J’accuse! L’Osservatore Romano’s editor points a finger, Fr. Z comments

When the wheels come off a train, people get hurt and the capital of an organization is threatened, someone gets blamed.  Someone must pay.

The liberals of the secular press and the progressivist element of the Catholic media latched on to the Holy Father’s admission that mistakes were made in the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

Their common accusation is that the Holy Father failed to consult widely enough, he is to blame, or that Card. Castrillon with the Pontifical Commission he heads was a loose cannon, and he is to blame.  They energetically advance that the future fusion of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" to the CDF is truly an acceptance of this blame. They rejoice in their vindication.

On the other hand, Giovanni Maria Vian, the revolutionary editor of the Vatican’s newspaper  L’Osservatore Romano printed an editorial in which he identifies his own candidates for blame.

The first part of the editorial chews over facts we already know.  The meat of the piece comes well along.

Here is my translation of the paragraph conveying Vian’s central point:

The clarity of the Pope’s analysis does not sidestep open and difficult questions, such as the need for attention and a more prepared and timely communication in a global context where information, omnipresent and superabundant, is continuously exposed to manipulations and exploitations, among which are so-called leaks, which only with effort cannot be called wretched -  even within the Roman Curia, an organism historically collegial and which in the Church has the obligation of being exemplary.

The part beginning "even within the Roman Curia" is actually a stand alone sentence fragment, but it is clearly an extension of the sentence before. I associate them with a hyphen, rather than divide them with a period as in the original Italian, to help make better sense of the point in English.   Vian, writing in Italian, made that last part a fragment so that it wouldn’t be missed.  It is intended to stand out, to scratch your already sore eyeball.

In fact it was not missed by the observant in the Italian press.  Say what you will about the Vatican-hostile, SSPX-allergic Marco Politi of La Repubblica, he is astute.  He caught Vian’s drift immediately and wrote: "In a column Giovanni Maria Vian castigates the ‘manipulations and exploitations’ also within the Roman Curia…".  Politi caught the real point of Vian’s editorial.

Vian says the Vatican’s portion of the blame lies on the backs of some workers of the Roman Curia. 

The point: These negationists took advantage of the situation to hurt the Pope and prevent positive developments with the SSPX. 

So set are they against such a rapprochement, and its implications for how we read and apply the Second Vatican Council, that they would harm to Pope’s moral capital in the world and with Jewish groups, damage the Holy See’s relations with states, and foment chaos in Holy Church’s internal harmony.

A close reading of that paragraph shows that information leaks, intended to fuel a rumpus, were only one dimension of the "manipulations and exploitations".  There were other dealings, subtle and confined to hallways and offices.

I believe these deeper manipulations are behind the present scapegoating of Card. Castrillon and the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei.

The Holy Father desires to reintegrate the SSPX.  Doctrinal discussions are the next logical step, now that Summorum Pontificum has taken root and the excommunications have been lifted.  The Commission’s mandate must naturally be adjusted to this new situation.   But the negationists are busily spinning the Pope’s intention to place the Commission under the umbrella of the CDF as a sure sign of defeat for the Pope, for the Commission and Card. Castrillon, and for the pro-Lefevbrites in the Curia who, as Politi frames them, shamelessly used leaks to create an unrealistically rosy picture of the SSPX.

The last thing progressivists want is a Pope determined to reintegrate the SSPX, with their dangerous ideas, or an effective Cardinal as President of the Commission who might actually take seriously the Commission’s mandate to reconcile the SSPX. In fact, the Holy Father’s projects have gained frightening momentum. 

The liberals now coo that, at long last, the connection of the Commission with the CDF will allow the "consultation" of many many interested well-informed parties from the corners of the globe with differing points of view. 

In reality they hope that as the consultation brodens the Pope’s project will grind to a halt.

There are in the Curia, in key positions, men who would prefer that Paul VI’s official pontifical portrait was still framed upon their beige walls.  They patiently endured the hard years of the Polish Pope, put in their time, and climbed inexorably upward.  Then came the German Pope with his dangerous ideas about continuity, his penchant for the fait accompli, his pesky intelligence and annoying happiness.  They are vexed.  

