10 April, 2010

That said, the Vatican is shooting itself in the foot

I defended Cantalamessa last week, and I've defended Benedict a few times in the past week (here, here, and here). I've expressed my disappointment with the media's propensity to bury deep within a story facts that are inconvenient to the insinuations of a headline and the first few paragraphs, if not flatly contradicting said insinuations.

Nevertheless, the Vatican is shooting itself in the foot. Sure, Cantalamessa was quoting a Jewish friend, but the quote really did not fit well into his homily. At best, it was tangential. As for Angelo Cardinal Sodano's referring to "petty gossip"… geez! I know what the guy meant, and he didn't mean the accusations from victims against a few devils in Roman collars, but didn't anyone, anyone at all, stop to think about how that might have been quoted in a media that, according to them, is misquoting, giving only partial facts, etc.? No one?!?

The new response appears to be, We don't have time for this:

  • Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone states in Chile,
    We have documented the contrary and let’s not talk about this subject now, because otherwise we’ll be here all day precisely examining the action” of the congregation in those days.
  • Fr. Lombardi says that the Vatican doesn't have time to address every document.

Oh, brother. On weeks like this, I wish they would learn from American politicians and plead, "No comment at this time." It's not that they're wrong—on the facts, I agree with them. But it's a bad, bad mistake to leave yourself open to this kind of misinterpretation.

Even worse is to blame the media. Have the media misreported? absolutely. With evil intent? sometimes, but not in most cases. I submit that ignorance and culture explains much more than malice. There is no conspiracy except Satan's. The Church must fight the father of lies, not the children of men.

In my opinion—and it's only my humble opinion, which I express freely and without attachment—the Vatican could stand to assign a few people the task of assembling all the documents that have come out in the media—it's not as if there's been a flood of documents; quite the contrary—providing accurate translations and thorough explanations of the legal context, then to make such documents freely available to the press, if not on the Vatican website.

Then people are free to believe or disbelieve the Vatican's argument as necessary. As for me, I am (so far at least) all the more pleased by Benedict, and saddened that it has fallen to a man such as him to clean up a mess that is not of his making. I am encouraged that Fr. Lombardi stated the other day that Benedict is solicitous to continue meeting with victims, talking with them, and addressing their needs (which, he points out, are not of a material nature, by and large). My admiration of Benedict will remain, until someone can prove otherwise—not merely raise assertions.

Update: I also second this thoughts of this homily, printed in First Thoughts.

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