Certain images from the consistory in Rome speak volumes

On Cardinals Becciu and Mahony and business as usual.

Cardinal Angelo Becciu greets Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna as he arrives for a consistory led by Pope Francis for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 27, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

One ought always to be wary of “world-in-a-nutshell” images, which only with vanishing rarity show what they purport (or are purported) to show. That’s why I didn’t make much of the images from Saturday’s consistory, showing the disgraced (and reinstated?) Cardinal Giovanni Angelo dressed in his glad rags, with a prominent seat among his brethren gathered in St. Peter’s for Saturday’s doings.

Cardinal Becciu was once the Sostituto of the Secretariat of State of the Holy See – a fancy way for saying that he was the pope’s chief-of-staff – basically the third man in the Vatican and responsible for the daily run of the place, until he became a cardinal and the prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints.

In September 2020, Pope Francis removed Cardinal Becciu from his offices in the curia and stripped him of all the rights and privileges of his station. Francis had seen evidence suggesting Becciu may be guilty of self-dealing, kickbacks to family, and other corruption. Becciu is also a central figure in the ongoing Vatican criminal trial over the Sloane Ave., London real estate botch.

Shortly before Saturday’s consistory for the creation of new cardinals, Cardinal Becciu – who denies all wrongdoing and has been active in his own defense, aided by a legal team that has been more than willing to mix it up with and in the press – announced that Pope Francis had called to invite him to take part in the doings over the weekend and into the week.

The cardinals will be having their first gathering as a full college since 2015, to discuss the pope’s recently promulgated curial reforms. Francis – to hear Becciu tell it – not only wants him to be a part of those doings, but intends to reinstate him fully before too long.

Is he in or is he out?” is one question. “Is Vatican justice really the caricature of itself that it appears to be?” is another. All the questions one may reasonably have in these regards fall somehow under the general rubric of “What gives?”

Pope Francis leads a consistory for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 27, 2022. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

That’s where the photos come in.

A friend shared one such picture of Cardinal Becciu. “This isn’t funny,” he remarked to a friend who had perhaps made light of the business on display. “This is hilarious,” I observed privately. “Think what a Petrarch or a Boccaccio or an Alighieri – a Belli or a Trilussa! – could have done with this?” O tempora! O mores! One might cry.

For what it’s worth, Giovanni Gioachino Belli is the fellow for it, if you ask me. A great poet who composed sonnets in the all-but-lost early 19th-century acceptation of Rome’s dialect, Belli sang of “low” subjects and “vulgar” in both the etymological and the colloquial senses of the term, when popes ruled Rome and life was just about to change.

Belli wrote mostly for his literary friends, and hoped that his poetic oeuvre would be burned when he died. The early publications of his work in Romanesco were highly curated affairs. See his sonnet, Lo Stato der Papa, or Er Confessore – a few of his poems can be found in English translations that give the general idea, but these are not safe for work and shouldn’t be read around small children – for a taste of what he’s about.

I thought of another literary man: Hilaire Belloc, to whom a couple of lines are frequently attributed.

Wherever the Catholic Sun doth shine,” begins one famous quatrain, “There’s always laughter and good red wine (or: There’s laughter and dancing and good red wine). / At least, I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!”

The Catholic Church is an institution I am bound to hold divine,” begins another quote often attributed to Belloc, “but for unbelievers, a proof of its divinity might be found in the fact that no merely human institution conducted with such knavish imbecility would have lasted a fortnight.”

That line recalls a story from Boccaccio’s Decameron, of a Jewish merchant – Boccaccio describes him as very great and very good – converted to Christianity not by preaching or learned discussion, but by the very wantonness and moral dissolution of popes and cardinals, which he witnessed on pilgrimage to the Eternal City.

It seems to me evil that God should have given anything to all those people,” the merchant reported upon his return to Paris. He said he discovered in Rome “neither holiness nor devotion, no good work or good example in any other regard, in anyone who was a priest.” Instead, he found “luxury, avarice, and gluttony: such things and worse, if there could be worse things in anybody,” and found “rather liberty in diabolical workings than in divine.”

The merchant-pilgrim concluded that the lot of them “[were] working to reduce the Christian religion to nothing and to drive it out of the world.” Only, “What they are driving at does not happen.” Instead, “your religion continually increases, so it becomes ever more clearly evident that the Holy Spirit must be its foundation and support.”

In any case, when it comes to Saturday’s consistory, the images that spoke volumes to me were of another Prince of the Church: Cardinal Roger Mahony. He stood and greeted the newly created cardinals in the name of all the Cardinal Priests. Mahony isn’t welcome to exercise ministry in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, owing to his role in the coverup of clerical sexual abuse he oversaw when he was Archbishop there.

But Cardinal Mahony has never been formally accused of any canonical or other crime, so in Rome it is business as usual.

New U.S. Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego greets Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles, during a consistory led by Pope Francis for the creation of 20 new cardinals in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican Aug. 27, 2022. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

Laissez le bontemps rouler!

