Benedetto XVI Forum Luogo d'incontro di tutti quelli che amano il Santo Padre.


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    00 8/1/2010 12:10 AM
    What's obvious in all of this rubbish that's been thrown at us for months now is that the writers are perpetrating a personal attack on Pope Benedict XVI. I've never read anything to suggest that there was something "queer" about the very close relationship between JPII and the now Cardinal Dviwisv - escuse spelling, his personal secretary. They were extremely close for forty years and Stanislas D. has recently written a book "A Life with Karol". As far as I know there's never been the slightest whiff of anything "gay".

    I just hope that our wonderful Holy Father either doesn't see these things or, if he does, that he has sufficient strength of mind to ignore them.

    I do think we need to have this stuff aired here, so thank you, Teresa. For me it's rather like The Tablet - I choose to ignore its very existence. But I have, on occasion, read articles just so that I feel qualified to comment and I think we should do this, if we don't want to get shot down in flames.

    Viva Pope Benedict XVI!!!!!
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    00 8/3/2010 1:15 PM
    Yesterday, August 2, there was another disgusting media feature that was obviously gimcracked together just to have a pretext to trash the Holy Father. When the story about this 'sculpture' came out in Italy 2-3 years ago, I do not recall seeing any illustration of it in the Italian newspapers, but these dungbags have now gone ahead to publish one.

    Mary, about John Paul II and Dsiwisz, probably the foul-minded never thought of articulating any of their prurient and purulent 'speculation' because Mons. Stas does not fit the image of a boy toy, whereas GG who cannot be blamed because he looks good, sends some women's and gay men's hearts a-flutter!


    Here is a typical blog by Pope-bashers who are making too much of an isolated report that not all the tickets distributed to Scottish parishes have been solicited. The entire blog smacks too much of Schadenfreude...

    Pope snubbed by Scottish Catholics
    Posted by Caroline Crampton
    The New Statesman blogs
    03 August 2010 13:13

    Controversy has emerged over the Pope's planned open-air Mass at Bellahouston Park near Glasgow, with many parishes returning more than half of their allocated tickets for the event.

    The organisers now reportedly fear that attendance will fall short of the 100,000 they expected to come to the mass, which will cost £1.5m to stage.

    Each of Scotland's 450 Catholic parishes received a pro-rata ticket allocation based on the size of their regular congregation, but the Herald reports that in some cases, only one-sixth of parishioners are planning to take up their places at the event.

    In 1982, Pope John Paul II celebrated Mass at the same site on a sunny afternoon, with 300,000 people in attendance. The choice of this site has been interpreted as an attempt to recreate the success and popularity of that service for a pope that has been under siege in recent months.

    The open-air Mass requires attendees to be in their places hours before the two-hour service is due to begin, and it is thought that fears about the weather and long travel times are putting people off. Distant parishes are also planning to watch the service via video link, rather than travel to the other side of the country to attend in person.

    The service, which will take place on 19 September as part of the Pope's forthcoming visit to Britain, has also re-opened the debate over the cost of the Pope's trip to Britain. While insisting that pilgrims will not have to pay to attend the Bellahouston mass, the Catholic church has asked each parish to make a donation of £20 per attendee -- an obligation which many parishes have passed on to their parishioners.

    The total cost of the visit, which will be borne by Britain as the host nation, has already provoked outrage in some quarters, after it was revealed that costs could exceed £20m. As well as asking for "voluntary donations" from attendees to cover the cost of specific events, the Catholic church is also asking members to donate towards the overall cost of the visit, which it is currently estimating at £7m.

    The church is also selling merchandise to coincide with the papal visit. T-shirts, fridge magnets and mugs are available as well as more traditional religious artefacts.

    As well as being hit with low attendance figures, the Pope's visit could also suffer from a lack of television exposure, after BBC workers threatened to strike during the visit (as well as other major events such as the Last Night of the Proms) over pension disputes. Workers are currently being balloted on the issue, and a result is expected in the week before the Pope is due to arrive in Britain.

