If sufficient is sufficient – Catholic herald

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Pope Francis and Cardinal Becciu, undated file photo © Vatican Media

John Allen is right. In his Easter column at Crux, he says that the Vatican cannot blame the media for “turning cycles” around Cardinal Giovanni Angelo Becciu, to whom Pope Francis paid a surprise visit on Maundy Thursday, which sparked speculation in the press about a snowstorm, as official sources of communication of the Vatican refused to acknowledge the news.

In case you have trouble placing Becciu, His Eminence resigned from his position as Prefect of the Congregation for the Cause of Saints last year – after more than a year of increasingly intense public scrutiny – and Pope Francis stripped him of his rights as a cardinal, apparently well-founded suspicion of financial inappropriateness.

Cardinal Becciu denies wrongdoing and, as we are promised, an investigation is ongoing.

When the Vatican went to friendly institutions to communicate the Pope's dismay at the "media instrumentalizations" of the visit – interpreted in different ways in a spectrum that ranges from the rehabilitation of an unjustly accused companion to mere pastoral care for a suffering man – that collective eyeroll in the press corps was visible from orbit.

"If you stand on a balcony and throw a brick over the side and that brick hits someone in the street," observed Allen, "accusing the law of gravity is not a defense."

What we know about Maundy Thursday: Pope Francis visited a man who lost his comfortable curial job and lived under a cloud of suspicion; he celebrated a private Missa in coena Domini – not just any mass, but the one that proves the public character of the liturgy as such par excellence – with the cardinal in his private chapel less than two weeks after telling literally every other clergyman and member of The believers of the world cannot celebrate “private” masses in the basilica shrine of the Prince of the Apostles.

Apostolica sedates a nemine iudicatur, and all that, but still I mean … come on.

The visit to Becciu on Maundy Thursday was 1) disembarking through hooks or crooks and 2) making waves. Pope Francis could have stood before the story with an official statement and thus kept control of the inevitable narrative. He has his reasons for not doing that, it is believed. By refusing to say why he did what he did, he has forfeited the right to complain about the speculation about the visit or his motives for doing it.

To exacerbate the absurdity of the situation, the Vatican News – an official point of sale – published a late short message about the visit on an editorial line that concluded: “This was a private engagement by the Pope and there is as yet no official confirmation. "Ladies and gentlemen, we are through the mirror.

When I was talking to Everyone about it on Monday morning – tune in to Crux of the Matter on Sirius XM's Catholic Channel at 7 p.m. EDT to hear us chew the fat on top – I wondered aloud if the guys did that have the say in communication, have respect for yourself.

When it comes to stepping on their own message, neither the Pope nor the Vatican need the help of the press corps.

Whether it was Benedict who turned a visit to Cameroon and Angola in 2009 into a referendum on the Church's condom policy, or Francis who turned his visit to Mozambique and Madagascar in 2019 into a debate about where the next schism will begin, or – the world champion in the heavyweight communication disasters for almost a decade – the botched announcement of the lifting of the excommunication of the SSPX bishops (also in 2009), neither popes nor flacks in the Vatican need support from the clerks.

This time it's different.

When Cardinal Ouellet wrote an open letter to Archbishop Viganò, in which he sneaked confirmation of certain relevant facts and leaked the shop about the existence of a "gay lobby" in the Roman Curia, it was trolling.

When the director of the Vatican's press office refused to say whether a credibly accused Vatican official was still in his job at the largest international gathering of church leaders ever gathered to address the abuse and cover-up crisis in the church, acted it is a piece with the management of the whole matter.

When the Vatican first had no complaint against Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta until they did, it then only suspended him to invite him to the curial retreat, then gave him a note that they needed him for the job from which he was suspended was, and then fell silent there was a kind of shrug saying – basically – ok, so it will be like that.

When official sources refused to confirm whether Francis had been exposed to a deadly virus or revealed the identity of a Vatican official who had tested positive for a highly contagious and fatal disease that he had transmitted in the Apostles palace residence Residence, it was taken for granted.

When Francis praised a book describing the machinations of an American cadre who wanted to replace him (a book he hadn't read yet) and then criticized the press for promoting narratives, was it … typical?

Even when the head of the Vatican's communications department asked a room full of journos to believe him with their own eyes, we did not reach that level.

This time – for whatever reason – they drive us.

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