Ruth Dudley Edwards: Turf wars expose the rot within Holy See
The Vatican is an absolute monarchy run by squabbling old male celibate courtiers, says Ruth Dudley Edwards
I BEAR a personal grudge against the Vatican. At a time when I was briefly pursuing an ill-advised career as an ecclesiastical historian specialising in the 15th Century, I went one summer to research in its library. A priestly custodian judged that my frock -- which did not quite reach my knees -- was too short and turned me away.
Since travellers from the UK were allowed only a £50 travel allowance, and I had been warned to spend some of it on a good dinner for a priest who might help me get the records I wanted, I couldn't afford to buy clothes. At a time of short skirts, I had only one that met requirements. It was woollen, there was no air-conditioning and I sweltered all week.
I had already taken against the Vatican at school when the religious instruction nun failed to give me a satisfactory explanation as to why, if she was right that God ensured that the best person available became pope, such a huge majority of them were Italian (today's figure is Italians 175: Rest of World 90).