clarification of... something unclear
On Saturday the Vatican press office released a statement which I quote here in its entirety:
The communications media not infrequently attribute to the 'Vatican' - meaning by that the Holy See - comments and points of view that cannot in fact automatically be attributed thereto. In fact, when the Holy See wishes to make an authoritative announcement it uses appropriate means and methods (communiques, notes, declarations).
No other form of pronouncement has the same value.
Inappropriate attributions have taken place, even recently. The Holy See, in its representative institutions, shows respect towards the civil authorities who, in their legitimate authority, have the right and the duty to safeguard the common good.
Good. It's nice to have a reminder that when some enterprising reporter quotes "a source inside the Vatican," he might have been talking to the guy who sweeps the corridors, or a clerk at the Vatican post office. If the statement is authoritative, it should have someone's name on it. Fine.
Still we're left with a few questions: What statements have "even recently" been attributed inappropriately to the Vatican? What inaccurate impressions need to be corrected? Did some anonymous tipster commit an offense that, reading between the lines, seems to have involved disrespect for civil authorities? In short, what the heck are we talking about?
(For the record, experienced Vaticanistas assure me that this controversy, if you can call it that, involves an obscure Italian political wrangle, which would have little interest for most English-speaking readers. That's reassuring, I guess-- although I can't help noticing that the press office provided a helpful English-language translation.)
If the purpose of a public statement is to set the record straight, this one fails. When the "correction" is as murky as the public record it's intended to correct, it can only encourage speculation. Shall we now consult our favorite "source inside the Vatican" to explain what the press office had in mind?
Clarifications, ideally, should be clear.
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