    Add to this Richard Dawkins and others' stated intention to attempt to arrest the Pope for his alleged complicity in the abuse scandal while he is on British soil, and we could be in for an eventful visit come September.

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/4/2010 3:44 PM]
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    00 11/29/2010 4:05 PM
    I am posting this here for the record and will not even comment on it since the new documents it claims to have uncovered do not change what we know about the story despite the open accusations made.

    Archbishop Ratzinger Failed to Deal
    with Suspected Pedophile Priest

    By Conny Neumann and Peter Wensierski
    Nov. 29, 2010

    New documents show how the former Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger -- now Pope Benedict XVI -- and his successor Reinhard Marx failed to properly deal with a suspected pedophile. Despite massive allegations of abuse, the archdiocese allowed the priest to continue working with children.

    The priest H. had put a great deal of effort into his letter of application. On a summer afternoon in 1980, he copied photos and articles from local newspapers and church newsletters and provided a comprehensive description of his dedicated work with the young people of Munich's parish of St. Johannes Evangelist, as a way of recommending himself for higher office.

    He submitted his request directly to the head of the archdiocese at the time. He wrote "For the personal attention of His Eminence Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger" on the envelope and delivered the letter directly to the addressee on the morning of July 31, 1980, as members of the Catholic parish recall today. H. told colleagues in the rectory that, at the age of 32, he felt that he was getting a bit old to be an assistant priest; he now wanted to have his own parish.

    It appears that "His Eminence" dealt with the letter. At any rate, the disappointed priest later told members of his parish that Cardinal Ratzinger felt that H. should remain in his position at St. Johannes Evangelist for the time being, since the old priest was often ill and he was so popular among the young people in the neighborhood.

    Shedding Light on Abuse Case

    All of this occurred 30 years ago. Today, previously unknown documents, as well as witnesses who confirm the delivery of the letter, are shedding new light on the case of the abusive cleric H., which first became public last March -- and also on the role of the current pope.

    According to the allegations, during his tenure in Munich, Ratzinger did not give sufficient attention to the type of duties that were assigned to the alleged pedophile H. Despite massive allegations of abuse levied against the priest, the archdiocese led by Ratzinger allowed H. to continue to be involved in church work with children and young people.

    For months now, very little progress has been made in clearing up this case. This is partly because the current archbishop of Munich, Reinhard Marx, who the pope recently promoted to cardinal, swiftly decided that the matter was settled.

    H. was transferred to Munich in January 1980 after he had apparently sexually abused a number of boys in his home diocese of Essen. Under Ratzinger's leadership, the Munich archdiocese expressly approved H.'s transfer on January 15, 1980. It was decided that the cleric was to undergo therapy.

    No Doubt

    Recently discovered documents now show that there could have been no doubt in Munich about the priest's previous history. The head of personnel in Essen had informed Ratzinger's head of personnel by phone and in writing that, in regard to H., "there is a risk which has prompted us to immediately remove him from the parish." Furthermore, he said that "an official complaint has been lodged by members of the parish."

    But his victims are still waiting in vain for a genuine clarification of the matter. Wilfried Fesselmann, for instance, who says that he was abused by H. in 1979, wrote to Pope Benedict XVI last May. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith replied: "Your request is being processed." Since then, he has heard nothing from them. The archdiocese of Munich is also reticent to comment on the case, despite the fact that Marx has pledged: "We want to do everything to clear this up -- we will not look away, play it down or point the finger at others."

    "The fact that Archbishop Marx has now been made a cardinal," says Fesselmann, "seems like a reward for having helped the pope." Indeed, Marx, 57, is currently the youngest cardinal in Germany.

    In spring 2010, the Munich affair caused an enormous stir. It initially looked as if the abuse scandal would engulf Ratzinger personally. After all, the pedophile who was accepted by him into the archdiocese in Munich was able to continue working there as a pastor for three decades and find new victims -- despite the fact that he was charged a fine and given a suspended sentence in 1986 for abusing schoolchildren.

