Papal con-fab with Cards. Sodano and Schoenborn

Did you see this communique from the Holy See Press Office about the meeting of Benedict XVI with Card. Sodano and Card. Schoenborn?

I was about to work up a translation and then I found a note from a reader that the wonderful and persistent Anna Arco had already done the hard work of a recap and rendering.

Take it away Anna…

I don’t remember ever seeing anything quite like this.

My emphases and comments:

After Cardinal Sodano made a surprise speech at Easter criticising the media’s reports about abuse as “idle gossip”, [A very poor choice in his part, IMO...] Cardinal Schoenborn [Whose choices lately are increasingly difficult to explain...] publicly accused the former Secretary of State of having deliberately obstructed an investigation into accusations of child abuse against Cardinal Herman Groer of Vienna. In today’s meeting, Pope Benedict seems to have done several things: he has reminded Cardinal Schoenborn that the disciplining of members of the hierarchy is the responsibility of the Pope, he has clarified Sodano’s controversial comments about “idle gossip” and has brought the two men together. Interesting.

    VATICAN CITY, 28 JUN 2010 (VIS) – The Holy See Press Office released the following communique early this afternoon:

    “(1) The Holy Father today received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schonborn O.P., archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian Episcopal Conference. The cardinal had asked to meet the Supreme Pontiff personally in order to report on the current situation of the Church in Austria. In particular, Cardinal Schonborn wished to clarify the exact meaning of his recent declarations concerning some aspects of current ecclesiastical discipline, and certain of his judgements regarding positions adopted by the Secretariat of State – and in particular by the then Secretary of State of Pope John Paul II – concerning the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995.

    “(2) Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. were subsequently invited to join the meeting.

    “In the second part of the audience certain widespread misunderstandings were clarified and resolved, misunderstandings deriving partly from certain statements of Cardinal Christoph Schonborn, who expressed his displeasure at the interpretations given to his words.

    “In particular:

    “(a) It must be reiterated that, in the Church, when accusations are made against a cardinal, competency falls exclusively to the Pope; other parties may have a consultative function, while always maintaining due respect for persons.

    “(b) The word ‘chiacchiericcio’ (gossip) was erroneously interpreted as disrespectful to the victims of sexual abuse, towards whom Cardinal Angelo Sodano nourishes the same feelings of compassion, and of condemnation of evil, as expressed on various occasions by the Holy Father. That word, pronounced during his Easter address to Pope Benedict XVI, was taken literally from the pontifical homily of Palm Sunday and referred to the “courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevalent opinions”.

    “(3) The Holy Father, recalling with great affection his own pastoral trip to Austria, via Cardinal Christoph Schonborn sends his greetings and encouragement to the Church in Austria, and to her pastors, entrusting the journey to renewed ecclesial communion to the celestial protection of the Blessed Virgin, so venerated at Mariazell”.

Now… if the Holy Father would only haul in a few more Cardinals.

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31 Responses to Papal con-fab with Cards. Sodano and Schoenborn

  1. Tominellay says:

    …Cdl. Schonborn having more bad luck with his tongue…two papal woodshed events for him so far in 2010…

  2. medievalist says:

    Question: What’s with the phrase concerning the Church in Austria, “journey to renewed ecclesial communion”? Is the Holy Father implying that some sort of imperfect communion exists between Austria and Peter? Or is this ecclesiastical-diplomatic boilerplate?

  3. Quite honestly, I was surprised at how many people took off with the words of Sodano in a way they were not intended. At that time, it was the height of the secular media assault on Pope Benedict XVI. Pope Benedict himself was being accused of coverup and this is what Sodano meant by “gossip”, which it was. Even after the Holy See released the text of Sodano’s address, people – including Catholic sources, continued running with the distorted version (including Schonborn).

    I watched the Mass on EWTN live and it was very clear to me that is what he was referring to (whether it was prudent to speak at all is a separate issue). When I read press reports and even Catholic commentary in the days and weeks that followed, I was completely puzzled as to how something could get so twisted.

    While I understand people may be displeased with Cardinal Sodano on other issues, I thought it was unfair to use that particular situation in the way that it had been used. The secular press is one thing, but for people in Catholic circles, it was disappointing (and upon objecting in comboxes, I myself was lectured on Sodano’s past, which in this case, was not relevant to the matter at hand).

    Whether one likes Cardinal Sodano or not, I think an injustice was done to him on this issue by some Catholic sources, and the “slap from Vienna” was only salt into an open wound that did nothing to help the Church.

