I provide here my translation of an article that was published this morning in Italian on the news site La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (“The New Daily Compass”), in which the author suggests that there be a moratorium on the granting of interviews and other media appearances by bishops and cardinals, given the widespread confusion that several of them have instigated in the lead-up to this fall’s Synod on the Family.
For greater context, see a previous translation I did: Church vs. World: Clash of Powers.
If you copy this translation to your own site or blog, please reference Fr. Bryan Jerabek as the translator and link to this site. Thanks.
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LET US ASK THE BISHOPS FOR A MORATORIUM ON INTERVIEWS
by Giuseppe Tires
I would like to make a simple proposal: that bishops and cardinals not give any further interviews of any type, to any news outlet. At least for a certain time. Let them take a sabbatical. We, simple members of the faithful, need a blackout – a time of silence in the press from our pastors – in order to recover from the confusion and upset. We can’t take it anymore.
It is not necessary that cardinals and bishops opine continuously on every issue; that they contradict each other; that they criticize each other in the papers; that they express their personal opinions; that they reveal things that were classified; that they anticipate the conclusions of a synod that has yet even to begin; that they issue judgments on this or that thing; or that they tell the contents of the next papal encyclical via leaks, previews, interpretations, warnings, or conjectures. The faithful are disoriented.
Cardinal Kasper is ceaselessly speaking about communion for the remarried and about a thousand other questions; he goes around the world giving conferences and granting interviews as if he were a party leader preparing to go into battle at the upcoming synod. Cardinal Maradiaga has criticized his colleague, Cardinal Müller, not in a private conversation, but on the pages of the Tagespost. Could he not have met with him for a chat? Now Bishop Galantino floors us all with expressions that are at the very least ambiguous and confusing. Within the closed group of cardinals entrusted with the reform of the Curia the inappropriate statements cannot be counted. And here we are talking about a team of cardinals with an enormous responsibility in hand.
By now we have all realized that among the cardinals there are a thousand positions concerning the issues to be addressed at the upcoming synod. Never has such idle chatter been seen before a synod. Why don’t they keep quiet and leave the things that need to be said for the synod? Or why don’t they meet and say these things behind closed doors? The faithful are alarmed, and many fear that this idle chatter might continue even at the synod. It is not a good example of responsibility. The topics that they deal with nonchalantly in media interviews are things that involve people’s lives. Later – it is said – the Pope will synthesize everything. But even this risks distorting matters: as if the Pope were the one who mediates between the various sides of a debate and that the truth, which the synod will teach, will merely come from a spin doctor’s summary analysis.
Bishops and cardinals have lately seemed like politicians, who speak to each other in code through the newspapers. They criticize the media statements of civil judges who – they say – should pronounce only via official documents. Why don’t bishops and cardinals do the same? Let them speak with declarations, messages, homilies, pastoral letters: in other words, with formal acts of teaching, and not with a few lines improvised before a journalist’s microphone. And let them do this at least for a time, to allow us to recover from our daze.
Some might say: but that is not formal teaching [magisterium]. OK, fine; but then what is the point of having pastors if they do not teach? The oversaturation of chatter does not help, people are not always capable of distinguishing, and exploitations are lurking in the shadows; the increase in public statements nullifies their importance, such that even the important ones come to be interpreted as mere chatter. Bishops and cardinals should say little precisely so that when they do speak, what they say has weight.
After witnessing in these last decades the effect that media distortions can have upon matters of faith – they succeeded in distorting an entire Council – it is astonishing that short-sighted interviews are still granted; interviews that later spiral into a whirl of denials, once the damage is already irreparable. One does not understand this downstage restlessness on the part of churchmen of great responsibility; one fails to understand who and what they want to stir up; one does not comprehend this surrender to the logic of the world and of show business.
A while ago, the Vatileaks case exploded; but even these recent matters are a type of Vatileaks: a continuous drip of unconfirmed reports, indirect shots, ambiguities, razor’s edge ideas, affirmations, and denials. And it bears down heavily upon the faithful.
Mine is a humble request. I’m a nobody. But please, lord cardinals and bishops: knock it off with the interviews. At least for a little while.
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Source: La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, May 18, 2014 [Italian]