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“The Church needs to have a good public profile because there are a lot of people out there who would like to exclude the Church from any type of public witness and we can’t let that happen,” explained New York cardinal and prelate of Wall Street Timothy Dolan.

Evidently, based on what has happened since Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation, a backroom decision had been made that American PR and media savvy could successfully change the image of the Catholic Church and, therefore, its political effectiveness.

The same manipulation of public opinion which resulted in "the dramatic increase in top income shares since the 1970s" in the U.S. is needed to restore the Church's ability to provide a moral veneer to rightwing parties and governments.  

Pre-Conclave

To redirect the Church, a pope must be selected who shares the same goals as the plutocracy. The pontiff chooses the leadership of the Roman Curia (the Vatican bureaucracy) and, directly or indirectly, every bishop, archbishop and cardinal.  

To elect a pope, a 2/3 majority of the 115 cardinal/electors is required. The U.S. has 11 cardinals. Italy with 28 is the only nationality with more. The Americans launched a campaign to both increase their own influence and lessen that of the Italians by attacking the Italian character and work habits as well as the Curia.

As soon as the College of Cardinals assembled in March to attend meetings prior to the conclave, the U.S. cardinals set up their own media center even though the Vatican press office announced it would give daily press briefings. By making U.S. prelates accessible to the 5000 members of the press gathered in Rome with not much else to report, Team USA was able control the talking points.

Boston Cardinal Séan O’Malley, himself a viable candidate for pope, brought his own media experts with him in addition to the horde of American communication gurus. He framed the issue for the conclave according to the already-determined strategy: Team USA "maintains that, since the current Church’s problem comes from the Curia, we should elect someone outside the Curia." O’Malley added, “the first commitment of the new pope should be reforming the Curia,” suggesting to ecclesial ears accustomed to understanding the nuances behind the words that leaders would be replaced.

Italian Curial Cardinals Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, and Vatican Secretary of State and carmerlengo (in charge of running the Vatican during the interregnum), Tarcisio Bertone, were not pleased with either the American plans for the Curia nor their media center showing the U.S. cardinals as friendly and accessible as well as media and technically skilled.

Within a few days, the Americans were told by Bertone that having a rival media center to the Vatican press office was inappropriate. The next day, they were asked to stop. The final statement from the U.S. media center read: “The U.S. cardinals are committed to transparency and have been pleased to share a process-related overview of their work with members of the media and with the public.”

Team USA landed its first big victory over Team Italy. The headlines read:
“The Vatican was accused of censorship.” The Daily Telegraph
“Vatican muzzles cardinals.” Reuters
“Vatican-style secrecy wins out over American-style transparency.” AP

The U.S. Vaticanista (reporter or journalist with access to hierarchs for which much obeisance is the quid pro quo), John L. Allen Jr., author of a flattering book about Opus Dei, a secret society of trans-national financiers and corporatists,* and head cheerleader for Team USA, wrote:

First, there was already an anti-Italian and anti-old guard humor circulating among many cardinals, who have watched repeatedly as the system in the Vatican has broken down over the last eight years. Second, for those cardinals who believe that a capacity to evangelize and to engage the broader public is an important prerequisite in the next pope, they may look at the American [media] model and think, “That’s the way to go.”
Team USA scored another triumph when the Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, printed an interview with an anonymous source who claimed to have been part of a network of 20 Vatican employees who assembled secret documents which were given to the press, known as VatiLeaks. He/she stated the groups’ purpose: “We thought that making known what was going on in the Curia might be a way to raise public awareness of certain topics….We tried to help the pope.”

Although the interview contained no new revelations, it provided the Americans another opportunity to attack. Sr. Mary Ann Walsh, media relations director for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), referring to the La Repubblica article wrote: “The leaks at the Vatican continue….Stopping the leaks will be one challenge in a media culture which lives on leaks. It’s just the way to do business here in Rome and has been for years.”

 “’The problem is not the kind of news, but that such confidential news broke out,’ said a Vatican Secretariat of State official who spoke to CNA [Catholic News Agency] under the condition of anonymity.”