    Damage-Control Mode

    Marx and his press office immediately went into damage-control mode: They said that Cardinal Ratzinger had merely taken part in the decision to accept H. in Munich for the purpose of therapy, and otherwise had no further knowledge of his subsequent work. According to the archdiocese, the former Munich Vicar-General Gerhard Gruber acted alone and solely assumes full responsibility.

    But how likely is it that Ratzinger would have been left in the dark about H.'s case by his closest associates -- the vicar-general and the head of personnel?

    Only two weeks after Ratzinger approved H.'s acceptance for therapy in Munich, the priest was again assigned to pastoral duties. H. wrote in a résumé, which is currently in the archdiocese's files, that he had already been called upon to "help with pastoral care on Feb. 1, 1980" in the parish of St. Johannes Evangelist.

    In order to convince Ratzinger that he should be given his own parish, the priest attached to his application a copy of a church newsletter from his current parish. This included an article in which he proudly describes his accomplishments working with children and young people. For instance, on April 4, 1980 -- in other words, less than three months after his transfer for disciplinary reasons -- he wrote about a pilgrimage that he had organized with "20 to 25 girls and boys."

    'Athletic Ability'

    In June, he wrote that "150 altar boys from the parishes of our deanery" held their main Munich gathering in his parish. In his article, H. delightedly praised the youngsters' "dexterity," "imagination" and "athletic ability" during sporting events in the "Altar Boys' Cup."

    In a later issue of the church newsletter, a story on the priest informed readers that his "intensive spiritual counseling of children" had been instrumental in helping the church "triple the number of altar servers within two years." The article also mentioned that, during religious instruction, he had helped "young people in particular" gain "a new appreciation of the joyous message of the Church" and had "enriched the tradition of children's religious services."

    Is this what therapy for a pedophile looked like in the archdiocese of Munich in 1980, under the ultimate responsibility of Ratzinger? This is a question that is now being asked by more than just the victims.

    Last week, Marx had his press office release a statement saying there have been no new findings in the Church investigation of H. According to the press release, Ratzinger knew nothing: "We have also found no letter from H. to Ratzinger in the files."

    Marx and his team find further inquiries from the outside to not be particularly helpful. They still stand by the declaration made by the loyal vicar-general.

    For them, the H. case is merely one of many anyway. "We are currently having an external law firm examine 8,000 additional personnel files," said a spokesman.

    Translated from the German by Paul Cohen

    [Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/29/2010 5:48 PM]
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    00 2/14/2012 6:01 AM

    Here's the latest outrage from the unspeakable Pulella of Reuters - who put words never spoken into the Pope's mouth last month in his address to the Roman Curia (or was it the diplomats?0 and then had the gall to defend it saying in effect, "Well that was the burden of what he said" (about same sex marriage)... It took him a few days to put this thing together, compared to the competent and rather fair overview presented by the AP's Nicole Winfield the day after the death-plot story broke...And all Pulella does is try to manipulate all the different storeis into the worst light possible for the Vatican, and with the principal hypothesis that everything is a revolt against Bertone....

    "Monsignors' mutiny" revealed by Vatican leaks
    by Philip Pullella

    VATICAN CITY, Feb. 13 (Reuters) - Call it Conspiracy City. Call it Scandal City. Call it Leak City. These days the holy city has been in the news for anything but holy reasons.

    "It is a total mess," said one high-ranking Vatican official who spoke, like all others, on the condition of anonymity.

    The Machiavellian manoeuvring and machinations that have come to light in the Vatican recently are worthy of a novel about a sinister power struggle at a mediaeval court.

    Senior church officials interviewed this month said almost daily embarrassments that have put the Vatican on the defensive could force Pope Benedict to act to clean up the image of its administration - at a time when the church faces a deeper crisis of authority and relevance in the wider world.

    Some of those sources said the outcome of a power struggle inside the Holy See may even have a longer-term effect, on the choice of the man to succeed Benedict when he dies.

    From leaked letters by an archbishop who was transferred after he blew the whistle on what he saw as a web of corruption and cronyism, to a leaked poison pen memo which puts a number of cardinals in a bad light, to new suspicions about its bank, Vatican spokesmen have had their work cut out responding.

