May 27, 2012 — Pentecost, #2

“Cooperatores veritatis” (“Co-workers of truth”) –The Latin motto chosen by Joseph Ratzinger in 1977, when he was consecrated a bishop on May 28th; today is the 35th anniversary of that episcopal consecration

“The herb on which wild strawberries grow is more warm than cold. This herb brings mucus to the person who eats it and is not beneficial as medicine. Indeed, the berries themselves make mucus in the person who eats them. They are not good for a healthy or sick person to eat because they grow near the earth and because they also grow in putrid air.”–St. Hildegard of Bingen, warning against strawberries as a dangerous food; Pope Benedict announced during his noon Regina Caeli message today that he will declare her, along with St. John of Avila, a Doctor of the Church on October 7, at the beginning of the Bishops’ Synod on the New Evangelization (for which Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington has been designated Relator-General, or chief spokesman)

Benedict’s Motto

Pope Paul VI named Professor Father Joseph Ratzinger the bishop of Munich and Freising on March 24, 1977. Ratzinger was consecrated a bishop two months later, on May 28th, 1977 — 35 years ago today.

The Vatican’s newspaper, the Osservatore Romano, devotes a page to the anniversary in its edition this morning. In the paper’s report, journalist Astrid Haas notes that the new bishop chose as his episcopal motto the Latin phrase cooperatores veritatis (“co-workers of the truth”), taken from the third epistle of St. John.

She adds: “In his autobiography written 20 years later, Ratzinger explained: ‘I chose two words from the third letter of St. John for my episcopal motto, cooperatores veritatis, above all because it seemed to me that they might well represent the continuity between my previous work and my new duties: even with all the differences, it was a matter, and it is always a matter, of the same thing: to follow the truth, place oneself in its service. And from the moment that, in the modern world, the concept of ‘truth’ has almost disappeared, and yet everything collapses if there is not truth, this episcopal motto seemed to me the most in keeping with our time, the most modern, in the best sense of the term.”

Five days later, on June 2, 1977, came the announcement that Ratzinger would be made a cardinal in the consistory of June 27 that year, which made it possible for him to be present at both conclaves in 1978.


Saint Hildegard and Saint John of Avila, Doctors

Pope Benedict XVI announced today, on this Feast of Pentecost, that he will officially proclaim Saints Hildegard of Bingen and John of Avila Doctors of the Church on October 7, first day of the ordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops during the “Year of Faith.” (More details at the end of this letter.)


The Anderson Memorandum

A fascinating and important memorandum, signed by Carl Anderson, an American who is the head of the 2-million member Knights of Columbus and is a member of the committee which oversees the “Vatican bank,” is circulating on the internet.

Here is a link to a PDF of the “Anderson memo”:

The background to this story is that the Holy See is a sovereign state, and as such, has full right to regulate its own financial and banking institutions. At the same time, there are international banking “transparency” regulations that the Holy See is being asked to adhere to, and the process is not yet complete.

This has led to accusations that the Vatican’s financial operations are insufficiently “transparent.”

Almost three years ago, Prof. Ettore Gotti Tedeschi was brought in to shepherd the Vatican’s financial activities through this transitional period.

But Gotti Tedeschi has just been fired, prompting numerous questions about what he did, or did not, do, and why he was fired.

And Anderson’s memo attempts to answer these questions.

Anderson is one of the five laymen who make up the Supervisory Board of the Institute for Religious Works (the so-called “Vatican bank,” though it isn’t really a bank). That board on Thursday gave a vote of “no confidence” to the then-President of the Institute, Gotti Tedeschi.

Gotti Tedeschi, who was present at the meeting (he was the 5th lay member of the board), seeing that the vote was about to be taken, resigned on the spot, and left the meeting an hour before the vote to fire him was actually taken.

So this week in Rome was marked by surprises.

Not only did we have the shocking revelation that one of the men closest to the Pope in recent years, his valet or butler, Paolo Gabriele, 46, had (evidently) betrayed the Pope’s trust and stolen large numbers of private documents from the Pope’s apartment, but we also had the resignation of the head of the “Vatican bank,” in whom his superiors no longer had any confidence.

Are the two events connected?

By all accounts, no. No connection at all…

And yet…

In the Anderson memo, which is a point-by-point account of the meeting which led to Gotti Tedeschi’s resignation and the vote of “no confidence,” there is a suggestion that Gotti Tedeschi also had made public “secret documents” that should not have been made public.

In short, here there seems to be a second case in one week of Vatican employees in very sensitive posts using private documents in improper ways which end up harming the Holy Father and his interests.

