Thursday, February 28, 2013

Goodbye Holy Daddy; Hello New Roommate

Do I have to give up my Prada shoes?
As Benny's last day draws nigh, we have additional details on his retirement.  First, the pooped pontiff will keep the name Benedict XVI and still be addressed as "his holiness".  At about 5 pm local time, the 85-year-old will then be flown by helicopter to Castel Gandolfo, the pope's summer residence near Rome, in the afternoon. The church bell will toll and he will make his very last public appearance, greeting crowds from a balcony there.

At the moment Benedict's papacy ends (8 pm) the Swiss Guards -- the soldiers who for more than five centuries have protected the pope and his residence -- will leave the gates of Castel Gandolfo. He will from that point have Vatican police protection instead.  Benedict will stay there until renovations to a monastery within the Vatican grounds is completed later in the spring.

Benny will no longer use the Fisherman's Ring, the symbol of the pope.  The ring will be destroyed, along with Benedict's papal seal, after his departure from office.  He will wear a simple white cassock (instead of his usual finery), without the customary red mantle of the pontiff. He will also no longer wear  his Prada-made red shoes, adopting a pair of brown loafers instead.

Why we should care about all this, I don't know.  But while we're speculating, there are now reports from  Italian daily newspaper La Repubblica that the Pope's decision to resign was partly prompted by a report that accused Vatican officials of being under the influence of several internal lobbies.  The Irish Times reports that Benedict commissioned the report after the "Vatileaks" scandal broke last year.  The report, written by a trio of cardinals, concluded that "various lobbies within the Holy See were consistently breaking" the sixth and seventh commandments, "thou shalt not commit adultery" (a charge which is commonly used by the church to disparage homosexuality) and "thou shalt not steal."  The paper also claims the report details information about sexual meetings organized by members of a gay underground network, who got together in venues across Rome and Vatican City.

Holy Daddy's New Roommate
And now that we're talking about designer red shoes and gay lobbies . . . Andrew Sullivan has blogged new details of the (seemingly) gay relationship between the Pope and his personal secretary, Angelo Gänswein.  It now seems that the Pope is going to get to keep his personal secretary Angelo-- a good-looking young(er) monsignor who will be double-dipping by serving the new Pope by day and Ratzinger by night (as Rachel Maddow put it in her recent coverage's of this story).  Nice arrangement for Angelo-- he gets to keep his paying job while he gets to keep servicing (ahem) his old boss during his off-hours (and will be living with him as well).

Irish writer Colm Toibin penned a profile of Angelo, which described the relationship in part:

The pope’s day begins with the seven o’clock Mass, then [the Pope] says prayers with his breviary.  [Benedict and Angelo] then have breakfast together, and [afterward] begin the day’s work by going through correspondence. Then Angelo exchanges ideas with the Holy Father, accompanying him to the ‘Second Loggia’ for private midday audiences. Then [Benedict and Angelo] have lunch together.  After the meal [they] go for a little walk before taking a nap.  In the afternoon [Angelo] again takes care of correspondence, taking the most important of them which needs his signature to the Holy Father.

When asked if he felt nervous in the presence of the Holy Father, Angelo Gänswein replied that he sometimes did and added: ‘But it is also true that the fact of meeting each other and being together on a daily basis creates a sense of “familiarity”, which makes you feel less nervous. But obviously I know who the Holy Father is and so I know how to behave appropriately. There are always some situations, however, when the heart beats a little stronger than usual.’

Hmm, red Prada shoes, bejeweled robes, gay-bashing, sleep-over buddy . . . if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck . . . .

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