Understanding why the 'Vatileaks II' trial isn't just about press freedom

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Nov 30, 2015

Here’s an interesting perspective on the ‘Vatileaks II’ trials, from Vatican-watcher Andrea Gagliarducci. This is not a bid to limit freedom of the press, he argues, much less a punishment for whistle-blowers. (The documents were not linked in order to expose current abuses; they demonstrated past abuses, which have already been addressed. In other words the whistles had already been blown.) Gagliarducci explains that the trial is the Vatican’s way of defending its sovereignty.

A sovereign state has the right to maintain the confidentiality of some government documents, and every state has criminal statutes governing the unauthorized release of “state secrets.” In this case, Vatican employees/consultants are charged with the crime of releasing information “of which the public authority has forbidden disclosure.” Two journalists are also facing charges, but Gagliarducci argues that is beside the point:

The investigation started long before the publication of the two books filled with details. The publication of the books, however, gave the Vatican investigators the certainty that documents were robbed... That some of the people involved were journalists is just an accident. They are involved not because of the publication of the leaks, but because of the way they obtained the leaks.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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