Monday, February 09, 2009

Fr Lombardi takes it on the chin...

Like a man. Or is it like a follower of Christ? You know, as in: "if someone strikes you on the right cheek turn to him the left one also" (Matt 5:39). Well, since Fr Lombardi is the Vatican spokesman, I guess he's decided that the buck stops with him, even if he isn't the one who makes the bullets - or would it be better in this context to say "olive branches" - he is just the one who fires them.

Still, in these comments to the French Newspaper "La Croix" (best reported in English by Zenit), Fr Lombardi admits there is a problem. I have taken the Zenit report and done a google translate on the original to give us the following "translation" of the interview:

P. Lombardi: "We did not hand control of the communication"

The spokesman for the Pope, director of the press room of the Holy See, discusses the crisis of the past few days

La Croix: The decree lifting the excommunication of bishops fundamentalists has caused great emotion. What you failed to explain it better?

P. Lombardi: The problem with this decree, it has been negotiated until the last moment and that some points remained unclear. It does not mark the culmination of a process, but a stage, without giving a clear result. However, the press release accompanying left too many issues in doubt, giving rise to various interpretations. Moreover, as this is a negotiation with another party, the document was already on some sites and newspapers. We did not hand control of the communication.

La Croix: Is there not been lack of communication?

For the Church, the issue of communication is not simple. Should we speak and immediately? Sometimes it is better not to speak. A very open communication, especially on a negotiation process as complex, can block or discredit. But in this case, which was the most damaging is the concomitance between the issue of excommunication and dissemination of Bishop Williamson's negationist - and unjustifiable - opinions.

La Croix: Would it have been avoided?

P. Lombardi: Honestly, the point is to know who knew the views of this man. When the Pope offers to lift the excommunication of four bishops, it is not a significant number, as if they were 150. We know these four bishops. No doubt the people who managed this case they were not aware of the seriousness of what Bishop Williamson [had said]. It is true that the negotiations were conducted with Bishop Fellay. But the positions of other bishops have not been sufficiently taken into account. What is certain is that the pope did not know. If there is one who should know, the Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos.

La Croix: Do you see an evolution of media, more hostile to the Church?

P. Lombardi: The media are not more or less bad than before. They reflect our world. Let's be clear: there are currents opposed to the Church, who see it as liberticidal [That's a good one - translation of liberticide - David], etc.. The message of the Church is often against the current thinking of the majority, of which the media are naturally the spokesman. But reactions can also be positive. We saw at the death of John Paul II. And it must be remembered that Benedict XVI travels to the United States, Australia and France, however, at the beginning, public opinion was far from being obtained, showed that his message could also be transmitted by the media.

La Croix: Catholics themselves have difficulty understanding the decisions of the Vatican. Why?

P. Lombardi: Some documents are intended for specialists in canon law, other theologians, others to all Catholics and all other men. But now, whatever the nature of the document, it is directly on the public square. It becomes difficult to manage.

La Croix: In this crisis, your communication did not make connection with local bishops?

P. Lombardi: When you are warned in time, we try to make contacts. Sometimes, the document is already in the hands of local bishops, even before we have it. I believe that a culture of communication is still to be created within the Curia, where each dicastery communicates independently, does not necessarily pass through the press room, or when information is complex, write an explanatory note.

La Croix: What lessons have been learned from this crisis?

P. Lombardi: If the explanations of the notes of the Secretariat of State of February 4 were given the issuance of the decree, we would have saved several days of passion. Especially when it comes to 'hot subjects', it is preferable to prepare explanations. But it is impossible to avoid all difficulties. We must also be willing to take risks. And we certainly can not suggest a way forward in reconciliation without any ambiguities.


At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 4:54:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or perhaps all this kerfuffle is just fake outrage from the Left

At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 4:54:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...


Catholics now throughout the West are championing such religiously indefensible stands as gay marriage and abortion on demand, but they have yet to suffer the consequences that befell the ultra-traditionalists. If the media’s understanding of religion were applied, then the only inexcusable sin would be to hold a politically incorrect opinion. On this basis the pope would have to excommunicate and keep excommunicated anyone whose views were not acceptable to the media elite and to politicians like Merkel, who bow and scrape before the Fourth Estate.

At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 5:45:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

Um, this article expresses outrage from the [i]right[/i], Louise.

The outrage may, I grant you, be fake, given that the article comes from the website of Taki Theodoracopulos, whose principal goal in life seems to be to horrify the respectable middle classes with conspicuous displays of louche decadence, and who describes himself as an antisemite. I don't think you should take this too seriously.

