The Trump cadaver synod

By John Ruberry

Okay, I admit, the headline is provocative, and absolutely click-baity. But stay with me here. In two weeks the second impeachment trial of Donald Trump will begin. Presidents of course can be impeached by the House and removed from office for committing “high crimes and misdemeanors.”

There’s just one obvious problem here. On Wednesday Joe Biden was sworn in as Trump’s successor.

Last year on his Cabinet of Curiousities podcast Aaron Mahnke spoke of a “particularly dark and corrupt moment in the church’s past,” the Catholic church that is. That moment was the trial of Pope Formosus in 897.

The Holy Father was accused of a grab bag of crimes, including perjury, seeking to be the bishop of more than one jurisdiction, and coveting the papacy. Because he was unable to speak in his defense, a deacon was appointed for that task. Formosus was found guilty, he had three middle fingers cut off–the fingers used for blessings–and buried in an obscure cemetery not befitting the Bishop of Rome. His body was quickly exhumed and then dumped in the Tiber River.

If the prior paragraph doesn’t make complete sense it’s because Formosus, after a five-year papacy, died in 896. His successor was pope for just two weeks, the next pope was Stephen VI, an enemy of Formosus. He called for what historians label the cadaver synod. Stephen ordered the first exhumation of Formosus. His corpse was then dressed in papal robes, propped on a chair, and the conviction process began as there was certainly no doubt of the verdict, despite an earthquake during the trial that might have elicited a few doubts among Vatican officials.

Just as the guilty verdict of Formosus was set twelve centuries ago, so was the House of Representatives’ vote to impeach Trump a second time, just one week before the end of his term. Trump’s chances for an acquittal in the Senate are much better. In essence, the second impeachment process against Trump is his cadaver synod. It’s about making a political statement and playing to the base.

The justifications for the second impeachment from Democrats vary, but the primary goal seems to be preventing the former president from seeking another term in 2024. Another reason for impeaching and removing Trump from office, now moot, was that he possessed the nuclear strike codes. After the first Trump impeachment, House speaker Nancy Pelosi, knowing that the odds of the Senate voting to convict Trump were remote, called the lower chamber’s vote “an impeachment that will last forever.” Presumably this will be a second impeachment that will last forever. Oh, and it’s a splendid way for Pelosi and the Democrats to tar the Republican brand.

A third run for the White House, in my opinion, is unlikely for Trump. The former president will be 78 in 2024; yes, that is the same age as Biden, who is clearly an old 78. Three years is a long time for people in their 70s. And in the last 100 years no president who was defeated in a reelection attempt has tried to regain the White House. Only one, Gerald Ford, has seriously considered it. And Trump, again in my opinion, damaged his brand in the last weeks of his presidency by his slowness to condede defeat, his hostile phone call to the Georgia secretary of state asking him to change the election results there, and the riot at the Capitol–which by the way the president did not incite. And the riot, the destructive work of about 1,000 conspirary theorists and other screwballs, was not an insurrection. While Trump is a clearly a unique politician, political moods change. In 1980 Americans weren’t clamoring for Gerald Ford–they wanted Ronald Reagan.

The Trump cadaver synod is a two-minute hate for Democrat politicians and a way, perhaps for the final time, to fill their campaign funds in the name of Trump, and a hate that is being cheered on by the anti-Trump media, who will soon see a drop in readers and viewers now that their enemy is out of office.

In other words Impeachment Part Two is a waste of time.

As for Formosus, his body was recovered by a monk and buried–for the last time–in St Peter’s Basilica. His accuser, Stephen VI, was pope for little more than a year. After the cadaver synod Stephen was imprisoned and then strangled to death.

As for voters, a much more civil revenge will be to return the GOP to majorities in both houses of Congress.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

An Unexpected Vatican “Yoo Hoo, Bible” (and Catechism) Update

You might remember a few years ago (July 14th 2017 to be exact) I was rather shocked to find that the Bible had been pulled from the Vatican Site.

Here is the text if you can’t read the screen shot:

“The Holy Bible is available in almost every language on earth: the Episcopal Conferences take care of the continuous updating of the translations. In order to have access to the latest Bible version, kindly consult the website of your Episcopal Conference. ”

Seriously you’re the vatican and you TOOK THE &(#$(@(% BIBLE OFF YOUR WEB SITE! You actually think it’s more important to carry a 13-year-old document by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace available for visitors than the Bible?

What on earth is going on in Rome?

And about a week later I noted that the Vatican had restored the Bible to their web site but did not make it visible to people looking for the Scripture:

So the question on the floor is this:  What on earth is going on?  If you are still referring people to the local sites and not providing a link to the Bible, why put sacred scripture back up if you’re going to make it tough to find?

Two logical answers come to mind

A charitable suggestion would be that people realized that even though they wanted people to go to local sites for scripture, every single document on the Vatican site since it went up that had existing links to the former online scripture became dead once it was pulled.  Fixing all those links would be an expensive, time consuming and frankly herculean task. So given the choice between fixing those links or putting scripture back up without a direct link to it they choose the latter.  If I had been their tech advisor that’s certainly the advice I’d have given to fix the problem.

much less charitable explanation would be that the Vatican didn’t like the blowback from pulling the Bible but didn’t want to link to it, so they put it back up without a direct link to allow a spokesman to say “Of COURSE sacred scripture is available at our site, we just prefer you to use our local sites translation.” or in other words: “Beware of the Leopard!”