    Further, when Pope Benedict XVI called for eliminatnig filth from the Church, I never felt he intended to accomplish this through his bishops and cardinals publicly pointing fingers at one another, or worse… in a closed door meeting with media intended to be “private”. Would it have been better if in the press we had read: “A high ranking member of the Catholic hierarchy and college of cardinals denounced Cardinal fill-in-the-blank”….

    Priests, bishops, and lay people entrusted with highly personal information need to ponder the virtue (or lack thereof) of engaging in these kinds of “off-the-record” behaviors. What purpose does it serve, if not to feed our human fallen nature?

    “Filth” is not limited to sexual predators in the roman collar. It also includes the behavior of each and every one of us who is willing to engage in rash judgment, calumny, and detraction of anyone. The objective gravity of the sin is not dependent on whether the target of those things has had other, questionable behaviors. The objective gravity of such sins is also not mitigated by the fact that we are in an era fast-paced information. In fact, this demands greater scrutiny because of the fact that all someone has to do is make a claim, and it gets repeated everywhere in what seems like miliseconds…. globally.

    Thanks be to God that an adult – the Pope – is getting the “kids” back in line.

    With that, perhaps we could spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament for the sanctification of the priesthood, especially on Thursday nights, and most especially for sanctification of our bishops in every regard. That’s truly value added.

  4. With regards to the Church in Austria, I would like to point out that the last ad limina they had was in November of 2005 and they are due any time for the next one. They got taken to the woodshed back then in a way that I don’t think has been matched by any other to date. How much has changed in Austria? This is for Pope Benedict to judge.

  5. TNCath says:

    Diane at Te Deum: Yes, and the American bishops are due in 2011, which also is the year that 6 American cardinal electors reach the age of 80, which will reduce the influence these men have had on the Church in the U.S.

    As for the possibility of more cardinals being “hauled in,” I think, in the wake of the abuse scandals and all the other craziness going on in the Church, we will see more of these “audiences” to “clarify remarks.”

  6. TNCath – was referring to Austrian bishop’s ad limina.

  7. TNCath says:

    I just watched the Vespers for the Vigil of the Solemnity of Ss. Peter and Paul. As the Holy Father was making his way out of the Basilica of St. Paul, Cardinals Sodano and Bertone were there, standing next to each other in choir. The Holy Father greeted Cardinal Sodano, spoke for a moment (actually for more than a moment) and continued on. Sodano then said something to Bertone, who had a big grin on his face and made what seemed to be a witty reply, which seemed to amuse Sodano.

    This may sound trivial, but in light of the Pope’s recent “con-fab” with Cardinals Sodano and Schoenborn, I just wonder what was said, and if it had any reference to what had been discussed earlier? Hmmmm.

  8. anna 6 says:

    TNCath,
    I noticed that too! But I wondered, was that Cardinal Schoenborn next to Cardinal Bertone? I couldn’t tell for sure…and I wouldn’t want to be accused of gossip!

    BTW…I have heard that a more accurate translation would be “idle chatter” which might have a slightly different connotation than “gossip”.

    Here is the context of Holy Father’s use of the phrase on Palm Sunday…

    Jesus walks before us and towards the heights. He leads us to what is great, pure. He leads us to that healthy air of the heights: to life in accordance with the truth; to courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevalent opinions; to patience that bears with and sustains the other. He guides people to be open towards the suffering, to those who are neglected. He leads us to stand loyally by the other, even when the situation becomes difficult. He leads us to the readiness to give help; to the goodness that does not let itself be disarmed, even by ingratitude. He leads us to love he leads us to God.

    Wise and beautiful words from our pope…as usual.

  9. Henry Edwards says:

    I have heard that a more accurate translation would be “idle chatter” which might have a slightly different connotation than “gossip”.

    Indeed, having watched it live, I recall that “idle chatter” was the translation given by the Vatican Radio commentator, obviously reading from the Vatican’s prepared translation. The overall impression that Card. Sodano left — and I am no big admirer — was very different (and much more positive) from what I subsequently saw reported in the press.

  10. Leonius says:

    Dealing with Schonborn is long overdue he has done much worse things than this in the past.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Dealing with Schonborn is long overdue he has done much worse things than this in the past.
    Comment by Leonius

    Actually, this time he was actually defending the pope. Cdl Sodano was a protector of Fr Maciel.

