By Oswald Sobrino, J.D.; M.A. (Econ.); M.A. (Theo.); M.L. (Master of Latin), doctoral student, University of Florida.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Sorry, Inside Vatican Baseball: Sandro Magister and Dan Brown

It is hard to believe that Italian journalist Sandro Magister is often referred to as a respected Vatican expert.

Before the recent papal conclave, Magister absurdly predicted that Cardinal Dolan of New York would be the next pope (with, of course, the usual journalistic hedging). I guess the respected expert with insider connections got a pass on that failed connection.

Now, he presents a conspiratorial tale, worthy of Dan Brown, in which the "gay lobby" at the Vatican covered up the past homosexual sins (apparently from 2001) of a recent papal appointee to the Vatican Bank.

I have trouble following the conspiracy theory of Magister. It is unclear if the "gay lobby" wanted to set up the Pope for embarrassment by initially covering up the scandal and then tactically disclosing the scandalous past of the appointee once the appointment was announced, or whether the "gay lobby" wanted to protect the appointee in perpetuity in his new post.

Or if the "lobby" simply wanted another person in a high post subject to future threats of blackmail. It is all very confusing. Maybe, something was lost in translation.

Well, the Pope has taken the high road. There was an investigation of the appointee's fitness for office that apparently cleared the appointee to continue in his post. The Pope rules out future attempts to blackmail appointees by stating that genuine repentance from past sin clears the slate for an appointee--sounds very consistent with the Gospel.

So if some cabal or lobby wanted to embarass the Pope now or wants to do so in the future, Francis has now responded with Christian common sense: repentance clears the slate. Blackmail won't work in cases of genuine penance. In addition, the message to those with troubled pasts is to come clean, 'fess up, and not let themselves be subject to the continuing fear of blackmail.

Here is the refreshing approach of the Pope: face the problem, discuss it openly, and close the matter. Apply the Gospel. And then expeditiously move on with important work.

In addition to these Dan Brown theories, Magister is now also painting a picture of papal hostility to the old form of the Latin Mass because of administrative decisons concerning one religious order (which appears to number only a miniscule 130 members!). Again, the latest Magister story has the smell of hysteria and exaggeration on his part.

In plain English, this journalist seems to be very wound up and sensationalistic and comes across--in English translation at least--as a crank. He doesn't come across as having any magisterial gravitas at all (pun intended).

Lesson: beware of Vatican experts, even when called "respected."

In any event, you can find much better Vatican coverage from Andrea Tornielli and others at Vatican Insider at this link:

(Image of Chicken Little in public domain)