    The flurry of leaks has come at an embarrassing time - just before a usually joyful ceremony this week known as a consistory, when Benedict will admit more prelates into the College of Cardinals, the exclusive men's club that will one day pick the next Roman Catholic leader from among their own ranks.

    "This consistory will be taking place in an atmosphere that is certainly not very glorious or exalting," said one bishop with direct knowledge of Vatican affairs.

    The sources agreed that the leaks were part of an internal campaign - a sort of "mutiny of the monsignors" - against the pope's right-hand man, Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

    Bertone, 77, has a reputation as a heavy-handed administrator and power-broker whose style has alienated many in the Curia, the bureaucracy that runs the central administration of the 1.3 billion-strong Roman Catholic Church.

    He came to the job, traditionally occupied by a career diplomat, in 2006 with no experience of working in the church's diplomatic corps, which manages its international relations. Benedict chose him, rather, because he had worked under the future pontiff, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, in the Vatican's powerful doctrinal office.

    "It's all aimed at Bertone," said a monsignor in a key Vatican department who sympathises with the secretary of state and who sees the leakers as determined to oust him. "It's very clear that they want to get rid of Bertone."

    Vatican sources say the rebels have the tacit backing of a former secretary of state, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, an influential power-broker in his own right and a veteran diplomat who served under the late Pope John Paul II for 15 years.

    "The diplomatic wing feels that they are the rightful owners of the Vatican," the monsignor who favours Bertone said.

    Sodano and Bertone are not mutual admirers, to put it mildly. Neither has commented publicly on the reports.


    The Vatican has been no stranger to controversy in recent years, when uproar over its handling of child sex abuse charges has hampered the church's efforts to stem the erosion of congregations and priestly recruitment in the developed world.

    But the latest image crisis could not be closer to home.

    It began last month when an Italian television investigative show broadcast private letters to Bertone and the pope from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of the Vatican City and currently the Vatican ambassador in Washington.

    The letters, which the Vatican has confirmed are authentic, showed that Vigano was transferred after he exposed what he argued was a web of corruption, nepotism and cronyism linked to the awarding of contracts to contractors at inflated prices.

    As deputy governor of the Vatican City for two years from 2009 to 2011, Vigano was the number two official in a department responsible for maintaining the tiny city-state's gardens, buildings, streets, museums and other infrastructure, which are managed separately from the Italian capital which surrounds it.

    In one letter, Vigano writes of a smear campaign against him by other Vatican officials who were upset that he had taken drastic steps to clean up the purchasing procedures and begged to stay in the job to finish what he had started.

    Bertone responded by removing Vigano from his position three years before the end of his tenure and sending him to the United States, despite his strong resistance.

    Other leaks centre on the Vatican bank, just as it is trying to put behind it past scandals - including the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, which entangled it in lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - "God's banker".

    Today, the Vatican bank, formally known at the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), is aiming to comply fully with international norms and has applied for the Vatican's inclusion on the European Commission's approved "white list" of states that meet EU standards for total financial transparency.

    Bertone was instrumental in putting the bank's current executives in place and any lingering suspicion about it reflects badly on him. The Commission will decide in June and failure to make the list would be an embarrassment for Bertone.


    Last week, an Italian newspaper that has published some of the leaks ran a bizarre internal Vatican memo that involved one cardinal complaining about another cardinal who spoke about a possible assassination attempt against the pope within 12 months and openly speculated on who the next pope should be.

    Bertone's detractors say he has packed the Curia with Italian friends. Some see an attempt to influence the election of the next pope and increase the chances that the papacy returns to Italy after two successive non-Italian popes who have broken what had been an Italian monopoly for over 450 years.

    Seven of the 18 new "cardinal electors" -- those aged under 80 eligible to elect a pope -- at this Saturday's consistory are Italian. Six of those work for Bertone in the Curia.

    Bertone, as chief administrator, had a key role in advising the pope on the appointments, which raised eyebrows because of the high number of Italian bureaucrats among them.

