Book II: Chapter 16
Two days later, Miriam was still sitting beside Alan’s bed as he recovered.
I knew Alan was out of the woods by now, and I couldn’t just sit there and listen to Miriam whine (that woman is like a canary – she never shuts up), so instead I planned to spend my time on the porch blasting away the sound of her yapping with a Cannon… or three.
Naturally, The Lord picked this as yet another occasion to send me a vision…
“Another day, another dollar.” I saw Benedict say to himself as he watched a rather strange man leave his conservatory.
I recognized the other gentleman immediately – for there could only be one man bold enough to sport such garb: a flamboyant outfit highlighted by a Venetian mask over his face.
I knew exactly who he was: Cardinalate Giovanni Marrollo — an eccentric but high-ranking member of the Vatican.
High-ranking indeed, for Marrollo was the current President of the Pontifical Commission, making him the de facto CFO of the Vatican)
“How many masks does that man have?” Joseph wondered aloud once Marrollo was gone, “More importantly, can I still call him my friend?”
Knowing now why The Lord had given me this vision, I realized that the Pope had reason to be concerned — for although Marrollo had helped Joseph Ratzinger to get elected as Pope Benedict XVI, surely Joseph was not foolish enough to believe that Marrollo had done this merely out of the goodness of his heart.
The same could be said for the way Marrollo helped Joe to orchestrate his pseudo-retirement. And naturally everybody who was anybody knew that Marrollo was the man who had installed Pope Francis as the new figurehead so that Joe and Marrollo himself could wield the real power behind the scenes – and out of the public eye. It was a matter of course that Joe had therefore always repaid Marrollo by appointing him to a host of gaudy positions within Vatican City.
But was that enough to make them even in Marrollo’s mind?
I never thought so and clearly Joe was now wondering the same.
“I’ve taken more care of Marrollo than anyone else.” Joseph grumbled. “I made sure he has continued membership in The Congregation of Bishops, The Pontifical Council for Culture, and the Administration of the Apostolic See. But now he wants me to make him The Confuto Penitentiary – giving him power of not only The Apostolic Archives but also access to the Sacra Crypta?”
(When Joe mentioned that Crypta, I knew that it should have jogged another memory, but he kept yammering on and I couldn’t think straight… perhaps that 3rd beer had something to do with it?)
“If I let Marrollo secure the Penitentiary,” Joe’s words interrupted my thoughts again, “Then, coupled with his other commissions, he would effectively control all of the Vatican’s wealth… and all of its secrets.” And his face went white at the implication. “No single person has ever held all that power.”
Joe continued his musings, “But alas, how can I refuse Marrollo? Ah, there is the question indeed. For he obviously believes he holds all the cards.”
And I watched as The Pope pondered a few moments more, before concluding, “Sadly for Marrollo, he is incorrect. Oh, I’ll let him continue to think he is pulling the strings… for now. After all, I just need another five months and then it’s all a moot point. And if he does turn out to be a traitor, I’ll be the first to remind him that he who digs a pit, often falls into it himself!”
And with that thought, the Pope smiled as he pressed the contact on his desk that communicated with his Secretary. “Ah, Georg, who is my next appointment?”
The pope’s personal secretary Reverend Monsignor Georg Ganswein had followed him into retirement – having no idea that the venture would end up requiring more hours of him than less! He replied wearily, “Your Excellency, that would be Miss Teri Abbracciavento, and she is waiting here to enter at your convenience.”
Pope Benedict’s eyes flickered wide only for a moment, before steeling himself for this next ordeal. Sitting higher in his chair, he advised, “You may show her in, Georg.”
(Well, well, it seems this vision just got a lot more interesting – I was about to witness the ol’ Joe getting another opportunity to deal with the devil’s mistress. Strange bed fellows indeed, eh?)