Angelo Sodano’s background: the Godfather of the Vatican


The main accusation against the Vatican in the pederasty scandal is that it has covered up for the guilty in recent decades. As more becomes known, Benedict XVI, then Prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith since 1981, comes out better as someone who tried to deal uncompromisingly with the allegations, as opposed to another, more powerful sector of the Curia that chose to cover them up. As Ratzinger bitterly put it in 1995 when he found himself held back from acting on the scandal of Vienna Cardinal Hermann Groer (whom the Vatican excommunicated for sexually assaulting young Benedictine novices), “the other side has won”. He confessed this to Cardinal Christopher Schönborn. But Schönborn added that “the other side” was led by Angelo Sodano, whom he accused of having blocked five years earlier the creation of a commission of inquiry into Groer’s sexual abuse. This was an unprecedented Vatican infighting to go public.

One of the most serious accusations against Sodano is that he was the protector of Mexico’s Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ, an ultra-conservative order promoted by John Paul II, who is now considered by the Holy See to be “an unscrupulous criminal”. After the investigation ordered by Benedict XVI, it turned out that he was a paedophile, had two wives, three children, three different identities and managed funds worth millions. There were allegations against him in the Vatican, but thanks to Sodano they were bogged down.

The National Catholic Reporter, a prestigious American Catholic publication, has published a devastating investigation that denounces how Maciel bought his protection in Rome with donations to Sodano and other heavyweights of John Paul II’s old guard, such as his personal secretary, Stanislaus Dziwisz, who was archbishop of Krakow, and the Spaniard Eduardo Martinez Somalo. The magazine claims that Maciel paid Sodano US$10,000 for a talk and organised the 200-cover banquet for his appointment as cardinal in 1991. Maciel also hired Sodano’s nephew Andrea, an engineer, to build the order’s lavish university in Rome. Another reputable publication, America, of the American Jesuits, reacted thus: “There is a cardinal whose head must roll, Sodano”.

He started out in a diplomatic career and was nuncio in Chile during the Pinochet dictatorship. He had a friendly relationship with him and was one of the architects of John Paul II’s controversial visit to the country in 1987. It was during this visit that Karol Wojtyla was famously locked in, as he was shown a door behind a curtain and suddenly appeared on the balcony with the dictator, where photographers were waiting for him.

Nevertheless, something about Sodano’s opaque and sinuous character must have appealed to John Paul II, who appointed him Secretary of State in 1991. In 1999 Sodano still remembered his friend Pinochet and intervened in his defence on humanitarian grounds when he was arrested in London. “The Holy See is in the front line when it comes to defending human rights in any area,” he claimed when it became known.

In 1994, Sodano had another offender close to him, his own brother Alessandro, convicted of corruption in “Clean Hands”, and it was even more so in 2008 with his nephew Andrea, the engineer. He was a partner of Raffaello Follieri, an executive and playboy swindler who posed as a Vatican man in the United States. He was young, a millionaire, a friend of Bill Clinton and his girlfriend was the actress AnneHathaway, until he was arrested by the FBI and got four years in prison. They had a curious idea to make money: to buy up the real estate properties of US dioceses bankrupted by the pederasty scandal at a good price.

The clergy sex abuse scandal and its institutional cover-up in Chile probably all but closed the chapter on his long reign as the Vatican’s most influential. But it will not erase the immense, and not always positive, impact he has had on the church and its institutional shape to which he devoted his long and prodigious life as a career diplomat of the Holy See.

One incident in which his power and influence were particularly decisive dates back to 22 June 2006. On that day, Pope Benedict XVI announced that Sodano was retiring and handed the job of Secretary of State to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, a trusted aide from the Pope’s time as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Although the transition would not take effect until three months later (15 September), it was on that day that Benedict XVI inflicted a mortal wound and slowness on his own pontificate by rejecting Cardinal Sodano.

The Italian had tried to dissuade him from choosing Bertone for the post that was de facto second only to the Pope in the Vatican hierarchy. In the weeks leading up to the retirement, Sodano had advised Benedict to select an experienced diplomat for the post, which was not Bertone, a mediocre canon lawyer and Salesian.

One of the names on the outgoing list of candidates proposed by the Secretary of State was Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican’s “Minister of Foreign Affairs” at the time.

Lajolo was one of Sodano’s trusted allies and came from the same region of Italy as him, Piedmont. But, more importantly, Lajolo had also been papal nuncio to Germany (1995-2003) and spoke the Pope’s native language, which his cardinal protector believed made him an attractive choice for Benedict to accept.