    "There is widespread malaise and delusion about Bertone inside the Curia. It is full of complaints," said the bishop who has close knowledge of Vatican affairs.

    "Bertone has had a very brash method of running the Vatican and putting his friends in high places. People could not take it any more and said 'enough' and that is why I think these leaks are coming out now to make him look bad," he said.


    Leaked confidential cables sent to the State Department by the U.S. embassy to the Vatican depicted him as a "yes man" with no diplomatic experience or linguistic skills and the 2009 cable suggests that the pope is protected from bad news.

    "There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the pope's attention," read the cable, published by WikiLeaks.

    The Vatican sources said some cardinals asked the pope to replace Bertone because of administrative lapses, including the failure to warn the pope that a renegade bishop re-admitted to the Church in 2009 was a well-known Holocaust denier.

    But they said the pope, at 84 and increasingly showing the signs of his age, is not eager to break in a new right-hand man.

    "It's so complicated and the pope is so helpless," said the monsignor.

    The bishop said: "The pope is very isolated. He lives in his own world and some say the information he receives is filtered. He is interested in his books and his sermons but he is not very interested in government."

    (Editing by Jon Boyle and Alastair Macdonald)
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    00 3/18/2012 10:41 AM
    Silvana crea il profumo per il Papa:
    «Essenza di bosco e musica»

    di Franca Giansoldati

    14 marzo 2012

    Tutto è cominciato con una telefonata proveniente dal santuario di Santiago di Compostela. Era il 2010 e Benedetto XVI a novembre sarebbe andato a chiudere il Giubileo Compostelano. Nel piccolo ma pluripremiato laboratorio di Reggio Emilia, «Il Profvmo», in cui vengono create fragranze ispirate ai ritmi della natura attraverso un procedimento rigorosamente top secret, arrivò un incarico tanto singolare quanto inaspettato. Si chiedeva di ottenere un aroma ambientale capace di trasmettere ai pellegrini la sacralità del luogo.

    Silvana Casoli, il «naso», come verrebbe chiamata in Francia, per nulla impressionata dalla sfida che si prospettava si mise all’opera e in poco tempo nacquero due acque di colonia, l’Acqua della Fede e l’Acqua della Speranza. «Mi sono calata nei panni di chi fa un pellegrinaggio. C’è chi va per confermare la propria fede ma anche chi intraprende il viaggio nella speranza di ritrovarla, dunque, ho pensato che dovevo far nascere qualcosa capace di evocare olfattivamente un’apertura ma anche un arrivo». L’elaborazione ottenuta, basata sui fiori di Bach, riscosse molto successo.

    Una confezione con le due acque venne donata al pontefice dai prelati spagnoli. Passò un po’ di tempo e a Reggio Emilia giunsero richieste analoghe. Una dal santuario di Sant’Antonio di Padova e l’altra, assai più importante, dal Vaticano per una acqua da destinare a Benedetto XVI. A lui e solo a lui. Silvana Casoli si sentì quasi svenire, il compito era immane.

    Questa maestra profumiera con robusti studi alle spalle in botanica, chimica e cosmetologia ma che per vezzo ama definirsi «alchimista», ebbe una specie blocco psicologico. Come comporre un profumo personalizzato per Sua Santità? L’impresa, effettivamente, non si presentava facile. Iniziò a concentrarsi su fragranze che potessero richiamare l’amore che Joseph Ratzinger nutre per la musica, per gli animali, per i boschi verdi della Baviera, per la semplicità, per il bisogno insopprimibile d’Assoluto.

    La ricerca durò mesi e ci furono momenti in cui pensò anche di gettare la spugna, di rinunciare all’incarico, poi ebbe una intuizione: «Capii che una essenza del genere doveva avere nel cuore qualcosa di pulito, di leggero, richiamando l’idea della pace. Pensai ai profumi che il Papa avverte quando prega in giardino, davanti alla Grotta di Lourdes». Note di tiglio, di verbena, di erba".

