An Italian priest friend of mine had to deliver something to the former Secretary of State, Cardinal Sodano, who although it took months to get him out of the Secretary of State's apartments, is still resident in the Vatican City. He was a little shocked to be directed to the appartments of the former Archbishop Marcinkus who was the president of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione, the Vatican Bank, his former secretary took on that role, as part of Sodano's "retirement package".
Yesterday saw the unprecedented rebuke of Cardinal Schoenborn, I am fascinated by the fact that Cardinal Sodano was waiting in an office somewhere, presumably that of the Vatican Bank, waiting to receive Schoenborn's apology or at least to be "reconciled".
It is no secret that Sodano has opposed Pope Benedict's cleansing of the Vatican stable, his protection of Maciel and of Schoenborn's abusive predecessor, is certainly unwholesome. His use of the Pope's own words about "petty gossip" on Easter day, in his mouth saounded sacandalous. There are stories of renaissance nepotism, involving his architect nephew. As Dean of the College of Cardinals, Sodano is still a "mover and shaker" and part of that faction which protects and wishes to continue the ""Wojtyła legacy".
Schoenborn on the other hand has been increasingly placing himself on the left, his public questioning of celibacy, his tentative championing of the gay lobby, remember those homo-erotic pictures in his cathedral, the high handed dealing with the bishop Mostar and his visit to Medjugorje have raised his profile above that of many of his European counterparts. Though it is highly unlikely that we will have a second German speaking Pope, it strikes me that Schoenborn is trying to position himself head of left leaning faction.
This is all about the next conclave, the Sodano gang is by its very nature dying off, and to some degree represents the hermeneutic of, recent, continuity. The Schoenberg group is much more worrying since it represents a broader group of modernisers, not exactly heretical, but certainly one which is centred on rupture.
Interesting that the Pope chooses to deal with this on the eve of Sts Peter and Paul.