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On February 11, 2013, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be resigning as the head of the Catholic Church, making him the first pope to quit rather than die in the post in more than 600 years. According to Italian media, “Benedict’s decision to step down was influenced by the various scandals that blighted his eight-year papacy, including the arrest of his personal butler for leaking private documents alleging corruption in the Vatican.” Pope Emeritus Benedict later said that God told him to resign.
“It was also revealed that, far from retiring to a life of contemplation in a distant monastery, Benedict will live inside the Vatican in a specially-prepared apartment block. His presence close to St Peter’s Square poses the threat that the authority of the new Pope may be compromised or undermined. And it led many to fear that the church’s 1.2 billion followers could be exposed to the risk of divided loyalties to ‘two Popes.’” (Steve Doughty and Hannah Roberts, “Now will there be TWO Popes?” Daily Mail, February 12, 2013)
Nostradamus warned that the next-to-last pope would ‘flee Rome in December when the great comet is seen in the daytime.’ The Comet ISON, with its 40,000 mile-long tail, had been visible the past couple months as Benedict prepared to abdicate and leave Rome for his temporary home in Castel Gandolfo.
“And for those well-versed in the language of brimstone and fire, the signs could not have been more transparent when just hours after Benedict announced he would abdicate, a bolt of lightning struck St. Peter’s Basilica, the very heart of Christianity. A few days later a shower of meteorites fell and devastated a village in Russia.” (Carol Grisanti, “Are cardinals electing the last pope? If you believe Nostradamus…” NBC News, March 10, 2013)
There was much speculation about who would take over the leadership of the Catholic Church, but some guidance came from the 12th-century papal prophecies of St. Malachy. St. Malachy, the first Irish canonized saint, supposedly had a revelation of the next 112 popes. We had 111 since, and were on the verge of seeing No. 112, which Malachy said will be the final pope before the end of the world as we know it:
“During the last persecution of the Holy Roman Church, there will sit upon the throne, Peter the Roman, who will feed the sheep amid great tribulations, and when these are passed, the City of the Seven Hills (Rome) will be utterly destroyed, and the awful Judge will then judge the people.”
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In the mid 1500s, Felice Peretti was the inquisitor general of Venice. His influence was so harsh that he caused disputes within the Vatican. In order to assume the powerful “name of a man, and the number of a beast,” he would soon be among a group of three rulers known as “Pope Sixtus.”
Sixtus V demolished long streets of buildings in Rome and displaced the tenants in order to enlarge his villa and casino. He hoarded great wealth; withdrawing so much money from circulation that it caused suffering all over Europe. Sixtus V persecuted his enemies with ruthless severity. Behind the excessive desires of the rulers named Sixtus floated memories of a plot to assassinate members of the Florentine ruling Medici family, a mystic stone taken from the tomb of Jesus, and the blight of three popes (Sixtus IV, Sixtus V, the first three were called Xystus; the last, Sixtus VI, is to reign at the End Times).
Educated clergymen allowed the corruption of a name (Xystus, meaning “polished”) into Sixtus, knowing that “six thrice” is mentioned as the shameful name of “the beast” in the biblical Revelation.
Displaying typical irony, Pope Sixtus IV’s nephew Cardinal Raffaele Riario, for whom the Palazzo della Cancelleria was constructed, was a leader in the 1478 failed Pazzi conspiracy to murder Lorenzo de’ Medici and his brother. Papal bankers in Florence were behind the assassination plot.
The Pazzi name came from Pazzo, (“the madman”) a soldier in the Siege of Jerusalem during the First Crusade, “who brought away with him and returned to Florence a stone from the Basilica of the Holy Sepulcher.” The Pazzi family proudly suggested they had found the “mystic stone” from which all Grail legends originated. In an elaborate Easter ceremony involving fireworks, a member of the Pazzi family would strike a spark from the stone to kindle the light of the holy altar, and all the hearth fires of Florence.
But on April 26, 1478, during High Mass, the co-ruler of Florence, Giuliano de’ Medici was stabbed nineteen times by a gang that included a priest, and bled to death on the cathedral floor while his brother Lorenzo escaped with serious wounds. When the keepers of the “Sepulcher stone” were exposed to be liars and murderers, the enraged Florentines seized and killed them.
“Jacopo de’ Pazzi was tossed from a window, finished off by the mob, and dragged naked through the streets and thrown into the Arno River. The Pazzi families were stripped of their possessions in Florence, every vestige of their name effaced. The archbishop of Pisa, a main organizer of the plot, was hanged on the walls of the Florentine Palazzo della Signoria.” Two members of the Pazzi family are placed in Hell in Dante’s Inferno, both in the circle of the traitors.
