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Let's start a rumor

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | May 29, 2009

Let's just imagine that you're the Pope. For months now you've been working on an encyclical about Catholic social teaching. The expected publication date has been pushed back several times; evidently you haven't been happy with the early drafts. Just when the project finally seemed near completion, the world economy went into a nosedive, and since the encyclical is devoted largely to a discussion of the global economy, you realized that you'd need to work over the draft once again, to provide some responses to the questions that everyone is now asking. 

Now at last the encyclical is near completion-- again. The latest word is that it could appear at the end of June. If that's true, you really need to finish writing, because it will take a few weeks to run the text through the (notoriously slow) Vatican translating process and into the print shop. 

By now your text must be in something approaching its final form. No doubt you'll want a few people to read it over and make final comments. Which Vatican officials would you call on for that purpose?

  • No doubt you'd start with Cardinal Renato Martino, the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, whose office is taking the lead on this project.
  • Since you're writing about how the global economic system affects different societies and cultures, you might want to consult with a prelate who's regularly in touch with leading representatives of other cultures-- say, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue.
  • And naturally, since any encyclical is a teaching document, you'd certainly want to double-check the doctrinal implications. You could do that yourself, but two heads are better than one, so why not call in the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal William Levada?

Does that all sound logical to you? OK, then let's end the exercise in imagination-- sorry; you're not the Pope!-- and get back to reality. Here's a listing of today's papal audiences, verbatim, from the Vatican Information Service. 

VATICAN CITY, 29 MAY 2009 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received in separate audiences:

- Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

- Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue.

This evening he is scheduled to receive in audience Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

What does this prove? Nothing. I'm just saying....

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