(Left) Paolo Gabriele, private assistant to Pope Benedict XVI, is seen at left in the front seat of the popemobile as the pontiff arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican May 2. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Gabriele was arrested the evening of May 23 by Vatican police after they found private Vatican documents in his home on Vatican property. (Right) Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, is seen with Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan at the La Scala opera house during a concert attended by Pope Benedict XVI in Milan June 1. (CNS)
is a bit funand maybe a little saddeningto watch our secularist press work
itself up into a lather over the so-called “Vatileaks” scandal. Just when the American bishops seem to be
making headway with the faithful on the dangers posed by the HHS mandate, our
elite journalists seem almost giddy to be handed what they believe is a story
hinting at deep and dark intrigue in the Vatican. Along with the response to
the Vatican’s critical assessment of segments of the Leadership Conference of Women
Religious and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s notification
concerning a book by Sister Margaret A. Farley, RSM, the Vatileaks affair helps
establish for our secular press their preferred narrative of a Church drowning
in its own medieval incompetence.
for them, the Vatileaks story as developed thus far will come as no surprise to
the faithful and serves only as a sharp reminder of just how little our faith
is understood by so many of the major actors in the media, highlighting, yet
again, just why they so often fail to get it right when reporting on the
set the background: at issue in this seeming scandal are a series of leaked
Vatican documents which form the basis of a new book titled Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict
XVI, by Italian investigative reporter Gianluigi Nuzzi. In a June 3 New York Times article with the
overwrought title, “As Vatican Manages Crisis, Book Details Infighting,”
journalist Rachel Donadio breathlessly stated that “Vatileaks looks poised to
become one of the most destructive, if one of the most hermetic, crises of
Benedict’s troubled papacy.” Really? Because if the entirety of the scandal is
accurately described in her articleand this truly is “one of the most
destructive” crises His Holiness has or will face in his pontificatethen
our current Holy Father has and will enjoy one of the more serene papacies of
the Church’s 2,000-year history.
to Donadio, the scandal amounts to “three shadowy Vatican machinations…a
campaign to undermine the Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio
Bertone; controversy over the management of the Vatican bank; and intense
infighting between Italian cardinals vying for position in the Conclave that
will one day elect Benedict’s successor.”
That’s it? That’s the “scandal” which threatens to live as “the most
destructive” episode in Pope Benedict’s pontificate? One suspects while His
Holiness undoubtedly may be personally irked by such actions and feels
compelled by duty to try to right the Church’s ship of statefeelings
and compulsions undoubtedly also experienced by the faithful. One can be fairly
certain His Holiness fully recognizes there’s nothing terribly new here. The
whole thing has sort of a “dog bites man” feeling to it, hence the bemused
chagrin when watching the media’s reaction to it.
the “three shadowy machinations” in order. Firsta campaign to undermine the
Vatican Secretary of State? Allow me to direct Ms. Donadio and similarly
situated secularists to the Epistles of St. Paul in which the apostle regularly
defends himself from the chargemeant to undermine his ministrythat he is not a true apostle (cf.
1 Corinthians 9).
controversy over the management of the Vatican bank? Allow me to direct Ms.
Donadio to the Gospel of St. John, Chapter 12, where John tells us Judas was
the keeper of the purse (the apostles’ bank, if you will) and used to steal
from it regularly (Jn 12:1-8).
infighting among cardinals vying for position in the next conclave? Allow me to
direct Ms. Donadio to the Gospel of St. Matthew, where even the mother of two
John and St. Jamesseeks
to obtain a favored position for her sons from Jesus himself, maneuvering which
the Gospel writer tells us infuriated the other apostles (Mt 20:20-28).
simply, there’s nothing really new to these “shadowy machinations”; they’ve
been a part of the Church since its very inception. And they’ve been a part of
the Church since its very inception because the Church is comprised of broken
human beingsthat is, sinnersand the fact is, sinners sin.
Catholic junior high student should know the Four Marks of the Churchthat
the Church is one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. They should know that the
Church is “one” in its worship, its leadership, and in its faith (the Magisterium)hence
the need for the correctives recently administered to the LCWR. They should
know that the Church is “holy” in its Founder (Jesus), its purpose (to get
people to heaven) and in some of its
not all of its members, and not even in some of its members much of the time. Hence
the Vatileaks affair.
“catholic” for just a moment, they should know the Church is “apostolic” in
that the faith it teaches and the leadership it enjoys descend from the
authority of the apostles, said authority granted by our Savior himselfhence
the corrective for Sister Margaret’s “innovative” book on human sexuality.
rub comes when we consider the “catholic” mark. The Church is
“catholic”(universal) in that its Truth is available to all men and women at
that it is open to all the “truths” of various men and women at various times,
as House Speaker Nancy Pelosimight have it. The Church is one,
large conglomeration of imperfect individualssome wheat, some weedsbrought
together by the power of the Holy Spirit to bring the message of Christ’s
redemption and the methods for sanctification to a world desperately in need of
both. It can be kind of messy, but it works.
every Catholic junior high student should know thisalong with the past
failings of men and women who then became saints by God’s gracewe can be
confident the Holy Father does. Would that our American journalists did. Perhaps
then they would more accurately report on our faith, recognizing that we don’t
claim to be a collection of perfected, sinless souls already residing in the
Beatific Vision but, rather, a mass of fallen humans striving for and often
achieving communion with the Risen Christ and, through that, with each other.
the same time the New York Times
was gleefully blasting the Church for the LCWR report, the notification
regarding a sister’s book, and the rather tired Vatileaks scandal, an event of
true import was occurring that was predictably missed by the press. More than
one million people from all over the world gathered in Milan, Italy for the
Church’s World Meeting of Families. La
Stampa’s “Vatican Insider” reported in a June 5 article: “It was primarily
a success because of the look on the faces of people who had come” just to see
the Pope. That article quotes several attendees expressing how positive, how
thrilling, how loving was the atmosphere. Then it offers the following quote
from a woman named Pia, who had come to the event with “thousands of questions”
but “felt moved”so
moved she “even took communion.”
in a world rightly-ordered and rightly-understood, would be the big newsthe
“good news” (read: gospel)of the day; that a “lost sheep,” maybe imperfectly or maybe only
temporarily, has been found. This is what the mess that is the Church is all
his closing remarks at the World Meeting of Families, His Holiness, as he
usually does, captured the essence of this truth, saying, “If from time to time we may think that the
Ship of Peter is at the mercy of ruthless adversaries, it is also true that we
see that the Lord is present, he is alive, he truly rose again and holds the
government of the world and the heart of mankind in his hand.”