But the now Pope Emeritus rejected Sodano’s advice and insisted on appointing Bertone. In doing so, he lost the vital support of the majority of Vatican diplomats in the Roman Curia, led by Angelo Sodano, who astutely fed the narrative that the pope had marginalised them by choosing the undiplomatic Bertone. From that moment on, Ratzinger’s pontificate went from one major crisis to another, both within the Vatican and on the world stage. After nearly eight agonising years he and his small circle of trusted aides were largely isolated. Faced with all this, the venerable theologian Pope resigned.

Sodano and his allies survived, however, and at the 2013 conclave, as dean of the College of Cardinals, his duties included presiding at mass and moderating the pre-conclave discussions. It is known for certain that once the vote was underway, he had persuaded other cardinals to cast their votes for Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ, the man who is now Pope Francis.

It is unclear whether Sodano delivered the decisive votes for the election of the Argentine pope, but those counts were essential. And Francis was and remains aware of that.

He began his pontificate in full knowledge that Sodano still had considerable reach and influence over much of what was happening in ecclesiastical Rome. He also had personal experience of the former Secretary of State’s fervent willingness to decide and promote, especially in Latin America, at least since the 1970s, political decisions and appointments of bishops.

During the 1992 CELAM (Latin American Episcopal Conferences) meeting in Santo Domingo, Bergoglio, as a newly ordained auxiliary bishop, witnessed how Cardinal Sodano – together with one of his Chilean protégés, the future Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez – went over the bishops’ heads and, although not entirely successfully, tried to dictate the content of the meeting’s final document.

Besides his native Italy, Latin America is probably the part of the world that Angelo Sodano loved most. During his more than 50 years of service to the Holy See, his only diplomatic postings abroad were there. His first assignments as a priest were in Ecuador (1961-1963), Uruguay (1963-1965) and Chile (1965-1967). After another ten years in Rome in the Secretariat of State, he returned to Chile in early 1978, newly ordained to the episcopate and ready to serve a full decade as apostolic nuncio.

Sodano, more than any other Vatican official, played a decisive role in the formation of Chile’s episcopal leadership. From the rise of the late Cardinal Jorge Medina to that of Bishop Juan Barros, linked to the Karadima case, Sodano’s fingerprints are everywhere.

When he became Secretary of State, Sodano was able to continue to exert his influence over the appointment of bishops in Chile (and elsewhere) as a member of the Congregation of Bishops, a post he held until 2007.

It is highly likely that Sodano intervened in the Barros case and advised Pope Francis not to listen to recurring accusations that the bishop turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse of children by his mentor, Fernando Karadima.

Who knows how many more times he used his power and position to stop investigations into crimes committed by his ecclesiastical colleagues out of concern for “the good of the church”?

Finally, and boasting of Sodano’s extensive and dark tentacles, Henry Kissinger himself called him the world’s most cunning politician-diplomat. Too bad he used that cunning to do evil. It will be difficult for his soul to rest in peace.

Complete Article HERE!

Irish priest appointed to senior Vatican role investigating abuse

Msgr John Kennedy will examine clerical child abuse allegations after shake-up

By Patsy McGarry

An Irish priest, Msgr John Kennedy has been put in charge by Pope Francis of leading investigations into child abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy worldwide.

The 53-year-old monsignor is the new secretary of the disciplinary section at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for dealing with credible allegations against clergy.

He had been serving at the office since being appointed there by Pope Francis in 2017 and his appointment is part of a major shake-up of the Vatican curia being undertaken by Pope Francis.

The Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith has two new sections: a doctrinal section and a disciplinary section. Italian priest Msgr Armando Matteo has been appointed secretary at the doctrinal section.

Msgr Kennedy, from Clontarf in Dublin, was born in 1968 and ordained in 1993 for the Dublin archdiocese. He worked in Crumlin and Francis Street parishes before undertaking postgraduate studies in canon law in Rome in 1998.

Ratzinger role

He entered the service of the Holy See in September 2002 and began working with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003, beginning his service there under its then prefect, Joseph Ratzinger, now pope emeritus Benedict XVI.

In an interview with the website Zenit, he described his reaction to hearing of the resignation of Benedict in February 2013: “You sometimes meet people who ask you: ‘Do you remember where you were on the day when JFK was shot, or the Twin Towers came down, or when World War II ended?’ I can think very clearly of exactly where I was.”