Anderson, who in the 1980s worked in the Reagan White House and is the chief executive officer and chairman of the board of the world’s largest Catholic family fraternal service organization, was invited on the basis of this experience to be one of the five Institute for Religious Works (Istituto per le opere di religione or IOR) board members two and a half years ago.

What emerges from Anderson’s memo about the last meeting of the board with Gotti Tedeschi is a surprising picture of a Vatican bank president who was often absent from important meetings and who took “imprudent” decisions.

In the memo, Anderson faults Gotti Tedeschi for “failure to carry out basic duties incumbent upon the President to perfom” and “failure to keep the Board informed.”

Anderson, significantly, also cites Gotti Tedeschi for “failure to provide the Board with any formal explanation for the dissemination of documents last known to be in the President’s possession.”

This sounds very much like a rebuke for revealing the content of private, internal Vatican documents.

But Anderson told an Italian journalist in an interview that “the dismissal of the president at the same time as the arrest of the Pope’s butler (for the theft and dissemination of secret documents) is just a coincidence, nothing more. The board meets approximately every three months, and the problem of the vote of confidence regarding Gotti Tedeschi was on the agenda for a long time.”

Gotti Tedeschi, a prominent Italian economist (and said to be a member of Opus Dei), was brought into this post in order to help the Vatican comply with international regulations regarding transparency in financial transactions (for example, in order to prevent the laundering of money collected through illicit activities, like cash gained though drug-dealing or prostitution, or other activities of organized crime).

Under his tenure, however, at least one major transfer of more than $20 million of IOR-administered funds (scheduled to be transferred from an Italian bank to a German bank) was blocked by Italian banking authorities (the funds, after almost two years, still seem to be in a sort of banking “limbo”).

Gotti Tedeschi told me personally, more than a year ago, that Italy’s action to block this transfer was based on a “technicality” in filling out forms, on a “misunderstanding” which, he said, would soon be cleared up.

But the matter had not been cleared up, and the funds remain blocked.

In fact, all the operations of the “Vatican bank” in Italy have come under closer scrutiny, making it more difficult than in the past for the Church to move funds and do its banking business.

And this difficulty has begun to hinder the Church in carrying out her evangelizing mission throughout the world.

In this sense, what has happened is harming the freedom of the Church to be herself. And there has not been, evidently, enough competent leadership to resolved these problems.

In a recent interview with Reuters, Anderson rejects accusations by Gotti Tedeschi that he has been ousted because he wanted the bank to be more transparent.

“Categorically, this action by the board had nothing to do with his promotion of transparency,” Anderson said. “In fact, he was becoming an obstacle to greater transparency by his inability to work with senior management.”

Gotti Tedeschi’s ouster is significant in internal Vatican politics, some observers say, because it seems to lessen the prestige of the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope’s right-hand man, who was instrumental in bringing Gotti Tedeschi in from Spain’s Banco Santander to run the IOR in 2009.

Now that Gotti Tedeschi is abruptly gone, there is considerable perplexity about what the Vatican should do next.

Indeed, the perplexity is so great that it is even dividing the cardinals who make up a five-member committee above the lay oversight committee Anderson sits on.

Anderson in an interview told an Italian journalist: “We renew our committed effort to pursue transparency. This matter is not under discussion and requires good relations at management level. If there was lack of transparency, it was on Gotti Tedeschi’s part towards the board and the IOR’s management. The council is now looking forward to searching for a new and excellent president to recommend to the Cardinals’ committee and we will search for a person with the right competence and profile to proceed on the path of transparency.”

But the cardinals’ committee is now itself divided, according to the following report, posted recently on the VaticanInsider website (link here; I bold-face what I think are the significant passages:

Cardinals divided. Bertone’s management under fire

Commission divided: pressure from lay people



The IOR events divide the cardinals. Thursday the lay governing council of the ‘Vatican bank’ fired its president, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, with a series of accusations. But most people know that the ‘pope’s strongbox’ is looked after by a double management. Above the lay-supervisory council is the cardinals’ commssion which met on Friday, but was unable to release a statement.This was an unprecedented event and a sign that an agreement has not yet been reached. The committee includes Cardinals Attilio Nicora, Jean-Louis Tauran, Telesphore Placidus Toppo and Odilo Pedro Scherer, led by the Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone. Apparently Nicora and Tauran criticized Bertone over his management of Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal and the issue of the negotiation which would lead the Holy See to finally join Ocse’s ‘white list’ , a record of financially virtuous countries.