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After the abdication of Benedict XVI, who would be the new Pope? Were they to name him “Pope Sixtus VI,” an anagram for Pope 666?
It was announced at that time that Internet hit Bruno Ganz would portray a made-up Pope Sixtus VI in the Showtime cable TV network pilot of “The Vatican,” directed by Ridley Scott. Ganz starred as Adolf Hitler in “Downfall” (2004), earning awards for his portrayal at the European Film Awards, German Film Awards and London Critics Circle Film Awards, among numerous others.
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During the Renaissance in Italy, the Borgia family became important in religious and political affairs, producing two popes. It was told that the Borgias hosted orgies in the Vatican palace. There is also the punishment of Perotto, Lucrezia Borgia’s lover. When Cesare Borgia learned of his sister Lucrezia’s pregnancy, he was so infuriated that he allegedly had the father of the child murdered. “The Borgias” TV series (2011) by Tom Fontana recounts the Borgia family’s rise to power and supremacy of the Papal States during the Renaissance.
Pope Joan was an ill-famed female pope who supposedly reigned some time during the Middle Ages. The legend first appeared in 13th-century records, and was afterward shared and blown up throughout Europe. According to some conjecture she gave birth, thus exposing her sex and was killed by an angry mob. This tale was widely believed for centuries, but contemporary religious scholars consider it fictional.
Some say it was actually the “magician” Simon Magus who was the first pope, not the apostle Peter. The confusion comes from the name Simon Peter. The Vatican says such reports are from critics who do not want to acknowledge the veracity and pedigree of the Catholic Church.
According to Wikipedia, “Simon the Sorcerer or Simon the Magician, in Latin Simon Magus, (Greek Σίμων ὁ μάγος) was a Samaritan magus or religious figure and a convert to Christianity, baptized by Philip the Evangelist, whose later confrontation with Peter is recorded in Acts 8:9–24. The sin of simony, or paying for position and influence in the church, is named for Simon.”
In 2008, a British Channel 4 TV documentary, “The Secrets of the Twelve Disciples,” claimed that Catholicism has taught for centuries that Peter was martyred and buried in Rome and that all popes succeed him. “But the documentary will challenge this by asserting that he never reached the Italian city. Instead, it will accuse the Church of ignoring the discovery of a tomb in Jerusalem that archaeologists believe contains the bones of Peter.” (Jonathan Wynne-Jones, “St Peter was not the first Pope claims Channel 4,” The Telegraph, March 23, 2008)
According to the early Church historian Eusebius, Simon Magus was a Samaritan. He tried, with the assistance of his partner Helena, to fly off a tower he built in Rome, but fell and was severely injured, leading to his death. It appears that Simon the magician was charmed with the myth of Icarus. Referring to the Roman biographer Suetonius, professor of history Anthony Papalas wrote: “The emperor Nero attended a theatrical performance where a flying Icarus fell from wires and splattered him with blood.” (Anthony J. Papalas, “Ancient Icaria,” 1992)
Skeptics say it was Paul, not Peter, who delivered the gospel to the Romans, and the first pope was in fact the man named Simon Magus — the father of heretics. Mistaken for Simon Peter, the doppelganger without delay affirmed himself as the first bishop of Rome. He condemned pastoral marriage, not to support chastity but to back pedophilia, a psycho-sexual disorder in which an adult or adolescent has a sexual preference for children.
“The Pope of Greenwich Village” is a 1984 American film starring Mickey Rourke. It chronicles the lives and relationships between Italian American gangsters and the mob. After the resignation of Benedict XVI, some observers were concerned that the Society of Jesus, or atheist educated wing of the Church, might give excessive authority to a “black pope” to manage the global politics of organized crime.
“An incredibly influential order, members of the society were heavily involved in European politics from the offset. Jesuits were implicated in plots to overthrow Elizabeth I. They were also associated with the Gunpowder plot to destroy Parliament, after James I made the order illegal. During this time all Catholics in Britain were told they must recant their Catholicism or face death. The term Jesuit was first applied to the society as a reproach and was never employed by its founder, though members and friends of the society later accepted the name.” (“The Society of Jesus: Who are the Jesuits?” BBC, March 14, 2013)
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At length, Jorge Mario Bergoglio became the 266th Pope of the Catholic Church. On March 13, 2013, the papal conclave elected Bergoglio, who selected the papal name “Francis” in honor of Saint Francis of Assisi. Pope Francis became the first Jesuit Pope. A coarse fame had kept them from the papacy — until now. In electing a member of the Society of Jesus, the Vatican for the first time elevated a ‘foot soldier of the pope’ to be in charge. Jesuits were formerly bound by oath not to seek higher office in the Roman Catholic Church. Now one of them was elected to its highest office.