Quite a few heads of dicasteries have reached the famous age limit and will most likely be moved along.  The men in the next tier down would normally have expectations of moving up.  But as Paolo Rodari pointed out in a recent series of commentaries, not a few of the old guard, at first disposed to support this new Pope’s efforts in the expectation that they would eventually be raised to the next level, have discovered to to their dismay that this Pope isn’t going to promote them.  They have turned on him now that they know they will not be.   They have fished out their stilettos from the back of the desk drawer.

Traditionally Curial changes are announced in the spring and the fall. 

Blame has been apportioned. Accounts are being settled.

We must watch the appointments.

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About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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29 Responses to J’accuse! L’Osservatore Romano’s editor points a finger, Fr. Z comments

  1. Corleone says:

    When in the US, you get the anti-Catholicism from Protestants. When in Italy, you get it from the Communists. That’s all I’m saying…

  2. Yes fr Z, your point on “- even within the Roman Curia” is right. Those words in italian come out of the page of L’Osservatore Romano (!) as mountains.
    I strongly agree with your analysis, but I am not so confident as you are about the promotions (or lack of them for someone). I know that some men in the Curia (quite up in the Curia actually), who are faithful to the Pope, are so mobbed that they would gladly go somewere else, and their enemies will help them to go…but instead those agaist the pope will hold their posts with all their strenghts.

  3. jamgreg says:

    One can all but see the work of the Holy Spirit in all this. I can just about imagine the glory of the result!

  4. TJB says:

    I find it hard to sympathize with the whole Curia situation. You know and I know and everybody else knows that with the stroke of a pen Benedict could solve the whole Curia problem by booting the hippies and appointing people who share his vision. I know people argue that it just “isn’t that easy,” its more “complicated” than that, etc… etc… I’ve never bought these arguments. The Pope has the power to fix the curia. Period. Why he doesn’t do it is beyond me.

  5. Brian Day says:

    TJB,

    While I sympathize with your sentiment, what you propose is not feasible. Yes, HH could just fire away. Then what? Unless you have the replacements ready to go, the workings of the curia will be even more messed up.

    Armchair quarterbacking is easy. Unless you have sat in the Big Chair (pun intended) you have no idea what it is like to be responsible for the consequences (intended and unintended) of that kind of action.

  6. Luigi says:

    Wow. Z’s commentary reinforces with an insider’s insight (redundant, I know…) what I had been feeling in my gut already.

    The progressive frat party is almost over. [Don't get too excited just yet!] The folk guitar guy passed out hours ago. The keg is more or less empty now; furious pumping only brings foam from the tap. Some of the biggest names at the party are approaching death or already dead. The remaining elders and their would-be replacements are so inebriated on their own importance that they are becoming caricatures that are increasingly difficult to take seriously. They sense the end is near and are getting increasingly depserate. But no amount of kicking and screaming can change the fact that this particular house party is all but fizzled out. The landlord is coming. The sun is rising, and no one can stop it.

    What a great time to be a Catholic!

  7. tertullian says:

    At the risk of repeating myself from the thread about those trying to scapegoat Card. Castrillon…

    Lest we forget, Machiavelli was an Italian (ok,technically a Tuscan).

    If B16 would like to settle some scores, I can recommend some outposts he can send them to. Card. Arinze can suggest some truly God forsaken places in Nigeria in need of pastoral help, or maybe Saudia Arabia, where the Holy Father is working to open …

    Being a powerful Cardinal in the Catholic Church in Rome is too good for these men.

  8. I am not Spartacus says:

    Wow !! Great post Fr. I loved your use of the words vexed and stiletto. The entire post is so well-written and keenly on point.

    For me, the use of those words are the rhetorical ligaments tying together the bone of Our Sweet Jesus on Earth’s contention that he needs beseech us for prayers so that he will be strengthened and not flee the wolves and the bones of the wolves bleached of authentic Catholicsm.

    He knew, long beforfe his election, that wolves are in the sheepgate.

    He is an amasing, holy, and courageous Pope.

