Thursday, June 16, 2005

The Fall of Mafia Irpinia

Say it ain't so, Navarro.

Days after being reconfirmed as head of the Holy See's Press Office, Joaquin Navarro-Valls is foretelling that the end is near.

"I will continue until the Pope accepts that a change is good and positive," Navarro Valls announced Monday....

"At that time, I will return to my first profession, which is so far from the activity I am now engaged in," he explained, as reported by the Veritas agency. Prior to being a journalist, Navarro Valls was a practicing psychiatrist.

In related buzz, the rumors are flying around Rome that one of the most powerful coalitions in recent Vatican history lies squarely in B16's crosshairs.

In 1984, the Spaniard Navarro-Valls -- then head of the Italian Foreign Press -- was named director of Sala Stampa on the advice of the young information chief of the Secretariat of State, Crescenzio Sepe. That same year, Sepe engineered the appointment of a friend from home, Mario Agnes, as editor of L'Osservatore Romano.

Together with the omnipresent Mother Tekla Famiglietti, Superior of the Brigittine Sisters, Sepe (the mastermind behind the 2000 Jubilee Year, now cardinal-prefect of Evangelization) and Agnes comprised what became known in Rome as "Mafia Irpinia," for the Italian region from which they hail.

But their future is uncertain. Word's flying that Agnes is leaving L'Osservatore and that Sepe, the consummate curialist if ever there were one, is up for a Benelli-esque exile to Naples in the fall. If that comes to pass, together with Navarro's departure, it gives B16 several major openings for his own loyalists who have his mission at heart. It is, beyond doubt, a situation worth watching.

However, as anyone who has watched the Holy See for more than 48 hours knows, Sepe has the goods and can't ever be underestimated or counted out until his fate is written in Bollettino-stone.

Can the Capo of the Iripinese manage yet another comeback?



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