The experts from Moneyval, the European Council group that deals with rating countries’ measures against money laundering and terror funding, are still monitoring the Vatican’s regulations and procedures. Moreover Nicora resents Bertone for taking power away from the Aif, the Vatican internal information authority that he leads, slowing down the journey towards financial transparency. It is hard to tell if the clash within the cardinals’commission involves the evaluation of Gotti Tedeschi’s work. But there are no doubts that this will have repercussions on the nomination of the new president. At the moment the favourite to succeed Gotti Tedeschi is vice-president Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, a banker from Piacenza. But the there are many theories. The ideal candidate is the former leader of Bundesbank, Hans Tietmeyer, from Germany, who would be a welcome choice for the Pope, but he is very old. Now within the cardinals’commission there are two distinct currents. On one side those (Nicora, Tauran) who believe that transparency, the need to comply with international standard to be included in the ‘white list’ is paramount, on the other those who like Bertone believe that this line of action must be followed with moderation, since the Vatican is unqiue and cannot be compared with other sovreign states. Apparently Moneyval concluded, after the first inspection, last November, that the new regulation was ‘too vague.’ It therefore went through quite substantial changes.

All this did not happen without heated debates and internal conflicts (at the very time of the leaks and poison pen threats).On the 25th of January, the regulation was urgently modified and completed with changes to the AIF powers of supervision, whose inspections are now regulated. Despite discomfort and some opposition from various departments, the Holy See’s intention is to have rules that truly comply with international standards. There are still many aspects to adjust and clarify and this new ‘storm’ at high levels in the IOR could provoke damages that are hard to predict.


A Sad Month of May

So the last two week have seen the publication of His Holiness, a book by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, who received the secret papal documents, (perhaps from the now accused Pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele; but Nuzzi says he was given the material by people loyal to the Church who wanted to expose corruption, and that he did not pay anything for the documents); then the arrest of Gabriele on Wednesday; then the firing of Gotti Tedeschi on Thursday; then the announcement of Gabriele’s arrest on Friday.

A sad May for the Vatican’s image…

These events prompted Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, the former archbishop of Milan, to appeal to Church leaders “to urgently win back the trust of the faithful.” Martini, writing in an Italian newspaper, said the Pope had been “betrayed” just as Jesus was betrayed 2,000 years ago, and that the Church would have to emerge from these scandals cleaner and stronger.

However, few believe that Gabriele acted on his own. Some say he may have been an unwitting pawn in a larger power struggle.

“Either he lost his mind or this is a trap,” a friend of Gabriele’s in the Vatican told the newspaper La Stampa. “Whoever convinced him to do this is even more guilty because he manipulated a simple person.”


Two New Doctors of the Church

Hildegard of Bingen, though already on the list of Catholic saints, was never been officially canonized. So to remove all doubt, Benedict XVI recently extended the liturgical cult of St. Hildegard of Bingen, to the Universal Church, which automatically inscribes her in the catalogue of saints.

And today he announced he will make her a “Doctor” of the Church on October 7.

Hildegard, from Germany, is mostly known for her religious visions and prophecies. She was one of the most active women of her time, writing about theology and morals, but also about medicine and science. She even found the time to compose 78 musical pieces.

In a 2010 series of audience talks about women’s contributions to the Church, Pope Benedict dedicated two talks to St Hildegard.

He said she was a worthy role model for Catholics today because of “her love for Christ and his Church, which was suffering in her time, too, and was wounded also then by the sins of priests and lay people.”

In St Hildegard’s time, there were calls for radical reform of the Church to fight the problem of abuses made by the clergy, the Pope said.

But she “reproached demands to subvert the very nature of the Church” and reminded people that “a true renewal of the ecclesial community is not achieved so much with a change in the structures as much as with a sincere spirit of penitence”.

St John of Avila is one of the Catholic Church’s greatest heroes, even if relatively little is known about him outside Spain, where he is patron of the nation’s priests.

So great was John of Avila’s impact on Spain that it is fair to say that at least six of that country’s great saints were directly inspired by him – namely, St John of the Cross (with whom he is often confused), St Teresa of Avila, St Peter of Alcantara, St Ignatius of Loyola, St John of God, and St Francis Borgia. The latter two were personally converted to a deeper love of God through his ministry, whilst all the rest received spiritual direction from him.


