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January 22, 2004

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Rod Dreher

Grr, I don't suppose our online people here will post it till midnight central time. But Peggy and I tell substantially the same story.

I firmly believe the Vatican is lying, and that Navarro-Valls and Dziwisz, for whatever reason, are hanging Gibson and his team out to dry. There was an incredibly vicious column in the LA Times yesterday quoting Richard McBrien trashing Gibson for taking advantage of the Pope and not caring what the poor old Pope thinks. Imagine Richard McBrien -- Richard McBrien! -- in high dudgeon over a Catholic thumbing his nose at the Vatican.

I don't know why the Vatican is playing this game with Gibson's people, but they're putting the Gibson team in the position of either having to be slammed by the Frank Riches and Richard McBriens of the world as lying scumbags (McBrien even said on the record that Mel's only out for money), or provide evidence that the Holy See is lying to the world at the expense of their reputations.

Look at the story that Peggy has put together, and read mine when it's out (it's substantially the same re: the facts). I don't think it's remotely plausible that the Vatican is telling the truth. If you agree, then let's speculate as to why they're doing this to Gibson ... and whether or not you think Gibson should fight back.

For the record, I got no cooperation from the Gibson people in trying to write my story. They weren't unfriendly, they just didn't want to participate. They really, really don't want to pick a fight with the Vatican. Consequently, the McBriens and the Riches of the world are steamrollering them. This mustn't be allowed to happen.

Larry

What i find amazing is that all the evangelicals openly praised the film and evanglicals put little or no devotion on the passion . Catholics which have a devotion to the passion are worrying about what they say . I think the movie will do more to open up people's eyes to catholicism than protestanism .
Seeing people in our church lie for a political agenda really makes me sad .

cs

"Fabricated"? If anyone was going to fabricate a quote from the Holy Father's spokesman, it wasn't going to be about a movie.

Rod Dreher

And not just sad, Larry; I hope it makes you angry. From what I've learned -- and it will be laid out in my column, though Peggy has part of it in hers -- Navarro-Valls on Dec. 28 -- four days after an anonymous "senior Vatican official" told CNS that the Pope never said "It is as it was," reiterated in an e-mail to McEveety of Icon Productions that the Pope had said it, and that Icon should use the Pope's words liberally in the promotion of the film.

Understand: the Pope's spokesman told them in an e-mail that the quote was indeed true, and that they should repeat it "again and again and again."

So they did. And now they're being lambasted by the liberal media for it, and Navarro-Valls insists that the e-mail in which he told them these things is a fabrication.

It's disgusting, is what it is. And it's blowing up in the Vatican's face. Here Mel Gibson will probably do more to evangelize the world for Christ than any living person save Pope John Paul II, and this is how the Holy See treats him.

Rod Dreher

I just heard from an orthodox Catholic theologian friend who says he's really down about this mess. He doesn't believe the Pope is not in the loop here. I started to tell him that I didn't think the Pope was well enough to know what was going on in this situation ... but then I remembered a passage from Jonathan Kwitny's 1997 biography "Man of the Century," which I just looked up. It's on p. 462, and it has to do with a discussion of the Vatican Bank scandal JP2 inherited from Paul VI:

<

He said he wanted "the entire truth ... brought to light" and would "cooperate" with authorities. Yet he publicly endorsed a new statement the Vatican issued that week, merely repeating the lies of the previous statement. A report [Cardinal] Casaroli had requested from several prominent Catholic banking experts was hushed up. That so unhypocritical a man as John Paul could utter such blatant deceits proves that for him, the image of the Church took extraordinary precedence.

James Freeman

Obviously, "the image of the Church" has become an idol as poisonous as Baal.

Maybe what's needed is a good old-fashioned revolution to restore some sense that we are called to follow a Leader more radical than Mao, Che, Castro or Lenin. And that He came not to build palaces and earthly courts, but to shake the Establishment to its foundation.

Really, when it gets to the point that you wouldn't buy a used car from Holy See's Auto Indulgence, it might be time for something drastic.

Among the triumphant words of Maximum Leader, as gloriously found in The Little Black Book (Matthew, Chapter 5) but tragically lost upon the counterrevolutionary forces in Rome:

33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths:
34 But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God's throne:
35 Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.
36 Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black.
37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

James Freeman

IN OTHER WORDS, it's time to forcibly put an end to the dissembling, Romanita and outright lying on the part of the institution that claims to be the depository of the fullness of the Truth.

One way or another, it has got to stop.

The Borgias gave us the Reformation, setting Brother in Christ upon Brother in Christ. If the people baptized and confirmed into their rightful roles of priest, prophet and king do nothing, what greater horror might come of This Present Darkness?

Rod Dreher

I dunno, James. Richard Cardinal McBrien? :-)

James Freeman

Let us pray for the unapologetic heterosexuality of Richard McBrien. That'd sink him.

elizabeth

Having a VERY difficult time believing the Pope (John Paul II) would lie - um, he's lived a life none of us can ever imagine - both in holiness and horrific-ness (WWII - soviet occupation - solidarity movement) and He would put all his closeness w/the people, young adults - God - aside - over a movie...?

Got a skeptic here...

Jim

The alternatives here aren't good: I don't believe that the Pope is fostering the lying, so the alternative is that he is so much out of the loop that others near him can put out lies in his name. The choices are both bad.

Trish J

I have not been following this story too closely. Would somebody who knows the details better than I do please set me straight? I read somewhere last year that Gibson Jr. and Sr. not only belong to a schismatic branch of Catholicism, but that they are sede vacantists? If that is true, why would Mel bother to seek approval for his movie from a Pope he does not recognize as validly occupying the chair of Peter?

amy

Well, he's spent almost a year showing the film to evangelicals, too, to get their support and interest going. I would suspect (without knowing anything for sure) that the hope was not general "approval" but rather to build the case that the film is not anti-Semitic.

And if you're going to show the movie to Billy Graham, you might as well show it to the Pope if you get the chance.

Don Boyle

Haven't seen it in English yet, but here's what Dr. Navarro-Valls said today, from the Vatican Press Office page:

Dopo essermi consultato con il Segretario personale del Santo Padre S.E. Mons. Stanisław Dziwisz, confermo che il Santo Padre ha avuto l’opportunità di visionare il film "The Passion of the Christ". Il film è una trasposizione cinematografica del fatto storico della Passione di Gesù Cristo secondo il racconto evangelico.

E’ abitudine del Santo Padre non esprimere giudizi pubblici su opere artistiche, giudizi che sono sempre aperti a diverse valutazioni di carattere estetico.

tonymixan

It's time for a change in Rome.

