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Who’s Running the Show?

by Christopher A. Ferrara

The evidence mounts that an increasingly debilitated Pope John Paul II has turned over the actual governance of the Church to others, and principally Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who has become de facto Pope.

According to PRNNewswire’s report of March 31, 2002, "An official in the Vatican tells Newsweek that Pope John Paul II, who will turn 82 in May, has lost his ability to run the Vatican with a firm and decisive hand. ‘He is no longer the leader,’ says an Archbishop at the Vatican. ‘He reads whatever they give him to read. Most of the time, he signs ... whatever they give him to sign.’" PRN cites a Vatican Cardinal as having told Newsweek that "The Pope no longer has the energy to face up to the pressures of the different currents inside the Vatican." One of those "currents" is certainly the agenda of Cardinal Sodano.

The extent to which this man is running the Vatican show is demonstrated by a recent report in The Latin Mass magazine (Winter Supplement 2002) concerning the Pope’s recent glowing tribute to the prayers of the Mass contained in the traditional Latin Missal suppressed after Vatican II. The Latin Mass’ Rome correspondent, Alessandro Zangrando, reports that for some strange reason the Pope’s public tribute to the traditional Mass, which is contained in a letter to the Congregation of Divine Worship dated September 21, 2001, was not published in L’Osservatore Romano, even though the Pope’s simultaneous letter on another subject, sent to the Congregation for Religious, was published promptly.

Yet when the Pope’s tribute to the old Mass was finally published in the secular newspaper Il Giornale on October 17, 2001, Zangrando notes that within 24 hours of the story in Il Giornale, the Vatican Press Office suddenly made the Pope’s letter on the old Mass public. The author of the story in Il Giornale, Andrea Tornelli, reports that it was the Vatican Secretariat of State which ordered belated publication of the Pope’s letter - within 24 hours of its appearance in Il Giornale. Tornelli notes that this sequence of events "proves that a real attempt had been made at ‘censuring’ the Pope’s words."

This will come as no surprise to the readers of this column. Ever since the reorganization of the Roman Curia by Pope Paul VI, the Vatican Secretary of State has assumed the status of "prime minister", not only of temporal but spiritual affairs at the Vatican. This development, combined with "collegiality" and the current Pope’s physical condition, threatens to reduce the papacy to a figurehead.

For too long the Vatican’s agenda has been dictated by a man who was never elected Pope: Cardinal Angelo Sodano. By their fruits ye shall know them. What are the fruits of the Sodano regime? Look around you. Do you like what you see?