Concealment is the modus operandi of the Catholic Church. Cardinals take oaths of secrecy: “I promise and swear, from this day forth and as long as I live….not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to the Holy Church.” Secrecy is one of the root causes of prelates around the world aiding and abetting the sexual assaults against children. The only person prosecuted for any crime inside the Vatican City State was the layman, Paolo Gabriele, for giving the VatiLeaks’ documents to the press. The immorality and lawlessness exposed by these documents was ignored.

The first laws Pope Francis made (a pope is a dictator with complete executive, legislative and judicial power) on July 11 included one criminalizing leaks of Vatican information. His employees would face “six months to two years in prison and a 2,000 euro fine; the penalty goes up to eight years in prison if the material concerns the ‘fundamental interests’ of the Holy See." (the name of the international government of the Catholic Church)

Other American insiders joined the attack. George Weigel, one of the founding U.S. theocons, opined: "The Curia is still deeply influenced by Italianate work habits and that's problematic," he said. "If you look at the rest of this society, it isn't functioning very well," he added about Europe's third largest economy.

“The Roman Curia draws its long-term, mid-level members mostly from Italy, and as a body, it has come to mirror the corruption and inefficiencies of Italian political culture" wrote another American although the corrupt Christian Democrats and Silvio Berlusconi had been put in office through support from the Vatican.

“An anti-Italian sentiment seemed to grow among [the cardinal/electors],” noted Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne of Lima, Peru. In short order, they were demanding “reform of the Curia” as the most pressing order of business for a new pontiff.  

Conclave  

“[T]wo main camps each looking for a champion: There were those [Team USA] who wanted a pope who would reform the Roman Curia and to represent the Church's demographic shift to the Southern Hemisphere. Then there were the electors [Team Italy] who wanted to defend the Curia, and they were joined by some who also hoped to keep the papacy in Europe, or even return it to an Italian,” wrote Allen.

“It became immediately clear that the U.S. cardinals played a major role in Bergoglio’s election….It is also understandable that, once [their campaign] had been launched, Latin American cardinals converged on Bergoglio’s candidacy,” according to an Italian Vaticanista, Andrea Gagliarducci. Sandro Magister, another Italian Vaticanista, said that Cardinal Dolan was one of the “big electors”  meaning he wielded a lot of influence in the conclave.

Gagliarducci wondered, “Was Pope Francis’ election the end result of a campaign that had been in the works for a long time? While standing by for the announcement of his first appointments some in Vatican circles have started to think that, indeed, Bergoglio’s election was the outcome of a campaign dating back some time….It seems that this pontificate was already in the works in 2005. In that year’s conclave, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was the second most-voted cardinal” after Joseph Ratzinger.  

Gagliarducci is a very reliable Vaticanista, so his suggestion deserves serious consideration. We know that candidates are prepped long before a conclave. The last super-star pontiff, John Paul II, had been groomed by Opus Dei “who helped to install him as pope." After noting that Pope Francis is 76 and Dolan only 63, Allen wrote, “even here in Rome the wheels are turning” that “if we [the plurocracy?] get the reform of the system that many people expect Pope Francis will deliver,” Dolan will be the next pope.

First, it's credible that Pope Francis was also groomed for the job because his rightwing credentials are solid.

He was promoted all the way to cardinal by John Paul II whose crowning achievement was morphing the U.S. episcopate from a pro-civil rights, anti-war group into leaders of the Religious Right. John Paul II had partnered with Pres. Reagan and the CIA to destroy the “leftist” democracy movements throughout Latin America. A newly revealed Vatican document was sent to Reagan in 1980 "requesting that the U.S. government take aggressive action against the Liberation Theology movementhich was accused of transforming the Catholic Church into 'a political weapon against private property and productive capitalism.'"

Bergoglio was a strong opponent of the liberal progressive presidencies of Néstor and Cristina Kirchner during “a decade in which Argentina lived the largest and fastest reduction of poverty and inequality,” according to Ernesto Semán, a historian at New York University and former reporter for two Argentine newspapers.

In a 2012 address, Bergoglio accused the Kirchner government of “demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power,” sounding very much like his U.S. confreres.

