Action Alert!

Wikileaks and the Vatican: proceed with caution

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Dec 13, 2010

The Vatican has quite rightly called for "great prudence" in reading the Wikileaks cables regarding Vatican policy. Unfortunately, the cautionary message from the Holy See is written in the opaque language that characterizes such official statements. Let's try again, in plain English:

Wikileaks has not released any cables from the Holy See. The leaked traffic comes from the US State Department. What you're reading, therefore, is the analysis/opinion of an American diplomat-- or, in some cases, an American diplomat's report on the analysis/opinion coming from someone else in Roman diplomatic circles. 

In some documents, the American diplomats refer to conversations with "Vatican officials." There, too, caution is in order. The ushers at St. Peter's could be described as "Vatican officials," but their views on policy issues are not terribly important. Even if the unnamed officials are senior prelates in the Roman Curia, we don't know how accurately the diplomat's report matches the prelate's actual views. 

In other words, the Wikileaks "revelations" about Vatican policy are all coming from 2nd- or 3rd-hand sources, colored by their own perceptions, beliefs, and expectations. Take them with heaping tablespoons of salt. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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