Here is the screen shot from that date of the page in question

Well there has been a development.

Yesterday I was reading my daily scripture from the Vatican site I ended up clicking not on the back button to get to the reference page of the bible but on the keys of Peter which took me to the front page of the Vatican Web site which I haven’t visited in the three years since those posts.

I thought I’d poke around as I was curious if there had been any change to operation “hide the bible”. You will note that on the front page there is no link to the Bible so most people who might visit looking for it might use the search function

And of course if you did a search for the bible using the Vatican search engine it would to my complete and utter lack of shock, avail you naught.

However I remembered that the Bible had been kept under Archive under Francis rather than linked on the home page as it once was. So on the front page of the Vatican Site I clicked on Archive.

On the Archive page there was a link at the top that said “bible” which was a good sign but there were to other things that jumped out at me.

w of course I remembered that the Bible was on the Archive site if you were going to the Vatican site and didn’t know it was there you might have to do a search for it.

Before we click on the bible link I want to note the addition to the Catechism of the Catholic church link which based on wayback machine searches was added between July 17th and Aug 11th of 2018 meaning that from that date people going to the Vatican site wanting to find that official church positions on various subjects by checking the actual Catechism of the church were dissuaded from doing so at least if you are a person who speaks English because if you read Italian.

or Spanish

Or French, Portuguese , German or even Latin the Vatican Catechism has no such disclaimer. Why it’s almost as if there is a direct effort to keep English speaking folk in general and American in particular unsure of the actual teachings of the church if they wanted to find it online.

Not that they would have found the Catechism anyways as you can see from this result from the Vatican Search engine anyways, but we digress..

Well once we are on the page we can now click on the Bible link and lo and behold we have a different page than before!

While we still have the disclaimer that we had before asking you to look elsewhere we also have a direct link to the Bible online were a person can actually click on it and read it at the Vatican site.

Yeah you still won’t find it in the search engine and yeah you have to know to click on the “archive” link to get there but this still a vast improvement on the whole “Yoo Hoo Bible” game that the Vatican was playing before.

But I still miss the days when we these words from Christ…

Let your ‘Yes’ mean ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No’ mean ‘No.’ Anything more is from the evil one.

Matthew 5:37

…were unambiguously at least the public policy of the Holy See.

Review: The Two Popes

By John Ruberry

“I’m not familiar with this part of the garden,” Pope Benedict XVI (Anthony Hopkins) tells Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce) as they enter an area overrun by brush and deadwood in The Two Popes. Benedict then asks the Argentinian, “Which way?”

That garden, at the Vatican’s Palace of Castel Gandolfo outside of Rome, could rightly be called Benedict’s garden, as he was the Pope. Yet Benedict asks the man who ends up as his successor, Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in 2013, for direction. Oops, I mean directions.

Clearly the scriptwriters and the director of The Two Popes favor the liberal leadership under Francis–the garden scene neatly ties up that sentiment in a bow.

Later, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Bergoglio decries inequality, repeated images of ugly walls are shown.

The Two Popes is largely fictionalized story centered on the theological divide between the 265th and the 266th pontiffs. After a limited theatrical release, including a showing at the Chicago International Film Festival, which was sold out, preventing Mrs. Marathon Pundit from seeing it, the film debuted Friday on Netflix. The Two Popes is worth seeing, whether you are a Catholic or not, or a believer or not. The Welshmen in the lead roles, Hopkins and Pryce, provide superb performances. Of course Hopkins’ career has been justifiably rewarded, including gaining four Academy Award nominations, and winning the Best Actor Oscar for his role as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Lambs. Amazingly, despite stellar work in such movies as Something Wicked This Way Comes, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, and The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Pryce has never been honored with an Academy Award nomination. He deserves it for his performance as Francis, but my guess is that the Academy will overlook Pryce again.

The interplay–and the arguing–is what keeps The Two Popes going.

As for the fiction, there is plenty of it here. There were no long meetings between Benedict and Bergoglio; the catalyst for their movie summit was an offer of resignation from the cardinal, which is harshly rejected as a challenge to Benedict’s authority. The future Pope Francis turned 75 in 2011, it is customary for archbishops to retire at that age. It can be assumed that the pair never discussed the Beatles or their Abbey Road album. And it’s quite likely that Benedict’s favorite television show is not Kommisar Rex, an Austrian detective program where a German shepherd solves crimes. This sidetrack is probably a sly reference to Cardinal Ratzinger’s long term as the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican under John Paul II, where he picked up the nickname “God’s Rottweiler.”

There are numerous flashback scenes involving Francis, including his early romance, his call to the priesthood, his muddled legacy from Argentina’s “Dirty War,” his rise, then fall, and his rise again within the Argentine Catholic Church. 

In the garden walk scene, Bergoglio condemns Benedict’s handling of the pedophile crisis within the priesthood, which included confession of the guilty–he calls it “magic words.” Benedict’s retort is harsh and telling, “Magic words, is that how you describe the sacrament?”

The Two Popes gives viewers plenty to think about. 

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.