Vatican expert: ‘Vatileaks scandal left Benedict powerless’

Pope Benedict XVI sits on a garden bench during his annual holiday in Bressanone, northern Italy July 31, 2008.  Credit: Reuters
Pope Benedict XVI sits on a garden bench during his annual holiday in Bressanone, northern Italy July 31, 2008.
Credit: Reuters

The Vatileaks scandal, which saw Pope Benedict’s former butler leak confidential documents, left the pontiff  “isolated and may have been a factor in his resignation”, a Vatican observer tells Metro.

Q&A with Elena Curti, deputy editor of Catholic international weekly “The Tablet.”

Metro: Has Pope Benedict’s resignation come as a shock to Catholics?

Curti: The timing has been a surprise. While Benedict did indicate in the past that he would step aside if he felt he was unable to continue, the Catholic world has been astonished by this news.

As the years went by, the Pope did grow weaker both physically and mentally. But the Vatileaks scandal, which saw Benedict’s ex-butler Paolo Gabriele steal thousands of Vatican documents, some of which alleged corruption within the church, might have been a factor in his resignation. Knowing that one of his closest aides had betrayed him must have left him very isolated and powerless. The Pope must have felt that power was slipping away from him, his power to govern.

Who can replace him?

The field is wide open. However, in normal circumstances, the Pope dies and the church has more time to reflect, organize the papal conclave and start the debate for a successor. Now, there is much less time for that. It will be very difficult to predict who will be the next leader. After the Pope resigns on February 28, the Dean of the College of Cardinals Angelo Sodano will be in charge to organize the election of the next pontiff.

Do you think Benedict is aware of the cataclysmic effect his resignation has left?

I think his move was quite characteristic of Benedict. He has always been bold in his decision-making.  He brought back the old Latin mass and set up the Ordinariate, a place within the Catholic Church for former Anglicans worldwide.

The Church faces many challenges ahead, following a number of sex abuse scandals and congregation numbers dropping. What direction will it now take?

The Church can either work towards a smaller yet purer church or continue its policy of evangelization, spreading the gospel. I believe the new pope will do both. There is much talk of the falling numbers of churchgoers in the Western world, but elsewhere in the world, particularly in Africa, the numbers are growing very, very rapidly. This could be a shift away from a European-centric church.

Do you reckon Benedict was just a “caretaker pope” following the 26 years+ reign of John Paul II?

There are elements of that, certainly: he was elected pope at age 78, already the oldest pope elected in nearly 300 years, so he never had a lot of time to lead. Admittedly, he was not a very good administrator and failed to get grip of the Roman Curia, the church’s central administration. But nevertheless, he never shied away from a ground-breaking decision.



News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
National

California passes 'yes-means-yes' campus sexual assault bill

Californian lawmakers passed a law on Thursday requiring universities to adopt "affirmative consent" language in their definitions of consensual sex, part of a nationwide drive to curb sexual assault on…

National

Syrian refugees top 3 million, half of all…

By Stephanie NebehayGENEVA (Reuters) - Three million Syrian refugees will have registered in neighboring countries as of Friday, but many remain trapped by the advance…

International

North Korean leader's money manager defects in Russia:…

A senior North Korean banking official who managed money for leader Kim Jong Un has defected in Russia and was seeking asylum in a third country, a South Korean newspaper…

Local

MAP: New York City Street Closures August 29,…

The Department of Transportation and NYPD said there may be residual delays near all of the street closures on August 29, 31 and 31. Several streets and avenues will be…

Going Out

'Friends' coffeehouse Central Perk coming to NYC —…

"Friends" is coming back for a one-off special: "The One with the Free Coffee." Warner Bros. is bringing a pop-up replica of Central Perk, the…

Movies

Interview: 'As Above, So Below' directors: 5 ways…

The fraternal directors of the found footage horror "As Above, So Below" dish on the best ways to frighten the bejesus out of audiences.

Movies

Criterion's new Jacques Demy box mixes the light…

Jacques Demy, the most effervescent of French New Wave filmmakers, gets a Criterion box all to himself, with classics like "The Umbrellas of Cherbourg."

Entertainment

Comedian Joan Rivers, 81, rushed to New York…

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Acerbic comedian and fashion critic Joan Rivers was rushed to Mount Sinai Hospital in New York on Thursday after she reportedly…

NFL

3 things we learned in the Giants preseason…

The final score didn’t matter — a 16-13 win by the Giants — but it would’ve been nice to finally see Big Blue’s new-look offense get on track.

NFL

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers start…

NFL Power Rankings: Seahawks, Broncos, Patriots start at top

U.S. Soccer

5 facts about new England captain Wayne Rooney

Manchester United striker Wayne Rooney was named as the new England captain by coach Roy Hodgson on Thursday.

NFL

Jets vs. Eagles: 3 things to watch

A win on Thursday night at the Eagles would give the Jets a 3-1 record and just their second winning preseason under head coach Rex Ryan.

Style

Trend: White hot on the 2014 Emmy's red…

White was one of the big trends on the Emmy's red carpet.

Food

Recipe: Samuel Adams beer-marinated grilled shrimp

Summer calls for two things: a cold beer and light food. Sam Adams' Latitude 48 IPA fairly bursts with citrus notes, making it an ideal marinade…

Wellbeing

4 healthy ingredient swaps to make your meals…

When it comes to eating well, everyone knows they could be doing better. But cooking in an apartment on a busy schedule is a recipe…

Wellbeing

Heart trumps brain when it comes to movies…

When you need a good cry, do you reach for the movie that’s “based on a true story”? Science says you’re giving your brain far…