Tuesday, July 07, 2009

“The Vatican” Does Not Mean the Pope
Especially in the mainstream media

Hat tip to Catholic Eye

Read a newspaper or listen to TV news and you often see, or hear, “An Vatican insider said...” or “According to the Vatican ...” When any good Catholic hears “the Vatican,” we think first of our Holy Father. To most people (even non-Catholics) “Vatican” equals “Pope.” How wrong we all are.

In a column for National Review Online, Vatican expert George Weigel explains it more fully. Cave visitors are encouraged to click the link and read the entire article, but here is a brief synopsis.

The newspaper published by the Vatican, L’Osservatore Romano, has created more than a little mischief recently, featuring essays by ill-informed European journalists who imagine that they understand American history, the American political scene, and the grave moral issues being contested in these United States.

About which, several points must be made.

1. The first thing one learns in Vaticanology 101 is that there is no such thing as “the Vatican.” The Holy See is as complex and confused a bureaucracy as one finds in national governments. Many points of view coexist within the Vatican walls, and there are more than a few curialists who like to talk to reporters. Very few if any of these chatty people count, in terms of expressing the settled judgment of the senior leadership of the Catholic Church.

2. In the normal course of events, L’Osservatore Romano does not speak authoritatively for the Church in matters of faith, morals, or public-policy judgment. The exceptions are when a senior churchman offers a commentary on a recent papal document (an encyclical, for instance).

3. It is true, however, that the offices of the Holy See are replete with middle- and lower-level officials who are enamored of Barack Obama. Why? In most cases, because they are Europeans who share the typical European Obamaphilia and whose sources of information and analysis are manifestly skewed.

2 Comments:

Blogger Adeodatus49 said...

The first thing one learns in Vaticanology 101 is that there is no such thing as “the Vatican.” The Holy See is as complex and confused a bureaucracy as one finds in national governments.

More than once I have heard the Vatican Curia (an organization w/in the Vatican) described as a "den of vipers," and not just in Renaissance and Reformation times.

9:48 AM  
Blogger chestertonian said...

Well of course it is, Adeodatus. They're Italians, after all. LOL The former editor of the magazine I edit has a great saying: Vatican politics is the world's greatest spectator sport.

Of course, this gent, a loyal Trad and all-around good man, knows well enough that there is no such thing as "the Vatican" (just don't tell Dan Brown). But it's a hillarious saying nonetheless.

7:15 PM  

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