When Pope Francis gave the only unrehearsed public statements so far in his papacy on a return flight from Brazil on July 28, he told the reporters that the “masonic lobby” was dangerous to the Church.

And with that casual phrase, the pope signaled his fealty to the deep strain of reaction in European history and hardly anyone noticed. Few Anglo-Saxon readers understand that prejudice against freemasons is the founding conspiracy theory of the far right…. Pius IX included freemasonry along with socialism, liberalism and freedom of conscience as evils the faithful must fight in his Syllabus of Errors of 1864….
The anti-Semites and fascists of the early 20th century added that the masons were in league with the Jews. Franco and Mussolini persecuted them. The Nazis made freemasons wear red triangles and murdered them by the thousands….
Last week, the Catholic Herald took its cue from the pope's condemnation of the "masonic lobby" to raise the "truly frightening thought" that masons had infiltrated the Vatican and were subverting the Holy See from within.
Bergoglio, in short, was digging in over-manured soil.
Bergoglio has “strong ties” to the mostly Italian Communion and Liberation movement. Theologian and political scientist, Dario Zadra, concluded a study of the group by stating that - like other rightwing Catholic groups such as the Legionaries of Christ or Opus Dei - "the political rhetoric and vision of the movement seem to continue a long-standing political position in the Catholic world - that of returning the Roman Catholic Church to its traditional role of political power."

Second, although not a resident of Rome, Cardinal Bergoglio was a member of five Curia dicasteries (departments) meaning he is not quite the “Vatican outsider” portrayed by the media.

It is possible that Bergoglio kept a spy in the Vatican since 2007. The cardinal had the Argentine Msgr. Fabiàn Pedacchio Leaniz appointed as a clerk at the Congregation for the Bishops. “According to an informant,” Pedacchio Leaniz called Bergoglio weekly and faxed him confidential documents. “Pedacchio Leaniz is also reported to have received Bergoglio’s instructions on how to support or to block a career.”

What gives the rumor credence is that as soon as Bergoglio was elected pope, Pedacchio Leaniz moved into the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican hotel where Francis lives. He is now the pope’s full-time secretary and acts as Francis’ “translator or in answering personal correspondence in the name of the pope.”  

If the rumor is true, why would a cardinal with no further ambitions plant a loyalist inside the Vatican? Or why would a cardinal with no further ambitions agree to have his papers published only after his second-place showing in the 2005 conclave?

According Argentine journalist, Francesca Ambrogetti, “The first time I met Bergoglio was in April 2001, straight after the consistory in which John Paul II had created him cardinal.” That was when Ambrogetti had the idea of producing a book of conversations with him.

A month or so later, Ambrogetti presented her book proposal to the cardinal and got newspaper correspondent, Sergio Rubin, involved in the project. “Bergoglio kept the proposal in his desk drawer for a long time. Then, after the 2005 Conclave, he gave us the go-ahead and brought us a large folder with all his speeches and homilies, asking us to use them as material.”  (The book was released as The Jesuit: Conversations with Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2010 and Pope Francis: Conversations with Jorge Bergoglio: His Life in His Own Words after his election.)

In an interview at the beginning of Pope Francis' visit to Rio de Janeiro, when asked if the Francis papacy “has turned out the way you expected,” Dolan admitted that Bergoglio had been carefully vetted. “If there's a surprise, it's that he's even better at it than we had anticipated" the prelate of Wall Street replied enthusiastically.

Allen agrees. "Pope Francis is drawing better reviews...than anyone might reasonably have anticipated back on March 13," the day of his election.

Success

“A new narrative: this was what the Church needed. Jorge Mario Bergoglio would guarantee it to take place. His focus on a limited number of themes about which he spoke repeatedly, and a low profile that would compel the whole Vatican to adapt to it, would coalesce in the image of a humble pope longing for a Church poor and for the poor,” although Pope Francis never has and never will order the Vatican, all the dioceses and religious orders around the world to divest themselves of assets and give them to "the poor."