  12. Supertradmum says:

    http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5huy30ja9Y-DzKy5mndofefJM179AD9GKA6900

    The media is having a hay day with this. The Cardinal should be less forward in his radical ideas on homosexual marriage, re-marriage, and the sex scandals. Catherine of Siena was told by Christ why priests lose their discernment. But, then, I am judging his lack of prudence and rationality, as well as his proclivity for public statements.

  13. TNCath says:

    anna 6: It was definitely Cardinals Sodano and Bertone sitting next to each other. What I thought was interesting was that these two cardinals aren’t particularly close, and yet they were being quite jovial with one another.

  14. joan ellen says:

    With that, perhaps we could spend some time before the Blessed Sacrament for the sanctification of the priesthood, especially on Thursday nights, and most especially for sanctification of our bishops in every regard. That’s truly value added.

    Comment by Diane at Te Deum Laudamus — 28 June 2010 @ 10:59 am

    Thanks, and count me in. The Holy Sacrifice, Sacraments, Rosaries, Holy Hours. “…a sufficient number…” according to Sr. Lucia with regards to the Fatima message is needed, but it seems also “for the sanctification of the priesthood” and Thursday nights make sense. As for the times it is not possible to be before the Blessed Sacrament, wouldn’t praying for this intention in front of an image of the Blessed Sacrament at home be “truly value added” as well. I don’t know what Fr. Z would say and I would prefer to defer to his opinion on that.

    The Church has it all right there for us to do. We have to just do it, and ask our family and friends to join us. It is tempting to want to ask the traditional monasteries/orders at http://tradvocations.blogspot.com/2008/03/traditional-monasteries-orders-with.html to join also. Yet they are probably waiting for us to join them! Those who don’t follow the traditional teachings of the Church, as well as Protestant family, friends, and neighbors surely could help reach the “…sufficient number…”. Though God’s will.

  15. robtbrown said: Actually, this time he was actually defending the pope. Cdl Sodano was a protector of Fr Maciel.

    1) The Holy See just got done releasing a statement to the public that the competency rests with the Holy Father to pass judgment on accusations against Cardinals. I don’t think the statement was made simply for the sake of Cardinal Schonborn and Cardinal Sodano, but was meant for everyone who is concerned with the case enough to discuss it. If Cardinal Schonborn does not have the competency to judge the matter, then who are you or I to do so?

    2) The “defense” of the Pope, came unsolicited, and behind his back. This kind of “help” the Holy Father did not need. It did nothing to correct any problems (real or perceived) and became a buffet for the wolves.

    The Italian media was relentlessly chewing on the “slap from Vienna”, long after it died in the anglophone press. Much of what I was viewing through a translator was not friendly to Schonborn. As we can see, the Holy Father did some “parenting” on the matter. We can probably learn a few things from that press release ourselves.

  16. Geoffrey says:

    “Cdl Sodano was a protector of Fr Maciel.”

    Maciel was a master deceiver and manipulator. He duped Ven. Pope John Paul the Great, Cardinal Sodano, and thousands of others.

    And I thought Cardinal Sodano’s defence of the Holy Father on Easter Sunday was very nice; he expressed what many faithful longed to communicate to the Holy Father themselves.

  17. anna 6 says:

    TNCath,
    I am sorry…I wasn’t clear in my comments. I agree that it was definitely Sodano to Bertone’s right. I had thought that Schoenborn was to his left, but I can see that I was wrong. It was another cardinal with similar hair…(or lack there of)… I wonder if Schoenborn was at the vespers.

    Sorry for the confusion!

  18. John Allen: “This morning, Pope Benedict XVI essentially presided over a kiss-and-make-up session between two Princes of the Church: Cardinals Christoph Schönborn of Vienna, Austria, and Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals and the former Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II.

    The pope and the two contending prelates were joined by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Secretary of State.

    The pope calling in Bertone kind of reminds of the united front a father and mother show to give visible proof that they stand united and there better not be any messing around.

    Read Allen’s full post

  19. Oops – that second sentence was part of Allen’s quote, but the Italics were lost: The pope and the two contending prelates were joined by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the current Secretary of State.

  20. swamp_rabbit says:

    Is it me, or is the slant of this article a little biased?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100628/ap_on_re_eu/eu_vatican_church_abuse

    Though, it’s nothing compared to the comments. The comments are the things that really scare me….

