Vatican sources deny Bertone “crackdown” reports

CNS Rome bureau chief offers a different take

Yesterday, I posted a link to Sandro Magister’s latest column, in which he reports that Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is cracking down on the release of statements from curial offices, insisting that any and all such documents must be approved by the Secretariat of State prior to publication. Magister stated that it was the publication of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace’s much-discussed document on financial reform that prompted this move from Bertone; he claimed that Bertone had “disowned” the document and that the cardinal had seen the text “only after its publication.”

Today, CNS Rome Bureau Chief John Thavis offered a very different version of the events surrounding the issuance of the Secretariat of State’s order, and of the overall reception of the PCJP document within the Curia itself.

Thavis first expresses skepticism that Bertone didn’t see the document until after its release; he points to statements of PCJP’s secretary, Bishop Mario Toso, that the text was “reviewed by the competent offices of the Secretariat of State,” and to the fact that the document’s release had been announced almost a week before its publication.

What’s more, Thavis reports, his sources at the Vatican reject Magister’s characterization of Bertone’s order regarding the publication of documents by curial offices. The directive had nothing to do with the PCJP document, those sources claim:

Instead, they said, it was provoked by an unrelated mistake that occurred the same week—the premature release of Pope Benedict’s annual message on migration, which was posted briefly on a Vatican Web site, apparently before the Secretariat of State had seen it.

Cardinal Bertone’s order, they said, simply stipulated that any documents bearing the pope’s signature must be released through his office. The Justice and Peace document did not fall into that category, even though its content was reviewed by the Secretariat.

Thavis’ sources also denied that the PCJP document’s primary author was Professor Leonardo Becchetti, as Magister has reported, and “emphasized that [the document] was not a document of the magisterium, or official church teaching, and that it expressed the position of the pontifical council, not the Holy See.”

Thavis’ post at the CNS Blog on this subject can be read in full here.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.