Barbara

Or, having read both this thread and the previous one, you could come to the conclusion that it doesn't matter who's telling the truth because the larger truth is that the RC Church is caught up in a pointless, narcissistic dance that is only remotely related to what it means to follow Christ. My God. This is appalling.

Michael

I have the English on my web site and if you read between the lines the pope said what has been reported. But what seems to be missed by most here is that popes don't endorse things. People go out of their way to have their picture taken with the pope and by inference imply that he approves of whatever the hell book they are holding in their hand.

I have no doubt that the pope said what has been reported, I also see what is going on as damage control. Rod you are getting way to worked up about this...do you and Peggy want the pope holding up a can of Coke during the Super Bowl next week and saying "It's the real thing"?

Carrie

From the standpoint of Traditional Catholicism, the Pope's denial of the remark makes no sense, so I'm considering other possibilities...

Suppose that you were motivated by a determination to reconnect Christianity with Judaism...to bridge the rhetoric of the past 2,000 years that says the Jews put Jesus to death? From that pov, how would you view Gibson's film? I suspect that you would see it as a step backwards into the old Catholic mantra about the Passion. It would work against your agenda by putting onto contemporary Judaism a cause for apology. So you might not want to be quoted as saying you approve of Gibson's bloody depiction of the Passion as being what they did to your Man.

My reasons for suggesting this explanation:

1. Polish Messianism. I've been reading about this a little. The Poles have concluded there is a parallel between the exile and breakup of the Jewish tribes, and their own partitioning of Poland after the war. They see themselves as a sort of Christ-nation suffering for the sins of the world.

2. Polish Messianism was an idea contained in the writings of the Polish Romantic poets--Mickiewicz, Slowacki, Norwid.

3. George Weigel's biography of the Pope indicates that Karol Wojtyla, in his Raphsodic Theater period, memorized and recited these poems, and was influenced by their content. Look especially at pgs 34-35 of Witness to Hope.

4. But here's where the questions arise...one of the significant players in the French occult revival was Adam Mickiewicz. He was friends with Eliphas Levi, and with Hoene- Wronski; and Wronski initiated Eliphas Levi. That information comes from James Webb's book The Occult Underground, which is considered a standard reference on the subject. I think that anyone who dabbles in occult literature even at a surface level will know that the cabala plays a large part in occult circles. As does Catholicism, especially with Martinism which had major adherents in France and Poland. Which brings us back to the question of how do you reconnect with the Jews?

Not, I suspect, by rubbing the Crucifixion in their faces. So...suppose that you make a statement about a story of the Passion that is making the headlines...a statement that reflects 2,000 years of opposing the Jews, and finding them guilty of Christ's death. And then someone points out that the Jews are not going to be very happy to be reminded?

Backtracking and damage control now become essential to your ecumenical agenda.

Colleen

So the pope sees the movie (apparently very moving and true to the Gospels) and "There was no declaration, no judgment from the pope." - he didn't even say he liked it? He said nothing? I don't believe that even for a minute.

But I am sure some in the Vatican are getting all worked up and making a mountain out of a molehill (go get a job boys) thinking that this looks like the pope is endorsing "The Passion" as Michael alludes to. Maybe some of them think we are stupid capitalist Americans trying to make a few bucks off of a pope's endorsement of a movie, who knows.

It'd be interesting to see if Cardinal George tries to clear this up a bit - he seems to deal with gordian knots like this one.

Has no bearing on my life at all but I would imagine the rad trads (who are claiming Mel Gibson as one of their own) will use this crap as fodder.

amy

You all can talk about whatever you want, but I think the point that both Rod and Peggy are trying to make is not as much about the Pope but more about his aides, one of whom is saying, outright, that an email attributed to him, and that came from the Vatican, was fabricated, implying then that those to whom the email was written made it up.

THAT is the point. Is this business as usual in the Vatican? That's the question.

LP

The statement by Navarro-Valls says the film (A) recounts a historical event (B) follows the Gospel accounts. The statement says the pope doesn't express public judgments, but it doesn't say the pope never said the contested quote.

Looks to me like Navarro-Valls is not unsympathetic to the situation of the film's producers. Navarro-Valls may not agree with what the Archbishop did, but he has to present a unified front to the world.

Rod Dreher

That's exactly right, Amy. I haven't seen the Gibson movie, and would have been perfectly happy had the Pope's feelings about the film one way or the other never become public. The point of this mess is that the Vatican cannot get its story straight, and because it apparently places "protecting the Pope" over telling the truth, the Holy See is allowing innocent people to have their reputations dragged through the mud simply because they trusted the Vatican.

Please note that in the e-mail to Steve McEveety from N-V, the one I quoted in my piece, the papal spokesman not only confirms the pope's quote, but urges them to make liberal use of it in promoting the film. This they did -- and now they're being held up to contempt by certain segments of the American media and liberal Catholic establishment because they did what the Pope's own mouthpiece told them to! And Peggy Noonan (and, I'm hearing, John Allen) are none too pleased about the Vatican's allowing the public to think of them as accessories to a lie.

The Church teaches that people have a right to their good name. So why are top Churchmen trying to take it away from Catholics whose only mistake, it appears, was to trust the Pope's spokesman?

This ugly episode does provide a window into a certain kind of institutional thinking we've seen a lot of in the past two years: the idea that protecting the image of the institution matters more than telling the truth and respecting the legitimate rights of others.

Richard

Hello folks,

The one thing I can say about all this with any curety is that I don't know what's going on in Rome.

I think there are some pertinent analyses here. Either the Pope said it or he did not. I am inclined to agree with those who think the Pope did say it.

Now we have a strange situation in which the papal spokesman seems to be alleging that e-mails coming from him were fake.

Like others I would not be stunned to learn that there might be elements in the Vatican who are uncomfortable with this movie or at least the idea that they might be endorsing it. Is that what is happening here? I don't know.

This would not be the first time that human or other agendas have been found at work in the Vatican, alas. For the time being I await further information about what happened in this strange saga before leveling any broadsides.

I think this is only going to get more interesting.

best regards,
Richard

Hunk Hondo

Michael, if you can't tell the difference between an account of Our Lord's passion and a soft drink, you need to give up soft drinks.
I should disclose that it's been my privilege to know Peggy personally, and I bitterly resent seeing her integrity impugned by an official of the Church she has so eloquently defended. I would stake my life on her word.

Colleen

"This ugly episode does provide a window into a certain kind of institutional thinking we've seen a lot of in the past two years: the idea that protecting the image of the institution matters more than telling the truth and respecting the legitimate rights of others."

OK, I'll go with that. Some (most?) of us have experienced that same thing on the smaller level - sometimes with parishes and most often with chanceries.

It's all pretty pathetic. I don't know how one changes the mindset or if you even can.

