Communion, communications, and (more) Vatican confusion

Pope Francis’s communications people have taken a page from his book, and added their own in a vein that frequently reads like Orwellian fanfic.

U.S. President Joe Biden talks with Pope Francis during a meeting at the Vatican Oct. 29, 2021. (CNS photo/Vatican Media)

The kerfuffle over Pope Francis’s putative remarks to US President Joe Biden has kicked up a good bit of dust in Catholic circles – understandably – but it has also uncovered some of the dysfunction in the Vatican’s communications culture.

[H]e was happy I was a good Catholic and I should keep receiving Communion,” is what President Biden said Pope Francis said.

The question that pundits and talking heads have been asking ever since, is some variation on a single theme: Did Francis say what Biden said he said?

The short answer is: It doesn’t matter. Leave aside that one may fairly construe President Biden to have been reporting speech indirectly – offering what he took to be the purport of Pope Francis’s words to him – and concentrate rather on the more important fact: The Vatican didn’t deny it.

The Vatican didn’t clarify, revise, extend, or otherwise gainsay Biden’s version.

All the Director of the Press Office of the Holy See could offer was a rather milquetoast demurral: “I would consider it a private conversation,” Matteo Bruni told journalists, “and [the Vatican’s take on the meeting] is limited to what was said in the public statement.”

The Vatican’s official statement said that the pope and the president “focused on the joint commitment to the protection and care of the planet, the healthcare situation and the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as the theme of refugees and assistance to migrants,” during the “cordial discussions” that also afforded the opportunity to discuss “the protection of human rights, including freedom of religion and conscience.”

“Finally,” the statement concluded, “the talks enabled an exchange of views on some matters regarding the current international situation, also in the context of the imminent G20 summit in Rome, and on the promotion of peace in the world through political negotiation.”

In a word: boilerplate.

These statements almost always are. It was – as John Allen rightly pointed out – a diplomatic meeting, rather than a pastoral consultation. One wonders, therefore, that the subject of Communion came up at all. President Biden was with Pope Francis for an hour and a half – the longest meeting with a sitting US president on an official visit that I can recall (and Bill Clinton was president when I got to Rome) – and they pretty clearly had much to discuss.

The optics of the whole business didn’t get much help from the late decision to limit press coverage of the encounter. Reporters aren’t usually allowed to sit in on the pope’s meetings with foreign leaders, but are ushered into an anteroom after the pleasantries and usually allowed to return for the handshake with the delegations and / or gift exchange. Sometimes, those moments can offer pretty good nuggets to attentive reporters, who bring them to the Vatican press corps.

Fr. Federico Lombardi SJ, who served both Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis as Press Office Director, once explained how the papal spokesman – in his experience – would meet briefly with the pope after every tête-à-tête with a head-of-state or government “to receive information and essential indications for his communiqué.”

“Pope Benedict,” Fr. Lombardi explained, “would summarize the meeting, in a very short time and with extraordinary clarity, offering some specific points on the contents of the interview.”

“Pope Francis,” Lombardi continued, “did not speak to me about the contents of the meeting—not spontaneously—but about the personality of his interlocutor: his attitude, what he had said about himself, his human traits and the climate of dialogue.”

So, even if the current spokesman, Matteo Bruni, did huddle with Francis after the Biden meeting, it’s likely as not that Francis didn’t volunteer much about the conversation. It’s also a fair bet Bruni didn’t probe or prod him too roughly.

Perhaps more telling was the short shrift India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, got on Saturday – the day after Biden’s visit – for which the Vatican officially offered a statement acknowledging that the meeting had taken place, and that “the cordial relations between the Holy See and India were discussed” during “a brief conversation” between the Prime Minister and the Holy See’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.

Now, that could have been the result of long-simmering papal pique at being snubbed by Modi in 2017. Negotiations for a visit dragged on and on, after which Pope Francis decided to go to Bangladesh and Myanmar, instead. The cameras on scene for Modi’s visit on Saturday, however, captured Pope Francis taking the Prime Minister’s hands in his and thanking him for his visit, then saying, “I am happy,” and apparently meaning it.

Here’s the trouble with the whole business: Pope Francis decries the general addiction to the narrative thinking that is a function of narrative-driven news reporting and vice-versa (the thinking and the reporting are functions of one another), but much of his own behavior and his whole comms apparatus tend to drive that kind of thinking.

