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By Pope Benedict
Sodano Caught Red-Handed

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The ever-devious Cardinal Angelo Sodano, chief persecutor of Fr. Nicholas Gruner, has been caught red-handed in a plot to undermine Pope Benedict XVI’s choice for head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI). The affair is detailed in a March 3, 2006 report at www.chiesa.espressonline.it.

According to the report, Pope Benedict had determined that Cardinal Emilio Ruini would, once again, be confirmed as head of the CEI. But "Pope" Sodano had other ideas. Without the Pope’s knowledge, Sodano had the nuncio to Italy, Paolo Romeo, circulate a letter to every Italian bishop except Ruini. The letter falsely asserted that "The Holy Father, who has always appreciated very much the service rendered by the Most Eminent Cardinal to the Italian Church, thinks nonetheless that, in part because of his upcoming seventy-fifth birthday, a change in the office of the presidency is in order."

Pope Benedict, as it turns out, thought no such thing, but rather had every intention of reconfirming Ruini as head of the CEI. Sodano (just as he has done in the case of Father Gruner) was merely purporting to speak in the name of the Pope, employing the papal nuncio (just as he did in Father Gruner’s case) to do his dirty work for him.

In an effort to cover his tracks, however, Sodano included this devious request in the letter borne by the nuncio: "Finally, I would ask you to return this letter together with your response, without keeping copies of anything." Simply amazing: the Vatican Secretary of State actually thought he could get away with having his duplicitous letter returned without copies being made.

But Cardinal Ruini was immediately informed of Sodano’s maneuver, and as www.chiesa.espressonline.it reports, "On February 6, the nuncio who signed the letter, Romeo, was called by Benedict XVI for an audience. The pope asked him how and why this initiative came about. Romeo left the audience in shambles, but Sodano was the one who was really trembling."

Then, on February 9, the Pope "received Ruini together with his right hand man, the secretary general of the CEI, bishop Giuseppe Betori. They both received the pope’s reassurances." After this, however, news of Sodano’s "secret" letter reached press, whereupon "a very irritated Benedict XVI picked up the telephone and ordered that his confirmation of Ruini as president of the CEI be made public immediately. The pope’s order was so peremptory that the Vatican press office released the news before any of the other communications of the day."

The report concludes that "Who will be the next secretary of state – and when he will be nominated – is a secret that Benedict XVI is guarding carefully. But it is certain that Sodano is on his way out." What sweet irony there is in the knowledge that the man whose bogus "interpretation" of the Third Secret of Fatima was cited four times in Cardinal Ratzinger’s commentary on the Third Secret is (please God) about to be sacked by the same Cardinal Ratzinger, now that he is Pope Benedict XVI.

Faithful Catholics around the world will rejoice at the fall from power of this great enemy of the Message of Fatima. Good riddance to you, Cardinal Sodano.