Richard

Postscript:

There is one conclusion I am especially reluctant to draw:

The timing of Navarro-Valls denial seems to suggest that there was a reaction to Frank Rich's harsh column, which I think is what Rod is trying to suggest. Pope watches movie and very much enjoys it, and makes his cryptic encomium. It's passed along to McEveety and perhaps (or not) he is urged to make use of it. Then Rich comes out swinging; and someone has second thoughts.

I would hate to think that anyone in the Vatican really gives a damn what Frank Rich thinks.

But that's just speculation. I do hope that someone in Rome steps up to clarify this mystery before long.

best regards,
Richard

al

You know there's an interesting paradox (or is it hypocrisy) here. Don't get me wrong, I'm as interested as everyone to get to the truth of what the Holy Father said and thinks as the next guy, particularly if it discloses that someone like Cardinal Kasper was obscuring what might be an unpleasant reality for our elder brothers in the faith to be confronted with: namely that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, was crucified by Romans and Jews.

But say the Vatican was cultivating "strategic ambiguity" here. The outrage at this outbreak of "romanitas" (need I remind any contributors to this blog how many have spoken positively of this "prudential" mode of "discourse" in the past, perhaps intoxicated by being "in the know") finds no paralell in an outrage in the outright lies perpetuated by the Bush Administration in the run up to war with Iraq, some of which were used as brickbats precisely to indict the Vatican's discreet opposition to the war. Just this morning, on NPR, I heard our vice president perpetuating these same lies.

In the grand scheme of things, which set of "strategic ambiguities" are more harmful: "he said it vs. he didn't" or "we have the evidence and the Vatican is wrong (and changing JWD doctrine. . . . ) vs. We don't"

Michael

Richard, an account of Our Lord's passion matters a hell of a lot more than a soft drink and that is my point. It is a theological interpretation of the Gospel based on the private revelations of Anne Catherine Emerick. The line "it is as it was" makes the Pope seem to declare this is what actually happened. Now that is a bold statement coming from someone who Catholics believe cannot err in matters of faith and morals...and this is all about faith.

No one doubts the good name of Rod or Peggy...in fact I doubt anyone doubts that the Pope said it--that isn't the issue. The pope can't say it, exactly because he is the pope and his word on matters of faith carries a hell of a lot of weight. So no Our Lord's Passion is not the same as a soft drink (which we would all think of as an improper move by any pontiff if he were to come out and promote it)...why is it that no one can see how this is even more improper?

My suspicion is that it is because we like Mel Gibson, his strong stand and want the movie to do well and not be hijacked by evangelicals. Remind the evangelicals that the movie is based on a private revelation of a stigmatic--not the Gospels.

Rod Dreher

Michael, hang on: you haven't seen the film (neither have I), so you don't know to what extent it deviates from the Gospel. You only have press reports that Emmerich's alleged vision inspired Gibson. It may well have, but this film has been edited so much that we simply don't know what non-Gospel elements are there. Catholics and other Christians I know, and in whose judgment I place trust, report to me that there's nothing contrary to the Gospels in this film. I look forward to seeing for myself.

And you seem to think papal infallibility extends to criticism of works of art based on faith. It doesn't.

Keep in mind the issue here is not what the Pope's alleged opinion of the movie is. The issue is the credibility of the Vatican's varying pronouncements, and the effect Rome's mad spinning has on the reputations of filmmakers and journalists who have said what they said because they took direction from the Pope's spokesman, and believed his words could be relied upon.

And Al, jeez, can you keep your views on American politics out of this? If Bush et al. lied, that would be awful, but don't we have a higher standard for the Holy See than Washington?

Gene Humphreys

Here's my 2 cents:

Sounds like the Pope said it. It was in a private screening, said to a close personal friend. The comment was made public. Then someone at the Vatican stupidly says something like "cry it from the mountaintops," when he should have said something like "the Holy Father does not comment publicly on the merits of works of art."

So, instead of individuals taking responsibility for a judgment error, they (stupidly again) said, "No--he didn't say that."

I would like to think our clergy are free from sin, especially bearing false witness, but they are human too, and they sometimes panic when they make mistakes and say things they shouldn't.

But now, someone should step up and say they were wrong. Otherwise, it looks like either the Pope is complicit in a lie (which I find impossible to believe) or he is out of touch (which I find disheartening). And that is what makes the bruhaha a big deal. I don't expect or want the Pope to endorse commercial enterprises, but I don't want Vatican officials close to the Pope to flee responsibility for their mistakes.

frank sales

Although deliberate lying at the expense of the reputation of good people like Peggy Noonan cannot be excused, Michael's last post shows why the Vatican is trying to disavow the Pope's remarks.

"It is as it was" is absolutely not a statement binding in faith as Michael suggests. The Pope is infallible when explicitly speaking ex cathedra or when enunciating the Magisterium. His comment of the realistic aspects of a work of art are of course neither of these. If he commented on a Caravaggio painting and its realism, would Michael believe that it was binding on Catholics to believe that the art constituted a photograph-like reproduction of the scene depicted?

I think the "danger" that the Vatican perceives is that many people will, like Michael, think that the Pope's "endorsement" of the movie constitutes a type of imprimatur that requires Catholics to accept an artist's interpretation of the Gospel as binding. Again, no excuse for the clumsy handling of the whole affair.

al

Rod Dreher,
If this: "The issue is the credibility of the Vatican's varying pronouncements" is the issue, then we're going to treat it in its full import, which includes dissecting all the axes currently being ground on the matter (Novak et. al. excoriating Martino as a proxy).

As I said, I'm as interested in the next guy as to the specifics of what was said. However, if we're going to extrapolate some overarching analysis here, then the whole issue should be articulated.

Yes we do have a higher standard for the Vatican, particularly than the noble lyin' neocons, and so we have a higher standard of proof before deciding malfeasance.

Christopher H.

I am greatly saddened by this entire mess. This is so much bigger than what the Pope's comments about "The Passion" are. It casts a shadow on EVERYTHING that comes forth from an otherwise great spiritual leader.

Personally, I am reminded of another movie. Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. It seems there is a Grima Wormtongue at work at the Vatican taking advantage of Pope John Paul's Theoden.

al

BTW, on the "suspect" interpretation of Our Lord's Passion evident in the movie (somehow "tainted" by affiliation with a private revelation):

The number two guy of the Congregation of the Faith, Fr. DiNoia, put that to rest in his lengthy discussion of the matter. Certainly, after seeing the film, you might dispute his analysis, but I think an intelligent person would take the word of a theologian, and specifically one in the Dicastery charged with the doctrine of the faith, over others.

al

Christopher H.,
If that is true you must also assume that many of the overtures you might like, say ecumenical or towards modern liberalism, may well also be tainted by this "wormtongue". In reality, its just an inducement to hearken to the official pronouncements of the Holy See itself, rather then inside analyses, whether they be liberal (McBrien) or "conservative" (Novak. . . )

Hunk Hondo

Michael, first let me say I'm flattered to be taken for Richard, though that estimable gentleman may well resent being confused with me. Thanks for your clarification, but if the Pope said it,and I still don't see that their need to spin the episode to avoid bolstering a private cult of a private excuses what Navarro-Valls et al. did. Lies are lies. The legitimate purpose couold have been served far better simply by saying that the Poipe was giving his private opinion which no Catholic or other person of good will. And I'm afraid it's just not true that nobody will seize on this to discredit Peggy and Rod. They both have enemies all over the place who will not scruple at grabbing any stick to beat them.

