Friday, March 8, 2013

As conclave nears, tactics get more aggressive


The media silence of the cardinals resulted in an anonymous interview to the Italian newspaper La Repubblica in which a source claimed there is “a lobby” of leakers.

That group is composed of people “coming from the State Secretariat, the Vatican City State administration, the APSA (a sort of Vatican Central Bank) and the Italian Bishops’ Conference,” the unnamed source said.

“The problem is not the kind of news, but that such confidential news broke out,” said a Vatican Secretariat of State official who spoke to EWTN News under the condition of anonymity.

So the question that lingers on the minds of many is: Why have the leaks resumed?

While press attention has focused on the American cardinals’ daily briefings being canceled, they were not the real problem, as the bishops’ conference spokesman explained. 

“Concern was expressed in the General Congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers”, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Bishops’ Conference, said in a March 6 statement.
On March 5th, 6th and 7th, details about the discussions taking place at the cardinals’ preliminary meetings were published in the Italian newspaper La Stampa.

These talks are confidential and everyone from the cardinals to the translators has taken an oath of secrecy, so as to guarantee a certain freedom of speech.

On the other hand, leaking information from these gatherings has always been a way of influencing the conclave and the life of the Church in general.

In the 1978 conclave, Cardinal Giuseppe Siri was one of the most valued papal candidates. Before entering the conclave he gave an interview to the Italian local paper Corriere Mercantile, with the condition that it would be published when the cardinals were already “closed” in the Sistine Chapel, without any opportunity to read newspapers or hear about what happened in the “external world.”  

But what actually happened was that the interview was published a few hours before the conclave, so the cardinals were able to read it.

In the interview, Cardinal Siri attacked the way the Second Vatican Council’s reforms had been implemented, which turned part of the College of Cardinals against him.

This anecdote proves that the press is part of the strategy for the conclave.

This is why cardinals affiliated with the Curia re-opened their confidential relationships with the media when the preliminary meetings began.

Sandro Magister, a prominent Vatican analyst, said in a March 7 conversation that “Even Joaquin Navarro Valls, under John Paul II’s pontificate– had his favorite journalist whom he gave news to. And also (now Cardinal) Stanislaw Dziwisz, John Paul II’s particularly powerful secretary, used to inspire some of the articles published by the press.”

However, that paradigm changed considerably under Benedict XVI.

His personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, was known for his zeal in filtering access to papal audiences and for not being closely connected with the press. The result was that few pieces of information made their way out of the papal apartment and just a few bishops and cardinals had direct access to the Pope.

This left the Curia officials who were used to having information in the dark, and it also indirectly influenced the Pope’s former butler – Paolo Gabriele – to launch the now infamous Vatileaks scandal.

The interview published March 7 in La Repubblica is a signal that Paolo Gabriele is not alone, and that confidential information will continue to find its way out of the Vatican.

“In fact,” a well-informed monsignor who has close ties to the Vatican explained, “they want Vatileaks to be determining.”

Those affiliated with the Curia “attack the lack of transparency of Benedict XVI’s Curia, and they claim that this is in contrast with Benedict XVI’s commitment to transparency.

“Transparency does not mean, on the other hand, a lack of confidentiality.”


  1. Perpetuating this type of nes only attacks the legitimacy of the Holy Spirit's presence in choosing a pope. It brings it down to a common denominator of human politics and the world stageof senstionalism. I am so sad to see this in this forum. "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.." requires some reverence of belief. And I'm sure that many would have their "reasons" for entertaining these things, I wonder how consistent it is with a faith presence.

    1. I think it was Cardinal Ratzinger who said that the Holy Spirit's choice for pope is not always the person who is elected; that sometimes the hand of God gets "manhandled". Bad popes happen, and I think it's dangerous for the Church to give the world the idea that the man who is elected is always the man God chooses.

  2. I agree with Rev. Saumell in his March 8th post, and picking up on Anonymous's concern, suggest that EWTN and this forum not "manhandle" the coverage of the Interregnum, and stop trying to pressure the cardinals with threats of bad behavior on the part of the media or leaks as if the cardinals are responsible for the thoughts and actions of others. Let them do their job and wait for them to make a decision, (as much as we may need to fill our interview slots, Mr. Arroyo). As non-participants in the process, let's have some faith that those involved are listening to the Holy Spirit and will hold the conclave at the right moment, and, that in the end they will make the right choice of pope. As one of your audience, I would rather wait and see.

    I was saddened and disappointed in the coverage from Mr. Royal and Mr. Arroyo last night on the World Over. They were adding to the chaos and division. Please stay calm and be patient; provide the news when there is some regardless of the fact that the producers at ETWN decided to rev up the coverage before the cardinals made a decision to go forward. Stop second guessing the process that you, thankfully, know next to nothing about.

  3. I'm sorry but I will accept the teaching of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI on how the Holy Spirit operates in these situatons. He has more experience, is better read, and I suspect more prayerful than any of the contributors to this conversaton. It amazes me that some Catholics think that reverence can only be preserved if we stop asking questions and understanding how the Holy Spirit guides through the baptized. The idea that the Spirit sweeps down in some way bypassing human judgement represents a false spirituality called Quietism that has been criticized time and again by the teaching authorities of the Church. I'm just surprised that those listening to EWTN would be so ignorant of Church teaching. This is the same problem of those who declare their undying loyalty to the papacy or the magisterium and then never bother reading papal encyclicals or apostolic exhortations. Give me the papacy over your piety.