Bretea Streiouli orphanage, Deva Romania

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Life in the therapeutic community carried on as normal. The boys were engaged in different activities and projects, among which, a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela (the way of St James).

In that period a religious holiday occurred, and they took the chance to “train” for the pilgrimage travelling a stretch of the route Francigena up to North of Bolsena. They strictly travelled on foot, stopping in some places along the way and they slept in tents. It took a week, then all the pilgrims gathered at the Vatican, the final destination. Marco told us we and the other parents had to meet him in Rome, where they arrived.

“Tito please call Ciampino and ask them to change your working shift next Sunday, you are supposed to be on duty if I am not mistaken”.

Do we really need to go?

“I really think so, we have to speak with the people in charge of the Community, he has been there for over 1 and a half year now. He has calmed down now and they think they have accomplished the task. In our previous meeting they mentioned the need to start an “easy return programme” so once a month he could spend about a week at home, going back and forth between the Community.

It is a coincidence, a month ago I was in Santiago de Compostela because of the fire that broke out in Galicia, and I found out that people have been travelled this pilgrimage route for over a millennium in Spain.

“Talking about Santiago I am still upset because you spent 10 days there and did not ask me to join you”.

As you know in case of emergency with Canadair aircraft, especially abroad, the duration of our stay is never certain, depending on the evolving of the situation. You could have gone to Santiago, but the next day I might have returned to Italy.

When we got there Santiago was covered by a cloud of smoke, the enormous cathedral looked more gloomy than usual. It represented the atmosphere in which it was built, around the year 1000, when the end of the world was expected.

“How come the end of the world?”

My dear, when I was there I learned something I did not know, people believed that in the year 1000 the world was coming to an end.

It was a turbulent period with excesses of all kinds, ranging from brutal and criminal behaviour to non-violent attitudes through a state of ecstasy.

Hermits and were very popular, and Satan believes were widespread.

Speaking with the local people, I learned that many rich lords left their estate into the custody of the Church for the time they travelled down the way of St James or to the Holy Land and thus expiate their sins, waiting for the world end.

The journeys were long and dangerous, there was a high rate of pilgrims who never returned, they were often killed along the way by villains, and as-a-matter-of-fact the Church had to keep their estates.

"You have become worse than your father with that your attitude towards the Church, there is no evidence of this approaching end of the world”.

Oh ... I haven’t made it up, I was told that! However I believe that the Church was not a great example of virtue in that period.

"Well .. if you want to have an idea of that, just go on the web and type the word Popes."

Here they are, they are listed from St Peter up to the current Pope. Let’s focus on the period 900-1300

This is what we can find:

  • Christopher (903-904) usurped the papacy to Leo V, but six months later he was dethroned by Sergius III;

  • Sergius III (903-904) had a concubine named Marozia and a son who became 'John XI;

  • Anastasius III (911-913);

  • Landon (913 - 914) became Pope and died six months later;

  • John-X (915-928);

  • Leo VI (928-929) short pontificate his death was not due to natural causes;

  • Stephen VII-(929-931) died probably killed by the opposite party;

  • John XI (931-936) son of Marozia and Pope Sergio III;

  • Leo VII (936-939) declared itself opposed to the marriage of priests;

  • Stephen VIII (939-942);

  • Martin III (943 - 946);

  • Agapetus-II (946-956);

  • John XII (956-964) elected pope at 18 years old, he died or he was murdered; antipope Leo VIII;

  • Benedict V (964-965) Antipope Leo;

  • John XIII (965-972);

  • Benedict VI (972-973) shortly after his election he was imprisoned by the antipope Boniface VII;

  • Dono II (973-974) he held a three-month papacy;

  • Benedict VII (975-984);

  • John XIV (984-985) shortly after his election he was imprisoned by the antipope Boniface VII;

  • John XV (986-996);

  • Gregory V (996-999) elected pope at 24 years old, Antipope John XVI;

  • Sylvester II (999-1003);

  • Benedict VIII (1012-1024) Antipope Gregory

  • John XIX (1024-1033) brother of Benedict VIII;

  • Benedict IX (1033-1044) elected pope at about 10 years old, ousted by the Romans for his vices and crimes and replaced with Antipope Sylvester II, who retired a few months later. The pope sold the Tiara to his stepfather Gregory VI;

  • Gregory VI (1044-1046) got money for the sale of the papacy;

  • Clement II (1046-1047) was poisoned, antipopes Benedict IX Sylvester III;

  • Damasus II held a 23-day papacy, probably poisoned in Palestrina;

  • Leo IX (1049-1054) decreed that women who were priests’ prostitutes had to be used as slaves by the Lateran;

  • Victor II (1055-1057);

  • Stephen IX (1057-1058) Antipope Benedict X;

  • Nicholas II (1059-1061) Antipope Benedict X;

  • Alexander II (1061-1073) Antipope Honorius II;

