It’s a church! No, it’s a state! Stop! You’re both right!
Paolo Gabriele is languishing in a secret church prison tonight in Vatican City after being arrested by church police for having some of the Pope’s private papers in his possession.
The Pope’s former butler and a father of three children is threatened with thirty years in a papal jail for having uncovered some of Joseph Ratzinger’s dirty secrets.
Paolo might as well not be an Italian citizen, since his civil rights vanished once he crossed the Vatican. The law of the church supersedes that of any nation, it seems, since clearly the Pope can arrest and jail anyone he doesn’t like.
It’s quite abominable. How many corporations get to arrest and put on trial in their own private courts one of their employees who’s found with internal company documents?
How often does the CEO of such a company get to shelter and exonerate child rapists in his firm, hide the crime from the police, and silence those who know about it all?
Does the company itself get to launder money, finance wars, conduct genocide and crimes against humanity, and depose governments, and never answer for these crimes?
The Vatican Incorporated is the one company in the world that can do all this. And what’s more, they even get massive financial subsidies from taxpayers in over a hundred countries to do so!
That said, it’s a sign of the degree of institutional rot and panic erupting in Rome these days that members of the papal inner circle are breaking ranks and squealing on their boss. Paolo’s arrest follows hot on the heels of the forced resignation of the chief of the Vatican Bank, Gotti Tedeschi, who allegedly had blown the whistle on shady transactions by the bank.
It’s small wonder the papacy is crushing a lone employee like Paolo so rapidly. Some of the documents held by the butler suggest that the Pope personally accepted bribes to award Vatican contracts to friends and supporters of his, and that he engineered a cover up of the whole thing, including by expelling Vatican City governor Archbishop Carlo Vigano last year when he asked the Pope to come clean.
One can’t help but be reminded of the last days of Richard Nixon. But the former president cum gangster, at least, was legally accountable to the United States Congress. The Pope is answerable only to himself. He is, under his own laws, both “Master and God”: church and state all rolled into one, all powerful ruler of humanity.
Roman Emperor Aurelian invented that title known as “Dominus et Deus” in the year 273 when he created a new religious cult of sun worship that evolved into state Christianity under a later Emperor, Constantine. For the first time, and ever since then, one ruler was designated as having absolute authority over everyone, and could therefore never be challenged.
Adolf Hitler was a pale imitation.
When Aurelian’s god-emperor evolved into the papacy, Europe inherited a monster called Christendom that would cause more death and atrocity than any force in human history. Sadly, over the centuries governments have accommodated themselves to this monster since historically they arose in partnership with it, and derived their authority from papal sanction.
What Martin Luther called “the two swords” – church and state working in tandem – is still the governing principle that allows so-called “canon law” to supersede civil laws in most nations, with the result that men like Paolo Gabriele can simply disappear with the nod of a pope.
We really are still in the middle ages, in many ways: and we techno-serfs still blindly clamor for justice from institutions run from the top-down by men who consider themselves gods.
Joseph Ratzinger is an expert at making people disappear, having run the papal Inquisition – renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – for many years. But the very absoluteness of his power as Grand Inquisitor made Ratzinger many enemies, and the latter are gathering nowadays to help expose their adversary.
The details of Ratzinger accepting bribes, for instance, actually came from Vatican Secretary of State archives to which Paolo Gabriele could not have had access. Only senior Cardinals could have released such damning evidence.
This kind of power struggle in the papacy is nothing new, but since it is happening amidst efforts to criminally indict the Pope for concealing child rapists and obstructing justice, many of the Curia are worried that the institution will suffer permanent damage: a fact quite unacceptable to the money boys who stand behind the papal throne.
To quote a senior Italian state senator who spoke to me in Rome in the spring of 2010,
“The Vatican, the mafia, and the government, they’re really all the same men, and they have one major concern: to hold on to their revenues. They are terrified that the ORI (Vatican Bank) will suffer from these scandals and will lose its credit standing with the banking cartels. They will never let that happen, even if the heads of popes have to roll in the dust.”
So it’s an interesting question: who is more powerful, ultimately – the “Master and God” himself, or his creditors? The image, or the finances?
For men like Paolo Gabriele, or any victim of priestly rape, the answer is perhaps moot. For whoever is in charge in Rome is like any self-governing dictator: one who cannot be reasoned or negotiated with, but simply overthrown.
I believe the world is finally waking up to that fact. The issue now is, how will we unite across faiths and borders to finally unseat the God Emperor and his vile kingdom?
Our network has given the Vatican until September 15 to undertake ten steps to relinquish its power and do justice to its victims. After that day, the church will have lost its right to operate in our communities. And the occupations that will strike Roman Catholic churches and facilities after that date will include the targeting of secret papal prisons where men of conscience like Paolo Gabriele are being held.
We will free Paolo, if he is not free by then.
When Jesus of Nazareth first spoke publicly, he announced that God had sent him to release the captives, give sight to the blind, and let all the oppressed go free. The papacy of his day killed him for it, and the Vatican cemented that murder in its subversion of his message.
But fortunately, you just can’t keep a good man down.