Thursday, March 7, 2013

The key issue for the coming conclave is Transparency

Something historic is happening in Rome this week. Not only preparations for the election of a new Roman Pontiff—although that would be historic in itself—but the clash between two incompatible visions of how the Catholic Church should present herself to the world.

Yesterday the American cardinals abruptly suspended the press briefings they had been organizing every day during the sede vacante period, apparently under pressure from other prelates. The director of the Vatican press office, Father Federico Lombardi, seemed more comfortable, now that the competition to his own daily briefings had been eliminated. He explained that while the cardinals were meeting for confidential discussions, it was important for all the participants to be sure that their talks would not leak into the public domain. More candid officials (and it is not difficult to find officials more candid than the Vatican’s chief spokesman) revealed that the American cardinals were shutting down their media operation because of a backlash caused by leaks to the Italian press.

There had indeed been some serious leaks. The Italian daily La Stampa, in particular, had printed detailed accounts of the “confidential” talks in the cardinals’ congregations. But these leaks had nothing to do with the American prelates’ daily briefings.

Think about it. A “leak” is, by nature, a surreptitious release of information. The American cardinals were doing nothing at all surreptitious; they were speaking in plain sight, with cameras and tape recorders rolling. If their briefings had been the source of indiscreet reports on the meetings in the Synod Hall, the whole world would have known it—and would have known exactly who broke the seal of secrecy.

UNITED STATES

Catholic Culture

By Phil Lawler

March 07, 2013