Late afternoon, I’m still startled about a story of corruption going on in the Vatican that I read earlier today. It’s not that corruption is going on there. I think we can take it that, in any semi-isolated institution with access to a lot of money, there is going to be corruption going on somewhere within it. For example, the EU Commission in Brussels is refusing to be audited. There’s a lot that’s still dodgy about extraordinary claims for ‘expenses’ by some of our MPs.
In the Vatican, the corruption has been going on in the department which ought to be its purest. This is the Congregation for the Causes of the Saints, otherwise known as ‘the Saints’ Factory’ ! It’s where they prepare the evidence for sainthood — blameless lives led, at least a few miracles achieved and so on. It’s all treated very seriously, of course, because there are all sorts of commercial consequences if this person or that person is canonized and can thenceforth lend a name to a charity or a particular destination for pilgrims.
The person who is to be canonized can’t be doing the bribing, of course, because he or she is dead, perhaps decades previously. But some people who feel strongly about this or that person being promoted after the event, as it were, are apparently prepared to pay a lot of money to accelerate the whole bureaucratic process along. On average it costs someone £500,000 to ensure that their candidate acquires sainthood.
Anyway, Pope Francis has put his foot down and has added 23 new rules that must be met by any candidate’s candidate for sainthood. Good for him. Or will it simply raise the amounts of the bribes that someone needs to pay? A pity the Pontiff can’t be as decisive about the whole matter of hundreds of thousands of sexually frustrated celibate priests all round the world with the ever-present temptation of paedophilia and allow them to be married. Perhaps in time he’ll get round to that. The politics going on in the Vatican must be among the most formidable of any organisation in the world, with hundreds of cardinals and other bigwigs networking all the time and with no wive snd children to go home to at the end of the working day.