Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Reason the Cardinals Have Been Silenced

Since the resignation of Pope Benedict, the American Cardinals have been doing an amazing job of capitalizing on this opportunity to teach other people about the Catholic Church. They have appeared on numerous morning news shows, and have been doing interviews with anyone and everyone. Two cardinals each day were holding press conferences open to all media. Not that my opinion matters, but I have been extremely proud of our cardinals. As Cardinal Dolan said on his radio show yesterday, it would be a crime not to talk with the media right now.  When is the world going to be more hungrily asking for news on the Church than right now?

But, as Church leadership is known for doing, yesterday it pulled out a gun and shot itself in the foot. Blaming it on the fact that an Italian newspaper had essentially the entire transcript of the cardinals' closed door meeting, the college of cardinals issued an order - no cardinal can speak to the press.

Don't let anyone tell you it is about making these meetings more prayerful.  The cardinals can pray all day long and they can pray together as long as they'd like as well. Prayer, I can assure you, was not the reason the gag order was issued.

The real reason was not because the Italian press got transcripts - that happened against the rules that were ALREADY in place, so tighter rules aren't going to stop the clowns that are leaking this to the press.

The real reason for the gag order - the Americans have been saying that the new pope will need to be a guy who can reorganize and clean up the Vatican governance structure...the Roman Curia.

Guess where about half the cardinals work...the Roman Curia.

I would bet a good chunk of money that a few of the Curia cardinals were the ones who leaked everything to the Italian paper just to serve as an excuse to stop the Americans from actually relating to the world and trying to reach out and change hearts.

It is sad to see all of the Americans doing such a great job teaching; it had even gotten to the point where it almost felt like the U.S. media...dare I say it...LIKED our guys in red.

The best place to attack the Church, as the Devil has long done, is from within.


  1. Dear Father,

    I would humbly ask you to reconsider your words. I'm not so sure that your quick dismissal of the "prayerfulness" aspect is just. I'm not saying that IS their motive, but I'm saying it is worth considering the possibility. Please consider these words of St. Alphonsus:

    Oh, how great the blessings that silence brings to the soul! ... But, on the other hand, immense evils flow from speaking too much. In the first place, as devotion is preserved by silence, so it is lost by a multitude of words. However recollected the soul may have been in prayer, if it afterwards indulge in long discourses it will find the mind as distracted and dissipated as if it had not made meditation. When the mouth of the burning furnace is opened the heat soon evaporates. St. Dorotheus says: " Beware of too much speaking, for it banishes from the soul holy thoughts and recollection with God."
    (True Spouse of Jesus Christ, Chapter 16, sec. 1)

    When has it ever been more necessary to preserve that burning fire of devotion, holy thoughts and recollection? Is it not possible that this is what the College of Cardinals has decided to preserve? To leave the task of talking with the press to others? Others who do not share the heavy burden of choosing the next Supreme Pontiff?

    As for judging the possible hidden motives of certain members of the College of Cardinals: it is true that we must judge the visible acts of others. It is also true that we must sometimes judge the stated motives of others. But can we really claim the right to judge the secret motives of another? Is this not a right which God alone has, He who knows the secrets of our hearts?

    And as for His Eminence Cardinal Dolan's statement that "it would be a crime not to talk with the media right now," of course I'm sure he would agree that his statement would only apply unless obedience required silence. And again, is it not possible to delegate this task to others who may justly give more attention to it, without the risk of neglecting a grave duty?

    In short, I believe your conclusions may be correct; not "must be," but "may be." But when in doubt, do we have the right to ascribe corrupt or evil motives to anyone?

    David Siefker

    1. This is a huge opportunity to preach the truth of Christ and His Church, and to shut it down is a crime.

      In every other pre conclave era there was no gag order. 500 years ago the cardinals gathering for these pre conclave meetings could, when the meetings were done, talk to whomever they pleased. I see no difference if those conversations can now be beamed across the globe to reach billions of people.

      I get the secrecy of the conclave. I do not get the gag order right now

    2. You may be right. Maybe it was an imprudent decision, made with questionable motives. Or maybe not. I merely ask that you consider the possibility that other reasonings and motives may exist. Perhaps even good reasons and good motives.

      First, I agree wholeheartedly that our overriding concern as Christians is the salvation of souls. But would you not agree that some souls are called by God to work toward this goal in very indirect ways? For example, the vocation of a contemplative nun? For her to go out to the highways and byways would be a violation of her vocation.

      Second: would you agree that right now the overriding concern of the College of Cardinals is choosing a new head for the Church? That all else is a distant second to that goal? Doesn’t this have to be the case?

      So this brings us to the real question: given this primary concern, what is the best way for the College of Cardinals to reach that goal? What helps them in this endeavor? What makes it harder for them?

      My reason for quoting St. Alphonsus was to give his take on talking and recollection. We undoubtedly want our Cardinals to be recollected. They need the help of the Holy Spirit to do their duty. Isn’t it remotely possible that press conferences could be an obstacle to their recollection? (By way of analogy: if I was making an 8 day Ignatian retreat in preparation for a MAJOR decision, would I want to give press conferences every night with members of the secular press?)

      And of course there are others who can fulfill this role of speaking with the press. Others who don’t have the awesome responsibility of the Cardinals. Maybe the press would rather interview a Cardinal than a lesser prelate. But doesn’t that in and of itself tell us something? Is their interest truly in Christ, His Church, and His Good News? Or is their interest a morbid and worldly curiosity?

      I’m not saying it has to be this way. But isn’t it possible?

    3. David,

      I would agree that for contemplative nuns to go out to the highway would be bad. I would also say that, up until this decision, cardinals have not been asked to lead the life of contemplatives during this period of the General Congregation.

      I would say the Cardinals have been meeting each day this past week, based on what I've read, for about six hours. That leaves a ton of time for prayer.

      If the Church asked Her cardinals, in past general congregations, to make an 8 day Ignatian Retreat, or to not speak to the press, etc. then I'd be all for this in 2013. However, since it hasn't been the practice to do so in the past, it forces me to believe that there is something else motivating this decision.

      Others couldn't speak to the press because the press doesn't want to hear what they have to say. We can lament the fact that they don't want to interview a Cardinal's secretary, but it is the case that they don't. Since a priest is ordained to be priest, prophet, and king, and since this is an opportunity to reach perhaps billions more people than if one were to simply be a prophet preaching on the street, and since this opportunity avails itself once every 10 years or so, and since this reaching out towards billions more people can be done through no more effort on the part of the cardinals than sitting down and talking to one person, I don't believe the decision was made to give the cardinals more prayer time.