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.