  • Gregory VII (1073-1085) Antipope Gilberto;

  • Victor III (1086-1087) Antipope Gilberto;

  • Paschal II (1099-1118) Antipope Gregory VIII;

  • Gelasius II (1118-1119) Antipope Gregory VIII;

  • Callistus II (1119-1124) deposed the antipope Gregory VIII;

  • Honorius II (1124-1130) Antipope Celestine II;

  • Innocent II (1130-1143) Antipopes Victor IV and Anacletus II

  • Celestine II (1143-1144);

  • Lucius II (1144-1145);

  • Eugene III (1145-1153);

  • Anastasius IV (1153-1154);

  • Adrian IV (1154-1159) condemned Arnaldo da Brescia to death;

  • Alexander III (1150-1181) Antipopes, Victor IV, Pasquale III Calixtus III;

  • Lucius III (1181-1185) laid the foundations for the Inquisition;

  • Urban III (1185-1187);

  • Gregory VIII (1187) held a two-month pontificate;

  • Clement III (1187-1191);

  • Celestine III (1191-1198);

  • Innocent III (1198-1216) appointed himself Prefect of Rome;

  • Honorius III (1216-1227);

  • Gregory IX (1227-1241);

  • Celestine IV (1241) died after 20 days, suspected poisoned by a cardinal competitor;

  • Innocent IV (1243-1254) elected after a long period of vacant papacy;

  • Urban IV (1261-1264) elected by nine cardinals;

  • Clement IV (1263-1269);

  • Gregory X (1271-1276) elected after three years of vacant papacy;

  • Innocent V (1276) elected on 21st February, he died on 22nd June;

  • Adrian V (1276) elected on 11th July, he died on 16th August;

  • John XXI (1276-1277) elected after the cardinals were locked up and forced to remain in the conclave;

  • Nicholas III (1277-1280) cancelled the right to elect a civil governor or senator for the Romans;

  • Honorius IV (1285-1287);

  • Nicholas IV (1288-1292) elected after a long period of vacantia;

  • Celestine V (1294), refused the Papacy;

  • Boniface VIII (1294-1303) he locked up Celestine V in Fumona and had him murdered. Shortly after Celestine V was sanctified by Boniface VIII himself.

There are 20 Antipopes out of 71 Popes and they seem rather busy doing things that have nothing to do with spirituality and religion.

I am surprised to come across this information now, nobody ever told me at school, nor have I read it in books. These facts were removed because we need to have an idyllic vision of history, some things are negligible ... insignificant compared to the Church magnitude and to many Popes’ integrity and so close to holiness!

If we flick through these Popes’ biography, we can note a common feature i.e. the attempt to affirm the supremacy of the Church above everything and everyone in the name of the revealed truth.

Whoever holds the government of ideas can rule the world an behave accordingly.

For example take a noble member of the current Church, Cardinal Ruini, he is reluctant but he has to take care of earthly matters, even if he would only want to watch, without intervene. For example when the poor ignorant Italians request a referendum on DICO, which is explicitly opposed to his ideal country’s ethical and moral principles (the Vatican) he is required to intervene. The problem is that he does not intervene as an Italian citizen, but as Cardinal Ruini, citizen of the Vatican, or even as secretary of the Vatican state. It would be the same if Condoleezza Rice officially came to Italy. He is one the few lucky people (they are about 900) with dual citizenship, the Vatican one and the Italian one. If I wanted to apply for the Vatican citizenship I should become a resident cardinal, or I can be offered a citizenship by the Pope at his own discretion. The Vatican is an absolute ruler in which the Pope holds all the powers.

“It seems odd to compare the Pope to a monarch or to a dictator, but according to the Canon Law he is just the same thing.

But how? We all abhor monarchies, totalitarian regimes, dictators, theocracies and do we allow to have one within our own country?

“Yes but the Vatican is not involved in any war, it does not torture people, it only does good deeds and it always supports peace, just like Mr Bertinotti, unless we are referring to Crusades for the Vatican and to the Bolshevik revolution for Mr Bertinotti. Technically it is an absolute monarchy, yet it does not appear that way, but if we raise our eyes for a moment we realise that it is a monarchy ‘par excellence’, it is the absolute ruler of ideas and knowledge allegedly granted by God through divin consent.

I say allegedly because observing some Popes’ deeds I doubt that God has something to do with them.

“Are you done? Do you still need to give vent to something else?

Mind you that next Sunday we have to go to the Vatican, if they knew your views on the matter, they would not let you in”.

I think that they know it well, they have a very efficient information network, it works even better than the Police’s. In the remotest village there is always a church and a priest, who knows everything about every body. Anyway it could work both ways, if it depended on me I would send the Vatican citizens, who come to Italy every day, through passport control (non Schengen area), just to point out – for the avoidance of any doubt – that there are two independent countries: Italy and the Vatican.

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