Whether Francis is personally plugging a book he hasn’t read (yet), or expecting the press to do his dirty work for him, or fudging on what he knew about a high-profile abuse case and when he knew it, or doubling down on incendiary remarks he made off the cuff, he is pretty consistently to be found playing the angles. That’s par for the course, by the way. I’m happy to chalk it up to “leadership style” and let people think of it what they will, but let’s be clear about what we’re talking about.

While we are on that subject, let’s consider that his communications people have taken a page from his book, and added their own in a vein that frequently reads like Orwellian fanfic.

They only very reluctantly and at best half-answered this journalist’s question regarding the status of Msgr. Joseph Punderson after it came out that he had a credible abuse allegation against him and had been operating under “secret” CDF restrictions for more than a decade. That was after telling me I needed to go to the Diocese of Trenton to ask whether a priest of that diocese was still in his job on the Vatican’s highest court.

They created a ridiculous fiasco where there need not have been any at all, over the image at the center of the so-called “idol synod” in 2019.

Earlier that year, 2019, they played very close and very fine with the facts and the timeline of L’Affaire Zanchetta.

Then, there was the Vatican’s (in)famous red carpet roll-out for a documentary filmmaker who played really fast and awfully loose with his representation of source material and used some very creative editing to make the pope say something he didn’t really say (or did he?), after which the Vatican not only refused to walk back their praise of the film but eventually doubled down on their official celebration of it.

There is, in short, a long train of failures to communicate, some of which have been so egregious as to make this scribbler say they’re actively trolling – I have a high tolerance for comms hijinks – and contribute to the creation of the very polarized climate of discourse Pope Francis rightly decries.

One could take this rehearsal as merely a show of work, or one could take it as a beat journalist’s Queeg diary. I prefer to think of it as the former, but I ought not judge my own cause and don’t much care how one takes it in any case, because the things happened. Thing is, I can’t think of anyone on this beat who doesn’t want Pope Francis and his guys to do well. It shouldn’t be too terribly hard for them to do better. Still, here we are.

How big of deal was this Biden remark in the grand scheme of things? Well, the US bishops were never going to single him out for any sort of criticism in any case. Basic morality doesn’t change by papal fiat – Catholicism is not Mormonism – and discipline in these regards has always been a game of margins; doctrine has a way of sorting itself out. It’s what happens along the way that causes all sorts of consternation and all manner of trouble.

We’re in it, now, and there’s no saying how thick it will get.


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About Christopher R. Altieri 148 Articles
Christopher R. Altieri is a journalist, editor and author of three books, including Reading the News Without Losing Your Faith (Catholic Truth Society, 2021). He is contributing editor to Catholic World Report.

40 Comments

  1. What is more important is not what the Pontiff didn’t say regarding Pres Biden’s allegation of approval to receive the Eucharist. Rather it’s the global tragedy of the mass extermination of human lives in the womb, Joe Biden’s approval and his removal of limitations to abortion, the jettison of the Hyde Amendment, the Biden policy of promoting and financial support of abortion worldwide. That is the far greater culpable sin that according to Church doctrine affects both parties to the conversation.

  2. Added to my comment is the issue of serious sin by omission. Only God can judge the conscience. Although the subject matter and the responsibility of both parties raises this issue. President Biden stated abortion wasn’t discussed. The Vatican communique did not include abortion in what was discussed.

    • Humorous or not I’ll risk saying it since there’s at least a kernel of truth.
      WWII our enemy were the Axis Powers. Today it astonishingly seems it’s the Biden Francis Axis. Otherwise our task is prayer and sacrifice for conversion to the truth and salvation for all men [despite those who object to Von Balthazar’ compassionate if not realistic hope].

  3. There is not a matter of poor communications. By letting Biden’s statement stand, Francis and his gang have verified it. Furthermore, the Vatican statement told us what they talked about! The environment, Covid and migrants were mentioned as topics. Abortion was not. Finally, Biden receiving Communion at Mass in Rome two days later should eliminate all doubt even for the most obtuse. Please stop pretending not to see what is plainly, evident Mr. Altieri. You diminish yourself.

    • “By letting Biden’s statement stand, Francis and his gang have verified it.” Well (and sadly) said.

