. So that God can talk to them more clearly no doubt.

What we do know is that somehow a majority eventually managed to agree on Luciano. David Yallop, the author of In God’s Name wrote that Luciano was initially hesitant, and didn’t want to be Pope. But he allowed himself to be persuaded and from that point on acted with confidence and resolve. He refused the thousand-year-old tradition of the Coronation Ceremony and had an inauguration mass instead. He also refused to wear the papal tiara. 

He was an intelligent, heartfelt and friendly man, and one who connected with the masses. According to Yallop he immediately set about routing out corruption in the Vatican, particularly with regard to Mafia connections and fraudulent finances, and was very vocal in his protest against the massive wealth that the Catholic Church had and wasn’t using to alleviate poverty. He also wanted to remove the ecclesiastical ban on birth control. Within 33 days he was dead. I always thought the CIA had excellent cover-up skills, but they have nothing on the Vatican, if Yallop is correct. 

Since we all know now how good they were at covering up for pedophile priests, chances are that Yallop was on to something. The Vatican first stated that Pope John Paul I was found with a book in his hand by his private secretary at about 6:30 in the morning when he went to look for the Pope who hadn’t shown up at the morning chapel service. This was an outright lie, as the Pope had been discovered at 4:30 am by the nun who had woken him up at that time with coffee for 20 years.

The Vatican also said the bedside light was on, which conflicted with Vatican police testimony, and that the cause of death was a heart attack. They later added weight to that by saying that he had been very ill and had suffered from heart disease all his life. He hadn’t been ill at all – he was in fact a very healthy man who took medication for low blood pressure and nothing in his medical history ever showed any reference to a bad heart.

Sources within the Vatican told Yallop that John Paul was clutching a sheath of papers when he died, and not a book. His personal effects – including the low blood pressure medication - were removed and they were never seen again. Within hours there was not a trace of Pope John Paul I in the papal chambers. Embalmers were called in at 5 am. Another unusually hasty move.

John Paul’s body began to be embalmed twelve hours later. When accusations of poisoning emerged, the Vatican refused to conduct an autopsy, stating that autopsies on popes were forbidden, which was another lie. Popes Pius VIII and Clement XIV had both been autopsied. The Italian press went beserk.

David Yallop presented some incredibly convincing and in-depth evidence to support his claim that Pope John Paul I was murdered, and sheer logic says that indeed he was, given what he stood for and what he was intending to do. But nobody could hold the Vatican responsible as they are a law unto themselves and they allowed possible murder to be gotten away with. 

Just as they allowed so many bishops to get away with shunting pedophile priests around from parish to parish to avoid prosecution. A leopard doesn’t change its spots, I guess. Pope Benedict XVI had plenty of opportunities to put a stop to the rot. He did nothing and I think he leaves nothing but a shameful legacy. And so long as the Vatican continues to lie and cover up its crimes it makes a mockery of the position of Pope and of everything that the Catholic Church allegedly stands for. Spiritual? It’s not the word I would use.