Friday, July 15, 2011

Poor Timing

Magister has this article up today about Cardinal Bertone's efforts to secure control of two hospitals in Italy to build a Catholic medical hub. One of them is already controlled by the Italian bishops' conference and is basically a turf war over who gets to be on the board.

The other hospital, the San Raffaele, Magister describes as follows:

The San Raffaele is a massive, cutting-edge medical center, founded and headed in Milan by a priest, Luigi Maria Verzé, which does not, however, have anything in its statutes binding it to the Church, nor much that is Catholic in what it does.

Suffice it to say that artificial fertilization, which is condemned by the Church, is practiced there, and that in its highly modern laboratories experiments are conducted without any regard for the ethical criteria affirmed by the magisterium.

Not only that. In the connected Università Vita-Salute, dedicated to humanistic studies, philosophy, theology and scientific subjects are taught by professors who are in glaring contrast with the Catholic vision, from Emanuele Severino to Massimo Cacciari, from Roberta De Monticelli to Vito Mancuso, from Edoardo Boncinelli to Luca Cavalli-Sforza.

Fr. Verzé himself has repeatedly worried the Catholic hierarchy, with statements that could be taken as supporting euthanasia or the use of embryos.

Bertone's offer to take the San Raffaele, which is on the brink of bankruptcy thanks to its massive debt to the tune of a billion euros:

The IOR said that it was ready to provide 200 million euros immediately, while one billion over 3-5 years would be guaranteed by an international "charity" still shrouded in mystery (the financier George Soros has denied being part of the deal).

In exchange, Cardinal Bertone has demanded seats on the administrative board of the Mount Tabor Foundation, which governs the entire complex, of four of his proteges...

I am going to take a wild stab in the dark and guess that the "charity" to be named is the holding company of the Legion of Christ with its billions now under the control of a papal delegate.

The head priest Fr. Verzé is willing to accept the offer as long as he can expand the board and appoint two of his own men who will counter Bertone's people.

Magister says that it will all be decided in the next few days. He also notes that the character of the San Raffaele was only discussed for the first time a few days ago!

What he conceived of as an "epochal revolution" thus threatens, if not stopped in time, to turn into a costly and disastrous boomerang.

Because rebuilding from the ground up, on Catholic foundations, a complex like the San Raffaele, which has never been Catholi, is simply an impossible undertaking.

Now this story of Bertone's adventures in taking control of hospitals is interesting in itself to me. What makes it more interesting is that the secretary of state is willing to spend 200 million on a hospital and university in Italy right now.

Read here: "Hopeless, But Not Serious: Once Again", by David Goldman. He has a nice graph of population in a key demographic for several southern European countries including Italy.

The present crisis can and will be papered over, because there is no reason not to paper it over, and for the moment, there is plenty of fat to be cut from European government budgets. In ten or fifteen years, the budget knife will cut bone. Italy’s population is on the cusp of a tumble.

My conclusion: there is no reason to panic over the present kerfluffle, but there is no reason to own any exposure to southern Europe. Ever again.

Goldman's assessment rings true to me. Its lesson and the fact pointed out at the very end of Magister's article go well together: Bertone is on a fool's errand for more reasons than one.

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