By all means: Laissez ! Laissez !

Only, let the fellows in charge of this circus remember that Belloc was a wit and Boccaccio’s tale was not a how-to manual for evangelization, but biting satire. Also, Belli is dead and the Rome of which he sang is gone.

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About Christopher R. Altieri 228 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.


  1. Long ago, I heard someone say, “God will not be mocked.”

    Obviously, in the Vatican anyway, among our Church leaders, that is not the case. In too many instances, their careers seem dedicated to mocking our Creator and demonstrating that He’s powerless to stop them.

    Yet I still somehow suspect that He will have the last word.

  2. “New U.S. Cardinal Robert W. McElroy of San Diego greets Cardinal Roger M. Mahony” …
    Disgraced archbishop who covered up abuse & is part of the Mr mccarrick pink mafia.. Shameful and disgraceful to say the least

  3. The stench is too much. When will these people understand and run into hiding for shame? No, they revel in fetid self-promotion.

  4. Revelation’s Great Battle of the Angels.

    What you are looking at in these pictures is the Revelation 12 Dragon. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus refers to His Catholic Bishops as ‘angels’ (Revelation 2:1). The diadems on the Revelation 12 Dragon’s forehead are the sign of Priests. In the case of the Revelation 12 Dragon, which is attacking the Blessed Mother, these are evil priests. The Revelation 12 Blessed Mother of apocalyptic times, is trying to give birth the Revelation 21 ‘New Jerusalem’, which is Jesus’ Kingdom Come on free-willed earth.

    Revelation 2:1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus, write this…”
    Revelation 2:8 “To the angel of the church in Smyrna, write this…”

    Exodus 39:30 The priestly vestments
    The plate of the sacred diadem was made of pure gold and inscribed, as on a seal engraving: “Sacred to the LORD.”
    Exodus 29:6 Put the turban on his head, the sacred diadem on the turban.

    Revelation 12:1 The Woman and the Dragon.
    A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth. Then another sign appeared in the sky; it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and on its heads were seven diadems.

    Revelation 17:1 Babylon the Great.
    Then one of the seven angels who were holding the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come here. I will show you the judgment on the great harlot who lives near the many waters. The kings of the earth have had intercourse with her, and the inhabitants of the earth became drunk on the wine of her harlotry.” Then he carried me away in spirit to a deserted place where I saw a woman seated on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names, with seven heads and ten horns.

    At the Revelation 19 Battle of Armageddon, King of kings, Jesus, is wearing ‘on his head were many diadems’. A diadem, worn on the head in a turban, is the sign of the priesthood (Exodus 29:6). The armies of heaven, riding behind Jesus, ‘wearing clean white linen’, are Christ’s great, Combat Angels of the Apocalypse/Catholic Apostolic Successors, who have repented of all their sins and washed their robes in Jesus’ Gifts of Divine Mercy, the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and ready to do battle with the Dragon who is Satan.

    Revelation 19:11 The King of Kings.
    Then I saw the heavens opened, and there was a white horse; its rider was [called] “Faithful and True.” He judges and wages war in righteousness. His eyes were [like] a fiery flame, and on his head were many diadems. He had a name inscribed that no one knows except himself…
    …The armies of heaven followed him, mounted on white horses and wearing clean white linen.

    I say, Let the Battle begin!

    Jesus is getting Married

  5. “Business as usual” feels like a very bad thing when it has to do with a church which has run itself off the rails far too often lately. (Sex abuse accusations and covid-closed churches.)And more, when its Pope gives an approving pat on the head ( and Holy Communion!!) to politicians notorious not only for promoting abortion, but promoting it in its most extreme and horrific form, to infanticide in the 9th month and even BEYOND. One can imagine that the involuntary disposal of the elderly and the very ill by govt fiat will not be far behind. One story I saw recently indicated the present hierarchy will turn a blind eye to abortion in order to gain on social welfare support and climate change regulations.Doubtless to gain further secular approval, they will accept the wildly leftist ideas now floating like so much refuse out of Germany. One can only hope that some day the Lord will demand an accounting of these lost and morally twisted clerics.

    • Well in the Catholic church it seems business as usual is financial corruption as usual and sexual perversion as usual.

      The Pope will bury himself with his words and actions.

  6. Our Lord is Patient and Kind. After the last 65 years he has seen and heard enough of what has befallen the church Peter founded in his name.To come to some serious conclusions.

  7. It is critical that we remain faithful to Christ and the entire deposit of faith in these dark days. Good shepherds exist and the Real Presence is to be found. May all the faithful be truly that in the midst of what is yet to come.
    May Our Lady Refuge of Christians come to our aid. May The holy shepherds of years past intercede for us.