"There has been a worldwide change in attitudes toward the papacy since the election of Francis. There has been a great outpouring of sympathy, not only among believers but also from people who are very secular or far from the Church."

“At every public appearance he is met with teeming crowds. In all of the opinion surveys the applause for this pope reaches the highest levels, which is also translated into a growth of trust in the Catholic Church.”  

“I think the public mood regarding Christianity, and more specifically, Catholicism, has improved significantly in the last six months. Why? Because Pope Francis seems to sense the need to return the faith to the fundamentals,” noted a blogger for the Religious Left Law website.

Dolan said it helps to have a popular pope “’because the reputation and the credibility of the Church are much higher now…. I've said before that we bishops lack a lot of credibility in many areas, and it's clear that the goodwill Francis enjoys right now makes things easier for bishops’ to move the ball on many fronts.”

"Many thought that the Catholic Church was dead, overwhelmed by scandals but as soon as Pope Francis came out, spoke, he made some gestures, has spread more hope," noted Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga.

Francis’ first action was to select Rodriquez Maradiaga to be the coordinator for his hand-picked commission of eight cardinals who he says will "help him govern the Church." Rodriguez Maradiaga is “the leader of Opus Dei” in Honduras which “participated actively in the 2009 coup against the constitutional president, Manuel Zelaya.” The cardinal also worked to prevent “education programs and effective equality of women in the country.”

When there were abundant U.S. headlines in 2002 about clerical sex abuse, Rodriguez Maradiaga first “objected to media ‘persecution’ of the Catholic Church in the United States, comparing it to the times of Nero and Diocletian, and more recently, Stalin and Hitler. (Rodriguez also complained that a judge handling a case involving Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston is a feminist).”  

Rodriguez Maradiago “blamed the Jews for the scandal surrounding the sexual misconduct of priests toward young parishioners! He has argued that the Jews got even with the Catholic Church for its anti-Israel positions by arranging for the media - which they, of course, control, he said - to give disproportionate attention to the Vatican sex scandal.”

In addition to Rodriguez Maradiaga, other members of the “group of eight” cardinals include (as I noted in a previous diary) Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley who, while ignoring that Romneycare included coverage for abortion, is a leader in the attacks against Obamacare for including coverage for contraception. O’Malley is close to Opus Dei as is Australian Cardinal George Pell, who invited Opus Dei to plant itself in Sydney and Melbourne. Pell made local headlines for covering up clerical sex abuse as did Chilean Cardinal Javier Errazuriz Ossa. German Cardinal Reinhard Marx gave a talk sponsored by Opus Dei appropriately at the Deutsch Bank. The only Italian among the "group of eight," Giuseppe Bertello, was the Vatican’s nuncio (ambassador) to Rwanda before and during the genocide for which the Catholic Church was partially responsible and a participant.

Pope Francis "reforms" the Curia

“This Latin American outsider seems determined to break the Italian monopoly on governance of the universal Church,” noted Allen. “Pope Francis wants to change the way the entire Roman Curia thinks and behaves. [His] way of proceeding reveals distrust for the Curia,” observed Gagliarducci.  

Francis told the world media he shared the American opinion about a dysfunctional Curia in need of reform. During his in-flight press conference he said, “I think the Curia has fallen somewhat from the level that it had some time ago,” and “The commission of eight cardinals – it was important they came from outside.”

On July 24 Dolan complained about the pope: “We wanted someone with good managerial skills and leadership skills, and so far that hasn't been as obvious." Perhaps the grumbling was meant to divert attention from all that the pope had done to please the plutocracy.  

On June 13, it was reported that the pontiff selected an official from McKinsey & Co. “to design that reform of the Curia which everyone expects from Pope Francis.” From Wikipedia: "McKinsey is one of the market-leading 'Big Three' management consulting services to the Fortune 500 set, along with Bain & Company and The Boston Consulting Group."

McKinsey & Co. has been criticized for preparing a questionable survey of employers' response to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) which became "a useful tool for critics of the ACA;" reports for developing countries on deforestation favorable to corporate interests and advice to insurers on how to avoid paying claims involving soft tissue injury. Before its collapse, Enron was one of the firm's biggest clients. McKinsey senior executives Rajat Gupta and Anil Kumar were convicted for insider trading.

