Quick Hits: Vatican trial’s intrigue; the archbishop as bystander

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jul 21, 2017

Having spent many years covering Vatican affairs, John Allen writes with authority when he reports that the Vatican press corps is not accustomed to handling criminal trials. However he remarks—and goes on to demonstrate—that a Vatican trial can have its own special sort of intrigue. The courtroom drama that will unfold in September, when two former executives of a Vatican-owned bank face trial for misuse of funds, will be carefully watched, even if there are signs that Vatican officials hope the trial will not attract much attention. Inevitably, some uncomfortable questions will be raised. Most notably: If it was a criminal act to divert €400,000 from the hospital’s foundation and use it to remodel the residence of a powerful prelate, why isn’t that prelate—Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the former Secretary of State—among the defendants?


Dublin’s Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently told a German audience that Ireland today is mission territory. Writing for the Irish Catholic, Patrick Treacy does not disagree. But he remarks that the archbishop makes his observation as if he were “a tourist to Irish Catholicism, a commentator, a bystander.” Treacy suggests that an archbishop should be leading the mission, rather than commenting on the need for it.

Adopting an image of the Church favored by Pope Francis, Treacy argues: “A field hospital also needs its leaders not to be in denial about when a war is on, particularly as the casualties enter its tents from every side.” While Archbishop Martin was in Germany, he observes, the top political debate in that country was on legal acceptance of same-sex marriage. The archbishop did not warn his German listeners about the fallout that Ireland has experienced after a referendum vote to recognize same-sex unions; he did not fault the Irish political leaders who pushed for that change. “It seems,” Treacy writes, “that Irish Catholics can be criticized to a German audience by a Catholic archbishop but the Irish government cannot be.”


If you feel the need for one more devastating critique of the infamous Spadaro-Figueroa essay in Civilta Cattolica, look to R. R. Reno in the National Catholic Register. Reno nicely summarizes the Civilta analysis as a “collection of uninformed assertions spiced with malice.”

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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