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A Lavender Mafioso

Sandro Magister, one of the most credible journalists covering the Vatican, exposes [1] Monsigner Battista Ricca, a Vatican insider who has been elevated to head of the Vatican bank — also known as the Institute for the Works Of Religion (IOR) — by the new pope, and charged with cleaning up corruption in its ranks. Excerpts:

Before the appointment, Francis had been shown, as is customary, the personal file on Ricca, in which he had not found anything unseemly. He had also heard from various personalities of the curia, and none of them had raised objections.

Just one week after appointing the “prelate,” however, during the same days in which he was meeting with the apostolic nuncios who had come to Rome from all over the world, the pope became aware, from multiple sources, of some episodes from Ricca’s past previously unknown to him and such as to bring serious harm to the pope himself and to his intention of reform.

Sadness over having been kept in the dark with regard to such grave matters, and the intention to remedy the appointment he had made, albeit not definitive but “ad interim”: these were the sentiments expressed by Pope Francis once he was aware of those matters.

Ricca served in the Vatican diplomatic corps. When he was stationed in Uruguay, he allegedly arranged for Patrick Haari, a Swiss guard, to be stationed there with him. They were thought to be lovers. Ricca also allegedly got caught with a gay prostitute, and was beaten up while cruising. Finally the nuncio was able to get rid of Ricca and his Swiss guard lover. Magister writes:

As for Haari, in the process of leaving the nunciature he demanded that some of his luggage be sent to the Vatican as diplomatic baggage, to the address of Monsignor Ricca. Nuncio Bolonek refused, and the luggage ended up in a building outside of the nunciature. Where it remained for a few years, until from Rome Ricca said that he didn’t want to have anything to do with it anymore.

Once the luggage was opened to get rid of its contents –  as decided by the nuncio Bolonek – a pistol was found in it, which was handed over to the Uruguayan authorities, and in addition to personal effects, an enormous quantity of condoms and pornographic material.

In Uruguay, the facts reported above are known to dozens of persons: bishops, priests, sisters, laypeople. Without counting the civil authorities, from security forces to fire protection. Many of these persons have had direct experience of these facts, at various moments.

But at the Vatican as well there are those who know about them. The nuncio at the time, Bolonek, always expressed himself with severity with regard to Ricca, in reporting to Rome.

And yet a blanket of public silence has covered until today these past episodes of the monsignor.

Magister reports that a network inside the Curia has protected Ricca and advanced his career, in part by keeping his seedy past out of his official files. Ricca was able to rise far and fast in the Curia, which is to say the Vatican bureaucracy. And then:

Moreover, beginning in 2006, Monsigner Ricca was entrusted with the direction first of one, then of two, and finally of three residences for cardinals, bishops, and priests visiting Rome, including that of Saint Martha. And this allowed him to weave an intricate network of relationships with the highest levels of the Catholic hierarchy all over the world.

The appointment as “prelate” of the IOR was for Ricca the crowning of this second career of his.

But it was also the beginning of the end. Because of the many upright persons who knew about his scandalous past, the news of the promotion was a cause of extreme bitterness, all the more keen because it was seen as a presage of harm for the arduous enterprise that Pope Francis has in the works, of purification of the Church and of reform of the Roman curia.

This is a pretty classic example of how the lavender mafia works. I don’t know anything about Ricca, but the process outlined here is very familiar. It’s the kind of thing Church insiders — priests, especially — talk about privately, but not in public, and definitely not on the record. In this case, it’s crystal clear that other Vatican insiders who are sick and tired of this garbage leaked the Ricca files to Magister, one of the top Vatican journalists and commentators. Now we will see what Pope Francis will do.

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65 Comments To "A Lavender Mafioso"

#1 Comment By patty On July 20, 2013 @ 3:12 pm

Clarification: the Argentinean order, Institute of the Incarnate Word never gave money to Sodano. It has nothing in common with the Legion of Christ. The order simply irritated the more progressive Argentinean bishops for two reasons: the explicit critiques of liberation theology and the growing vocations to the priesthood among the IVE. Ask the many US bishops why they are requesting the order to work for them for the sake of the Hispanics.

#2 Comment By alcogito On July 20, 2013 @ 3:26 pm

Priest to donor: “I really cannot accept your generous gift unless you will allow me to trade it in immediately on a more appropriate car.”

#3 Comment By Chris 1 On July 20, 2013 @ 3:38 pm

Nearly all of the pedophile priests whose actions gave rise to the Scandal were ordained in the two decades immediately after Vatican II, from roughly 1965-1985.

