Thursday, February 28, 2013

Vatigate!- allegations of massive and systematic wire-tap authorised by Cardinal Bertone

A few hours before the resignation of the Pope come rumors of unrest from the Vatican: Benedict's most important assistant, Secretary of State Cardinal Bertone has, according to a magazine report, ensured that the Curia was systematically monitored. Not a good starting point for the conclave. The most important assistant of the outgoing Pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, reportedly spied systematically on Vatican employees. The aim was to investigate a suspected network associated with the distibution of documents stolen from the private office of the Pope by Paolo Gabriele. This is reported by the current issue of the Italian weekly magazine "Panorama".

Accordingly Bertone mandated the head of the Vatican Gendarmerie, Domenico Giani, to monitor phone calls, conversations and e-mail traffic of bishops and cardinals. If it took place, it was the "most massive and extensive wiretap" that has ever taken place in the Vatican. Details were recorded of who entered the Vatican at which time and again at which time they left and who had met with whom. "Panorama" does not provide evidence for the claim.

Explosive: police boss Domenico Giani is a former intelligence officer, who in the coming weeks was actually to leave the Vatican, because he was considered for the job as a security officer at the United Nations. The unexpected resignation of the pontiff made Giani withdraw. He decided to stay for now in the Vatican, although his new appointment was assured. Now decisions on his future will be taken after the appointment of the new Pope.

1999 Pope John Paul II picked Giani as vice-inspector of police in the Vatican. Since 2006 he is the director. The 50-year-old is married and has two children. Giani is also cofounder of Rondine Cittadella della Pace, a project that will offer a future to traumatized children and young people from conflict areas. In this context, he visited several times Chechnya.

Spying would be be the result of Vatileaks Even when taking office Giani extended the security measures at the Vatican drastically. He introduced thus a magnetic card system and perfected the video surveillance. "There is no square metre that escapes the eyes of the cameras," the paper wrote.

There were rumors that the espionage activities continued until today Many priests were nervous given the surveillance , especially so close to the start of the Conclave. Given the alleged total surveillance, it seems almost naive, that Benedict XVI in his recent "Motu Prorio" threatened to excommunicate all Cardinals, should they talk about the upcoming conclave and the candidates.

According to the newspaper spying which was put in place n September 2012, had been a result of Vatileaks affair, in which numerous documents from the archives of the Pope were made public. The journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi had written in a much-discussed book about the scandal and published several documents. In May, the manservant of the Pope, Paolo Gabriele, was identified as the man who had passed on he papers from the Vatican. He was charged, convicted and later pardened by Pope Benedict XVI. What is in the secret dossier?

Was the alleged surveillance done with the blessing of Pope Benedict XVI or rather was it a solo move by the Cardinal Secretary of State? After all, Benedict had officially asked the three Cardinals, Jozef Tomko, Julian Herranz Casado and Salvatore De Giorni to investigate Vatileaks. These handed over to the Pope recently a 300-page long dossier, in which, among other things, there was discussion of a powerful gay lobby in the Vatican.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said on Thursday to the "Panorama" report: "In connection with Vatileaks some wiretaps and surveillance have been authorized by investigative judges." This suggests that monitoring took place of "two or three users." He also denied that a comprehensive wiretap or surveillance was undertaken.

His spokesman colleague Thomas Rosica added that if there had been a monitor, it only took place in a "very small form." Both speakers emphasized the action had not been commissioned by the three cardinals who drafted the dossier relating to the affair.

The contents of the controversial dossier, nobody knows. Benedict has said he will pass it to his successor, and let him decide what to do with it. The Pope on 30th May 2012 stated that the Vatileaks publications had "saddened" him- he stressed that he stood behind his closest associates.

Bertone had been criticized for his crisis management during Vatileaks affair by many because he was seen as overwhelmed. He called the invasion of privacy of the pope serious, and sensed an organized approach: There they were "targeted attacks on the Pope," he told the RAI, the attacks he described as "deliberate, cruel and wounding".

After the resignation announcement of Benedict XVI, Cologne's Cardinal Joachim Meisner told the "Frankfurter Rundschau", that he had asked the pope to dismiss Bertone. The Holy Father however rejected this decision, "Bertone remains basta basta basta" he reportedly said. Insiders describe the connection between Ratzinger and Bertone as a close and trusting. The pope always relied on him and took him for a supporter, says the Vaticanista Marco Politi.

This is all the more surprising, when it is considered that the fall of the Vatican bank chief, instaled by Ratzinger, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was on Bertone's account. Tedeschi wanted to provide for more transparency after money laundering allegations had become vociferous. After he had asked for details of certain bank accounts, he was sacked.

Whether the publication of the allegations of spying just at this time is politically motivated and intended to mortally wound the "Papabile" Bertone in the upcoming conclave is unclear. "Panorama" is published by the Mondadori publishing house, where Silvio Berlusconi has a majority holding. His daughter Marina runs the company.


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