If we are to believe this latest report, then that's basically what is going on. If this guy is right, then a lot of the other stuff that has been coming out about Cardinal Bertone and his contingent amongst the Curia is true. And if it's true, then the stakes are astronomically high for reasons I'll go into at the end.
A suburb in the north of Rome, a table in a bar, traffic passing by. It is lunchtime on a now limpid Sunday morning and one of those behind the flow of confidential letters from the Holy See 1 is explaining how the operation works.
"Those doing it are acting to protect the Pope."
The Pope? Why?
"Because the whistleblower - or rather whistleblowers, because there are more than one of them - want to reveal the corruption inside the church in recent years, since 2009-2010."
Who are they? Who are you?
"There are those opposed to the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. And those who think that Benedict XVI is too weak to lead the church. And those who think that this is the time to step forward. So it's become everyone against everyone else. It's war and you no longer know which side anyone is on."
How did the leaks from the Vatican start?
"Out of fear that the power accumulated by the Secretary of State was not in the interest of others in the Vatican."
But is money also involved?
A hand runs through the hair, eyes look around, fingers torment a ring. "Money is always involved. There are also economic interests in the Holy See. In 2009-2010 some cardinals began to sense a loss of central control: partly from attempts to restrict the freedom of the inquiry that Monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò was running against corruption, partly because of the Pope's gradual detachment from internal matters."
What happened then?
Viganò wrote to the Pope denouncing cases of corruption. He asked for help, but the Pope couldn't do anything. He couldn't do anything because it would create an open rift with his right-hand man. In order to keep the Church united he sacrificed Viganò. Or rather, pretended to sacrifice him, because, as you know, the nuncio in Washington (where Viganò was sent) is the most important. So the Cardinals realised that the Pope was weak and sought protection from Bertone."
What did the Pope do then?
"The Pope realised that he had to protect himself. He summoned five people he knew he could trust, four men and one woman. The so-called rapporteurs, Benedict's secret agents. The Pope asked these people for advice, giving everyone a role, with the woman coordinating all five."
Make sure you read the rest. The Windswept House/Keys of This Blood comparisons continue, right up to the point of having the intrigues focused on the Secretary of State's office. Some of the guy's story didn't make much sense to me. I couldn't figure out if he was claiming the Pope was behind the leaks or not. I certainly hope that nobody would be arrogant enough to embark on a mission like this with the intention to force the Pope into some kind of action. That is just about as dangerous as the allegations against Cardinal Bertone.
All that being said, consider the stated goal. What's being plotted is the Pope's de facto abdication. He'd be about as much use as an English monarch. Or Rowan, for that matter. How much would the enemies of the Church love that? The effect just here in America would be huge. If the Vicar of Christ, for whatever reason, suddenly stopped making such strong stands on the moral decline of the world, would the bishops beneath him be able to maintain their strength and cohesiveness against the current assaults by the government? I doubt it very much. And that's just here.
And so we renew our request that everyone here please pray for the Pope. This is all that sifting of wheat stuff. The brethren must be strengthened and there's only one guy who has that job.