Except for those who were ordained earlier…

What changed was not Vatican II, what changed was that the Church no longer had information arbitrage, that is it was no longer able to conceal from the public what it had concealed for generations.

In the 1980s and 1990s the RCC responded to sexual abuse claims as it always had, it “avoided scandal” by hiding miscreants, covering up their misdeeds, and sometimes with the assistance of victims’ parents who had been bought off in one of several manners.

I understand how those opposed to Vatican II would like to lay all ills of the Roman Catholic Church at its feet, but that’s rather a partisan political way to view things. The more human way to view things is with a long lens…understanding that the corruption shown in The Borgias hasn’t been far from the Vatican or its princes since Constantine.

#4 Comment By Richard Parker On July 20, 2013 @ 5:04 pm

@Kag1982

“…but it appears that Francis went through all the cars owned by the Vatican and figured out that the Vatican owned an older model Ford Focus. That took an impressive amount of effort on his part.”

Why would that take any effort on his part? Surely he could have asked any assistant to go through the Vatican’s inventory of cars.

#5 Comment By Richard Parker On July 20, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

“I’m guessing there will be a fair number of largely gay units in the military administration that will now exist openly (there were probably some before on the down low).”

I have a job that brings me into regular contact with recently discharged veterans.

From a few of them I have heard the complaint that lesbians in the navy protect and promote each other.

From what I can tell (in an admittedly biased sample) is that morale in the forces is on the bottom-side.

YMMV.

#6 Comment By dominic1955 On July 20, 2013 @ 8:52 pm

We already have a format of how to deal with these careerist perverts from Pope St. Pius V. Read his constitution “Horrendum illud scelus” of 1568.

#7 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On July 20, 2013 @ 9:43 pm

Uh-oh, Chris 1 has really done it now. Never mind the lavender mafioso, when you mess with the Borgias, you have to answer to Charles Cosimano.

#8 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 21, 2013 @ 2:45 am

From a few of them I have heard the complaint that lesbians in the navy protect and promote each other. From what I can tell (in an admittedly biased sample) is that morale in the forces is on the bottom-side.

Pre- or post-DADT repeal?

Today, gays and lesbians can serve openly, so there’s no reason for gay servicepersons to stay in the closet–and thus far less risk of gay cliques forming (and being subject to blackmail and such). A good argument can be made that DADT actually undermined military effectiveness, as it encouraged secrecy, and heterosexuality is not a requirement to be a good soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine.

How much this should apply to the RCC–which has strong doctrinal reasons for not wanting (active) gays (or sexually active straights for that matter) in the priesthood and above, that likely overrule the issue above–is an interesting question. But the military doesn’t seem to attract gays into the service in any greater proportion than they exist in the general population. It’s been unofficial policy for a long time, it seems, to steer young gay men and boys into the priesthood, so their mandatory celibacy won’t go to waste.

(Not to mention that some of those priestly robes and vestments look MAH-velous… 🙂 )

#9 Comment By JonF On July 21, 2013 @ 7:32 am

Re:L From what I can tell (in an admittedly biased sample) is that morale in the forces is on the bottom-side.

I think that’s easily attributable to the fact that we have been at war, and grinding down our men and women in the armed forces, for over ten years now.

#10 Comment By kag1982 On July 21, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

“Clarification: the Argentinean order, Institute of the Incarnate Word never gave money to Sodano. It has nothing in common with the Legion of Christ. The order simply irritated the more progressive Argentinean bishops for two reasons: the explicit critiques of liberation theology and the growing vocations to the priesthood among the IVE. Ask the many US bishops why they are requesting the order to work for them for the sake of the Hispanics.”

By liberal Argentine bishops.. you mean the Holy Father? Because Bergoglio was the one who wanted them shut down along with the nuncio to Argentina, Castelló. In fact, he was so concerned about the order that he appealed directly to Benedict about them. Sodano overruled him and as retaliation, the nuncio was transferred to Rome and the new nuncio, Bernardini, blocked all of Bergoglio’s recommendations for bishops. Francis apparently dislikes Bernardini so much that he has managed to avoid meeting with him since his election in March. (Bernardini is now the nuncio for Italy.)

And considering that the Burke has been placing ultra-conservative BurkeClones as bishops and archbishops in the U.S., it shouldn’t be shocking that they would overlook any issues and focus on the group’s politics. Hopefully, Burke and BurkeClones stranglehold on the American Church will end. This is of personal interest to me because Cardinal George is at the mandatory retirement age and I certainly don’t want a BurkeClone as head of my Archdiocese.