On June 19, the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See held a meeting with administrators of the close to 70 Vatican departments, congregations, tribunals, councils, "offices," and foundations. This group includes the Administration for the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA) which holds the Vatican’s investment and property portfolios. “After reading a short greeting from the Holy Father...an interesting agreement was presented, by virtue of which Banco Santander offered its availability to place [itself] at the Prefecture's disposition.”

Banco Santander is thought to be associated with Opus Dei according to Wall Street Italia. It is “a colossus with 10,000 branches which prides itself on having the most' branches than any other bank in the world” and is “present mainly in Spain, Portugal and Latin America, those territories inhabited by tens of millions of Catholics.”  The bank expanded with the following result: “Huge Eurobank, rated 'Britain's worst,' now accused of gouging U.S. consumers.”

One goal of the "reform" is to end the decades of Vatican Bank (formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion or IOR) scandals by making the IOR clean-as-a-whistle. And the Vatican’s departments such as APSA and Propaganda Fide which control far more assets than the IOR will now have Banco Santander to handle any transactions which would not bear public scrutiny on the IOR books.  

In addition to the commission of cardinals, Francis instituted two groups to assist him in “reforming the Curia.” “All told, they include 21 people now in positions of real influence, with just three Italians among them.”

Francis understood that essential to any reform is the “de-Italianization” of the Curia, “especially on the financial front,” according to Allen. One non-Vatican cardinal told him, "If you want transparency on money, then you don't look to Italy as an example," even though it was Italian financial authorities who closed the IOR accounts in two Roman banks in 2010. Also, the Bank of Italy closed the ATM, debit and credit card services operated by Deutsche Bank’s Italian unit within the Vatican City State on Jan. 1, 2013, because the Vatican City State still did not have adequate regulatory and supervisory controls which conformed to international regulations. And it was the Italian police who arrested Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, an APSA accountant, for attempting to smuggle $20 million into Italy illegally and an Italian investigation which led to the “voluntary” resignations of Vatican Bank director Paolo Cipriani and vice director Massimo Tulli.

On June 26, the pope established a Pontifical Commission charged with drawing up an “exhaustive” report into the activities of the IOR which “shows that the pope has taken the path of outsourcing.”  “The commission reports directly to Francis, and has been given special authority to collect documents and testimony without being hamstrung by internal Vatican rules that protect confidentiality.”  

Francis chose Spanish Opus Dei Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta as the commission’s coordinator. One of the five members is Mary Ann Glendon, appointed by Bush 43 as ambassador to the Holy See. An ardent Romney supporter, perhaps Glendon is most remembered for declining an award from Notre Dame in 2009 because the university had chosen President Obama as its commencement speaker. Another member is Msgr. Peter Bryan Wells, who already holds the title “assessor” in the Secretariat of State and was appointed last year to a Vatican media “crisis unit” along with Greg Burke, a member of Opus Dei and former Fox News reporter, to handle the VatiLeaks scandal. According to Allen, Wells “will be the prime mover in terms of actually doing the work” of the commission to study the IOR. “Glendon and Wells have strong personal connections to fellow American Carl Anderson…a member of the IOR board of directors. It goes without saying that all five [members of the commission] have personal bank accounts at the IOR.”

Carl Anderson, former member of the Reagan administration and Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus – lately known for funding anti-gay-marriage lobbying – demonstrated incredible power in May 2012  by “brutally ejecting” Ettore Gotti Tedeschi from his position as president of the laymen’s board of the IOR.  

The Vatican accepts “very large donations….Donations, however, invite outsiders’ intromission since the donors may attempt to exert control over everything. They are ultimately buying the Vatican one piece at a time….The Knights of Columbus, for example, have been making generous donations to APSA. Their donations have served to pay the salary of one of the top consultants at the Vatican for the past two years. Obviously, before hiring the job holder, the Knights of Columbus were consulted,” wrote Gagliarducci

Another sign of Anderson’s power: more than 90 prelates, including 11 cardinals, attended the Knights of Columbus annual convention held August 6-8 in San Antonio, Texas. No other group of laity can claim anywhere near that level of public homage from churchmen.  