Perhaps upsetting the sanctimonious peacefulness, Michael Day of The Independent newspaper reported: “A day ahead of the papal conclave, faces at the scandal-struck Vatican were even redder than usual after it emerged that the Holy See had purchased a €23 million (£21 million) share of a Rome apartment block that houses Europe’s biggest gay sauna.”
The Holy See was still reeling from allegations that the previous pontiff, Benedict XVI, had quit in reaction to the presence of a gay cabal in the Curia. A convicted pedophile priest claimed that a gay prostitution ring had been operating within the Holy Roman Church, with clergymen hiring underage rent-boys for sex:
“Don Patrizio Poggi, who served a five-year prison sentence for abusing teenage boys at his Rome parish, also told Italian authorities a former Carabinieri police officer recruited boys for nine clergymen, IBTimes reports.
“Poggi told the police: ‘I decided to file this complaint and cooperate with the law after long reflection and after a painful history of abuse and misuse of power that I have overcome thanks to the faith that guides me.’” (Sara C Nelson, “Paedophile Priest ‘Exposes Satanic Vatican Rent-Boy Sex Ring,’” Huffington Post, July 1, 2013)
As stated by the Daily Beast, the existence of a gay-priest network outside the fortified walls of Vatican City was hardly news. Many were wondering if it was only the tip of the proverbial iceberg of sex scandals.
“According to several well-placed vaticanisti — or Vatican experts — in Rome, Benedict is resigning after being handed a secret red-covered dossier that included details about a network of gay priests who work inside the Vatican, but who play in secular Rome. The priests, it seems, are allegedly being blackmailed by a network of male prostitutes who worked at a sauna in Rome’s Quarto Miglio district, a health spa in the city center, and a private residence once entrusted to a prominent archbishop. The evidence reportedly includes compromising photos and videos of the prelates — sometimes caught on film in drag, and, in some cases, caught ‘in the act.’” (“Did a Cross-Dressing Priest Sex Ring Bring Down Benedict XVI?” WorldTruth.TV)
Lurking beneath the surface were all the more pressing concerns. Eyewitness testimony threatened to dog Jorge Mario Bergoglio from his time as Jesuit superior and cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina:
“Within 24 hours of the white smoke from the Sistine Chapel, allegations emerged that he withdrew protection from two of his fellow Jesuits during the early years of the brutal military dictatorship of 1976 to 1983, which resulted in their captivity and torture.
“But there is another story that demands answers — the supremely toxic affair of ‘disappeared’ pregnant women, who gave birth to their children while being held in detention centres. Most of the mothers were murdered and their children handed on to ‘deserving’ couples who were well connected with the brutal military junta.
“This is very much a live political issue. A number of the children have discovered the painful truth about their past, while hundreds more still remain blissfully ignorant of their parentage. The campaigning grandmothers assert that many priests and nuns were complicit in what happened and are still at large in society. They show no sign of letting the matter rest.” (Mark Dowd, “Pope Francis and Argentina’s ‘disappeared,’” BBC News, April 10, 2013)
The Christian Science Monitor reported: “Pope Benedict came under harsh criticism for his perceived lack of action against pedophilia among clergy.” Possibly for this reason Pope Francis strengthened church laws against child abuse, while a UN committee investigated the Vatican’s handling of abuse allegations.
“A United Nations human rights panel has posed a list of tough questions to the Vatican about child abuse by Catholic priests, a potential embarrassment for Pope Francis a few months into his papacy. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) asked for ‘detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers or nuns’ since the Holy See last reported to it some 15 years ago, and set a deadline for a reply.”
“By issuing its questions, the Geneva-based CRC brushed aside a Vatican warning that it might pull out of the Convention on the Rights of the Child if pushed too hard on the issue.” (Robert Evans, “U.N. rights body poses tough questions to Vatican over child abuse,” Reuters, July 10, 2013)
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In a related development, Joanne Hart of the Daily Mail noted in August 2013 that Vatican diplomats in London were thrown into chaos after Britain’s biggest bank, HSBC, sacked them as customers and gave them 60 days to move their accounts: “The Pope’s representative office in Britain, the Apostolic Nunciature, has banked with HSBC for many years but was told to find another bank.”
