Roberto de Mattei
September 14, 2016
Information, disinformation, truths, half-truths and lies all seem to be jumbled up in the communication strategy of the Holy See. The history of the Church is being written through interviews, improvised discourses, articles on semi-official blogs and media-rumours, leaving the field wide open to all interpretations possible and giving rise to the suspicion that the confusion is deliberate.
Two recent examples.
The first regards the expulsion of the President of the IOR (the Vatican Bank), Ettore Gotti Tedeschi in 2012. In Benedict XVI’s latest book “Last Conversations” with Peter Seewald, the “Pope Emeritus” takes responsibility himself for Gotti Tedeschi’s dismissal, due to what he says was the need to “renew the management” of the Vatican Bank. Yet Monsignor Georg Gänswein, Pope Benedict’s secretary, at one time stated that Benedict XVI knew nothing of this dismissal and “was surprised, very surprised at the motion of no confidence in the professor.” Andrea Tornielli, on October 22nd 2013, refers to it in an article entitled: Benedict XVI was very surprised at the expulsion of Gotti Tedeschi. On September 9th 2016, the same Vatican reporter, without indicating any contradiction, presents the new version, with the title: Ratzinger: it was my idea to change the management of the IOR in 2012. What’s the truth then? Most certainly someone is lying and there confusion remains.
Graver still is the second case. On September 5th 2016, a letter was published on the site Infocatolica which Pope Francis sent to the bishops of the Buenos Aires pastoral region– in response to the document Criterios básicos para la aplicación del capítulo VIII de Amoris laetitia (Fundamental criteria for the application of Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia). In the document, which intends to provide the clergy with some criteria in relation to the eighth chapter of the exhortation, the Argentinean bishops assert that, on the basis of Amoris laetitia, the divorced and remarried, can be admitted to sacramental Communion even if they are in a common-law marriage, with no intention of practicing chastity. Pope Francis expressed his appreciation of this proposition, by writing to the prelates that “the text is very good and explains Chapter VIII of Amoris laetitia in an excellent way. There is no other interpretation. And I’m sure it will do good.” This triggered off immediate controversy and the pontifical letter mysteriously disappeared from the site, in such a way that many began to have doubts about its existence, until the Osservatore Romano confirmed its authenticity.
“There is no other interpretation”. Pope Francis’ position on the divorced and remarried - already expressed on his return flight from the Isle of Lesbos, at this point, seems definitively clear. Yet if this is his thought, why commit it to a footnote in Amoris laetitia and to a private letter not intended for publication, instead of stating it in a clear, explicit way? Perhaps in this way, the contradiction of the perennial Magisterium of the Church would be public and formal, whereas the intention is to arrive at changing the Church’s doctrine in an ambiguous and surreptitious way?
The impression is that we find ourselves faced with a manipulation of information which creates precisely those tensions and divisions inside the Church that the Pope complained about in his discourse at Santa Marta on September 12th:“[…]ideological, theological divisions that lacerate the Church. The devil sows jealousy, ambitions, ideas, but to divide! […]Divisions make you see this part, this one against the other. Always against! There is no oil of unity, the balsam of unity”.(Zenit)
Divisions however, have their source in the two-forked language of the Devil and are defeated most of all by the truth: the truth of the Faith and morality, but also the truth of language and behaviour, which means renouncing all lies, falsification and reserve, following the teaching of the Gospel “[...] let your speech be yea, yea: no, no: and that which is over and above these, is of the evil one.” (Matthew, 5 v 37)
Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana