February 23, 2013, Saturday — Communique
“…news reports abound which are often unverified or unverifiable, or completely false…” –Communique this morning from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State, released at the Vatican Press Office
The Vatican Speaks Out
Evidently concerned that the upcoming papal conclave to elect a successor to Pope Benedict XVI (the conclave is now expected to be held between March 10 and 15, though the date is not yet fixed) may be subjected to undue “pressure” from outside the Church, this morning, the Vatican Secretariat of State released the communique printed below.
The hope expressed is that the cardinals entering the Conclave be completely free to make their choice of the next Pope.
The desire expressed is for the complete freedom of the Church, libertas ecclesiae, from information, and from disinformation.
The fact that this Communique was thought necessary shows how seriously the Vatican is taking the current situation in the media, with rumors of all types swirling and spreading across the globe in mere seconds.
Clearly, the Secretariat of State is concerned about the danger that an individual cardinal, or the Conclave as a whole, may be unduly influenced by overwhelming “pressure” from outside the Church.
At the same time, there is a growing feeling among the Catholic faithful that the best way to ensure that such undue pressure is not exerted, that the “freedom of the Church” is protected, is for more of the truth about the “Vatileaks” affair, and the results of the investigation of the three cardinals into that affair, to come out.
As one reader (but there were dozens like him who have written to me) put it in an email this morning: “All the people and the faithful want, is the truth. If this continues to blow up as it would appear, then the Vatican should release the report. The people of God deserve the truth and nothing less, despite what may offend or injure the Church’s reputation. This has similar tones of cover up like what happened with the sexual abuse world wide. Let the cleansing begin.”
Secretary of State Communiqué on Conclave
(Vatican Radio) Please find below a Vatican Radio translation of a Secretary of State communiqué on conclave, issued Saturday:
“The freedom of the College of Cardinals, which alone, under the law, is responsible for the election of the Roman Pontiff, has always been strongly defended by the Holy See, as a guarantee of a choice based on evaluations solely for the good of the Church.
“Over the centuries, the Cardinals have faced multiple forms of pressure exerted on the individual voters and the same College, with the aim of conditioning decisions, to bend them to a political or worldly logic.
“If in the past it was the so-called superpowers, namely States, that sought to condition the election of the Pope in their favour, today there is an attempt to apply the weight of public opinion, often on the basis of assessments that fail to capture the spiritual aspect of this moment in the life of the Church.
“It is regrettable that, as we draw near to the beginning of the Conclave when Cardinal electors shall be bound in conscience and before God, to freely express their choice, news reports abound which are often unverified or unverifiable, or completely false, provoking damage to people and institutions.
“It is in moments such as these, that Catholics are called to focus on what is essential: to pray for Pope Benedict, to pray that the Holy Spirit enlighten the College of Cardinals, to pray for the future Pope, trusting that the fate of the barque of St. Peter is in the hands of God.”
Here is the same text in the original Italian, for those of you who would like to check the one against the other:
COMUNICATO DELLA SEGRETERIA DI STATO
La libertà del Collegio Cardinalizio, al quale spetta di provvedere, a norma del diritto, all’elezione del Romano Pontefice, è sempre stata strenuamente difesa dalla Santa Sede, quale garanzia di una scelta che fosse basata su valutazioni rivolte unicamente al bene della Chiesa.
Nel corso dei secoli i Cardinali hanno dovuto far fronte a molteplici forme di pressione, esercitate sui singoli elettori e sullo stesso Collegio, che avevano come fine quello di condizionarne le decisioni, piegandole a logiche di tipo politico o mondano.
Se in passato sono state le cosiddette potenze, cioè gli Stati, a cercare di far valere il proprio condizionamento nell’elezione del Papa, oggi si tenta di mettere in gioco il peso dell’opinione pubblica, spesso sulla base di valutazioni che non colgono l’aspetto tipicamente spirituale del momento che la Chiesa sta vivendo.
È deplorevole che, con l’approssimarsi del tempo in cui avrà inizio il Conclave e i Cardinali elettori saranno tenuti, in coscienza e davanti a Dio, ad esprimere in piena libertà la propria scelta, si moltiplichi la diffusione di notizie spesso non verificate, o non verificabili, o addirittura false, anche con grave danno di persone e istituzioni.
Mai come in questi momenti, i cattolici si concentrano su ciò che è essenziale: pregano per Papa Benedetto, pregano affinché lo Spirito Santo illumini il Collegio dei Cardinali, pregano per il futuro Pontefice, fiduciosi che le sorti della barca di Pietro sono nelle mani di Dio.