  8. Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel

    The history on the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel. From the Conversion of Roman Emperor Constantine in 337 A.D., Christianity was protected. Catholics started donating massive amounts of wealth to Jesus through His Church. By the 19th century, Papal States owned and ruled over two thirds of present day Italy. Citizens living in Papal States, where Jesus was temporal Ruler as well as Spiritual Ruler, through His anointed Pope, lived a far more peaceful and safe life, compared to their neighbors across the border, who lived under secular power rule. With Jesus Ruling, with and through His Church, over Papal owned territories, one can see how St. Augustine, who lived from 354 A.D. to 430 A.D. could see this as the beginning of Messianic Reign, in Jesus’ ‘Kingdom Come’ of Papal States, with Satan/Secular power, the Roman Empire, being subdued, on earth.

    In 1870, the Kingdom of Italy conquered Papal States and reduced it down to its present day, Vatican City, 100 acres. Pope Leo XIII was terrified that evil secular powers would seize control of the Spiritual Authority of, the Chair of St. Peter, as well. Thus, Pope Leo XIII sent out a, Calling all Angels, SOS, Distress Call to apocalyptic figure, St. Michael the Archangel. From 1886 to 1964, our prayer to St. Michael the Archangel was recited after all Catholic Low Masses around the world. The Church, still today, highly encourages us to pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel.

    Pope Leo XIII refers to the ‘sign’, which Jesus gave us to look for, which would indicate His Second Coming “When you see the desolating abomination spoken of through Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place”, in his Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, 1890 edition. Many today believe that Jesus will end all free-willed life on earth upon His Second Coming. The end of free willed life on earth, is not what I see Pope Leo XIII, and all who pray the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, as what they wish to receive from Archangel Michael. It seems to me Pope Leo XIII is instead praying for Jesus, and Archangel Michael, to simply deliver the earth from the power of Satan, to the Power of God. I do not think Pope Leo XIII is asking for free willed earth to end, but only for God’s protection from Satan and evil ruthless secular powers, as described in the bible as chaining Satan in hell.

    Acts of the Apostles 26:17
    I shall deliver you from this people and from the Gentiles to whom I send you, to open their eyes that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may obtain forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been consecrated by faith in me.

    Matthew 6:13 The Lord’s Prayer
    ‘…deliver us from the evil one.’

    I would like to think I was praying, the ‘Our Father’ and ‘Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel’, that Jesus’ Church may continue on, producing free-willed love for God, with Satan subdued on earth, in an era of peace on earth, in Jesus’ Kingdom Come, under Jesus’ Kingship, on free willed earth, rather than praying for Jesus to Come and destroy the world and put an end to man’s free-will.

    Now that Satan has taken over St. Peter’s Chair, we should all be praying the Prayer to St. Michael, daily. I think we should organize a massive group trip the the Vatican and be praying the Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, night and day, non-stop in St. Peter’s Square.

    Prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, 1890 edition
    O glorious Archangel St. Michael, Prince of the heavenly host, defend us in battle, and in the struggle which is ours against the principalities and Powers, against the rulers of this world of darkness, against spirits of evil in high places.
    Come to the aid of men, whom God created immortal, made in his own image and likeness, and redeemed at a great price from the tyranny of the devil.
    Fight this day the battle of the Lord, together with the holy angels, as already thou hast fought the leader of the proud angels, Lucifer, and his apostate host, who were powerless to resist thee, nor was there a place for them any longer in Heaven. But that cruel, that ancient serpent, who is called the devil or Satan, who seduces the whole world, was cast into the abyss with all his angels.
    Behold, this primeval enemy and slayer of man has taken courage, Transformed into an angel of light, he wanders about with all the multitude of wicked spirits, invading the earth in order to blot out the name of God and of his Christ, to seize upon, slay and cast into eternal perdition souls destined for the crown of eternal glory.
    This wicked dragon pours out, as a most impure flood, the venom of his malice on men of depraved mind and corrupt heart, the spirit of lying, of impiety, of blasphemy, and the pestilent breath of impurity, and of every vice and iniquity.
    These most crafty enemies have filled and inebriated with gall and bitterness the Church, the spouse of the Immaculate Lamb, and have laid impious hands on her most sacred possessions.
    In the Holy Place itself, where has been set up the See of the most blessed Peter and the Chair of Truth for the light of the world, they have raised the throne of their abominable impiety, with the iniquitous design that when the Pastor has been struck, the sheep may be scattered.
    Arise then, O invincible prince, bring help against the attacks of the lost spirits to the people of God, and bring them the victory.
    The Church venerates thee as protector and patron; in thee holy Church glories as her defense against the malicious powers of this world and of hell; to thee has God entrusted the souls of men to be established in heavenly beatitude.
    Oh, pray to the God of peace that He may put Satan under our feet, so far conquered that he may no longer be able to hold men in captivity and harm the Church.
    Offer our prayers in the sight of the Most High, so that they may quickly conciliate the mercies of the Lord; and beating down the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, do thou again make him captive in the abyss, that he may no longer seduce the nations. Amen.
    Quoted from:


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