He was “in the north of Italy, and I was just ready to leave the hotel after a two-day ski trip, and my brother phoned and said: ‘What’s going on in Rome?’ I said: ‘I don’t really know. I’m not there.’ He said: ‘Switch on the TV as soon as you can, and you’ll see exactly what’s going on.’ ”

Benedict, who turned 95 on April 19th, is “a shy, but extremely intelligent man, a person who was very sincere, very gentle”, he said.

Complete Article HERE!

Mixed reactions follow papal remorse

By Cory Bilyea

Pope Francis told a delegation of Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people that he was sorry for some bad apples who ran the residential schools, but he fell short of apologizing on behalf of the church for the horrors that happened behind closed doors at these institutions.

“For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart, I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon,” said Pope Francis.

The United Church, the Catholic Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, the Anglican Church, and the Presbyterian Church all issued formal apologies between 1986 and 1994 for their participation in the residential school system.

On June 11, 2008, Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologized to former students of Indian Residential Schools on behalf of the Government of Canada.

Call to Action No. 58 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, released in June 2015, is still unfulfilled:

“We call upon the Pope to issue an apology to Survivors, their families, and communities for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical, and sexual abuse of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children in Catholic-run residential schools. We call for that apology to be similar to the 2010 apology issued to Irish victims of abuse and to occur within one year of the issuing of this report and to be delivered by the Pope in Canada.”

Pope Francis held several meetings with the delegates. He listened to the stories of residential school survivors, elders, youth, and leaders, all speaking to him about the genocide of their people and the healing path forward.

The Pope said, “Over the past days, I’ve listened attentively to your testimonies. I have brought them to my thoughts and prayers, reflecting on the stories you told and the situations you described. I thank you for having opened your hearts to me and for expressing, by means of this visit, your desire for us to journey together.

“Listening to your voices, I was able to enter into and be deeply grieved by the stories of the suffering, hardship, discrimination, and various forms of abuse that some of you have experienced, particularly in the residential schools.

“It’s chilling to think of determined efforts to instill a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots, and to consider all the pertinent personal and social efforts that this continues to entail — unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.

“All this has made me feel two things very strongly — indignation and shame.”

At the end of his speech, the Pope told the delegation that he looked forward to coming to Canada to “better express to you my closeness,” indicating that he may make the pilgrimage to Turtle Island during the “Feast of St. Anne” in July.

Many Indigenous, Métis, and Inuit people want the Pope to apologize to them in person on Turtle Island. Given his age and the momentous undertaking that trip will entail, a firm timeline is yet to be established, but the plans are being made.

During a news conference after the meeting, the head of the Indigenous delegation, Chief Gerald Antoine, said that the apology was long overdue but an important “first step.”

“The next step is for the Holy Father to apologize to our family at their home,” Antoine said.

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, a group representing more than 60,000 Inuit People on Turtle Island, agreed with Antoine, adding, “We have a heartfelt expression from the church that was delivered by Pope Francis in an empathetic and caring way. I was touched by the way in which he expressed his sorrow, and also the way in which he condemned the actions of the church.”

Obed said, “There is much more to do, and so an apology is a part of a larger picture.”

Reaction to the apology has been mixed, as anger, hurt, and sorrow still permeate survivors and relatives. Many say they do not accept this apology, nor do they believe the Pope’s sincerity.

This is an unfortunate reality of the residential school system. Not only did they take the language and the culture, but they also took away the ability to trust.

Saugeen Ojibway Nation (SON) member Ephraim Sandy said, “It saddens me, breaks my spirit. Empty words that mean nothing. Turn over the cultural items. The land. And all of the abusers to stand trial. No more words.”

There was no mention from the Pope about the many cultural artifacts kept in the Vatican or if these items will be returned to the People, nor did he address the land inquiries, the church’s financial obligations, or the request to rescind the Doctrine of Discovery.

“At the end of the day, we are left to heal our wounds and traumas and keep rebuilding our lives every time this issue is raised,” SON member Johnston Prin said in a social media response. “Land back and housing and compensation for all might help to ease some of the burdens we’ve carried over the generations. Our kids are in pain and use painkillers to ease the suffering. It’s heartbreaking.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also weighed in on the apology, saying, “This apology would not have happened without the long advocacy of survivors who journeyed to tell their truths directly to the institution responsible and recounted and re-lived their painful memories.”

“It took a tremendous amount of bravery and determination,” Trudeau added, “Today’s apology is a step forward in acknowledging the truth of our past in order to right historical wrongs, but there’s still work to be done.”