On July 19, Pope Francis established another Pontifical Commission “to reform the Vatican’s economic and administrative departments.” Only one Italian was included. This eight-member commission is composed almost entirely of lay persons although the secretary is the Spanish Opus Dei Msgr. Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, already secretary of the Prefecture of Economic Affairs. The commission “has the authority to intervene in the financial running of other Vatican institutions....In the Italian paper La Repubblica, journalist Marco Ansaldo called the commission a ‘complete subversion’ of the Roman Curia."

"Francis is giving rise to a new culture of accountability, moving toward a more Anglo-Saxon understanding’ of ‘accountability,’” noted Allen.

After Dolan publicly kvetched that Francis was slow in making the changes for which he was elected, on Aug. 8 the pope charged the Vatican's Financial Information Authority (Italian acronym AIF) directed by a Swiss layman, with “prudential supervision” of the financial activities of all Vatican departments and foundations.

At the same time, Francis also established a Committee for Financial Security charged with the responsibility of coordinating compliance among the various Vatican agencies to standards of “financial transparency.” The American Msgr. Peter Wells was named as the committee president. Spanish Opus Dei Msgr Vallejo Balda is the secretary and “coordinator who acts...in the collection of documents, data, and information necessary to the performance of its institutional functions.”

“The fact that Francis has effectively set up Wells to be the architect of his financial glasnost thus speaks volumes….Wells is clearly poised to be a player under the new regime," per Allen.

Although the selection had already been made in June, the announcement of a new Secretary of State was delayed and made at the same time a Spanish Legion of Christ priest, Fernando Vergez, was named as Secretary-General of the Vatican City State to “coordinate and manage the daily operations of Vatican City State and is in charge of making all fundamental working decisions.” Similarly, to divert media attention away from a decision which might be criticized to one public opinion would find laudable, Francis had announced at the same time that he was canonizing both Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, a promoter of the Legionaries of Christ as well as Reagan's partner.

The Legionnaires, another of those groups like Communion and Liberation and Opus Dei dedicated to restoring the political power of the Church, were discredited after it was revealed that their founder, the Mexican Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, had sexually abused seminarians and had two wives and three children.

Naturally, the news that the Legionnaires still found favor with Pope Francis was ignored as the world’s media concentrated on the appointment of a Secretary of State. Journalists and commentators also ignored why an organization claiming to be a religion would need a foreign affairs department and embassies in over 170 countries.

A World Leader

In his role as the world's moral leader bestowed on him by a secular media - and guided by his predecessor’s call for a “true world political authority” which at least one commentator understood Benedict as proposing the Vatican as an alternative United Nations - Francis has already received about a dozen heads of state including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Jordan's King Abdullah II and Bolivian President Evo Morales.

On the eve of the G8 summit, Francis wrote a letter to British Prime Minister David Cameron urging him to convey his instructions to the other participants: “The present global crisis shows that ethics [should be] an integral and unavoidable element of economic thought and action.” That was after choosing McKinsey & Co. as a consultant and two days before Banco Santander was announced as the Vatican’s financial partner.  

On Sept. 4, Francis sent a letter to Pres. Vladimir Putin “chiding" the Group of 20 for their inability to find a solution in Syria although Bergoglio had kept silent during the Catholic Church-supported 1976-83 Dirty War and only reluctantly admitted the Church's role afterwards. Francis also called all the foreign diplomats assigned to the Holy See to a meeting on Sept. 4 to discuss the situation in Syria, another opportunity to portray the pope as a world leader with clout.

Although Pres. Assad has been committing atrocities against the Syrian people since the beginning of his papacy, Francis decided to hold a “prayer vigil for peace” in St. Peter’s Square only after Pres. Obama proposed a limited airstrike against military targets. “I’ve been here for 23 years and I remember gatherings for peace in Assisi, but I don’t remember anything with this dimension in Saint Peter’s Square,” Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi told journalists. “He recalled a peace gathering in Italy and prayer vigils held after the Sept. 11 attacks, but none were of the degree that this will be, he said.” Catholic parishes across the U.S. held similar events.

