"Monsignors' mutiny" revealed by Vatican leaks

Mon Feb 13, 2012 9:10am EST
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By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.

"It is a total mess," said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.

The Machiavellian maneuvering and machinations that have come to light in the Vatican recently are worthy of a novel about a sinister power struggle at a medieval court.

Senior church officials interviewed this month said almost daily embarrassments that have put the Vatican on the defensive could force Pope Benedict to act to clean up the image of its administration - at a time when the church faces a deeper crisis of authority and relevance in the wider world.

Some of those sources said the outcome of a power struggle inside the Holy See may even have a longer-term effect, on the choice of the man to succeed Benedict when he dies.

From leaked letters by an archbishop who was transferred after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, to a leaked poison pen memo which puts a number of cardinals in a bad light, to new suspicions about its bank, Vatican spokesmen have had their work cut out responding.

The flurry of leaks has come at an embarrassing time - just before a usually joyful ceremony this week known as a consistory, when Benedict will admit more prelates into the College of Cardinals, the exclusive men's club that will one day pick the next Roman Catholic leader from among their own ranks.

"This consistory will be taking place in an atmosphere that is certainly not very glorious or exalting," said one bishop with direct knowledge of Vatican affairs.   Continued...

<p>Pilgrims wave Hungarian flags as Pope Benedict XVI leads the Sunday angelus prayer in Saint Peter square at the Vatican February 12, 2012. Pope Benedict urged the Syrian government on Sunday to recognise the legitimate aspirations of its people and embark on a national dialogue to put an end to a violent crackdown on protesters which has killed thousands since March. REUTERS/Tony Gentile</p>