After the important investigation of Der Spiegel on the pope, entitled “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness,” now another German daily, Herder Korrespondenz, which certainly not even the most frenzied Bergoglianist could condemn as conservative, is examining the authority of the Church, its questionable characters, and its ambiguities.
Benjamin Leven, a well known German theologian and editor, explains in an essay that, according to his Vatican sources, it was Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, one of the closest counselors of Pope Bergoglio, who promoted an attitude of indulgence at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith toward priests who were responsible for sexual abuse.
Thanks to the English translation of Maike Hickson, we are able to offer this report to our readers, which is definitely of interest, given both the source and the means of communication. According to several sources, Coccopalmerio interceded with the pope in favor of Don Mauro Inzoli, the priest of C.L. (Communion and Liberation) who had been condemned for sexual abuse but was then reinstated in his priestly ministry.
Coccopalmerio was president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts until April 2018. In 2010, he was named as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). In 2015, Pope Francis named him as a member of a new arm of the CDF that was commissioned to examine the appeals of priests accused of abuse. According to the testimony of Archbishop Viganò, Coccopalmerio is a part of the pro-gay “current” in the Vatican.
The author of the essay in Herder Korrespondenz, Benjamin Leven, lives in Rome and has close contacts in the Vatican. His essay entitled “Francis and Abuse: The Papal Secret” discusses the problem of abuse and the role of the pope. Leven writes about the drug-fueled homosexual party that took place in the apartment of the palace of the CDF occupied by Msgr. Luigi Capozzi, Coccopalmerio’s secretary. Leven confirms the story that Capozzi obtained this apartment, “which was destined for another person,” thanks to the personal intervention of the pope. Leven adds that “the warnings which had been given were ignored” by the pope, since “the elevation of Capozzi to the role of bishop was being planned.”
Leven recalls that Coccopalmerio “generally spoke against using laicization as a punishment for a priest” because such a priest would be treated equivalently to “someone condemned to death.” This is a position the cardinal consistently maintained, and, in fact, writes Leven, “he regularly proposed light penalties” to the CDF for abusers. With this affirmation, Leven reveals that it may well have been Coccopalmerio who opposed Cardinal Müller’s hard line against sexual abuse, when the former CDF prefect revealed that there were “persons close to the pope” who thought Müller had a “lack of mercy” in dealing with those responsible for abuse. Only 20% of those found guilty were laicized, “but even this was too much for some of those holding influence with the pope [Papsteinflüsterer].”
Leven relates how, through the personal intervention of the pope, several priests who were working in the disciplinary section responsible for handling cases of abuse were dismissed from the CDF. “These positions still have not been filled.” And, in passing, we recall that these arbitrary dismissals, which Müller protested, gave the pope the occasion to publicly tell a lie in front of journalists: “He (one of the dismissed officials) did a great job but he was a little tired and he went back to his homeland to do the same work for his bishops.”
The ambiguous role of the pope on abuse does not stop here. Leven reveals that it was Pope Francis himself who intervened to stop the plan “to establish a permanent criminal tribunal for bishops” implicated in cases of sexual abuse. The CDF does not have jurisdiction over bishops: “here, the pope in person is the judge.” According to Leven, the pope abandoned the plan of having a tribunal for bishops. Leven concludes that “thus, there seems to be here an ambivalent image: the pope addresses the problem, has the power to intervene, and he meets with victims of abuse. But at the same time he turns a blind eye to individual cases and shows himself impermeable to the advice being given to him.”
In another part of the essay, Leven writes that his Vatican sources have told him that the testimony of Viganò is true but that also “in reality things are even worse.” There are many people in the Vatican who do not like its current state of vice, and if somebody decided to speak, “not a stone upon a stone would remain standing.” The essay concluded with a dramatic question: “Will the Catholic hierarchy have the strength to purify itself?”
Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in Italian at Marco Tosatti’s blog. Translated for 1P5 by Giuseppe Pellegrino.