Christopher H.

Al:
I'm not quite following you. Can you elaborate?

Richard

Hello Michael,

I think you have me confused with Hondo, but...

Assume the Pope did make these remarks and did enjoy the movie.

Assume also that someone wrongly gave McEveety the wrong impression that he could shout the endorsement from the heavens.

The simple solution would seem to be to release a statement: The Holy Father viewed and enjoyed the new movie by Mel Gibson and this was communicated to Icon Productions. The Holy Father does not, as a matter of course endorse works of art. We regret that the impression was communicated to makers of the film that the Holy Father was doing so; and any confusion that may have resulted.

Or something like that.

You'd still have to explain the e-mails, of course. But the simplest course would seem to be to nip this controversy in the bud.

If they do not, the Vatican will come off looking much worse than if nothing had ever been said at all in the first place.

Anyway, as Rod says, none of us have seen the film yet, so I am not prepared to make the kind of observation you did about its theological or scriptural grounding.
If in fact the Pope - and the other Cardinals who have added their praise for the film - enjoyed it so warmyl, I am inclined to think there is nothing objectionable or inconsistent with the teaching of the Magesterium in this film.

But I'll just have to see it for myself.

best regards,
Rich

Christopher H.

Put aside everything for a moment and assume he DID NOT say anything about the film. At this point-after much reporting that he did say it and the subsequent denial-wouldn't the most "pastoral" thing be to have the pope NOW say what he thought of it? "To remove any doubt" so to speak? Why let this confusion persist?

Michael

Sorry Richard, I meant Hunk...I'm not infallible.

Rod, I know the pope's isn't infallible when he comments on the Polish soccer teams play...but the general perception is that when he speaks...people, especially Catholics, listen and especially when he speaks about matters of faith. So this is a rather big issue from that standpoint.

I haven't seen the movie, plan to and expect to like it a lot. But that doesn't mean that I want the Pope, my bishop or pastor declaring "it is as it was" as if they were present in Jerusalem on the day it happened.

When I first heard about the pope's statement, on Drudge, quoting Peggy I believe, I thought it hinted of senility but it could be that the quote is incomplete--that the pope said it "it is as it was in the Gospel of John" or "it is as it was in the Gospel of Mark" or "it is as it was in Anne Catherine Emerich's works."

al

Christopher,
Clearly if this is going to be, rather than a fairly straightforward anaylsis of who said what to whom and how (which again, I am interested in, but I don't imagine many others might ultimately be, even if it is the Pope, cause they aren't interested, particularly, in the difference between private statements of the pope, authoritative pronouncements, ex cathedra determinations, authentic development of doctrine. . . ), an analysis of "credibility of the Vatican's varying pronouncements", then clearly this is going to proceed to an analysis of the Church's engagement with the Modern World, the subject of Vatican II, with its qualified endorsement of "strategic ambiguities" and what that means for what many believe the Church holds about many things which they may find much more important that JPII's opinion about a movie.

c matt

But Coca-Cola IS the real thing.

Hunk Hondo

Sorry about all my typos, guys. If I ever get into any controversy about e-mails, I can always point to them as indicia of authenticity.
C Matt, are you really sure? I always thought that Coke Is It.

c matt

I noticed Peg says he watched on a videocassette recorder. Are things so tight that they can't spring for a dvd player?

Christopher H.

Wasn't there also a case of one of the Cardinal's comments about the film being reported as an endorsement, and then a subsequent back-pedaling?

al

An example of what I'm talking about would be Cardinal Pell's statement last year that the Church should ditch the "primacy of conscience" language. Now to listen to some of the commentators (Novak. . . . ) the Church's use of this language constitutes some authentic "development of doctrine", an endorsement of elements of the Reformation. But if what Pell's remarks disclose is simply that the "primacy of conscience" language used in Church language since Vatican II (e.g. Dignitatis Humanae) is simply the maintaining of "strategic ambiguity", then that has fairly significant implications, not only for Church/State issues, but, more importantly, for individual moral and ecumenical issues. I think some people will be fairly shocked, in fact, by the implications, which they should consider before they start analyzing the "credibility of the Vatican's varying pronouncements."

c matt

Coke=Coca Cola (that's why its made by the Coca Cola Company). I think Rod prefers Dr. Pepper.

As for the topic, I tend to disagree with Peg about this not being a tempest in a tea-pot. Pope sees movie, may or may not have said comments (most likely did). In initial enthusiasm for film, Vatican allows film makers to use quote. After further reflection, Vatican decides to back off, and, not being infallible in PR matters (see scandal), bungles by obfuscating.

Manuel J. Matos

On the Vatican and "The Passion"

This subject looks to me like from the "silly season". Is nothing more important than a clearly journalist created case regarding what the Pope said or not said about a movie? Just watch how big is the comments' column. In the end, it is up to each one of us to decide what does really deserve the use of our time. To me, this matter doesn't.

Yours truly

MJMatos, Portugal

AB

Tempest in a Teapot

I suspect that this is more a matter of crossed-signals than malice.

Rod and Peggy are coming at it from within the 24 hour newscycles of the modern mass-media.

I doubt that JPII or his aids approach it that way.

JPII came of age before the end of WWII. There was no TV, little film, and AM radio was still high-tech, with FM in the future.

Under the Nazi's and the Communists there was no free press at all, so he didn't have deal with real reporters until he was an old man.

In addition, his social customs, such as what constitutes a harmless white lie, probably predate WWI. This incident is no stranger than some of the things he has done when confronted with tyrants, even as pope.

If we could sit everybody around a table and sort this out there would likely be a few red-faces, but no malice.

Rod Dreher

This "harmless white lie", AB, if believed, makes Mel Gibson's team look like vultures, and reputable Catholic journalists like Peggy Noonan and John Allen look like accomplices to a lie. That's not harmless, not by a long shot. Do you think that Gibson's people should just be quiet and take the spite being heaped on their head by the Los Angeles Times, Frank Rich and others, simply because they believed Joaquin Navarro-Valls, and followed his instructions -- however inconvenient to the Vatican's purposes now those instructions were? Do you think Noonan and Allen should lie down and accept that their reputations as journalists should be called into question because some unnamed person or persons in the Vatican finds this story inconvenient?