    Di più Silvana Casoli, profumiera dei vip di mezzo mondo - tra cui Madonna, Sting, Re Juan Carlos, persino il presidente della Repubblica, Napolitano - non vuole aggiungere. «Amo parlare del mio lavoro ma stavolta è una questione di discrezione. Sono molto devota al Santo Padre». Di fatto quell’acqua di colonia non verrà mai riprodotta per nessun altro.

    Silvana Casoli non vuole troppa pubblicità. «Parliamo invece dei segreti del mio lavoro». Il suo laboratorio-profumeria garantisce l’unicità dei prodotti poiché mantiene inalterati i procedimenti artigianali. Una produzione su grande scala non sarebbe possibile.

    Dietro ogni flacone si nascondono anni di ricerche, di viaggi in luoghi lontani per raccogliere materiali, estratti rari, composti base. La resina del legno di sandalo del Suriname, il sale dell’Himalaya ma anche il tulipano nero o le tuberose profumate dell’Est. Ogni essenza che esce dal laboratorio è unica nel suo genere. «Lavoro molto sulla memoria olfattiva».

    Sicché prima di creare un profumo per qualcuno, Silvana vuole conoscere a fondo le sue abitudini fino a carpirne i segreti. Intuito e odorato: scompone gli aromi per poi assemblarli nuovamente.

    Silvana ha scoperto da bambina di avere un dono fuori dal comune. Il suo olfatto è così raffinato che le consente di percepire a grande distanza ogni tipo di odore, riuscendo a descrivere le persone a seconda degli effluvi che emanano, captando impercettibili particelle fluttuanti nell’aria.

    Un po’ quello che lo scrittore Peter Susskind ha descritto nelle prime pagine de Il Profumo. «Come la musica anche un odore può cambiare la vita, accarezzare lo spirito, giocando sulle note delle spezie, del bosco o della frutta. Sollecitare la felicità, esaltare la bellezza». Insomma, è una forma d’arte, esattamente come la pittura, la scultura o la fotografia.

    Pope commissions custom-blended eau de cologne
    Fragrance, which mixes hints of lime tree, verbena and grass,
    was concocted by Italian boutique perfume maker Silvana Casoli

    by Tom Kington in Rome

    March 14, 2012

    He is picky about his robes and his red shoes are tailor-made, but Pope Benedict has taken the meaning of bespoke to a whole new level by ordering a custom-blended eau de cologne just for him.

    The fragrance, which mixes hints of lime tree, verbena and grass, was concocted by the Italian boutique perfume maker Silvana Casoli, who has previously created scents for customers including Madonna, Sting and King Juan Carlos of Spain.

    Casoli said she had a "pact of secrecy" with her most illustrious client to date, and refused to release the full list of ingredients that had gone into his scent – but she did reveal that she had created a delicate smelling eau de cologne "based on his love of nature".

    Casoli's scents first came to the attention of Vatican elders when she was commissioned to create fragrances for Catholic pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. The two she supplied, Water of Faith and Water of Hope, were liked so much by local priests that they presented samples to the Pope, the Italian daily Il Messaggero reported.

    Alerted to Casoli's talents, Benedict put in a request for his own stock of scent. The Vatican has previously played down reports that the 84-year-old pontiff is a snappy dresser, arguing that his unusual hats, including a red panama, reflect his respect for papal tradition rather than an eye for fashion.

    And anyone keen to smell like the pope will be disappointed. "I would not ever repeat the same perfume for another customer," Casoli told the Guardian.

    She describes her ready-to-wear perfumes, which are accessible to all, as "made with noble and rare essences which leave an unforgettable olfactory message for him and her".

    The line, which features "sensually elegant" men's fragrances, also contains a scent named Perfume of Italy, which sums up the smell of Italy's "seas, mountains and countryside", and a perfume called Cannabis, which is described as hypnotic.

    One that bishops and cardinals might wish to avoid is Nude, a scent inspired "by the smell that only a woman's skin emanates in a state of ecstasy".

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    00 10/10/2012 2:21 AM
    Sorry, I have to 'archive' this article here... I never know when I may have to refer to it only to find it's no longer online...