Supplementary Note: Health and Nutrition from the Middle Ages by St. Hildegard von Bingen, Germany’s “First Nutritionist”

By Jennifer McGavin, Guide


Saint Hildegard von Bingen lived from 1098 to 1179 in Germany. She joined a Benedictine convent in Disibodenberg and became the Abbess at the age of 35. St. Hildegard had visions all her life, which helped her see God’s wisdom and be seen as a prophet. She wrote down what God told and showed her through these visions and published many volumes on science, medicine and theology.

She was also very outspoken, going on missionary trips and preaching in other cloisters and in market places. Today, there is a revivalist culture around her teachings, especially her teachings on how to eat to stay healthy and many of her medicinal and herbal remedies.

St. Hildegard’s Life Rules

Strengthen the soul through prayer and meditation by encouraging talents and virtues, and working against weakness and vice.

Regular detoxification through special “cures” or treatments, such as bloodletting, wormwood wine cure (and many others), fasting and purging therapies which are supposed to strengthen the body.

When the soul, body and mind are equally strong, then the four life juices and elements are balanced. This allows the organism to work optimally and feel healthy. The balance is easily disturbed however, through incorrect eating and drinking habits, and lusts…

Eating Healthy

Hildegard von Bingen had many ideas on how to eat healthily. Some people have decided to eat by these rules in the modern day and there are whole internet clubs devoted to her nutrition teachings. Hildegard’s lessons still influence German cookery to an extent and these rules have helped shape some of the cultural food ideas that you may encounter when in Germany.

Foods are divided according to their “healing” capabilities.

Healthy Foods – beans, butter, spelt, sweet chestnuts, fennel, spice cakes, roasted spelt porridge, lettuce salad with dill or garlic or vinegar and oil. honey, carrots, garbanzo beans, squash and its oil, almonds, horseradish, radishes, raw sugar, red beets, cooked celeriac, sunflower seed oil, wine vinegar, cooked onions.

Healthy Meats – poultry, lamb, beef, venison, goat.

Healthy Fish – grayling, trout, bass, cod, pike, wels catfish, pike perch.

Healthy Fruits – apples, cooked pears, blackberries, raspberries, red currants, cornels, cherries, mulberries, medlar, quinces, sloe berries, grapes, citrus, dates.

Healthy Drinks – beer, spelt coffee, fruit juice thinned with mountain spring water, fennel, rose hip or sage teas, wine, goat milk.

Healthy Spices – water mint, mugwort, Spanish chamomile root, nettles, watercress, burning bush root, gentian root, fennel, psyllium, galangal root, raw garlic, spearmint, cubeb, lavender, lovage, fruit of the bay tree, saltbush, poppy, nutmeg, cumin, clove, parsley, polemize, wild thyme, tansy, sage, yarrow, licorice root, rue, hyssop, cinnamon.

Stay away from “Kitchen Poisons” – eel, duck, peas, strawberries, fatty meat, cucumbers, domestic goose, blueberries, elderberries, cabbage, crabs, leeks, lentils, nightshades (like potatoes), olive oil, mushrooms, peaches, plums, refined sugar, millet, raw food, tench (a fish), plaice (a fish), pork, white wheat flour, sausage. In case of disease such as cancer, no animal protein should be eaten at all.

How to Eat and When to Eat According to Hildegard

Your first meal should be a warm one, to warm the stomach. This meal helps the stomach function well over the rest of the day. A good meal is toasted spelt bread, spelt coffee or fennel tea, and warm, roasted spelt porridge with dried fruit.

The first meal should be taken late in the morning, shortly before midday or around midday. Only the sick and weak should eat earlier, to gain strength.

Chew fennel seeds before eating to aid the digestion and freshen the breath.

Drink in moderation. Drink with your meals but not too much, or you can thin out the good juices in your body too much. Water alone is not a healthy drink, but water mixed with fruit juice or made into herbal tea can be healthy.

Raw food can hurt the body. Hildegard warns against incorrectly made dishes which are not cooked.

St. Hildegard’s highest rated foods are spelt, chestnuts, fennel and chickpeas (garbanzo beans). “Spelt creates a healthy body, good blood and a happy outlook on life,” she writes. Meat should be from animals which eat grass and hay and don’t have too many offspring. Butter and cream from the cow are good, but milk and cheese are better from the goat. Sunflower seed and pumpkin seed oils are good; olive oil is reserved for medicinal purposes.

Recap: Nutritional Tips from Saint Hildegard

—The first meal should be warm
—Healthy people should eat late
—2 to 3 meals per day
—drink at mealtime
—a short nap at midday is healthy
—do not eat too much and make sure your food and drink is neither too warm or too cold
—raw foods are hard on the stomach
—cook your dishes
—take a walk after the evening meal


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