    Lord, please strengthen and guide him.If there ever were a Pope who was THE MAN at THE TIME, it is Benedict

  9. Midwest St. Michael says:

    “The last thing progressivists want is a Pope determined to reintegrate the SSPX, with their dangerous ideas”

    And this is something that just leaves me perplexed about so-called “progressives” – that is to say they champion a Church that is “pluralistic,” and open to “many ideologies,” and so on.

    Yet, their so-called “pluralism” and “progressivism” becomes so narrow that it will not begin to think of looking a tad backward so that the Church can honestly progress! (treasures old and treasures new, y’know)

    They champion that we are all “under the big umbrella” in this great big Church – but, the SSPX, and those who sympathize with them, are not allowed in from the rain!

    Kind of reminds me of that tune by The Police – “It’s a big enough umbrella, but it’s always me that ends up getting wet.” [somebody que "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic"]

  10. Aine says:

    When in the US, you get the anti-Catholicism from Protestants. When in Italy, you get it from the Communists. That’s all I’m saying…
    Comment by Corleone — 13 March 2009 @ 3:37 pm

    Fr Malachi Martin (RIP) went even further and called them Luciferians.

  11. Luigi says:

    I said: Wow. Z’s commentary…

    LOL! Editing my post I somehow chopped the “Fr.” off. Let it be known this was inadvertant. That looks so ignorant. Mi Scusi, Padre. : )

  12. John Polhamus says:

    “I can just about imagine the glory of the result!”

    So can I…a martyred Pope, which is excatly to what he referred the day before his letter was published, on the feast of St. Boniface. Curialists with scores to settle…not a pretty picture. It may well come down to it, it’s Politics 101. We must pray both for the safety of the Pope, and his having the courage and charaacter to do what he must, whatever the consequences. Those who oppose him should know that those qualities in him have never been in doubt.

  13. Mark says:

    Interesting commentary from Father Z.

    The progressives, even though running on fumes, are still pushing their post Vatican II fiasco. The opportunists will always be with us. Some of those outside are trying to find their way back inside. The Pope is charting a corrected course for the ship, to the applause or the dismay of many. All the while, time mercifully marches on.

    By the way, “stilettos” – the small pointy hand held metal objects, or the shoes with pointy high heels? Or with both, mano a mano?

  14. Mitchell NY says:

    More Prayers and power to the Holy Pope….He is trying so hard to return Catholicism and the Papacy to where it should be…All the opposition shows just how far we have drifted..He deserves our love and RESPECT…..He is simply a good man beneath it all and it shows..I pray that the SSPX can be regularized quickly so this nonsense can be over once and for all..

  15. Fr W says:

    So many desire reunion with the Orthodox. Yet there would likely be no schism if it were for cooler heads and a little less pride back in the day. The Pope is doing what should have been done then – an outstretched hand, even to those many don’t like. If he does not heal this rift with Pius X Society, we might in a thousand years be asking the same question – why did the Church not reconcile 441 priests.

    I wonder how many priests were in Orthodoxy in year 1000.

  16. Larry says:

    I must say I had expected to see something from Bishop Fellay. Indeed his response to the Pope’s letter is far more important to the issue at hand than this particular piece. For the first time the SSPX has actuallly sounded Catholic. Fr. Z better get on the issues that are coming to a boiliing point. Within the CDF controlled ED there is a possibility for a genunine discussion hopefully beyond the ear shot of leak sources in which the real issues of division can at last come into confrontation and hopefully be resolved. Get rid of the politics and pray your everloving knees that this happens. We are in very serious times and it is no time for poitical nonsense to enter this most important discussion.

  17. Daniel says:

    “So many desire reunion with the Orthodox.”

    Speaking of the Orthodox…if we believe that Catholic neo-conservatives and liberals, and Jews, and news media folks, have had a field day portraying the SSPX as “anti-semitic”, just wait until the day that Rome and the Eastern Orthodox move toward true peace talks (as Rome has done with the SSPX).

    Just wait until the “usual suspects” mentioned above delve into Eastern Orthodox teachings regarding Judaism.

    Example: Eastern Orthodox believers may not be treated by Jewish doctors, according to Eastern Orthodox canon law.

    And if Rome and the Orthodox were to unite…and we thought that the Good Friday prayer for the Jews in the Traditional Roman Liturgy stirred controversy…oh, boy…just wait until the “usual suspects” explored the “anti-semitic” Eastern Orthodox liturgies.