    Catholic theologian preaches revolution
    to end church's 'authoritarian' rule
    Hans Küng urges confrontation from the grassroots
    to unseat pope and force radical reform at Vatican

    Kate Connolly in Tübingen
    The Guardian, Friday
    5 October 2012

    One of the world's most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.

    Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members.

    In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an "authoritarian system" with parallels to Germany's Nazi dictatorship.

    "The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler," he said.

    The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. "The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list." The result was a church of "yes men", almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.

    "The only way for reform is from the bottom up," said Küng, 84, who is a priest. "The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

    Küng, the author of around 30 books on Catholic theology, Christianity and ethics, which have sold millions worldwide, said that inspiration for global change was to be found in his native Switzerland and in Austria, where hundreds of Catholic priests have formed movements advocating policies that openly defy current Vatican practices. The revolts have been described as unprecedented by Vatican observers, who say they are likely to cause deep schisms in the church.

    "I've always said that if one priest in a diocese is roused, that counts for nothing. Five will create a stir. Fifty are pretty much invincible. In Austria the figure is well over 300, possibly up to 400 priests; in Switzerland it's about 150 who have stood up and it will increase."

    He said recent attempts by the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, to try to stamp out the uprising by threatening to punish those involved in the Austrian "priests' initiative" had backfired owing to the strength of feeling. "He soon stopped when he realised that so many ordinary people are supportive of them and he was in danger of turning them all against him," Küng said.

    The initiatives support such seemingly modest demands as letting divorced and remarried people receive communion, allowing non-ordained people to lead services and allowing women to take on important positions in the hierarchy. However, as they go against conventional Catholic teaching, the demands have been flatly rejected by the Vatican.

    Küng, who was stripped of the authority to teach Catholic theology by Pope John Paul II in 1979 for questioning the concept of papal infallibility, is credited with giving the present pope, Joseph Ratzinger as he then was, the first significant step up the hierarchy of Catholic academia when he called him to Tübingen University, in south-west Germany, as professor of dogmatic theology in 1966.

    The pair had worked closely for four years in the 1960s as the youngest theological advisers on the second Vatican council – the most radical overhaul of the Catholic church since the middle ages. But the relationship between the two was never straightforward, with their political differences eventually driving a wedge between them. The dashing and flamboyant Hans Küng, by various accounts, often stole the limelight from the more earnest and staid Joseph Ratzinger.

    Küng refers to the "heap of legends" that abound about himself and Ratzinger from their "Tübingen days", not least the apocryphal accounts of how he gave lifts in his "red sports car" to the bicycle-riding Ratzinger.

    "I often gave him a lift, particularly up the steep hills of Tübingen, yes, but too much has been made of this," he said. "I didn't drive a sports car, rather an Alfa Romeo Giulia. Ratzinger admitted himself that he had no interest in technology and had no driving licence. But it's often been turned into some kind of pseudo-profound metaphor idealising the 'cyclist' and demonising the 'Alfa Romeo driver'."

    Indeed the "modest'' and prudent "bicycle-rider'' image that pope-to-be, now 85, fostered for years has all but evaporated since his 2005 inauguration, according to Küng.

    "He has developed a peculiar pomposity that doesn't fit the man I and others knew, who once walked around in a Basque-style cap and was relatively modest. Now he's frequently to be seen wrapped in golden splendour and swank. By his own volition he wears the crown of a 19th-century pope, and has even had the garments of the Medici pope Leo X remade for him."

    That "pomposity", he said, manifested itself most fully in the regular audiences who gather on St Peter's Square in Rome. "What happens has Potemkin village dimensions," he said. "Fanatical people go there to celebrate the pope, and tell him how wonderful he is, while meanwhile at home their own parishes are in a lamentable state, with a lack of priests, a far higher number than ever before of people who are leaving than are being baptised and now Vatileaks, which indicates just what a poor state the Vatican administration is in," he said, referring to the scandal over leaked documents uncovering power struggles within the Vatican which has seen the pope's former butler appear in court. The trial ends on Saturday.

