Should the Vatican Employ "Spin"?
Henry V: I was not angry since I came to FranceYes, I am angry. It seems that the generally accepted line is that, in regard to the lifting of the SSPX excommunications, "The Vatican stuffed up".
Until this instant.
"They should have known." "They didn't do their research." "They didn't explain it properly." "They didn't consult." "They were naive." "They should have known it would be a scandal." "They need proper PR."
Well, I am sick of this.
When the Holy See makes an official decision about anything, it always issues a written declaration or statement. Various curial officials may express opinions from time to time, but official decisions are always in black and white. And in Italian, but we have translators to help with that.
So the details of any decision made are always available to the media in an original written source document.
BUT (and it is a big but), the journalists almost NEVER take the time to read the original statement, to analyse it, to take advise on its meaning etc. They grab the most sensational and newsworthy lines from the source document, and then go out and see what "vox populi" reaction they can get. They will intentionally leave out anything that might explain the rational behind the Holy See's decision because it has to be a "news" story (ie. a "sensation"). The do the exact opposite of what Martin Luther advised concerning the 8th Commandment, ie. they put the very worst construction on everything. And then their story is picked up and repeated around the world by the various syndicated press agencies, and it is reprinted again and again without anyone even once bothering to go back to the source. (Actually, I am forming a theory at the moment that there are in fact only SEVEN real journalists in the world, all the rest is syndicated copy.)
And THEN, the cries of horror start coming from all quarters, breaking off dialogue and calling for the Pope to resign etc. And do THESE critics bother to go back to the original source material, to analyse what is really going on? Do they stop for one moment to ask themselves whether the report they read in their newspaper is accurate? No. They go off like a hair-trigger shot gun, calling upon the Pope to apologise for "crimes" he never committed.
In the case of Bishop Williamson, the fact is that the Vatican was not only crystal clear in its original statement about what the lifting of the excommunications meant, but the Holy Father himself within days had publically spoken on the matter answering all the questions put to him regarding his reasons for reaching out to the SSPX bishops and his stance with regard to the Jewish people and the Holocaust. Still not enough. Then the Press Office of the Holy See issues a statement, restating AGAIN the same original points. Still the morning papers are hoeing into the Pope. Finally the Vatican Secretary of State issues a statement which spells out every detail of the case, AND STILL the world's media reports only a few lines from this statement while continuing to repeat the tired paragraphs from their previous columns.
I give up. There's none so blind as will not see, and none so deaf as will not listen.
But I will ask a few questions:
1) If the four SSPX bishops had recanted of the crimes for which their latae sententiae excommunication had been imposed, would it have been just for the Pope to have continued to impose the punishment out of fear that the act of lifting the excommunications might be wrongly interpreted by "the world"?
2) Do you really think it would be a good idea for the Vatican to employ "spin doctors", like common politicians?
Update: A Jewish opinion that concurs with mine