How can that be right? How can that be Christian?

And it's not a "tempest in a teapot." Ultimately, this is not about what the Holy Father's view of a particular movie is. That's not at issue. At issue is whether or not the Vatican can be trusted to be truthful in matters like this, and whether the Vatican reserves to itself the right to mislead journalists and others who take its words in good faith, and then find themselves cut off at the knees when the Vatican decides it no longer suits its purposes to stand by its initial claims.

It is about the right of Steve McEveety, Jan Michelini, Peggy Noonan and John Allen to their reputation.

It is most certainly not about the Magisterium, Michael Novak, the Iraq war or whatever else is going around Al's head. Al, I know you have your own opinions about that, and that we disagree, but please don't confuse the discussion. You say that you're interested only in a straightforward discussion of what the Pope did or did not say, but then you say that others want to wrongly bring other agendas to it ... and then you proceed to bring other agendas to it! Just drop it, and let's focus on the facts as we know them. It is not necessary to discuss the engagement of the Church with modernity to hash out the implications for this incident on Vatican credibility, and on the fortunes of this film and its makers.

bill

This is easily "Bearing False Witness"

Rod Dreher

A priest friend just passed along a tart but all too accurate quote:

"The bishops have an infinite capacity to decide that what is most convenient for them is in the best interest of the Church."

I think that mentality is at work in this flap.

al

It is if we are to impute "malfeasance" to those who would maintain a strategic ambiguity. Or extrapolate "dereliction" or "negligence" from incapablity or incompetence (i.e. not removing bishops).

The analyses advanced above regarding simply a non-infalliblity of Public Relations (especially in the modern world) are probably more than adequate to explain the situation. If we're going to open the whole can of worms, then we need to get all the cards on the table (to mix some metaphors. . . . )

To truly debunk Frank Rich, does anyone really want to get into how he's an instrument of Satan, with his crusade of secularism and all that entails? Is that a good idea? Would anyone really want Cardinal D. holding forth on that?

Christopher Rake

It certainly matters to me what John Paul actually said, and certainly for the reasons stated by Noonan and Dreher. It's not going to influence whether I'll see the movie--I will, fearfully--but exactly because of the pope's record on anti-semitism, the truth of his view will deeply influence how the movie is regarded out here in the real world. It matters. The truth always matters.

AB

Rod,

I think we agree that this has blown up beyond just what JPII thinks of the movie.

That said, I don't think that the Vatican tried to brand anybody a liar and that this is a clumsy attempt to climb-down from a position that they don't think that they should have taken in the first place.

For my part, I often don't understand the actions of the American Press, particularly is extreme hypocrisy in professing political neutrality.

It doesn't surprise me that the Vatican doesn't understand it either. The Church has a number of well-wishers in the American Media, but for the bulk of the media, its anti-Catholic bigotry is exceeded only by its ignorance. Good-grief, they completley dropped the pope's trip to Cuba to chase after whore named Monica.

I keep repeating this, but JPII and his advisors come from a different time, a differnt culture, and a differnt social class--and in Europe that means something.

I think that culture clash is at the root of this problem and so the Vatican is likely perplexed about what hapend and why.

I would write this off as an unworthy attempt by the Vatican and let it drop:

"Never atribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity and incompetence."

AB

Rod,

I don't think that I am doing a very good job arguing my point. Let me suggest a slightly different tack:

When Vatican aparently takes a public position that it thinks unwise and regrets, how should they climb down?

Carrie

Michael wrote:

I haven't seen the movie, plan to and expect to like it a lot. But that doesn't mean that I want the Pope, my bishop or pastor declaring "it is as it was" as if they were present in Jerusalem on the day it happened.

This bothers me as much as it does you. "It is as it was." implies a personal witness. As in "I was there and I saw it, and this movie depicts exactly what happened." It's not a reference to Catholic theology. It's a reference to personal experience. Or perhaps one could say "phenomenology?"

Christopher H.

When Vatican aparently takes a public position that it thinks unwise and regrets, how should they climb down?

Why should the Pope's personal reaction-an 11 letter utterance just after seeing the movie- be considered "taking a public position"? Can they not just say, "Yeah he said that but it was his own opinion and he was not speaking about a matter of faith and morals so go see it for yourself, or not, and decide for yourself".

Rod Dreher

AB: That said, I don't think that the Vatican tried to brand anybody a liar and that this is a clumsy attempt to climb-down from a position that they don't think that they should have taken in the first place.

Didn't want to, but did. This is the effect of the Vatican's shenanigans. Good intentions do not erase this fact.

Here's an idea for the Vatican to extricate itself from this mess: try telling the truth. Amazing how effective that can be.

Jim

I hope that no one would be silly enough to think that the Pope's purported utterance ("It is as it was") was, if said, anything more than the expression of one man's opinion. If it was interpreted by people as a definitive pronouncement by the Pope on the historical accuracy of an artistic work, then those people have assigned almost magical powers to the papal office. How could anyone literally pronounce that a movie made in the 21st century is an accurate representation of events that happened 2000 years ago?

I'm very interested in the Pope's opinion on a work of art. I would not be interested in the least in his "canonization" of a movie by Mel Gibson.

Carrie

Would it be inappropriate to bring up the flak over plans for an ecumenical cathedral at Fatima at this point? That story got about as garbled as this one is getting. It was another case of say something and then retract it, leaving everyone in doubt as to what really is planned for Fatima's future.

Rod Dreher

I'm going to be interviewed about this controversy for ABC "World News Tonight." Tune in this evening if you're interested.

Carrie

How could anyone literally pronounce that a movie made in the 21st century is an accurate representation of events that happened 2000 years ago?

How, indeed, Jim. Yet that appears to be what the Pope did. The statement seems to carry conviction. Of course there is wiggle room in "translation." He may actually have said something in Polish for all we know.

I guess a lot of you can simply dismiss this as just a non-event. Personally, I can't. Coupled with the obfuscation coming from our chanceries, it will taint Vatican pronouncements for me for quite a while in the forseeable future.


Donald R. McClarey

I would love to see the number of posts that would be generated if this were about something even vaguely important.

mfundis

I am (honestly) wondering- is it possible that Navarro-Valls has a secetary or assistant that answers his e-mail if it is deemed to be lower on the scale of importance? In business, this can happen when a busy executive has a lot of incoming correspondence, his/her (how's that for politically correct?) administrative asst may have the "authority" to answer certain items in the executives staid.- Whether or not it's ethical or a good idea remains to be seen.