    In fact, The Jerusalem Post has reported on the Orthodox “anti-semitic” liturgical controversy.

    http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1176152838943&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

    Should Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches unite, then Rome would face extreme pressure to “reform” Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

    The Rome/SSPX-Bishop Williamson affair is minor compared to

    The Rome/SSPX-Bishop Williamson-Jewish controversy is minor compared to any meaningful discussions regarding unity that would transpire between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches.

    I am surprised that as they have done regarding the SSPX, that various Jewish groups and neo-conservative and liberal Catholics haven’t demanded that Pope Benedict XVI denounce Eastern Orthodox “anti-semitism.”

  18. Daniel says:

    Father Z wrote: “The liberals of the secular press and the progressivist element of the Catholic media latched on to the Holy Father’s admission that mistakes were made in the lifting of the SSPX excommunications.

    Their common accusation is that the Holy Father failed to consult widely enough, he is to blame, or that Card. Castrillon with the Pontifical Commission he heads was a loose cannon, and he is to blame. They energetically advance that the future fusion of the Pontifical Commission “Ecclesia Dei” to the CDF is truly an acceptance of this blame. They rejoice in their vindication.”

    I thought that certain conservative Catholics (example: George Weigel) also “latched on to” that which you described above?

  19. Mike says:

    Despite his admirable efforts to bring reconciliation with the SSPX, Cardinal Castrillon has to take some of the blame here, otherwise he’s simply being whitewashed and that’s not being truthful. I believe he drove this process on without taking time to properly consider all the unhelpful fallout.

  20. elliot says:

    “Blame has been apportioned. Accounts are being settled.”

    Hey Father…you sure know how to turn a phrase… and we all know the truth of it. Thanks and keep it coming!

  21. Corleone says:

    Daniel – Just wait until the “usual suspects” mentioned above delve into Eastern Orthodox teachings regarding Judaism. Example: Eastern Orthodox believers may not be treated by Jewish doctors, according to Eastern Orthodox canon law.

    You are showing a REALLY marked ignorance of Orthodoxy…AND Catholicism here. The same canon you are citing is technically applicable to the Catholic church, since it comes from the 7 eccumenical councils (which were attended and binding to the ENTIRE church; Catholic and Orthodox at the time with the exception of the Orientals). There is NO Orthodox church which abides by all the early canons, since this is impossible to do. The Orthodox church, like the Catholic church realise many of the canons were defined for a specific place and time in history. The Canons themselves are put in 3 categories: Dogmatic, Disciplinary and Dead. I have never met an Orthodox cergiman or layman who did not consider the probition of going to a Jewish doctor as “Dead” (i.e. irrelevant) as within the Catholic church. And before we all go rending our garments here, I would kindly point the readership here towards the Talmud which states exactly what Jews are allowed to do to Christians in any type of business dealings to understand the context of WHY the early church stated Christians were not tosee Jewish doctors (i.e. it was for their own good…St Simonino prega per noi!) Why is this canon considered irrelevant now by both Catholics and Orthodox? Because we now have civil authorities and rigorous regulations on the medical profession which would protect ANYONE against malpractice.

    Should Rome and the Eastern Orthodox Churches unite, then Rome would face extreme pressure to “reform” Eastern Orthodox Divine Liturgy.

    Well, I pray to God nightly that we could get this far in my lifetime to even deal with this “issue”.

    I am surprised that as they have done regarding the SSPX, that various Jewish groups and neo-conservative and liberal Catholics haven’t demanded that Pope Benedict XVI denounce Eastern Orthodox “anti-semitism.”

    Debateable. Many Jewish leaders also take such texts in context, since as I mentioned, their own Talmud is nothing if not inflammatory/defamatory to Christians (i.e. calling Jesus the iligitimate son of a Roman Centurian and the BVM, saying Christians are no better than dogs, Jews can cheat and kill Christians when necessary and God approves, a Christian should be killed for trying to study Jewish texts etc). In order for them to demand anything, they’d need to open up their own text to scrutiny, which is something they do NOT want to do for this exact reason. My guess is they would shrug it off for the sake of expediency.