Indigenous journalist Brandi Morin travelled to Rome to cover the week-long event.

“I’m stunned by (The Pope’s) apology. I know many delegates who came here and other survivors who long prayed for an apology are feeling a sense of justice from this action,” Morin said in a social media post.

For more than 150 years, First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation children were taken from their families and communities to attend schools often located far from their homes. More than 150,000 children attended Indian Residential Schools. Many never returned.

The first church-run Indian Residential School was opened in 1831. By the 1880s, the federal government had adopted an official policy of funding residential schools across Canada. The explicit intent was to separate these children from their families and cultures. In 1920, the Indian Act made attendance at Indian Residential Schools compulsory for Treaty-status children between the ages of seven and 15.

The last federally run Indian residential school closed in 1996.

There is still a lot of work to be done on the path towards healing and reconciliation, with truth being at the forefront of this vast and painful undertaking.

Complete Article HERE!

What led to the historic papal apology?

How the Catholic Church has changed its tone

By Brittany Hobson

First Nations, Inuit and Metis residential school survivors, knowledge keepers, elders, and youth have wrapped up meetings with Pope Francis at the Vatican with an historic apology.

The delegation was there to renew calls for the Pope to apologize for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in residential schools.

On Friday, the Pope said: “I am very sorry.” He also said he will come to Canada, but a date has not been set.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission released its 94 calls to action in 2015. Among them was a request for an apology from the Pope and for the apology to take place in Canada within one year of the release of the report.

A number of individual Catholic organizations, parishes and bishops have apologized to Indigenous children and their families for the spiritual, cultural, emotional, physical and sexual abuse the church inflicted on youngsters forced to attend the schools. One of the most recent apologies was issued last September by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

A previous pope expressed “sorrow”

A common argument for why it took so long for an apology is that the issue was already addressed, say some experts.

In 2009, a small delegation led by Phil Fontaine, former national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, met with former pope Benedict to discuss the abuse and trauma at residential schools with the hope of securing an apology. Benedict expressed “sorrow” for what happened but did not apologize.

Christopher Hrynkow, a professor in the department of religion and culture at St. Thomas Moore College in Saskatoon, says some in the Catholic community saw this as enough of an apology. But he says the TRC asked for something different.

“Everybody understands the importance of the Pope in Catholic culture and what he represents,” Hrynkow says.

He adds some believe that because religious organizations had entered into a partnership with Canada, an apology rested with those specific groups and not with the corporate Catholic Church.

Click to play video: 'Maskwacis residential school survivor pleads for Pope Francis to apologize'
2:02 Maskwacis residential school survivor pleads for Pope Francis to apologize

Jeremy Bergen calls previous statements from the church “wishy-washy,” because they didn’t fully acknowledge the church’s role in the schools.

“They’re sorry bad things happen but they don’t say what everyone’s kind of thinking: the church did it,” says Bergen, an associate professor of religious studies and theological studies at Conrad Grebel University College in Ontario.

In 2019, Pope Francis convened a summit on sexual abuse within the Catholic Church. At the time, church higher-ups from around the world apologized to survivors of clergy abuse.

Massimo Faggioli, professor of historical theology at Villanova University in Philadelphia, says he believes some in the Vatican perceived this “sealed the deal” for an apology.

The Church’s language

Apologies from the church are relatively new, says Faggioli. The decision to issue apologies started roughly 40 years ago when former pope John Paul II began his reign.

Bergen says apologetic language is not something churches are comfortable with.

In past years, church statements have used terms such as “repent, confess, or ask pardon or forgiveness,” says Bergen.

He says the Catholic Church needs to learn to speak a new language in order to better communicate with those who have been harmed by its actions. This includes words that make it clear what the wrong was, who did the wrong, and who’s responsible for it.

Support from bishops

Canadian bishops have been divided over the need for an apology from the Pope, says Joe Gunn, executive director for Centre Oblat – A Voice for Justice in Ottawa.

Pope Francis has led with the idea of a more consultative church. And Hrynkow says a commitment to visit Canada would have previously been met with hesitation from the Pope without a direct invitation from bishops.

The request from Canadian bishops had to be there and it wasn’t, says Gunn, who used to work with the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.

That changed last year with the discovery of unmarked graves at former residential school sites across the country.

Click to play video: 'PM announces more funding for residential school investigations & healing'
PM announces more funding for residential school investigations & healing

“Now all of the bishops of Canada are saying, ‘You know what? It’s a really good idea for him to come here. He should visit. This is what needs to be done,’” says Gunn.

