Seven Mistakes about Vatileaks

Rome Reports has this interesting video item: “The Seven Most Common Mistakes about ‘Vatileaks’

The text of the report is as follows [with some of my own comments]:

June 8, 2012. ( The leak of confidential Vatican documents seems to be in the news everyday. But the constant flow of information has brought about a lot of confusion and even factual mistakes. Here are some of the most common errors.

The first mistake is the notion that “the documents are scandalous.” Even though the leak of roughly 100 documents has caused some embarrassment, their content is not very shocking. In them, its authors write to the Pope to address real problems within the Church. In some of them, its authors highlight decisions that they don’t agree with. [In other words, we should not be surprised, but rather gratified that such documents exist. This means that the Pope is accessible to the people of the Church and he at least listens to their concerns, even if – as is only right – he makes his own decisions on these matters after taking relevant advice]

Some of the documents include requests to meet with the Pope, confidential reports and proposals for Benedict XVI. The documents are quite direct and don’t always follow protocol, since it was assumed, they would only be seen by the Pope.

The second mistake, is that notion that the “documents are an attack against the Pope.” The leaked documents actually give a positive image of the Pope. They show that before making a final decision, he seeks insight from his collaborators.

But in essence, the leak of documents is a direct and serious violation of his privacy and of the Vatican in general. [So the real scandal is not the documents as such, but that someone is seeking to benefit from publishing private correspondence – many already have, although as far as we can see, they are mainly book publishers and media networks]

The third mistake that’s been reported, is that “the Vatican is divided into two battling groups.” [What? only two??? :-)] The leaked documents actually deal with very different topics and different departments. The documents do however, seem to be a way to discredit Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who serves as the Vatican’s Secretary of State. Also on that list is the Pope’s secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein.

As in other governments and bureaucracies, there are always differing opinions. But this shouldn’t be confused with internal hostility.

The Fourth most common mistake, is that “cardinals cannot be judged in court.” Since the Vatican is a state, it actually has its own “Supreme Court Tribunal,” which is also the court that deals with formally judging cardinals. The tribunal is made up of a panel of cardinals, including Raymond Burke, Jean-Louis Tauran and Paolo Sardi.

The fifth mistake out there, is that “the Pope’s butler, will be judged by the Tribunal of the Church.” This is not completely correct, since the butler and other possible suspects, will be judged by the civil tribunal of the City State of the Vatican. In this case, the judges are not priests, but rather, lay people who are law experts and professors of Italian Universities. [Pastor Mark Henderson on his blog asked “after all, how many church hierarchies today can, on their own authority, imprison an apparent whistleblower in a cell with only the barest of amenities without appeal to a judge unconnected with the prosecution (habeus corpus!)?” The Vatican State is not the Holy See. It is not a “Church Heirarchy” but a State. Every state has the right to its own legal system. And to say that the butler was a “whistleblower” is a bit rich…]

The term ‘Holy See’ actually refers to government of the Catholic Church. While, the Vatican City State is the territory where the Pope lives.

The sixth mistake is that “the butler will be judged secretly.” At this point, a judge has issued a gag order on items connected to the investigation. But if he chooses to go forward with a trial, that trial would take place publicly. If a trial does take place, the butler would have his two lawyers.

The seventh item, is that Benedict XVI will issue a “Papal Pardon to the butler” At this point, this is still a hypothesis that’s still in the air. Years, ago, John Paul II forgave the man who tried to kill him, Ali Agca. Even though this case, is completely different, it is possible that the Pope may issue his pardon to Paolo Gabriele. [What is interesting is that when the Pope is the victim of an actual assasination attempt, he becomes a potential martyr – how different when the “assination attempt” is done via the media]

In any case, only time will tell, what the fate of the butler and possible accomplices will be.

About Schütz

I am Catholic, married to Cathy, father of Maddy & Mia. Since 2002, I have been the Executive Officer of the Ecumenical & Interfaith Commission of the Archdiocese of Melbourne. I was once a Lutheran pastor, but a "year of grace" and soul-searching led me into the Catholic Church. It was a bumpy ride, but with the support of my (still Lutheran) wife, I was finally confirmed on June 16, 2003.
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