Mfundis

mfundis

I am (honestly) wondering- is it possible that Navarro-Valls has a secetary or assistant that answers his e-mail if it is deemed to be lower on the scale of importance? In business, this can happen when a busy executive has a lot of incoming correspondence, his/her (how's that for politically correct?) administrative asst may have the "authority" to answer certain items in the executives staid.- Whether or not it's ethical or a good idea remains to be seen.

Mfundis

AB

Rod,

I agree that the Vatican has dug itself an unpleasant hole and dragged a number of reporters in to join them.

Then there is the whole point of executing a climb-down: Something was clearly said that should not have been said and now it is being disowned.

Obviously, there shouldn't be blunders like this in the first place, but the Vatican is run by men and these will happen from time-to-time.

No matter how you slice it, the climb-down is going to be ugly and unbecoming of the Vatican. "Words, once flown, can not be recalled." To be caught like this casts doubt on their truthfulness in the first place.

That still leaves the problem of disowning things that should not have been said--they can not be erased, only denied. No matter how the Vatican approaches this, they will look like Italian politicians

For that reason, I am trying to think, "How do they do that so that they do the least damage?" Again, I think that they are reacting not like modern Americans, but of Old-Old School Europeans. Their reactions may be out of date, but I don’t think that they are malicious.

One of the things Conservatives like about this pope is that he has stuck to the Old Ways, and shunned the Groovy New Ways. That cuts both ways: Old Theology--Old Manners.

This is why I ask this--not as a specific question on this issue--but as the general question: “How does the Vatican execute a climb-down once regretted words have flown?” Answering that question may shed light on the specific case that you are caught up in.

Christopher Rake

When Vatican aparently takes a public position that it thinks unwise and regrets, how should they climb down?

I know this question wasn't addressed to me, but the way not to climb down is to damage the reputation of the few prominent Catholic pundits who somehow found a platform in the predominantly liberal American press.

Jeff Glen

Traditional Catholics are hardly surprised.

All par for the course . . . the Great Facade . . . the emperor without clothes . . .

James Freeman

Michael writes:

"I have no doubt that the pope said what has been reported, I also see what is going on as damage control. Rod you are getting way to worked up about this...do you and Peggy want the pope holding up a can of Coke during the Super Bowl next week and saying 'It's the real thing'?

First, "It is as it was" is a content judgment, not an endorsement. He just as well could have said "It is as it was . . . but, damn, was the acting stiff or what?"

Secondly, this ain't Coke. This movie could be one of the most important evangelization tools ever. I think, in showing it to all these religious leaders, what Mel Gibson is looking for is confirmation that he got it right.

In that sense, it is the Church's duty to give Gibson (and all the rest of us) a damn straight answer. Is it is or is it ain't as it was?

Instead, what we get is more intrigue, politics, Romanita and lies.

The Vatican may not be telling us much about Mel Gibson's movie, but it sure has been telling us a lot about how little resemblance the institutional Church bears to the one birthed that first Pentecost.

Rod Dreher

I know this question wasn't addressed to me, but the way not to climb down is to damage the reputation of the few prominent Catholic pundits who somehow found a platform in the predominantly liberal American press.

That's a very good point. Good grief, Mel Gibson and Peggy Noonan are sticking their neck out for the faith, only to have it chopped off by the Vatican. How likely do you think this kind of thing makes it for Catholic artists and journalists to go to ground for the Church's behalf? Bishops treat pro-abortion politicians with more respect than Rome has treated these people in this matter.

frank sales

Rod says:"Do you think Noonan and Allen should lie down and accept that their reputations as journalists should be called into question because some unnamed person or persons in the Vatican finds this story inconvenient? How can that be right? How can that be Christian?"

As once again crusader Dreher promotes the steroid Catholic reaction and sneers at the "effete" response, I'd like to point out that there is substantial Catholic literature on the merits of "lying down and taking it" (I think of the writings of St. Theresa of Avila specifically). The tradition, as I understand it comes from the example of our Lord when wrongly accused: "it is you who say it". I'm not saying that there isn't a time and place where the interests of something beyond your own reputation require a muscular defence of the truth but humility and silence in the face of unjust accusations are not things, Rod, that should be sneered at out of hand.

Jeff Culbreath

Perhaps, in the emotional intensity of the moment, the Holy Father said something like "It is as it was" after watching the film.

Then perhaps afterwards, he and/or his aids realized that if such a pronouncement were to be made public, it would be interpreted as a blanket endorsement.

So what's wrong with a blanket endorsement? The problem is that one can see a movie -- any movie -- several times before noticing serious flaws. One viewing is not enough to give a movie a blanket endorsement.

If there turned out to be something in the film that manifestly was not "as it was", then the Pope would be seen as telling a much more serious "lie" than his officials seem to be telling now.

Not making excuses, just peering a little into human psychology.

James Freeman

Rod Dreher writes:

"The Church teaches that people have a right to their good name. So why are top Churchmen trying to take it away from Catholics whose only mistake, it appears, was to trust the Pope's spokesman?"

To cite the Gospel According to Blutarsky:

"You f***** up. You trusted us!"

Larry Tierney

Where is AL Haig whhen you need him?

Hunk Hondo

Frank Sales, I commend you for the equanimity with which you bear the wrongs done to others.

Patrick Sweeney

Several Catholic journalists have been accused of lying. The accusers are Joaquin Navarro-Valls and Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz.

These accusations are being repeated by several others with an anti-Passion or anti-Catholic or simply an anti-Noonan, an anti-Allen or anti-Dreher agenda.

Then the fallback position was that these journalists were given faked email. The quote was reported over a month ago. The time to deny the quote was the day after it appeared in print globally -- December 18. No one has explained the delay in the denial.

Emails can be faked -- but given that the people involved received both genuine and allegedly faked emails -- evidence of their true origin is going to be there in the email headers.

If the accusation that Steve McEveety made it up and Peggy Noonan and all the others did not confirm the Pope's words with Dziwisz is not withdrawn then going forward, all these journalists will be painted with a Jayson Blair brush as Richard McBrien just did. That's a big deal. Someone is lying.

James Freeman

Frank Sales writes:

"As once again crusader Dreher promotes the steroid Catholic reaction and sneers at the "effete" response, I'd like to point out that there is substantial Catholic literature on the merits of "lying down and taking it" (I think of the writings of St. Theresa of Avila specifically). The tradition, as I understand it comes from the example of our Lord when wrongly accused: "it is you who say it". I'm not saying that there isn't a time and place where the interests of something beyond your own reputation require a muscular defence of the truth but humility and silence in the face of unjust accusations are not things, Rod, that should be sneered at out of hand."

Been there, been told that, got the T-shirt.

It represents the fallback position for those who try to defend the indefensible and find it, well, *indefensible*.