    It was in Tübingen that the paths of the two theologians crossed for several years before diverging sharply following the student riots of 1968. Ratzinger was shocked by the events and escaped to the relative safety of his native Bavaria, where he deepened his involvement in the Catholic hierarchy. Küng stayed in Tübingen and increasingly assumed the role of the Catholic church's enfant terrible.

    "The student revolts were a primal shock for Ratzinger and after that he became ever more conservative and part of the hierarchy of the church," said Küng.

    Calling Pope Benedict XVI's reign a "pontificate of missed opportunities", in which he had forgone chances to reconcile with the Protestant, Jewish, orthodox and Muslim faiths, as well as failing to help the African fight against Aids by not allowing the use of birth control, Küng said his "gravest scandal" was the way he had "covered up" worldwide cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics during his time as the head of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as Cardinal Ratzinger.

    "The Vatican is no different from the Kremlin," Küng said. "Just as Putin as a secret service agent became the head of Russia, so Ratzinger, as head of the Catholic church's secret services, became head of the Vatican. He has never apologised for the fact that many cases of abuse were sealed under the secretum pontificium (papal secrecy), or acknowledged that this is a disaster for the Catholic church." Küng described a process of "Putinisation" that has taken place at the Vatican.

    Yet despite their differences, the two have remained in contact. Küng visited the pope at his summer retreat, Castel Gandolfo, in 2005, during which the two held an intensive four-hour discussion.

    "It felt like we were on an equal footing – after all, we'd been colleagues for years. We walked through the park and there were times I thought he might turn the corner on certain issues, but it never happened. Since then we've still kept exchanging letters, but we've not met."

    Kung has travelled widely in his life, befriending everyone from Iranian leaders to John F. Kennedy, and Tony Blair with whom he forged close links a decade ago, becoming something of a spiritual guru for the then British prime minister ahead of his decision to convert to Catholicism.

    "I was impressed how he tackled the Northern Ireland conflict. But then came the Iraq war and I was extremely troubled by the way in which he collaborated with Bush. I wrote to him calling it a historical failure of the first order. He wrote me a hand-written note in reply, saying he respected my views and thankyou, but that I should know he was acting according to his conscience and was not trying to please the Americans. I was astounded that a British prime minister could make such a catastrophic mistake, and he remains for me a tragic figure." He described Blair's conversion to Catholicism as a mistake, insisting he should instead have used his role as a public figure to reconcile differences between the Anglican and Catholic churches in the UK.

    From his book-filled study, where a portrait of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century English Catholic martyr, hangs on the wall, Küng looks out on to his front garden and a two-metre-tall statue of himself. Critics have called it symptomatic of Kung's inflated sense of his own importance. He is embarrassed as he attempts to explain how it was a gift from his 20-year-old Stiftung Weltethos, (Foundation for a Global Ethic), which operates from his house and will continue to do so after his death.

    Far from putting the brakes on his prolific theological output, Küng has recently distilled the ideas of Weltethos – which seeks to create a global code of behaviour, or a globalisation of ethics – into a capricious musical libretto. Mixing narrative with excerpts from the teachings of Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, Küng's writings have been incorporated into a major symphonic work by the British composer Jonathan Harvey that will have its London premiere on Sunday at the Southbank Centre.

    Küng says the musical work, like the foundation, is an attempt to emphasise what the religions of the world have in common rather than what divides them.

    Weltethos was founded in the early 1990s as an attempt to bring the religions of the world together by emphasising what they have in common rather than what divides them. It has drawn up a code of behavioural rules that it hopes one day will be as universally acceptable as the UN.

    The work's aim is arguably high-minded – Harvey described the demanding task of writing a score for the text as an "awe-inspring responsibility". But Küng, who has won the support of leading figures including Henry Kissinger, Kofi Annan, Jacques Rogge, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and Shirin Ebadi, insisted its aims were grounded in basic necessity.

    "At a time of paradigm change in the world, we need a common set of principles, most obvious among them the Golden Rule, in which Confucius taught to not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself," he said.

    Weltethos will be performed at the Royal Festival Hall on October 7