Earlier last week, Pope Benedict XVI released a letter of support to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, most observers saw the gesture as a signal from the Pope that the Secretary of State would remain in office, despite the unrest in the Roman Curia and the criticism fueled by the “Vatileaks” scandal.
Veteran Vatican-watcher Sandro Magister ofL’Espresso gives a different interpretation to the papal letter.
Pope Benedict is not easily bothered by criticism, Magister notes, and he is never intimidated.
“It is a mistake to confuse the meekness of this pope with submissiveness.”
The Pontiff listens carefully and respectfully to differing opinions, but then pursues the course he thinks best, even if it is unpopular.
Magister illustrates his point by showing how Pope Benedict has shown his quiet determination to make changes: in relations with Islam, in the handling of sex-abuse cases, in dealings with traditionalists and with Anglicans, and in Vatican financial affairs.
Now, Magister argues, the Pope recognizes that the Vatican’s own administration is in turmoil, and the leaks of confidential documents amount to a virtual mutiny.
The Secretariat of State, Magister believes, is “the main culprit of this disorientation,” and the Pope is ready to make changes.
Magister concludes that the Pope’s letter is “his affectionate accompaniment of Cardinal Bertone toward his sending into retirement.”