Banking sources said diplomatic missions were considered to be “politically exposed,” which means they are at risk of money laundering activities. A commission of inquiry was set up by Pope Francis to review the activities of the Vatican bank, following recent scandals. He named a trusted cleric to oversee the management of the bank, which is known officially as the Institute for Works of Religion.
In one of his last official acts, Pope Benedict XVI appointed a German lawyer to head its bank, but the bid to turn the fortunes of the scandal-hit institution was clouded by his business links to a military shipbuilder for Nazi Germany:
“As chairman of the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), Ernst von Freyberg will head efforts to improve the image of the Vatican’s bank which is under investigation for money laundering and has been without a head for nine months.
“But within minutes of announcing his appointment, the Vatican faced a new public relations challenge when asked to explain Freyberg’s chairmanship of Blohm & Voss, a Hamburg-based shipbuilder in which he is a minority shareholder.
“Reporters asked Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi how the Church could justify hiring someone who worked for a company with a long history of making warships, including for Nazi Germany.” (Robin Pomeroy, “German appointed to head scandal-hit Vatican bank,” Reuters, February 15, 2013)
Both the Catholic Church and Pope Pius XII have often been accused for their failure to condemn the oppressive, totalitarian Third Reich and the Holocaust that arose from it. “Hitler’s Pope” is a book published in 1999 by the British journalist and author John Cornwell that examines the doubtful actions of Pope Pius during World War II. But contemporary critics have in recent times started to soften their view:
“Pius XII has long been vilified as ‘Hitler’s pope,’ accused of failing publicly to condemn the genocide of Europe’s Jews. Now a British author has unearthed extensive material that Vatican insiders believe will restore his reputation, revealing the part that he played in saving lives and opposing Nazism. Gordon Thomas, a Protestant, was given access to previously unpublished Vatican documents and tracked down victims, priests and others who had not told their stories before.
“The Pope’s Jews, which was published in 2012, details how Pius gave his blessing to the establishment of safe houses in the Vatican and Europe’s convents and monasteries. He oversaw a secret operation with code names and fake documents for priests who risked their lives to shelter Jews, some of whom were even made Vatican subjects.” (Dalya Alberge, “Vatican hopes secret files exonerate ‘Hitler’s pope,’” The Observer, February 9, 2013)
Nonetheless, scarce mention was made of the fact that Catholic priests sponsored the ODESSA “ratlines,” assisting a range of German SS officers to escape capture after the war. Failing to speak out against Nazism was perhaps a symptom of waywardness, but devotedly helping fugitive Nazis get away was an outright war crime.
As for the Vatican helping Jews, consider this: DNA tests did not exist in the days of the Holocaust. If a middle class German national accused of being Jewish (Ashkenazi) could provide proof of seven Germanic birth or baptism certificates (the person, his parents and grandparents) and three marriage certificates (parents and grandparents), they would receive a so-called “Aryan Certificate.” If they could trace their Germanic family pedigree to the year 1800, they could join the Nazi party.
Many of the Ashkenazim made efforts to escape Germany at the induction of such horrid policies. Opposition led to incarceration. Sephardi (Spanish or Mediterranean) Jews were directly taken to detention camps.
IBM punch-card computers purportedly kept tabs on the Aryan Certificate files. The pointless World War II-era credential did not call for a birth certificate if a “baptism” certificate was provided instead. The Jesuit-administered Catholic Church could grant this –– together with marriage certificates –– bearing the official seal of the Vatican.
“Across Europe, the Nazis found countless willing helpers who collaborated or were complicit in their crimes.” Corrupt Catholic clergymen (who also assisted the “ratlines” of Nazi escapees to South America) swindled destitute Jews of all their life savings for a sham “ancestor passport.” Being “made Vatican subjects” also meant forced conversion to Catholicism –– or death. And there was no warranty for disputed Aryan Certificates.
In 2008 the Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, said Jesuit Father Jose Funes, director of the Vatican Observatory, thought Christians should consider alien life as an “extraterrestrial brother.” Other Vatican envoys have lately mentioned the legitimacy of alien contact. (The Vatican executed Giordano Bruno in 1600 for similar thoughts.)
Did celestial concern perhaps oblige Pope Francis to issue an “Apostolic Letter” effective September 1, 2013, that reportedly stripped away the immunity of judges, attorneys, government officials and all entities established under the Roman Curia?
By Peter Fotis Kapnistos
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