Ever since he announced his resignation, the field has been abuzz with questions, asking why. The Holy Father is a position for life, with the last resignation being that of Pope Gregory XII in 1415. Information had already come out that Pope Benedict sought immunity before resignation, and will be under protection after his resignation. But this leaves us with more questions.
A lengthy investigation by the Italian newspaper “La Repubblica” has discovered that the origin of the resignation has little to do with health, but instead to do with another word, “influentiam,” Latin for Blackmail. They tie the resignation to the investigation into leaked documents, a scandal nicknamed “Vatileaks” in the popular media. The investigation into these leaked documents, detailing sex, corruption, bribery and scandal released in the book Sua Santità. Le carte segrete di Benedetto XVI, revealed that not only were the accusations true, but that there was a blackmailing ring behind it all, circling even at the highest levels of the Catholic Church.
When the report was delivered, it is reported that Pope Benedict decided that day to resign, a symbolic falling on the sword. He further declared that once resigned, this report, 300 pages, will be released directly to the public on March 1st, revealing every dirty secret, every lie, every blackmail to the world. La Repubblica further continues, that the blackmailing ring involved homosexual members of the clergy. This is tied directly to the procurement of male prostitutes for members of the Papal staff.
The new information coming out is bringing a lot of the dysfunction, the conflicting reports of the Catholic Church, and most of all the cover-ups. From kidnapped girls to child abuse, the Catholic Church has been riddled with scandals for decades. And no matter how much the public was assured it was not happening, the cover ups continued. A blackmail ring, however, would explain the entire situation. Through the use of bribes, coercion, and blackmail, even the Pope’s own instructions could be ignored, and the corruption would continue.
The world of the Vatican is insulated, isolated, and now finds itself alone. The Catholic Church stands for something greater than mere human frailty, but the alleged corruption shakes the entirety to its core. Ultimately, the church is the responsibility of one man, born Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI. If he died in office, the secrets would stay buried, and the corruption would continue. If revealed while he was in office, his credibility would be lost, the accused could scatter, and nobody would pay the ultimate penalty but for him. To make it complete, before he became Pope, Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handled all of the abuse cases before he became the head of the Catholic Church, so he can accept the full blame. But he would not do so without ensuring that those who did abuse their positions would pay for it as well.
By resigning, and ordering the documents release before a replacement is chosen, he has chosen the most difficult path. Without a Pope, there is nobody to hide behind, nothing to shield them from the light of truth. But more importantly, it gives the church the opportunity to eliminate corruption from within. Pope Benedict began reforms aimed at rooting out corruption, but as the head of his church, he knew his efforts could only go so far. The ultimate way in which to eliminate blackmail is to expose the dirt which the blackmailer has on you. Decades of corruption through the church will need to be dragged out into the light of day, and the embarrassment will haunt the retired pontiff for the rest of his days. But he will carry it alone, in seclusion, allowing his flock, those he pledged to protect, and to guide, to be protected from the worst of it. Heads will roll, arrests will happen, the image of the infallible Holy See will be shattered, but the Catholic Church will survive, and endure.
And, just possibly, it can reconnect itself to the world which continues to move forward to a bright future.
If the gamble of Pope Benedict works, if his action allows the elimination of the dirty secrets which have become a rot at the core of the Catholic Church, then perhaps history will look upon him kindly. Otherwise, if his gambit fails, and the church is consumed by its own corruption, then he will forever be remembered as the pope who abandoned his flock just before the end, after failing to protect them from the wolves among the sheep..
Nathaniel Downes is the son of a former state representative of New Hampshire, now living in Seattle Washington.
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