"A Catholic vote against the war in Syria,” was the title used in the Vatican’s newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano announcing “the mobilization” of the “USCCB against the military action strongly backed by President Barack Obama.” The U.S. episcopate had not condemned the "war" in Syria until Obama proposed a response to the Assad regime's use of chemical weapons. The timing of the Vatican/U.S. episcopate's "peace" intiative suggested that Obama was the warmonger. Few remembered that the U.S. bishops failed to object to Bush's invasion of Iraq. None noted that there has not been a papal "prayer vigil" for the Church's victims of sexual torture.  

That the new Vatican regime intends to take a leading role in world affairs is evidenced by the selection of Archbishop Pietro Parolin as Secretary of State. A career Vatican diplomat agreed by all to be a very competent diplomat, fluent in four languages, we can expect an extremely skillful advocate for an increased role for the Church in the international geopolitical arena.

The day before the announcement of an Italian for Secretary of State (Parolin is from the northeast province of Veneto), Allen wrote a column titled "In Praise of Italy" in which he actually said, "many of my closest colleagues and friends are Italian." I guess this signals an end to the "anti-Italian," "anti-Curia" campaign. For the American plutocrats, the objectives of electing their candidate as pope and a Curia cowed into cooperation under threat of being dismissed have been attained.

The Future

Not everyone is pleased with the new pope. Providence, R.I., Bishop Thomas Tobin wrote in his diocesan newspaper, "I'm a little bit disappointed in Pope Francis that he hasn't, at least that I'm aware of, said much about unborn children, about abortion, and many people have noticed." But then the plutocrats already know that, "Forty-one percent of Republicans don't rank gay marriage as a top-10 issue, and only a third rank abortion as a top-3 issue (another third ranks it top-10, and the last third doesn't give a shit)." So we can expect the new pope to continue to avoid the words "abortion" and "gay marriage."

Further appointees will also show a high level of competence and a benign and conciliatory manner no matter what their nationality. The majority of Catholic prelates need no convincing after Francis' spectacular rise to stardom that you can catch more flies with honey.

Any Curia official thought of as disloyal will be dumped. Since the media has abandoned their interest in the on-going global sex abuse of children, the only fly in Francis' ointment may be push-back from Italians to Francis' mostly American "advisors." They know that, regardless of title and job description, access to the pope is what matters most. If the Italians are shut-out from important decision-making, they may try to discredit those closest to the pope or changes made without their input. There are about 4700 employees in the Vatican City State and the extraterritorial buildings owned by the Holy See throughout the city of Rome and most are lay persons who commute. Many are from families who have been employed in the Vatican for generations. They may resent working according to "Anglo-Saxon" custom and they cannot all be fired.    

Team USA will continue their expert manipulation of the media. On Sept. 2, the press were notified that Pope Francis will visit the city of Assisi, birthplace of St. Francis, on Oct. 4. Between the time his helicopter will arrive and leave, scheduled events include the following staged photo ops: meeting with sick and disabled children, visiting the poor being assisted by Catholic charity, lunching with the poor and meeting with young people. Within two days, 700 accredited journalists said they would attend and another PR triumph will ensue.

__

*Opus Dei is a secret society of global financiers, bankers, businessmen, politicians and their supporters directing the Catholic Church’s geopolitics. The names of members are never disclosed unless a person self-identifies him/herself as a member. The names of the clergy and prelates ordained into the Opus Dei religious order are, however, public. In return for their financial support - including funding “scientific” apologetics for the Church’s anti-women, anti-gay agenda - the Church champions the cause of the 1%. Opus Dei’s primary “charity” is running schools and supporting students in an estimated 80-90 countries to train more plutocrats, bioethicists and whatever other skills are deemed necessary to their growing wealth and power. (See Robert Hutchison Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei Thomas Dunne Books, 2006). In short, "Opus Dei is a radical, fascist, right-wing Catholic movement," according to Matthew Fox.

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