Furthermore, Christ's response, "It is you who say it" well could be interpreted as "You say it, and you're a liar."

But the important thing here is that Christ was born to be the paschal sacrifice. It wasn't his job to defend himself. It was his mission to be sacrificed for our sins.

Contrary to some Catholic practice, IT IS NOT Church teaching that we are to seek out martyrdom.

Pope St. Leo the Great gave a Christmas homily that now is part of the office of readings. I think it well applies to both those who would be tempted to "take one for the team" and those who think they can do evil, then demand such of the righteous:

"Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.

"Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ."

frank sales

Come on, Hulk Hondo, the wrong done to Peggy Noonan is something she is no doubt handling with equanimity. Should you and I be losing sleep over it? Does she need Rod Dreher leading yet another charge on the ramparts of the Church? Yes, there is a need for our leaders to be criticised. Maybe Rod has a vocation to kick the bishops into line. But every day, on every issue, with such disdain and anger? I've read Catherine of Siena's letters criticizing and admonishing bishops and the Pope. It was a different age, and she was not an attack journalist, but her letters demonstrate humility, charity and goodwill that Rod Dreher's writing lacks. He may have all of them, but if so they are well hidden.

Rod Dreher

The bottom line, Frank, is you appear to be saying that Mel Gibson's people, and others whose names and reputations have been called into question because they believed the papal spokesman (and in Gibson's case, acted on his instructions) should just accept this humiliation and disgrace for some mysterious greater good of the Church.

Those days are over, God willing.

frank sales

I don't know what new age you are ushering in, Rod. The most recent example I can think of wilingly suffering humiliation and disgrace at the hands of the Church as part of a witness to Christ is Padre Pio. But maybe that is too 20th century of me.

AB

The Vatican has clearly gotten itself into a cast-iron mess of its own making.

This is going to happen from time-to-time.

In the general case: How does the Vatican execute a climb-down?

Kay

Rod, with all due respect, you sound lately like you've completely gone off the deep end. I understand that after all you have researched and written on regarding the scandal, you are probably affected much more deeply than the average Catholic layman. But that doesn't justify the utter loathing for members of the hierarchy that seems to emanate from most of what you write lately.

Contrary to what you and most Americans seem to think, the world and the Church do not revolve around the goings-on in the United States. The Church is more than the abuse scandal, and its certainly more than a(n admittedly, from all accounts, moving and faithful) movie by Mel Gibson.

Why is this movie business so agonizing to you, Rod, that you feel the need to lead "yet another charge on the ramparts of the Church" as Frank so aptly put it? You seem to be looking for any excuse to start raving about how horrible the Church is.

It seems to me to be as simple as this: the Holy Father watches the movie with a close friend. Moved, he makes the comment, "it is as it was". Friend tells someone else, and somehow word leaks out to the press. Suddenly the Pope's words - private comments to a friend! - are being used publicly in the absurd American press both to promote the film, and used by liberals and anti-Catholics to pillory the Church yet again. Someone at the Vatican, seeking to somehow get the Pope out of this silly American squabble, handles it badly by retracting the statement.

So WHAT? This is evidence of WHAT exactly? That the Pope is hoarding gold and riches in the Vatican? That he's secretly the anti-Christ and is leading us all to hell? WHAT Rod?

All I see is that someone bumbled in an attempt to keep the Pope's name out of this silly "'Your film is anti-semitic!', 'No its not, even the Pope says it isn't!'" thing. Rod, and others in this thread, on the other hand, apparently see it as evidence of every sinister Vatican plot ever dreamed up by the Jack Chick and Ian Paisley types. Ugh.

Sure, the situation was handled akwardly. But to read anything more into beyond panic and bad handling is more than beyond silly, its delusionary.

frank sales

I wonder if there's a self-promotional aspect to Rod's mania. Hey, he gets to go on tv tonight and rage away in his persona as the loyal Catholic layman determined to root out all hypocrisy and wrongdoing in the aloof and out-of-touch hierarchy. I hope not.

There can be too much of a good thing.

al

I mean, on the objective scale of things, does this backtrack and absence of definitive clarification rank up there with, say, Cardinal Daneels endorsement of Condoms. . . . He pulled the rug out from under a bunch of other Cardinals. If the Vatican isn't going to step in and solve that, then why would they give fig for journalists who jump in where Angels fear to Tread. . .

Chris

"It's disgusting, is what it is"

Once again, Rod, who has no more accurate knowledge of the true facts here than any of us, reports from merely a personal assumption. And ...that, ladies and gentlemen, is why we are supposed to take newsprint as the gospel truth?? Retractions maybe back on page 30? Anyway, the gist of Peggy's surmise in her article seems to agree with my assessment in the other long comment section on this same topic: that there may have been given a personal comment, as is given usually by the pope in thanking most artists who bring him works. When, without taking into consideration the place the pope has spent great efforts and time and sacrifice to situate the Church at this time in its history of relations with the Jews as well as other religions, his personal comment was used as some official endorsement which it was not. Now, another thing I don't quite grasp is why those associated with a rather "shoot from the hip" believer, who wants people to pick and choose which pope to follow and to create a bit of a designer faith, even if it leans to an orthodox type of interpretation, will automatically deserve the most reverence in deciding just who is in the right here. Since one can play fast and loose with popes in general, should we automatically believe the same quasi respect can't take place in this instance? It also sounds like the e-mails in dispute here are only those claimed by Mel's guys.

So, Rod, when you appear on ABC tonight - that pinnacle of factual, no-spin, reporting - please keep in mind that you have no more knowledge of the real facts than anyone else. Anything you say should be given and taken as your personal opinion - even your doubts and conspiracy theories - which may cause an unfounded interpretation of wicked intent by our Church as well as perhaps lessen the intended graces to be given through this work of art.

bill

Kay, are you serious? The issue isn't one of panic and bad handling, its one of the Pope's spokesman lying and bearing false witness against another person. That's a commandment that's being broken, regardless of the intended result. The ends do not justify the means, and its terrifying that the vatican apparently knows less about right and wrong than a third grader.

Rod Dreher

Kay: It seems to me to be as simple as this: the Holy Father watches the movie with a close friend. Moved, he makes the comment, "it is as it was". Friend tells someone else, and somehow word leaks out to the press.

Somehow? Kay, it leaked to the press because the Vatican spokesman gave them permission to use the quote, confirmed it when asked about it, and even urged them to use it in their promotion of the film.

Honestly, some of you people act deranged in your attempt to excuse the inexcusable. I only hope your names and reputations aren't held up to public contempt by some Church official trying to cover his rear end.

Christopher H.

Problem Solved!

Apparently the official statement is thus:
"IT IS the Holy FAther'A custom not to express publIc judgmenTs on
artistic Works, judgments which Are alwayS open to diverse evaluations of an
aesthetic nature."