#11 Comment By Paul Emmons On July 21, 2013 @ 4:55 pm

I gasped this morning when hearing that His Holiness plans to appear in the open air in Brazil in front of a huge crowd of youth. Does he have any idea how many would-be snipers will be interested in the opportunity? I would have thought yesterday that these would comprise avowed enemies of the church, but after reading about Ricca et al, it occurs to me that these termites who have risen high within the Vatican would probably stop at nothing if the pope gets in their way. It wouldn’t be the first time.

#12 Comment By Richard Parker On July 21, 2013 @ 8:44 pm

@EngineerScotty

“–and thus far less risk of gay cliques forming (and being subject to blackmail and such).”

Apparently you haven’t seen any ethnic office politics; I have. Regardless of DADT or not, people of sub-groups often band together to protect and promote their “own kind.”

I was an AMT in a local Census office in 2010. In the broad area that I live in (with multiple LCO’s) there was a broad perception among the rank and file non-Hispanic census employees that the dominant Hispanic employees protected and promoted their “own kind.”

In the cushy community outreach jobs that were hired and managed separate from the LCO office, the workers and managers were almost entirely Hispanic. If an Anglo was hired by some sort of error, they seemed to be quickly pushed into the local LCO workforce.

I watched this unfold from my chair as we all worked pretty close to elbow to elbow in any census office; it did happen.

Why should Gays be immune for the temptations of group protection and promotion that everyone else has?

#13 Comment By Paul Emmons On July 22, 2013 @ 4:50 am

Engineer Scotty writes:

>It’s been unofficial policy for a long time, it seems, to steer young gay men and boys into the priesthood, so their mandatory celibacy won’t go to waste.

Not to mention that they have the makings of outstanding priests.

Mere homosexual inclination in someone like Msgr. Ricca, and even some discreet indulgence bothers me not at all. One can yet be offended by the coarseness and hubris demonstrated when a priest uses his power to carry luggage filled with pornography and a firearm without fear of discovery. Does the man find time to read his breviary anymore?

#14 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 22, 2013 @ 1:35 pm

>>>It’s been unofficial policy for a long time, it seems, to steer young gay men and boys into the priesthood, so their mandatory celibacy won’t go to waste.

>Not to mention that they have the makings of outstanding priests. Mere homosexual inclination in someone like Msgr. Ricca, and even some discreet indulgence bothers me not at all.

It doesn’t bother me, either–again, I’ve nothing against gays (and agitate for tolerance in secular realms, to the appoint of annoying many religious folks who would prefer to not sell wedding cakes with two brides on the top), and disagree with the Church on some of these matters. And yes, there are many fine priests who happen to be gay. But as this is an ecclesiastic matter, the Church is free to exclude gays from the priesthood if it likes, with no peep from me. I’m simply pointing out that anyone who is surprised by the large number of gay monastics, priests, bishops, and cardinals out there, shouldn’t be. When you have two populations who Should Not Be Having Sex according to the faith (those who are gay, and those who have accepted holy orders), and one population is a natural subset of humanity, and the other is a voluntary choice that comes with some benefits for those who can stomach the restrictions (or ignore them wholesale), it is likely that the two populations become correlated.

#15 Comment By EngineerScotty On July 22, 2013 @ 1:43 pm

<Apparently you haven’t seen any ethnic office politics; I have. Regardless of DADT or not, people of sub-groups often band together to protect and promote their “own kind.”

I was an AMT in a local Census office in 2010. In the broad area that I live in (with multiple LCO’s) there was a broad perception among the rank and file non-Hispanic census employees that the dominant Hispanic employees protected and promoted their “own kind.”

You say this as though white men don’t do the same thing, and that Caucasian dominance of the corridors of power is entirely earned. The “good old boy network” has been around a lot longer than any of the phenomena you describe, after all, and has proven far more effective.

And likewise, religious cliques and such frequently arise in business–with managers and officers in many corporations being promoted not based on skill, but on observance of the boss’s religious beliefs.

And there have been gallons of digital ink spilled here at TAC and elsewhere about elite law and finance firms openly giving preference in hiring and promotion to graduates of the Ivys, or of elite prep schools like Exeter. (Think about that–awarding promotions in professions in which graduate work is required, based on where somebody earned their high school diploma! Yet it happens ALL THE TIME).

Any sort of institutional clique like this, whether based on race or religion or sexuality, is a Bad Thing. And you may well not be involved in such yourself. But complaining about a “tortilla ceiling” in the Bureau of the Census strikes me as a case of pointing out a speck in your neighbor’s eye…