      The view from the cheap seats – Biden knew that the Vatican would not call him a liar, so he got out in front of them with his statement (lie). Had the Vatican said anything about the issue, they would have branded Biden a liar, so to avoid that they just ignored the whole issue, and they are very good at such moves.

      Again from the cheap seats – it clearly appears that Biden is a liar, and this whole issue has now officially advanced from just sad to the next level – pathetic .

  4. Frankly, Mr. Altieri, after finally recognizing the Bergoglio agenda, I for one hope he fails miserably. After hearing one lie after another, I hope he fails. After watching him consistently and incessantly take pot-shots at faithful Catholics, I hope he fails. He is a scandal in motion, a stumbling block who seems to relish the troubles he produces. I hope and pray he fails.

    • I hope, nay, I know you are wrong. Our Catholic Church with Pope Francis at the helm is doing quite well. Many westerners refuse to walk with the Church, but the Church is still alive and moving.

      • The Catholic Church is not doing well. I, as a faithful Catholic (in spite of this inauthentic Pope) am embarrassed and ashamed of what I have seen. Mass hypocrisy on abortion and homosexuality encouraged by this incompetent Pope. More to the point, corruption. In the Vatican bank, Vatican state, and horrifically hundreds of thousands of children sexually abused. Francis is a divisive Pope whose actions do not match his words!

  5. It seems to me that there are faithful Catholics who donate LOTS of money to the church to maintain it’s support, others who work like dogs as volunteers in their chosen ministries, and religious nuns and priests who have dedicated their lives to Jesus and the Church. NONE of these people will likely EVER get an opportunity to get CLOSE to the Pope, let alone speak to him. Meanwhile he has allowed a partisan politician whose big issue is not just tolerating abortion as his political position might require, but who actively PROMOTES and protects the availability of abortion, and it’s ability to continue to murder children. HE is the one the Pope smiles at and gives tacit approval to. It’s stomach turning. Ditto the Pelosi visit.These meetings should be offensive to every thinking Catholic. One can only conclude at this point that the Pope was NOT ill informed about who these people are and what they are doing. He simply approves of them and their actions anyway, in spite of the fact that what they are doing puts them outside of Catholic teaching. We need some church leaders who actually have a spine and can talk Turkey when needed without fear.

    • Yes you are absolutely spot on. At this moment in time Catholics seem to be the ring leaders of all that is wrong in the world. From the Pope basically joining the world order on covid, his silence on abortion etc, we have Biden, AOC, Pelosi, Fauci amongst others. Who in good conscience would want to join a club that has members like that?

    • Faithful Catholics don’t see Chairman Joe’s visit with Francis in terms of anything in which they might like to engage. My preference would be to meet a real pope like Pope Benedict XVI or Pope Saint John Paul the Great.

  6. It is high time that the Vatican cease being considered a State. The Vatican should recall any functionaries of secular standing, stop issuing stamps and stop engaging in “official diplomatic visits.” The Pope should stop passing himself off as a “Head of State.” He is a spiritual leader…that’s it. Visits to see the Pope should only by pastoral. The notion that the Pope is a temporal leader whose opinion on global warming is the equivalent of Macron’s or Boris Johnson’s is laughable. It’s past time for Bergoglio to take retirement.

  7. ‘dysfunction in the Vatican’s communications culture….’
    AKA failure to preach The Gospel

    ‘diplomatic meeting, rather than a pastoral consultation…’
    And therefore free to say anything or not say anything?

    Its 2021 nobody is buying the cover story (oops or misunderstood) anymore

  8. Surely if Biden were misrepresenting the Pope’s words a correction would be in hand. This is not some temporal issue, it is a matter of Church teaching with eternal consequences. No protocols usurp the absolute obligation of the living magisterium to articulate clearly the perennial Magisterium — essentially the reason for the very existence of the living magisterium. When the living magisterium is not solely at the service of the perennial Magisterium one could perceive there being two magisteriums. But they are two sides of the same coin, always bonded. Were this at some point not to be true how would one understand such a reality?
    “Pastor Aeternus” of the First Vatican Council while relatively short, waxed profusely on the authority and power of the papacy and the submission it was due, but it provided a linchpin toward the end: “The Holy Spirit was not given to the Roman Pontiffs so that they might disclose new doctrine, but so that they might guard and set forth the Deposit of Faith handed down from the Apostles.” When the living Magisterium fails to thus perform does it exist?