Now using a numerical code (not so much unlike the old Hebrew Numerology system as to be confused with anything) here is what you do:

Take the 1st 2nd, 3rd 4th 13th, 18th, 41st, 50th, 62nd, 81st, and 89th letters of that and you get, "IT IS AS IT WAS".

See! Just a simple misunderstanding. That's what happens when you don't use the FULL quote.

Christopher H.

Woops!

"IT IS the Holy FAther'S custom not to express publIc judgmenTs on
artistic Works, judgments which Are alwayS open to diverse evaluations of an
aesthetic nature."

al

So that's all you need to conclude to "malfeasance" and "inexcusability" is bald assertion?

James Freeman

Frank Sales writes:

"I wonder if there's a self-promotional aspect to Rod's mania. Hey, he gets to go on tv tonight and rage away in his persona as the loyal Catholic layman determined to root out all hypocrisy and wrongdoing in the aloof and out-of-touch hierarchy. I hope not."

Really.

*I* wonder who or what, exactly, you worship?

Is it a fallen human bureaucracy or the Creator of the Universe?

Do you think putting on a pointy hat makes one immune from God's law? Or that it just doesn't matter, so long as certain clerics still have buttocks to smooch?

Are you Catholic because you believe the fullness of the truth abides in Catholic teaching, or are you Catholic because, by God, it makes you "better" than the Prots?

Fair is fair. If you can wonder about Rod and his sincerity, the rest of us sure as hell can wonder about you.

Idle spectator

I agree, Kay. And could it be argued that this molehill has turned into a mountain because some people are doggedly making it so? (Be sure to swing hard at the Vatican when you're on TV tonight, Rod. Because that's going to help advance the Truth of Catholicism...)

The people who have an agenda against Mel Gibson's movie (Frank Rich, the JDL, etc.) are going to continue to crow about its purported anti-Semitism no matter what. Does anyone seriously think the Pope's private or formal endorsement is going to put that to rest? Isn't it more likely that people looking for anti-Semitism in this movie are going to use any favorable Papal quotes to say, "See? The Pope really IS anti-Semitic! He liked that anti-Semitic movie!" Why should the Pope, who has gone to great lengths to bring Christians and Jews closer together, risk that? And now that the quote is already out there, might it not be better to back off and say, "the Pope doesn't (implication: "officially") make statements about the quality of art. Period." If they admit that he said it, even in the context of a personal comment to a fellow viewer, it still looks like an endorsement.

You know what Rod, people screw up sometimes. I'm sure you have a spotless track record of reporting and speaking flawlessly at all times, but the rest of the world doesn't.

James Freeman

REMOVING THE EXTRANEOUS 1st QUESTION MARK


Frank Sales writes:

"I wonder if there's a self-promotional aspect to Rod's mania. Hey, he gets to go on tv tonight and rage away in his persona as the loyal Catholic layman determined to root out all hypocrisy and wrongdoing in the aloof and out-of-touch hierarchy. I hope not."

Really.

*I* wonder who or what, exactly, you worship.

Is it a fallen human bureaucracy or the Creator of the Universe?

Do you think putting on a pointy hat makes one immune from God's law? Or that it just doesn't matter, so long as certain clerics still have buttocks to smooch?

Are you Catholic because you believe the fullness of the truth abides in Catholic teaching, or are you Catholic because, by God, it makes you "better" than the Prots?

Fair is fair. If you can wonder about Rod and his sincerity, the rest of us sure as hell can wonder about you.

al

"The Pope didn't do anything about the Sex Scandal! And he was against the War! And he doesn't care about 9/11! And he won't appear at the Papal Balcony defending Peggy Noonan! YEEEAAAAHHHHHH!"

Chris

From Ms. Noonan's article:

"I was surprised. Dr. Navarro-Valls is famously close-mouthed, and spends most of his time knocking stories like this down. It was unusual that he would give Mr. McEveety permission."


"He answered by e-mail advising Mr. McEveety not to worry, to use the phrase "It is as it was," and to repeat those words "again and again and again." Mr. McEveety sent me a copy of the e-mail."


"Yesterday, Jan. 21, Rod Dreher of the Dallas Morning News e-mailed Dr. Navarro-Valls and asked him about the e-mails the spokesman had sent to Steve McEveety."


"Dr. Navarro-Valls quickly replied. He told Mr. Dreher that "the e-mails were not authentic. He was suggesting that they were fabricated."

It would appear, at least to me, that Ms. Noonan has her own doubts about Dr. Navarro-Valls' newly established attitude toward stories given to the press. This she expresses from her past experience with the man on other topics. An order to repeat the story "again, and again, and again"? I'd have my doubts too.

Meaghan

Have read Amy's blog for a long time but have never posted a comment. I am definitely on the downhill side of a century, and my own experience in the Church during these many years has left me saddened. In my study of the history of the church and my experience with living within the church, it is only those named as laity that are expected to obey the commandments and live in humility and submission to "The Church". IMO, that is because the hierarchy from the Vatican on down believe they are "The Church" and they make the rules for others, but can't be bothered with them themselves. Reminds me of a comment by someone named Jesus regarding the Pharisees. It isn't old European culture vs modernity and the US, it isn't royal vs subjects (but that is how they see it, imo) but it is the Gospel. It is Christ and His Body (and that Body is not the hierarchy or the magisterium but all those baptized in faith) that is being defamed by those who lie and bear false witness. The way out is for all those who deem themselves in the place of authority to repent on their face in humility to the Lord and ask forgiveness of all His people. Then they might be able to be seen as shephards. No one is a "prince" in the church from pope on down. They have defined who they believe they are but should remember the example of Christ and empty themselves of themselves and then maybe they can authentically speak for Him.

frank sales

No one's trying to excuse anything, Rod. We're just standing by in open-mouthed wonder as you go ballistic over this.

Even if Cardinal Two-names denies emailing what he really emailed, to the reckless disregard of the credibility of good people, you seem to be overreacting. Some readers, myself included, attribute this to a pathology on your part where the hierarchy of the Church is concerned. Yes, by all means publically identify the wrong, ask that it be corrected, but then move on. Have some balance, cancel that 16-part investigative report you are planning for your newspaper. Don't go on national tv and fan the flames of a new "scandal".

al

Meaghan,
From Zenit:
At Saturday's audience John Paul II underlined the need to "safeguard a balanced relation between the role of the laity and that which is properly the competence of the diocesan ordinary or the parish priest."

"The structure of the Church cannot be conceived according to simple human political models," the Pope said. "Its hierarchical constitution is based on the will of Christ and, as such, forms part of the deposit of faith, which must be preserved and totally transmitted through the centuries."

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