The Vatican, the seat of Roman Catholic Church, has throughout its history, found itself digging in on the wrong side of history — the latest scandals to shake the bedrock of a billion faithful have proved that not much has changed.
It was barely a week ago that the board of Vatican Bank (official name, Institute for Religious Works) was forced to sack its chief Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after an Italian police probe and a freeze on a £19-million account.
Tedeschi is lucky, at least so far. In 1982, Banco Ambrosiano (whose main shareholder is Vatican Bank) collapsed after close to $1.5 billion was siphoned off. Its then chief Roberto Calvi, who was popularly known as ‘God’s Banker’ for his proximity with the Holy See, tried to change his appearance and flee the country. A few days later, his body was found hanging from a London bridge — an inquiry in 1983 found that he was murdered.
Witch-hunts are not new to the Church. It has a long history of ‘silencing’ its critics and using all means necessary to suppress dissemination of information that will hurt the credibility of its doctrines. Philosophers, litterateurs, artists, scientists, social reformers have all faced the brunt of these actions. Tens of thousands were persecuted, detained, tortured and executed in attempts to enforce the ‘infallibility’ of the Catholic doctrine and the Pope’s unquestionable authority.
For all what Jesus might have had to say, the Church’s activities haven’t been towering examples of righteousness, honesty, transparency and tolerance. The deafening silence on, if not tacit approval of, Hitler’s persecution of Jews is an excellent example.
The Church requires celibacy from its priests (I thought the good book said something about God making woman for man — feminists, no offense intended). Tens of thousands of children have been abused by priests and I have lost track of the millions, if not billions shelled out by the church of St Peter to keep matters hush-hush.
Not only were reported cases of abuse hidden from police, many of the offenders were allowed to continue in key posts — and presumably continue their ‘activities’.
HIV/Aids has killed thousands and the number of cases are skyrocketing. A large chunk of the affected population is in Africa and the Church’s long-standing opposition to condoms have made its mark in a rather deadly way. It was only in 2010, after decades of criticism from human rights activists and medical fraternity, that the Pope decided to condone use of condoms.
The latest leak of highly confidential Vatican documents has revealed battles for supremacy and control raging within its walls have left the Church red in its face. However, instead of coming clean on the matter, the Church has taken upon itself to target the whistleblowers — the arrest of Pope’s butler is just the tip of the iceberg if we take history into account.
In focus is the secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, a powerful figure and confidant of Pope Benedict XI, who is the real authority behind Vatican Bank. The leaked documents also say that Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, who had been trying to clean up the state’s finances, was abruptly removed — allegedly for cracking down on corruption.
The world has come a long way since inquisitions and burnings at stake. People, individualism and nation states are the order of the day. If someone’s under the assumption that they can live the unquestioned, opaque lives of medieval ages forever, they are living in a fool’s paradise. The dark secrets, skeletons in the cupboard and blood under the carpet will be exposed — the Judgement Day is not far away.
The writer works for Postnoon.
About the Author (Author Profile)
My interests lie in current affairs, social issues and political analysis. A strong believer of independent thinking and healthy scepticism.