Pope Benedict's headache: the Maciel millions, and the rot in Rome
The first of two parts of a new Jason Berry investigation into the way the Legionaries of Christ oiled the Roman Curia through money and gifts is posted at NCR. It makes for shocking reading.
The Pope emerges unscathed; indeed, is singled out for refusing an envelope of cash. And it was Benedict XVI, of course, who suspended Legion founder Maciel against the wishes of the cardinals he had over the years bought off -- chief among them Sodano and Martinex Somalo.
But it is Benedict XVI who now has the reports of the official Vatican investigation into the Legion which, if it contains even some of what Berry has discovered in the course of a journalistic investigation, is a live grenade in his hands.
It is the dovetailing of corruption and the cover-up of sex abuse which is most toxic. Maciel's millions, spread around the Curia in the style of mafiosi throughout the ages, were designed to deflect scrutiny from his life as a drug addict and paedophile. And for most of John Paul II's pontificate, it succeeded.
That's why this is bigger than just the future of the Legion. It is about the ease with which Maciel got away with it because of his powerful backers in Rome -- and the way that support could be bought. What Benedict XVI does with and in consequence of these revelations could well define the rest of his pontificate.
This is rot. And it goes deep.