The Pope’s Defender

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Sodano.jpgWhile all the attention has been focused on the ill-advised association of current criticism of the pope with anti-Semitism in Fr.Cantalamessa’s Good Friday homily, it is another Holy Week allocution by a leading Vatican figure that ought to worry anyone who does not wish Roman Catholicism ill. That was the unprecedented speech by the dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano, prior to Pope Benedict’s Easter address.

Former Vatican secretary of state and the power behind the throne in John Paul II’s waning years, Sodano was a pal of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, uncle of real estate wheeler-dealer Andrea Sodano, and–very much to the point at the present moment–known as the key Vatican defender of the Church’s most exalted sex abusers: Marcial Maciel Delgollado (founder of the Legionaries of Christ) and Cardinal Hans Hermann Wilhelm Groër, the archbishop of Vienna.

For Sodano to get up before the Easter throng at St. Peter’s and publicly applaud those Catholics who “do not let themselves be influenced by the gossip” is not merely a species of obscenity. It suggests that he may have moved into a central role as Consigliere for the Defense. And that bodes ill indeed.