  9. Obama/Biden & Biden/Obama live by axiom of Alfred E.Newman: “What Me Worry” Especially in dealings with Pope Francis and the Vatican.

  10. I can’t believe that Pope Francis is unaware of Biden and co.’s abortion promotion.
    His method, if that’s what it is, is too subtle for me.

  11. We are in it now and there’s no saying how thick it will get. Is there air left to breathe?, is there anyone left to breathe? Climate change needs to be remembered.

    The substance versus the appearance. The narrative versus fact. The untrod path versus one clearly marked by LAW, Prophets and The ProphetGod. Francis nixes the truth in all matter. Pearls and swine are brought to mind.

    Queeg’s diary? The cannibal in Moby Dick kept a diary which survived the end of the tale?

    • Perhaps you’re making a joke, but if not, “Queeg’s diary” refers to a log that Lieutenant Stephen Maryk keeps to prove that Captain Queeg is insane and is unfit to remain as captain of the U.S.S Caine. All of this is chronicled in Herman Wouk’s WWII novel, “The Caine Mutiny”. In 1954 it was made into a movie starring Humphrey Bogart, Van Johnson, Fred MacMurray, and Jose Ferrer. Bogart gives a daring performance as Captain Queeg who soothes his anxiety by fingering steel balls (“Queeg balls” has entered into the vernacular). Queequeg is illiterate and wouldn’t be able to keep a diary.

      • I studied classical English lit, so I know Moby Dick but stopped attending Pulitzer Prize winning novelists after Philip Roth won for “American Pastoral,” and if I ever saw The Caine Mutiny movie, I thought it starred Michael. IOW, I’m pop culture illiterate, so thank you for clueing me to Mr. Wouk. If you want to argue that the Pulitzer Prize represents high quality writing, I’ve got a newspaper in St. Louis I’d like to sell.

        Just as Ishmael told the tale of Queequeg, so did Maryk tell his of Queeg. No joke.

        “Queequeg is a synthesis of all racial and ethnic characteristics; that is, he is a symbol of all mankind. His signature is the symbol for infinity. Although the theme of friendship receives less consideration once the Pequod sails, Queequeg indirectly saves Ishmael’s life.” ` Cliff Notes.

        There’s a message in this bottle, but my metaphors are too mixed and the wind is too strong to keep them in line. Off to water’s edge now, to breathe some clean fresh windy air. Blessings.

        • Well, while I’ve seen the movie version of “The Caine Mutiny”, I haven’t read the novel. In fact, I haven’t read anything by Herman Wouk, James Michener, Leon Uris, et al. I haven’t even read “To Kill a Mockingbird”. I have read Virgil, Homer, Boethius, The Bible cover-to-cover multiple times, The Confessions, The Divine Comedy, Shakespeare (including over 100 sonnets), various Courtly Love works, Paradise Lost, the Metaphysical Poets, Moby Dick, Madame Bovary, The Brothers Karamazov, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, The Four Quartets, Hermann Broch’s The Death of Virgil, Mann’s Doctor Faustus, all of Joyce’s prose including Finnegans Wake, Thoman Musil’s The Man Without Qualities, a bunch of Faulkner, etc., etc. On the subject of film, “The Caine Mutiny” is a middling effort at best, but there is much in the history of cinema that doesn’t deserve to be lumped under the umbrella of “pop culture”. Since we’re conversing on a Catholic venue, I’ll simply mention “Diary of a Country Priest” and “The Passion of Joan of Arc” as two films that can justifiably be called distinguished works of art.

  12. God knows the whole truth of this. Just keeping my sights and spiritual eyes focused on Jesus Christ. No more reckless consumption of my spiritual energies and time trying to know what is unknowable; in this particular case, the true nature, context and dialogue exchanged in a private meeting.

