Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Yet another Vatican PR debacle

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 23, 2013

Whether you think The Interview was a coup or a disaster—or something in between—we should all be able to agree that the Vatican’s handling of the Pope’s blockbuster was another public-relations debacle.

Ironically, the Pontifical Council for Social Communications was meeting in Rome when the news broke. Greg Erlandson, the publisher of Our Sunday Visitor, who was at the meeting, observes that Church leaders had no warning about the interview. Secular media outlets received advance copies of the text under embargo. Bishops and their spokesmen didn’t. Then the story broke, and Erlandson reports:

And as quick as you can say "Gotcha," bishops and communications directors were suddenly fielding interview requests for a story they had not seen and were unprepared for.

The Jesuit journals that published the papal interview did a remarkable job of keeping the story quiet until the day it broke. That’s good journalism; they preserved their scoop. But if they didn’t give fair warning to the Vatican press office (which, remember, is directed by a Jesuit, Father Federico Lombardi), they deserve a scalding rebuke. If the press office did know what was coming, it’s inexcusable that other Church leaders weren’t briefed.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($26,306 to go):
$150,000.00 $123,693.96
18% 82%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jpthegr82109 - Sep. 24, 2013 8:23 PM ET USA

    Maybe, Phil, this was just as the Pope intended. He may be doing some siting of the wheat from the chaff. He may want to see which prelates can think on their feet regarding such a basic message.

  • Posted by: oakes.spalding7384 - Sep. 24, 2013 5:32 PM ET USA

    That's a great point. (I hope I haven't used up my comment quota. Thanks for not publishing the angry one :) ). It's easy to forget that the journal America is supposed to be on the Church's side within the great Field Hospital, not playing gotcha games of the "see, he's really our guy" sort (IF they didn't give warning). If the secular press constantly and misleadingly views these things in terms of "lib. vs. conservative" politics, perhaps they can be a bit forgiven given this kind of thing.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Sep. 23, 2013 2:22 PM ET USA

    The Church is an ancient institution with a very consistent message and with a history of copious writings by the greatest thinkers of every age. There is something enduing and timeless in all this. Informal interviews can be problematic for Vicar(s) of Christ in these times. Perhaps this practice merits some revisiting. The Church is mighty important; credibility is so precious and so readily challenged.

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Denial of Service Attack: Success! 13 hours ago
Federal debt as a social-justice concern 15 hours ago
Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle December 18
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed December 18
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? December 18

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17