Last week’s remarks by Pope Francis were a really big deal.

Janet Tavakoli:  “The Pope’s remarks are a huge change from Ratzinger’s hate-speech. Moreover the Pope accepts homosexual priests (albeit wants them to honor their vows). He also made it clear that he not only accepts homosexuals but will forgive priests who break their vows. In the weird world of Catholicism this is unprecedented.  An earthquake. (I was interested to hear the remarks of New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  The Cardinal claims ‘acts’ are a sin, but not the person. Well, guess what?  The Church would say the same thing about an unmarried man or woman — me —  engaging in heterosexual acts.)  Although the Church doesn’t recognize gay marriage (yet), the Pope’s remarks were a bombshell.  And the Pope says he’s not judging people.”

Janet, who knows a little bit about finance, and who has written a novel about the Jesuits (Tag line: “when control of the Vatican is at stake — money talks, and nobody plays fair”), was particularly interested in the Pope’s remarks (here, at 3:11) about Monsignor Battista Ricca.  Ricca is alleged to have had an affair with a Swiss Guard, among others.  “The Pope appointed him to clean up corruption in the Vatican Bank,” Janet emailed me, “so of course, Ricca had to be blackmailed.  The Pope made it pretty clear that 1) his internal investigation did not match with printed reports of Ricca’s having real-time gay partners, but that 2) even if the reports of his past life and breaking vows are true, God forgives and forgets, so those looking to use this as leverage against Ricca are out of luck.  In one swoop, the Pope disarmed them.  So a priest is gay?  Who is the Pope to judge.  So he had a wild past?  If he asked for forgiveness and received it, the past is just that.”

Janet imagines “it may have gone like this: Ricca agreed to be the pope’s investigator, and others sought to neutralize Ricca with embarrassing information — real or fabricated.  The pope just said: ‘So what, even if it was once true?  You can’t blackmail me, because I’m not embarrassed about anything, and Ricca shouldn’t be either; Ricca has my support. Write anything you like.  Then try to get a better life.'”

“A Pope,” Janet says, “has never done anything close to this in the history of the Church.”




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