  13. This article is a prime example of narrow sightedness due to looking at reality from the lens of a single issue, abortion only and the advocacy of banning the President from receiving communion. It lacks the context needed to see the complex big picture of things, be it politics or faith. Importantly, the Pope and the President’s meeting is also best understood from the perspective of Vatican diplomacy.
    In some – not all! – American Catholic circles like the readership of CWR here, the fact that the pontiff received Biden without reading him the riot act over abortion is a source of deep irritation. Similar objections were lodged when previous popes met with Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, though the backlash with Biden is even more intense given that he’s Catholic.
    Taken in isolation, it may indeed be difficult to understand why the pope wouldn’t lean harder on the abortion issue, given what a defining concern it is for the Catholic community in the United States. Every time a pope fails to bring the hammer down in one of these meetings with an American leader, some American Catholics can’t help feeling abandoned or betrayed. Context, however, is king.
    Consider that over the weekend, Joe Biden wasn’t the only head of state who came calling on Pope Francis. Friday also brought a summit with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea, while Saturday saw Francis sitting down with Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.
    Notably, both Moon and Modi have records on abortion arguably just as dubious, from a strictly Catholic point of view, as Biden’s.
    In South Korea, the country’s high court ruled in 2019 that a 1953 law criminalizing abortion was unconstitutional, giving legislators until the end of 2020 to repeal it. In January, the country’s parliament passed measures permitting abortion up to the 14th week of pregnancy, extending the limit to 24 weeks for a pregnancy resulting from rape.
    Although Moon carefully avoided taking a strong public position on the ruling, he appointed six of the nine justices who struck down the abortion ban and is known as a supporter of gender equality and women’s rights. He’s certainly done nothing to block the transition to legalized abortion in the country, despite being himself a Roman Catholic, and despite strong opposition from South Korea’s Catholic bishops conference.
    Last August Cardinal Andrew Yeom Soo-jung of Seoul and other bishops met with Moon to present him a letter advocating for pro-life policies, but to date Moon hasn’t followed the bishops’ script.
    Modi, meanwhile, recently presided over the adoption of a piece of legislation known as the “Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act,” which extended access to legal abortions to unmarried women, allows all women to terminate a pregnancy up to 20 weeks and provides an additional four weeks for victims of rape and incest, and permits abortion at any point in the case of fetal abnormalities certified by a medical board.
    Earlier this month, Modi touted the abortion liberation measures in a speech defending his human rights record on the country’s annual observance sponsored by the National Human Rights Commission.
    So, suppose the Vatican were to adopt a strict policy of refusing to deal with any head of state whose government is perceived as “pro-abortion.”
    This weekend alone, that would have meant refusing to engage the leader of the world’s most important hard power (the United States), the world’s second-largest nation by population and a nuclear power (India), and a pivotal Asian nation and the most important neighbor of one the world’s few remaining pariah states in North Korea (South Korea).
    In other words, it would be a prescription for isolation. In effect, it would mean the Vatican would no longer be a sovereign state attempting to act as a voice of conscience in global affairs – it would be a single-issue lobby like so many others.
    Would the world really be a better place if the Vatican sacrificed its leverage on the Korean peninsula to help promote reconciliation across one of the world’s most intractable divides? Would it be better off if the Vatican gave up whatever influence it has with a Hindu nationalist government in India to promote greater respect for minority rights, including the small Christian minority in India?
    Of course, one could also ask the question about the United States. Would the world be better off in the Vatican weren’t there to press American administrations about their responsibilities to Iraq after the 2003 invasion, for example, or for American policies on migrants and refugees – or, for that matter, policies on abortion and the defense of human life?
    In other words, refusing to allow a relationship to be defined, or scuttled, by disagreements in one area is the price of admission to the diplomatic arena. If the pope’s interaction with the American president isn’t enough to illustrate that, the rest of the world certainly is.
    In a similar fashion, a policy that a Catholic politician with an imperfect record on abortion can’t get communion would rule out not only Biden, but influential leaders of several Latin American nations, a few Asian ones, a couple of European states, and even one or two places in Africa – enough, probably, to form their own Commonwealth of the Excommunicated.
    Here’s the bottom line.
    The necessary context to the Pope/Biden meeting is that avoiding a clash on abortion isn’t just the Vatican’s “America policy,” and it’s not directed at American Catholics. It’s the diplomatic playbook as applied to the US under a Democrat, whether Catholic or not. That playbook didn’t start with Francis and it won’t end with him, because it’s just how statecraft is practiced, whether in the Apostolic Palace or anywhere else.

    • In some – not all! – American Catholic circles like the readership of CWR here, the fact that the pontiff received Biden without reading him the riot act over abortion is a source of deep irritation.