  21. robtbrown says:

    Diane at Te Deum Laudamus,

    1. I am well aware of where the competency rests. I also know that Cdl Schonborn is well known to BXVI, going back almost 40 years. In fact, it is only because of Cardinal Ratzinger that Fr Schonborn was the editorial secretary of the catechism. It is only because of Cardinal Ratzinger that Fr Schonborn was made auxiliary bishop. (Long story there: Following the work with the catechism, Fr Schonborn didn’t want to return to the German faculty at Fribourg, which is less than Catholic. He wanted to teach at the Angelicum, but his province insisted he return. Rome circumvented the problem by making him auxiliary of Vienna.)

    2. You are wildly wrong that Cardinal Schonborn was acting behind the pope’s back. How do you think Card Schonborn knew about the situation with Groer? He has been told by Cardinal Ratzinger.

    This story has been out for months.

    4. The pope objects to Cardinals arguing amongst themselves.

  22. That horrid and damned SNAP is behind this, believe you me…I read the yahoo article…talk about the realization of the “Akita” prophecy “cardinal against cardinal”…
    Who knows what exactly is going on between Cards. Schoenborn, Sodano and the Holy Father?
    The MSS couldn’t get it right if their lives depended upon it; it’s all about coverage and slamming the Church.
    I say, wait it out; pray, do penance…pray especially the Rosary. God will make all things right.
    As for the media, and John Allen, included (sorry!)…I will “sift” what they say and let time tell the true story.
    I have to say that Mr. Allen’s recent article about bringing the Pope to a “world court” really ticked me off. This and the comments are just enough to make you want to vomit…these folks call themselves Catholic? After what they say about our Holy Father and the Church?
    Despicable. Every one of them. And, forgive me, but John Allen, Jr., has some reckoning to do.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Maciel was a master deceiver and manipulator. He duped Ven. Pope John Paul the Great, Cardinal Sodano, and thousands of others.

    On the other hand, he didn’t dupe Cardinal Ratzinger.

    And I thought Cardinal Sodano’s defence of the Holy Father on Easter Sunday was very nice; he expressed what many faithful longed to communicate to the Holy Father themselves.
    Comment by Geoffrey

    Cardinal Sodano is a professional diplomat. He knows what to say publicly.

    On the other hand, it is well known that it was almost necessary to kidnap him to remove him from his post as Sec of State. He (and his allies) opposed BXVI’s plans to reform the Church. Within a year after Cdl Sodano’s “resignation”, the pope was finally able to appoint his own man as Sostituto (perhaps the 3rd most powerful position in the Church). Previously, it had been Abp Sandri, who had been brought by Cdl Sodano to Rome.

    It appears that another Sodano ally, Cardinal Re, is about to retire. Pian piano.

  24. robtbrown says:

    Let me add a word:

    4. The pope objects to Cardinals arguing amongst themselves publicly.

  25. robtbrown says:

    nazareth priest,

    The anti-papist attitude in Europe is manifest. NB: After the death of PiusIX, his body had to be protected from those who wanted to steal it and throw it in the river.

    Also: The Lateran Basilica is the pope’s church, the Cathedral of Rome. It is my understanding that the area in front of it is owned by the govt. Every year on May Day there is a rock concert (with people like Robert Plant) directly in front of the church, with the stage set up perpendicular to the church itself.

  26. nazareth priest,

    When I posted the article by Allen, I had not read the entire thing. I have to agree with you. The ending really bothered me…

    “Nor, ultimately, does this morning’s “clarification” seem to reorient what looms as the $64,000 question about recent Vatican history: Do the Groër and Maciel cases, including Sodano’s role in them, and the broader pathology of the sexual abuse crisis, taint the legacy of John Paul II?

    That, to be sure, is a question that a polite handshake among cardinals can’t really resolve.”

    Right. That’s kind of why I thought the Pope decided to have a statement released to clarify not just to Schonborn who will judge such things.

  27. @robtbrown (your response to me in italics):

    1. I am well aware of where the competency rests. I also know that Cdl Schonborn is well known to BXVI, going back almost 40 years. In fact, it is only because of Cardinal Ratzinger that Fr Schonborn was the editorial secretary of the catechism….

    I’m getting more than a little tired of the “Catechism” defense of Cardinal Schonborn. Having been involved in the development of the CCC does not give him immunity from following what is in it with regards to handling sensitive information about others. The fact that the Holy See released this public statement was sufficient proof of the Holy Father’s disapproval of it’s handling.

    2. You are wildly wrong that Cardinal Schonborn was acting behind the pope’s back. How do you think Card Schonborn knew about the situation with Groer? He has been told by Cardinal Ratzinger.

