Monday, February 15, 2010

Fat Tuesday... Crunch Tuesday

Before the second and final day of the Vatican's unprecedented sex-abuse summit with the Irish bishops, the prelates are asleep behind the walls at the "conclave hotel" -- the Vatican's Domus Sancta Marthae...

...and in a seeming first since November's Murphy Report, a significant development on the Isle church's latest rattling scandal has come to pass without any backgrounded episcopal commentary.

All's not lost, however -- tomorrow's Independent makes much of B16's "body language" supposedly evident at the start of today's marathon 10-hour session:
The body language of Pope Benedict when he finally came face to face with the [embattled] Bishop of Galway, Dr Martin Drennan, does not augur well for the former bible scholar named in the Murphy report.

The habitually aloof Bishop Drennan is eagerly stooping forward to greet the head of the Catholic Church, who has the sole power to remove him from episcopal office.

Note, too, how the usually formal bishop is offering the Pontiff not a steady handshake.

His gesture is not really a handshake at all. It is more like a quick finger-grasping greeting, worthy of a Dail politician.

But look at the even more significant sign of a less than cordial welcome from the Holy Father.

Pope Benedict's frosty stare and searching eyes are those of a boss weighing Bishop Drennan up....

The caption for the pontiff's lips might read: "So you're the guy that has been causing me such trouble."

In response, the media-shy Bishop Drennan might respond: "Forgive me Holy Father -- but I have not sinned."

But at least Pope Benedict got the opportunity of meeting the evasive prelate from the West of Ireland.

In sharp contrast, when Pope Benedict met the Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, there was immediate eye contact between them.

The German pontiff, who knew Archbishop Martin from his student days in Rome's Teutonic College and often met the young Dublin priest after he joined the Holy See's diplomatic service, looks like a mentor meeting his former pupil.

Comfortable in each other's presence, they enjoy sharing a hearty handshake and a warm smile. Result: Archbishop Martin, one; Bishop Drennan, nil.
Meanwhile, after widespread protest was registered in Murphy's wake over the Holy See's refusal to comply with the Irish inquiry given the latter's failure to send its requests through the customary diplomatic channels, an added dose of fury has already mounted following tonight's announcement that the papal nuncio to Dublin, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, will not appear before a parliamentary committee before which he had been "invited."

More in the morning... but while comment on today's talks ran thin, tomorrow's bottom line reportedly emerged by means of one fortuitous leak:
Pope Benedict will tell the Irish bishops the thrust of his action plan for resolving the child clerical abuse crisis when he closes a special two-day summit in the Vatican this afternoon, a confidential schedule of the proceedings seen by the Irish Independent reveals.

Talks resume at 9am [Tuesday] and will run until 1pm, when there will be a discussion of "the most important proposals to emerge". This, the document says, will be followed by preparation of "the Papal Reflection" which Pope Benedict promised to send the Catholics of Ireland in the wake of the public revulsion last November to the Murphy report's shocking findings of extensive cover-ups in the archdiocese of Dublin.

The document also reveals that before the final session ends, the agenda will focus on "conclusions by the Holy Father".
As always, stay tuned.

L'Osservatore Romano