      Maybe I’m not the best judge of what CWR readers want, but I do have a sense of what CWR publishes, having edited it for a decade now. And not only did I not expect Pope Francis to read Pres. Biden “the riot act,” I knew that no such thing was ever going to happen. The focus here is on Biden’s post-meeting remarks, which are indeed irritating, but hardly surprising.

      “…a Catholic politician with an imperfect record on abortion…”

      That’s a delicate way to put it. To put it nicely.

      Pope Francis, during the Trump presidency, took several clear shots at then-Pres. Trump. Fair enough. But he won’t make a murmur about Pres. Biden’s consistent, brazen, and fully committed support of a culture of death, gender ideology, etc. Again, hardly surprising.

      • Carl writes: “Pope Francis, during the Trump presidency, took several clear shots at then-Pres. Trump. Fair enough. But he won’t make a murmur about Pres. Biden’s consistent, brazen, and fully committed support of a culture of death, gender ideology, etc.”

        I understand the underlying point about some hypocrisy/unfairness in how one treats X as opposed to Y, but I’m not so sure that his shots at Trump should even be considered “fair enough,” because to the extent that they lacked any truth or sound understanding in spouting off ignorantly about the environment, capitalism, border control, and so on, and how Trump approached these things, such comments by the Pope were simply unjust, and so there would be no merit or some kind of fairness/acceptability involved if he also criticized Biden in a similar manner, even with greater accuracy.

        Also with respect to a few of the issues mentioned above, I continue to note how Francis keeps taking ignorant shots at capitalism all the while advising and brow-beating the most successful capitalist country in the world to let more people come into this country….to take advantage of what capitalism has provided….for crying out loud. Why doesn’t he recommend that migrants make their way to his home Shangri-la of Argentina, especially given the “evils” of American capitalism?

        And speaking of rendering criticism fairly, has the Pope ever come down hard and repeatedly on those countries and their failed economic and political systems that migrants are fleeing from? If they treated people with more dignity and respect and freedom, there would be no need for leaving. Of course, given his ignorant Marxist proclivities, the Pope is simply incapable of recognizing such obvious realities, and so he rails repeatedly about largely faux evils while ignoring or downplaying more obvious and dangerous real evils.

        • Faux evils? No, Pope Francis, though not an economists, is smart enough to see how the corrupted aspects of capitalism hurts people. It is not against capitalism but the corruption within it that he complains about. In fact, the Pope supports capitalism, but an inclusive one. “An inclusive capitalism that leaves no one behind, that discards none of our brothers or sisters, is a noble aspiration,” he said. That is the Christian way.
          He is also very critical of the evils present in communism, especially in the way it is implemented.

          • Faux evils? Yes! Pope Francis is extremely ignorant when it comes to economic realities, and he just doesn’t complain about “corrupted aspects of capitalism.” He often paints with a broad brush to condemn capitalism in and of itself because to his limited way of thinking it basically promotes greed, exploitation of the environment, exploitation of people, and so on.

            Newsflash: Corruption is found in all systems, but with respect to economic systems, by far the greatest corruption is found in socialist and communist systems, and this has been clearly demonstrated in the histories of such proponents/practitioners as the former Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, plus a host of South American and Central American countries as well. Again, why do you think migrants want to come to America and get away from their evil governments and poor economies and economic systems that drain them of their inherent dignity that capitalism automatically recognizes?

            Next, the most inclusive of all economic systems is the capitalist one because it provides more opportunities to people in its promotion of freedom and less government interference in the economy and people’s lives in general, and this is where the Pope is yet again woefully ignorant. Socialism, Marxism, and variations thereof, in its excessive use of the State and State coercive power, is the least Christian of all economic systems based on how it looks upon and treats individuals as mere wards of the State.

            Interesting claim about the Pope and communism. If he is indeed especially critical of the way it is implemented, then he must ignorantly believe it could be implemented in a different way that would make it acceptable or perhaps even a good thing, once again oblivious to the inherent nature of communism that automatically downplays the value of individual souls for the alleged collective good.

          • “He is also very critical of the evils present in communism, especially in the way it is implemented”

            You are wrong. Pope Francis gives medals to leaders responsible for the hell of communism (think of Castro and a medal depicting St. Martin of Tours cloaking the poor) while the harsh treatment is reserved only for people like Trump (“A person who only thinks about building walls, wherever they may be, and not building bridges, is not Christian”).