    Perhaps you misunderstood, so I will explain. When Cardinal Schonborn had media at his residence and let loose about Sodano and Groer, it allegedly was not suppose to become public. Why put a steak in front of a wolf if you intend for him not to eat it?

    Was Schonborn authorized by Pope Benedict XVI to release information about the Holy Father (and former prefect’s) past dealings with Sodano, publicly, privately or otherwise? If not, then he did so behind the Pope’s back.

    Once again, this public statement released by the Holy See sufficiently reveals the Holy Father’s disapproval.

    4. The pope objects to Cardinals arguing amongst themselves publicly.

    The question, rob, is why? Why would the Pope object to this kind of behavior? Is it merely because it is a political problem, or because leaders in the Church follow the Gospel in every regard, especially with regards to discussing others?

  28. Further…

    Perhaps the Holy Father dealt with Sodano about past differences and problems concerning sexual abuse allegations in cases such as Maciel and Groer. We cannot know what exchanges took place since Ratzinger became pope in 2005. Because nothing was made manifest publicly, does not mean the Holy Father has not dealt with it behind closed doors, especially as the Maciel matter unfolded.

    While we have a right to bring our concerns to the supreme Sacred Pastor, we do not have a right to tell him how he must handle it. I suspect B16 is well aware of the concerns surrounding Sodano.

    If anything was missed, the Just Judge will take care of it.

    What no one ought to do is engage in a sort of consequentialism, whereby it becomes ok to set aside one part of the gospel for the sake of another part. The ends do not justify the means. “…in all things charity” means just that. We have to recognize who has authority to handle certain things and leave it in their hands.

    I think the Pope made clear who has the authority in the matters of Sodano and Groer. It is not Cardinal Schonborn, or anyone else, but the Pope. Schonborn cannot possibly know more about what went on between Sodano and Ratzinger more than Ratzinger himself. He may know some, but not all.

    I’m with Nazareth priest. All of this highlights the need to pray for priests, and especially our bishops. I’ll say it again… spend time before the Blessed Sacrament making reparation for the sins of priests and bishops, and for their sanctification. This will do more than public criticism over a “puzzle” for which none of us has all of the pieces.

  29. robtbrown says:

    I’m getting more than a little tired of the “Catechism” defense of Cardinal Schonborn. Having been involved in the development of the CCC does not give him immunity from following what is in it with regards to handling sensitive information about others. The fact that the Holy See released this public statement was sufficient proof of the Holy Father’s disapproval of it’s handling.

    I’m really sorry you’re tired of it. I assure you of my sympathy.

    On the other hand, if you had read my comments correctly, you would know that I offered no “catechism defense”. Nor for that matter did I defend Cardinal Schonborn.

    Perhaps you misunderstood, so I will explain. When Cardinal Schonborn had media at his residence and let loose about Sodano and Groer, it allegedly was not suppose to become public. Why put a steak in front of a wolf if you intend for him not to eat it?

    The Cardinal of Vienna is not naive. He knew it would likely become public.

    Was Schonborn authorized by Pope Benedict XVI to release information about the Holy Father (and former prefect’s) past dealings with Sodano, publicly, privately or otherwise? If not, then he did so behind the Pope’s back.

    Disagree. What he said made Cardinal Sodano look bad, so I would say that was behind Sodano’s back–not the pope’s.

    Even so, that was nothing. In the 90′s Cardinal Oddi referred to Abp Milingo as a witch doctor (stregone). That was long before the Milingo excommunication.

    Once again, this public statement released by the Holy See sufficiently reveals the Holy Father’s disapproval.

    Agree.

    The question, rob, is why? Why would the Pope object to this kind of behavior? Is it merely because it is a political problem, or because leaders in the Church follow the Gospel in every regard, especially with regards to discussing others?

    Agree.

    On the other hand, it is possible that something be useful without being moral. The continuing operation of the SSPX from 1976 (nb: Lefebvre’s suspension) is a good example. It was not moral because it was disobedience to the Holy See. Does anyone, however, deny that it was extremely useful to the preservation of the historical Roman Rite?

  30. robtbrown says:

    In what way did anyone presume to tell the pope how to handle a situation? Schonborn only related the story that Sodano had stopped an investigation of Groer. I simply said that such a story was useful to the pope.

  31. irishgirl says:

    Cardinal Schoenborn should close his mouth and bridle his tongue-he keeps sticking his foot in it!

    Maybe this second ‘trip to the woodshed’ will teach him a lesson.

    Oy vey….then, maybe not….