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From a piece in The Australian (note: links may require registration) by Tess Livingstone, who wrote this biography of Cardinal George Pell, published in North American by Ignatius Press:

Australia's Cardinal George Pell yesterday called on the Vatican press office to respond "in some constructive way" to reports of an internal investigation by three senior cardinals that told Pope Benedict XVI about an insidious web of blackmail, corruption and homosexual sex inside the Vatican. ...

According to La Repubblica, the report was "an exact map of the mischief and the bad fish" inside the Holy See, with the cardinals finding that one faction of Vatican officials, "united by sexual orientation", had been subject to "external influence" from laymen with whom they had links of a "worldly nature", which the paper said was a reference to blackmail.

It quoted a source close to the cardinals as saying that everything centred on "non-observance of the sixth and seventh commandments", which forbid adultery (included homosexual sex) and stealing. The report also mentioned numerous venues in and around Rome where clandestine encounters took place, including a sauna, a beauty parlour and a university residence.

Speaking just before he flew to Rome for the conclave that will elect Benedict's successor, Cardinal Pell, who read the full article, said: "I know nothing of the content of the report but whatever it contains it is clear that significant reforms are needed within the Vatican bureaucracy."

He praised Benedict for his "courage for commissioning such a report".

The cardinal said it remained to be seen how much of La Repubblica's report was accurate or whether it went beyond recycling material already on the public record. But it was important, he said, that the Vatican press office responded "as I'm sure it will given recent reforms".

In a piece for The Telegraph (Australian edition), Cardinal Pell spoke of what he will look for in the next pope:

"We want somebody with vision, able to plan for the future, who can take charge with the media and speak to the world, especially to those who half believe or don't believe at all'' Cardinal Pell told the Inner West Courier during his visit to St Vincent’s Catholic Primary School in Ashfield today.

Cardinal Pell said he was also looking for someone with "managerial” skills in the papal role.

"It's far and away from the most important task but it's one the tasks,'' he said.

For those who are putting money on the upcoming election (no, I'm not recommending it!), Cardinal Pell is getting 20-1 odds in some corners:

Australians have no idea how influential and how well-regarded Pell is at the top of the Catholic Church, and how long he has been thus.

Here is the first reason he could be pope. Among the 117 cardinals casting a vote there is a relatively small number, perhaps between 20 and 30, who are realistic possibilities, as the Italians say, papabili, or pope-able. Some are too old. The cardinals will not want another 78-year-old who might retire at 85 like Benedict XVI, perhaps while Benedict is still alive, giving Rome two ex-popes. Some are too young. If you elect a pope at 58 you are probably giving him the church for 30-odd years.

Some don't have the necessary languages. It would be difficult for a pope to run the Vatican if he couldn't speak Italian. Some are Americans - cardinals are reluctant to identify the papacy with the prevailing superpower. Some, though holy men, have said foolish things. Some have not run a big diocese, or not well. Some lack the intellectual firepower.

Pell, like a couple of dozen others, clears all these hurdles.

Read the entire piece, by Greg Sheridan, also in The Australian.

 
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Carl E. Olson is editor of Catholic World Report and Ignatius Insight.
 
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