    • Acceptance of the political order by exclusion of what defines Man’s humanness means to compromise what cannot be compromised for political propriety. As if the Church cannot chew gum and walk at the same time. Reading the riot act is out of context rhetoric because anyone with a semblance of intelligence knows that addressing the truth doesn’t require scolding. The very pseudo intellectual idea that reminding Catholic dignitaries of their responsibility to Christ, and to the precious value of human life would cause a collapse of diplomatic interface is not a necessary logical conclusion, simply ignorance. And submission to global flow of dehumanization. Witness to Christ is the first premise of Catholicism, not observance of a deadly political protocol. The Pall of deadening political appropriateness is so thick and heavy only the light of Christ can penetrate it, and it must.

    • You’re wrong in your conclusions Joseph. No one denies the diplomatic role of the papacy to all statesmen, even with all manner of reprobates. And you are the only one assuming and applying double standards. All Catholics who are Catholics expect their Pope to admonish any world leader to exercise their full capacity to oppose this crime against humanity. And all persons of good will share this concern. Opposition to abortion is no more a Catholic idiosyncrasy than an American idiosyncrasy.

  14. The most important thing I learned in college occurred on my first day as an undergrad. Feeling somewhat intimidated at my “prestigious university,” I attended my first history class by a rather famous professor who gave an incredibly stupid lecture. The intimidation ended immediately. That moment freed me from ever being submissive to designated elitists. A similar experience occurred when I converted to Catholicism years later. I was inspired by the great apologists, and I was not dissuaded by those contemporary idiotic, “brilliant dissident theologians,” as Time magazine constantly liked to describe them, who were busy turning the beauty of Catholic truth upside down. Now that ecclesial moral entropy has become pervasive and dominant among those who occupy the highest levels of the episcopate, the only responses that seem to be appropriate is to keep reminding non-Catholics and ignorant Catholics that the deposit of faith, because it reflects the mind of God, exists independent of the buffoons in charge of defending it.

  15. “Did Francis say what Biden said he said”?

    “The short answer is: It doesn’t matter”.

    “The Vatican didn’t clarify, revise, extend, or otherwise gainsay Biden’s version”.

    So it does matter what Biden says and thus the Vatican should clarify, revise, extend or otherwise gainsay, or not?? Cannot have your clarify and eat it to…

    Further, and more importantly, of course it morally] matters – sins, mortal objectively, against the truth and false witness, must be made known especially as to avoid being Christ’s friends by not sinning by scandal or sacrilege, or making known the truth.

    CCC:

    2483 Lying is the most direct offense against the truth. To lie is to speak or act against the truth in order to lead someone into error. By injuring man’s relation to truth and to his neighbor, a lie offends against the fundamental relation of man and of his word to the Lord.

    2484 The gravity of a lie is measured against the nature of the truth it deforms, the circumstances, the intentions of the one who lies, and the harm suffered by its victims. If a lie in itself only constitutes a venial sin, it becomes mortal when it does grave injury to the virtues of justice and charity.

    2485 By its very nature, lying is to be condemned. It is a profanation of speech, whereas the purpose of speech is to communicate known truth to others. The deliberate intention of leading a neighbor into error by saying things contrary to the truth constitutes a failure in justice and charity. The culpability is greater when the intention of deceiving entails the risk of deadly consequences for those who are led astray.

    2486 Since it violates the virtue of truthfulness, a lie does real violence to another. It affects his ability to know, which is a condition of every judgment and decision. It contains the seed of discord and all consequent evils. Lying is destructive of society; it undermines trust among men and tears apart the fabric of social relationships.

    2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

    The sins of worldwide scandal, confusion and doubts as to being confirmed in, and continuing, to going to Communion and being a good catholic, et al, are grave matter and reasons, for giving witness to private or professional secrets:

    CCC:
    2491 Professional secrets – for example, those of political office holders, soldiers, physicians, and lawyers – or confidential information given under the seal of secrecy must be kept, save in exceptional cases where keeping the secret is bound to cause very grave harm to the one who confided it, to the one who received it or to a third party, and where the very grave harm can be avoided only by divulging the truth. Even if not confided under the seal of secrecy, private information prejudicial to another is not to be divulged without a grave and proportionate reason.

    Blessing of the Beloved with and through the Poor Holy Souls

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