Latex Treachery: A Tale of Betrayal

Judie Brown
Reproduced with Permission

One of my Catholic media heroes, Phil Lawler, always writes with a certainty that forces one to think beyond what is claimed or what is reported elsewhere. Lawler does his homework, discerns the differences between truth and falsehood and proceeds from that position to lay it on the line. So when he opined that the Vatican Newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, had betrayed the Pope - again - I listened.

While it is difficult for some to understand how it could come to pass that a newspaper identified as part of the Vatican communications department could, in fact, work to intentionally misrepresent papal statements, it is not hard to sort out once we realize that the politics of the Vatican are no different than the politics in Washington, D.C. There are those who intentionally work at altering and corrupting Catholic teaching.

As Lawler reports, even though the new book by Peter Seewald, his third lengthy interview with the pope, was embargoed, "the Vatican's own newspaper violated the embargo. Betraying the publishers and breaking trust with all the other journalists who were fulfilling their promises, L'Osservatore Romano reproduced a passage from the Pope's interview. And not just any passage. The Vatican newspaper reproduced - without explanation or comment - a passage in which Pope Benedict reflected on the possibility that in some extreme cases, the impulse to use a condom might show a flickering of unselfishness in a seriously corrupted conscience."

What makes this particular incident so tragic is that it is not the first time, nor will it sadly perhaps be the last. As Archbishop Charles Chaput put it, "Ironically, the message of this good and brilliant Pope has been hobbled nearly as much by the baffling failures of some of his own aides as by unfriendly coverage from the world's media."

Many brilliant theologians have commented in the past few days on the tragic misunderstandings that the clumsy Vatican newspaper began with its transgression. Father Joseph Fessio, S.J., clarifies the language and attributes the problem to poor translation. I hope he is correct, but I have my doubts.

Cardinal Raymond Burke answered a series of questions about what the Holy Father said, concluding as have most faithful prelates, that in point of fact the pope never suggested a change in Catholic teaching regarding the use of condoms. That having been said, some Vatican insiders who prefer to undermine Christ and His Church from within beg to differ. What a shame!

Australian bishop Anthony Fisher told the press, "Despite some misinterpretation in the international media, the Pope has not deviated from or altered in any way Catholic teaching on the intrinsic wrongness of contraception or on reserving sexual intercourse ('the marital act') to marriage, that is of a man and a woman."

So why is it that one of the most widely recognized liberal Catholic reporters, John Allen of National Catholic Reporter, defended the Vatican newspaper's editor Giovanni Maria Vian writing, "calling for Vian's head on a platter ignores the great leap forward he's brought to L'Osservatore since his appointment as editor-in-chief in October 2007."

Great leap forward? Coverage of the Simpsons, the Beatles and Michael Jackson, not to mention the strife created by the newspaper publishing Bishop Rino Fisichella's public reprimand of the Brazilian bishops have all been black eyes for the Vatican.

Even anti-life webzine Slate pronounced praise for Vian and his "savvy"! These are great leaps, indeed, but backward!

It's time to clean house in the Vatican communications office.

Here are things you can do to make a difference in defense of the Holy Father and true Catholic teaching:

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