Coming to Canada

Had the Pope waited to apologize in Canada, it would have been a first of its kind, says Faggioli.

Never before has a papal visit been built around the issue of abuse, he says. Previous apologies have been made during papal trips but those were done behind closed doors or last minute.

Delegates at the Vatican say they still expect a more fulsome apology will come from the Pope when he’s on Canadian soil.

“The Canadian case is a big test because it’s new,” says Faggioli. “It’s no longer the sexual abuse against minors itself. But it’s a history of abuse that is sexual, cultural, civilizational, national (and) it’s educational.

“It is much bigger.”

Click to play video: 'Why Pope Francis will have to come to Canada to make amends'
Why Pope Francis will have to come to Canada to make amends

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Francis apologizes for church role in Indigenous residential schools

This photo taken on March 31, 2022 shows Pope Francis posing with First Nations delegation members in The Vatican, as part of a series of meetings of Indigenous elders, leaders, survivors and youth at the Vatican.

By Stefano Pitrelli & Amanda Coletta

After years of resisting such calls, Pope Francis on Friday apologized for the “deplorable conduct” of some Catholics in Canada’s residential school system for Indigenous children, saying he was “deeply grieved” by the stories of “suffering, hardship, discrimination and various forms of abuse” from survivors.

Speaking to an audience that included an Indigenous delegation that traveled from Canada to the Vatican this week to press for an apology, Francis said he felt “shame” for the role Catholics have had “in the abuses you suffered and in the lack of respect shown for your identity, your culture and even your spiritual values.”

“All these things are contrary to the Gospel of Jesus Christ,” the pope said at the Apostolic Palace. “For the deplorable conduct of these members of the Catholic Church, I ask for God’s forgiveness and I want to say to you with all my heart: I am very sorry. And I join my brothers, the Canadian bishops, in asking your pardon.”

Francis also reiterated a pledge made last year to visit Canada, where he said he would be “better able” to show his “closeness.”

The pope has been under renewed pressure to apologize for the Church’s role in the residential school system after several Indigenous communities in Canada in the last year said that ground-penetrating radar had uncovered evidence of hundreds of unmarked graves at or near the sites of former schools.

Beginning in the 19th century, at least 150,000 Indigenous children were separated from their families — often by force — to attend the government-funded, church-run institutions, which were set up to assimilate them in what Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission said in a 2015 report was “cultural genocide.”

The report said children were punished for practicing their traditions or speaking their languages, and that many suffered various forms of abuse. It identified thousands of children who died at the schools, including from disease, malnourishment, by suicide or while trying to escape. Some were buried in unmarked graves.

The last school closed in the 1990s. Most were run by Catholic entities. The Anglican, United and Presbyterian churches of Canada, which ran some schools, have apologized for their roles. But while some Catholic entities and local church leaders had apologized, Francis and his predecessors had not done so before Friday.

A papal apology on Canadian soil was among the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

In his remarks, Francis said it was “chilling to think of determined efforts to instill a sense of inferiority, to rob people of their cultural identity, to sever their roots and to consider all the social and personal efforts that this continues to entail: unresolved traumas that have become intergenerational traumas.”

Francis met separately this week with Métis, Inuit and First Nations delegates. The delegation, whose visit was delayed by the pandemic, was made up of Indigenous leaders, elders, youth and residential school survivors, who shared stories of their residential school experiences and the effects that still ripple in their communities.

The delegates also pressed Francis to release records that could shed light on the identities of the children who died at the schools or went missing. Some have also criticized the Church for failing to meet its obligations under a class-action settlement with residential school survivors from 2006.

Others have called on the Vatican to revoke papal bulls of the 15th century that enshrined what’s known as the doctrine of discovery, which were used to justify colonization in the Americas.

As he often does, Francis on Friday lamented “the many forms of political, ideological and economic colonization” that “still exist in the world, driven by greed and thirst for profit, with little concern for peoples, their histories and traditions, and the common home of creation.” He did not revoke the papal bulls.

During a visit this week to an Indigenous community in British Columbia that last year said it had uncovered evidence of 93 possible unmarked graves, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — who personally appealed to Francis for an apology in 2017 — said dealing with this “terrible” chapter of history required a response from the pope.

The federal government issued an official apology for its role in the residential school system in 2006.

Francis did not provide a date for his visit to Canada, but joked that it would probably not be in winter. He said he derived “joy” from the veneration of the delegates for St. Anne and “hoped” to be with them on her feast day. It’s in July.

Complete Article HERE!