Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Lombardi: It's time US Cardinals stop talking to the press

Vatican Insider
March 6, 2013

The director of the Holy See Press Office expressed irritation today at U.S. cardinal's on-the-side press briefings. In the afternoon, prayers were said in St. Peter's Basilica and tomorrow cardinal electors are due to attend two General Congregation sessions

“Parallel” news briefings organised by U.S. cardinals at their headquarters - the Pontifical North American College of Cardinals, on Rome’s Janiculum Hill – are to stop. The news came out after American cardinal electors announced their decision this morning and just as the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi, was holding his daily news conference on the pre-Conclave General Congregations, in the Holy See Press Office.

The news stunned the over 5 thousand accredited journalists who are covering the Conclave and the preparatory meetings. The American cardinals’ decision to hold daily briefings with the media seemed to signal a new willingness to open up to and show trust in the media, establishing a more transparent relationship with the press, without having to resort to the traditional anonymous source strategy which dominates Vatican news coverage.

“Concern was expressed in the general congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers. As a precaution, the cardinals have agreed not to do interviews,” the U.S. prelates’ spokesman, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, said in a short statement.

During today’s press conference, Fr. Federico Lombardi answering questions about the cancellation of U.S. cardinals’ meetings with the press in an irritated tone. “Ask them,” he said bluntly. Before this, Lombardi had underlined that the Conclave and the preparatory discussions leading up to it, are not be confused with congresses of Synods of Bishops. In the pre-Conclave Congregations, “cardinals reflect in order to arrive at certain conscientious conclusions that will help them in choosing the new Pope. Confidentiality is a Conclave tradition,” he recalled. Of course, he added, no one would dream of telling cardinals how to deal with the press. But Lombardi also reiterated that it is the College of Cardinals’ job to give guidance.

Thomas Reese, the former director of Jesuit weekly magazine America who has come to Rome to report on the Conclave for the National Catholic Reporter, referred to this as a slap in the face to American cardinals. “I wouldn’t call it censorship,” he said. The transparency shown by U.S. cardinals have made them scapegoats, Reese explained, even though it is actually the Italian cardinals who are responsible for the news leaks who offer information to journalist “friends” as anonymous sources.


Today, the American association of paedophilia victims, SNAP, presented its “Dirty Dozen” list, a list of cardinals that should not be elected to the papacy given their handling of reported cases of sex abuse. The cardinals accused are: Maradiaga (Honduras), Rivera (Mexico), Ouellet (Canada), Turkson (Ghana), Pell (Australia), Bertone and Scola (Italy), Sandri (Argentina), Duka (Czech Republic), O'Malley, Dolan and Wuerl (U.S.). In response to this, Lombardi said that it is “not up to SNAP to say who should attend the Conclave or not.” “It is up to the cardinals themselves to judge what is right, without asking for advice,” he added.


Full article at the Vatican Insider

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