At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 6:27:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you read the article?

I don't know much about Taki, but the article raised the important point that the loony left go all spacko abaout "fascism" yet completely gloss over the equally horrific deeds of their own heroes and champions.

And you need to use <> not [].

At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 7:23:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

In this context, though, that's a complete red herring, isn't it? It's of absolutely no help at all to the position of the Catholic Church in this situation to point out that Joseph Stalin was a monster. That doesn;t make Williamson's views one whit less scandalous, and it doesn't establish that Rome handled this matter wisely or well.

At Tuesday, February 10, 2009 8:15:00 pm , Blogger Schütz said...

I think the article has some merits and makes some good points, but goes a bit wonky towards the end.

Gottfried (another suspciously German name - almost like Schütz...) is right in pointing out that Holocaust denial is not (in itself) an excommunicable offence (that is, it does not earn a latae sententiae excommunication). But then neither does murder, per se. That is, holocaust deniers (if motivated by racism) and murderers are guilty of sins, but they still have access to the Sacrament of reconciliation. Those who are excommunicated do not.

But Gottfried is wrong in saying that Benedict, by requiring Williamson to reject his holocaust-denying ideas, is making holocaust denial an excommunicatable sin. He is simply saying that such ideas cause a scandal to the Church (a little like being publically pro-choice) and will need to be publically rejected before he can be readmitted into communion with the Church.

At Wednesday, February 11, 2009 11:47:00 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

In this context, though, that's a complete red herring, isn't it?

Possibly. Unless, of course, it's all so much manufactured "outrage" for the sake of "news" and beating the Church with a stick.

and it doesn't establish that Rome handled this matter wisely or well.

My basic thesis is that it wouldn't have mattered how well Rome handled it. Whether it did or not, I haven't been able to judge, so far. Obviously, others have come to their own conclusions by now.

At Wednesday, February 11, 2009 12:12:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

I must admit, Louise, that I’m repelled by the mentality that seeks to explain outrage and revulsion over holocaust denial as “manufactured”. This is a bit like suggesting that, if I fell off the top of the Empire State Building, on the way down I would have to pretend to be terrified of what would happen to me at the bottom. I wouldn’t have to pretend. I don’t have to “manufacture” outrage over holocaust denial, either, and I see no reason to assert that Angela Merkel or Pope Benedict have to, or even to take at all seriously the suggestion that they do.

The suggestion that it didn’t matter how Rome would have handled this and the implication that anti-Catholic bias would have ensured adverse coverage is, I’m afraid, paranoia. This was a major stuff-up, and major stuff-ups get bad press coverage; we do not need to look for bias to explain this.

You may not feel ready to conclude yet that it was a major stuff-up, but most other observers have reached that conclusion. This does not mean that they suffer from anti-Catholic bias.

At Friday, February 13, 2009 3:37:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I must admit, Louise, that I’m repelled by the mentality that seeks to explain outrage and revulsion over holocaust denial as “manufactured”

Peregrinus, we are all rightly appalled by the Holocaust. The "fakeness" is a reference to the fact that some of these people will happily gloss over the equally appalling realities among their heroes. That's why it's "fake." They're just using it for points.

At Friday, February 13, 2009 5:52:00 pm , Anonymous Peregrinus said...

No, the author of the article you quote asserts, without offering any evidence, that their outrage is fake. He dismsisses, because it suits his political prejudices, the highly likely possiblity that their outrage is quite genuine. I think this tells us rather more about him that it does about the people he is writing about.

If you think Gottfried is right to suggest that Angela Merkel - the leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Party, a party on the centre-right of German politics - is guilty of glossing over Stalinist and Maoist atrocities, now would be a good time to tell us why you think he is right.

The notion that any Christian Democratic chancellor of Germany would gloss over Stalinist atrocities is a pretty surprising one. And the notion that anyone has to "manufacture outrage" at the holocaust is a deeply unpleasant one. I'm sure you will agree, nobody has any business propagating such notions without having some good reason to think that they are correct.

At Saturday, February 14, 2009 12:16:00 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry, Pere, I don't have much time for commenting atm, so I'll just point out that I don't necessarily agree with everything I ever link to.

My main point was that there does seem to be a lot of manufactured hype about Williamson, who as it happens, hasn't even denied the holocaust itself. I despise Williamson's views, and maybe there was a big cock-up at the Vatican with PR, but I have a big problem with people who use other people's tragedies and misfortunes (and possible Vatican cock-ups) to further their own hideous ideological agendas.


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