  22. teresa says:

    Sadly enough, some people are regarding the Christianity altogether as antisemitic, and some regard even St. Paul as an antisemitic.

    And the New Testament they call “antisemitic”.

    I don’t know what we should do to satisfy these people.

  23. Corleone says:

    Teresa – I have heard Christian pastors refer to “the anti-semitic passages of the gospel of John”. Makes me sick.

  24. Corleone says:

    Sorry, that should have been “christian” pastors…

  25. teresa says:

    Corleone: yes, I read only two hours ago what you mentioned about Joh., written by a theologian of the Seminary of the Immaculate Heart.

    But as a Catholic he should have known that these passages are traditionally not interpreted in a way antisemitic, according to the traditional teaching of the Church the Jews there symbolize the mankind in general who sins.

    I am very sad about it. Nowadays, anything against the Christianity is regarded as politically correct.

  26. irishgirl says:

    Fr. Z-spot on as always

    ‘Stilettos in the back of the desk drawer’….ooooo, so verrry Italian!

    Seriously-we must continue to ‘storm heaven’ for our Holy Father’s protection!

    Dear Mary, cover him with your mantle of blue….St. Michael the Archangel, unsheathe your sword!

  27. Corleone says:

    Teresa – correct. And as was made VERY clear on the SSPX pages, yet VERY conveniently overlooked, the Jews in Jerusalem during the time of Our Lord are NOT the same, nor are they indicative of, the modern Jews we see walking around today. Nor to the Jews of today bear the guilt of their ancestors, any more or less than we (meaning anyone breathing air) do.

    Unfortunately, there are far too many wayward thinking “theologians” who are simply trying to score liberal brownie points by saying, “see, what they taught back then was bad! I’m telling it like it is because you deserve the truth!”

    Bah!

  28. WHY are they continually pointing their finger at Cardinals Castrillon-Hoyos and Bertone? Both are totally loyal to Our Holy Father.
    Cardinal Castrillon-Hoyos was not “demoted”. He is at retirement age, and his committee has accomplished its set-out task;….and now, the remaining task of unity with the SSPX falls squarely on the doctrinal shoulder of the CDF to close the schism.
    As Secretary of State, Cardinal Bertone HAS truly shown his competentancy and ability (as well) in/to fully carry-out his Curial duties with total allegiance to the Papal Authority, bestowed upon him by his Superior, Our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVIe.
    I believe it is the Curial “aides” that have to be scrutinized. Most clergy would rather not appear to be modern-day Inquisitionists and peer into the backgrounds of these workers….But, where else are these “leeks” coming from? Clearly the hidden-agendas, loyalties and positions of hired workers must be examined before permitting them service to high-ranking Cardinali and Bishops…particularly as they work and are employed within the Vatican itself. Who is responsible for hiring them? And just as Father “Z” states, what is at stake? They could bring about severe
    QUOTE:

    “harm to the Pope’s moral capital in the world and with Jewish groups,
    damage the Holy See’s relations with states,
    and foment chaos in Holy Church’s internal harmony.”

    This “Letter to all the Catholic Bishops” from the pen of Our Holy Father himself, DOES NOT PROVE PAPAL FALIBILITY at all. It reveals a love and sincerity on the part of Our Holy Father to do the will of Christ, and at the same-time say: “nay” to the world, & how the “world thinks” in opposition to the pure-will of an all-encompassing, knowing and Concerned/Compassionate, loving Eternal Father in the Heavens.
    The Holy Spirit is written all over this “Letter”.

  29. Mike says:

    Christella – you’re right in many ways, and I don’t doubt the loyalty of Cardinal Castrillon. But in any institution, there must also be a degree of competence. He, or Cardinal Bertone, were ultimately responsible for checking out Richard Williamson and their failure to do so has been disastrous in many people’s eyes, even those of us who love and support the Holy Father. There has to be accountability in any healthy organisation and the Church too often overlooks this. Partly for this reason the sexual abuse crisis went from bad to worse when it could have been stopped. And why does removing someone from a position have to be such a negative? It could be a great act of love as it could prevent further damaging errors. It could also help root out those at a lower level whose loyalty is questionable, and who therefore pose a serious danger to unity in the Church.