- Sep 22, 2020
A recent independence vote in Kurdistan has created the threat of new conflict in northern Iraq, and raised questions about whether this is the right time to be trying to rebuild the Christian presence in the Nineveh Plains. Ask Middle East Christians that question, however, and they’ll reply, ‘When exactly would the right time be?’
In the last few days, Pope Francis has faced three remarkable accusations — one of suffering from narcissistic personality disorder, another of heresy, and a third of dropping the ball on financial reform of the Vatican. In trying to sort through it all, one towering problem is that in an environment defined by hysteria, separating legitimate criticism from the same-old, same-old is increasingly difficult.
At the moment, the Vatican finds itself facing two less-than-edifying storylines, one involving a priest in the papal embassy in Washington, D.C., suspected of possible violations of child pornography laws, and the other featuring a Vatican trial for financial misappropriation against former officials of a papally-sponsored pediatric hospital. Here are a few resources for thinking intelligently about each.
As the latest major Vatican criminal trial resumed on Tuesday, judges seemed to challenge claims by the main defendant that spending $500,000 from funds belonging to a papally-sponsored children’s hospital to remodel the private apartment of a Vatican cardinal was entirely routine and above-board. As the trial plays out, the reputations of both that cardinal and Pope Francis’s broader financial reform appear at stake.
Italian journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, known for his role in the “Vatileaks 2.0” affair, published a purported bombshell document on Monday allegedly showing the Vatican spent a half-billion lira between 1983 and 1997 on a 15-year-old girl and daughter of a Vatican bank employee who vanished — but the catch is, right now there’s no way of knowing if the document is real or a fake.
Sometimes on the Vatican beat in a given week, what you get isn’t one grand narrative but lots of little ones. This was one of those weeks, so here’s a potpourri of nuggets on contrasting antidotes for different diseases, counter-intuitive patron saints, and what to make of papal press conferences in terms of the pontiff’s own personal priorities.