One of my Catholic media heroes, Phil Lawler, always writes with a certainty that forces one to think beyond what is claimed or what is reported elsewhere. Lawler does his homework, discerns the differences between truth and falsehood and proceeds from that position to lay it on the line. So when he opined that the Vatican Newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, had betrayed the Pope—again—I listened.
<!– INTRO_BEGIN Taking the pope’s words and twisting them is something the secular media has often done. But, when the Vatican’s own newspaper misrepresents the pope’s statements, we should make our voices heard that this will not be tolerated. Today’s commentary examines the latest controversy and explains what we can do to help defend the Holy Father. Included at the end is a link to a letter to Archbishop Timothy Dolan of the USCCB. Complete it with your personal information and, when you are finished, you may either e-mail it to the archbishop or print it out and fax it or send by regular mail. Let your voice be heard that this is an important issue, not only as a member of the Church family, but to you personally. INTRO_END –>
While it is difficult for some to understand how it could come to pass that a newspaper identified as part of the Vatican communications department could, in fact, work to intentionally misrepresent papal statements, it is not hard to sort out once we realize that the politics of the Vatican are no different than the politics in Washington, D.C. There are those who intentionally work at altering and corrupting Catholic teaching.
As Lawler reports, even though the new book by Peter Seewald, his third lengthy interview with the pope, was embargoed, “the Vatican’s own newspaper violated the embargo. Betraying the publishers and breaking trust with all the other journalists who were fulfilling their promises, L’Osservatore Romano reproduced a passage from the Pope’s interview. And not just any passage. The Vatican newspaper reproduced—without explanation or comment—a passage in which Pope Benedict reflected on the possibility that in some extreme cases, the impulse to use a condom might show a flickering of unselfishness in a seriously corrupted conscience.”
What makes this particular incident so tragic is that it is not the first time, nor will it sadly perhaps be the last. As Archbishop Charles Chaput put it, “Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world’s media.”
Many brilliant theologians have commented in the past few days on the tragic misunderstandings that the clumsy Vatican newspaper began with its transgression. Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., clarifies the language and attributes the problem to poor translation. I hope he is correct, but I have my doubts.
Cardinal Raymond Burke answered a series of questions about what the Holy Father said, concluding as have most faithful prelates, that in point of fact the pope never suggested a change in Catholic teaching regarding the use of condoms. That having been said, some Vatican insiders who prefer to undermine Christ and His Church from within beg to differ. What a shame!
Australian bishop Anthony Fisher told the press, “Despite some misinterpretation in the international media, the Pope has not deviated from or altered in any way Catholic teaching on the intrinsic wrongness of contraception or on reserving sexual intercourse (‘the marital act’) to marriage, that is of a man and a woman.”
So why is it that one of the most widely recognized liberal Catholic reporters, John Allen of National Catholic Reporter, defended the Vatican newspaper’s editor Giovanni Maria Vian writing, “calling for Vian’s head on a platter ignores the great leap forward he’s brought to L’Osservatore since his appointment as editor-in-chief in October 2007.”
Great leap forward? Coverage of the Simpsons, the Beatles and Michael Jackson, not to mention the strife created by the newspaper publishing Bishop Rino Fisichella’s public reprimand of the Brazilian bishops have all been black eyes for the Vatican.
Even anti-life webzine Slate pronounced praise for Vian and his “savvy”! These are great leaps, indeed, but backward!
It’s time to clean house in the Vatican communications office.
Here are things you can do to make a difference in defense of the Holy Father and true Catholic teaching:
(1) Pray for the Holy Father and his defenders. Pray for his detractors too; they need to see truth for what it really is, not what they want it to be!
(2) Don’t let this debacle designed to emasculate Catholic teaching stop you from buying the great book, Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times. Read it for yourself and be edified.
(3) Let your bishop know that it’s about time for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to unanimously call for a total reorganization of the Vatican communications department. Contact information at http://www.usccb.org/directory.shtml.
(4) Communicate your appreciation for his defense of truth directly to Pope Benedict XVI:
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Vatican City
Or, e-mail Pope Benedict XVI at “> //
(5) Sign your personal letter to Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, President, USCCB, asking him to issue a unanimous statement from our bishops clarifying the teaching of the Church on condom use and affirming the Holy Father’s recent comments. Follow the link below to a sample letter to Archbishop Dolan. You may then complete it and e-mail it, or you may print it and either fax it or send it by regular mail to Archbishop Dolan at the address printed on the letter https://www.all.org/usccb_letter.php.