it isn't as it wasn't, or was it?

By Diogenes (articles | May 16, 2006

An old blues number bore the elegantly pleonastic title, "Do What You Did When You Did What You Done Last Night." Well, whatever Monsignor CB of the Vatican Secretariate of State did last night, he didn't do what he did when he done what attracted the attention of the Rome police, and then the Italian press, this past Thursday.

According to a story in La Repubblica, later amplified by the news service ANSA, an office functionary of the Secretariate of State was stopped by cops while cruising late at night in a park known to be frequented by obdurate Albigensians. He fled, denting three cars in the chase, then got into a fist-fight with the cops. The story supplies the edifying detail that the cleric, identified only as "Monsignor CB," excused himself to the police on the grounds that he was scouting only for adult schismatics -- not minors. We are an Easter People.

Yesterday the Holy See's Press Office issued a statement so artfully packed with escape hatches as to defy translation. A coarse approximation:

Being in receipt of the necessary information from the Secretariate of State, this Press Office is in a position to (in grado di) make it clear that the information disseminated this morning by the newspapers concerning an ecclesiastic working at the Vatican is wholly without foundation.

If the first you'd heard of the incident came from this statement, you could be excused for feeling less than fully enlightened. The statement continued:

To be foreseen is recourse to legal measures against those who have contributed to defaming the good name of said official.

Well, at worst the man's good initials were defamed, since his actual name hasn't made it into the media reports yet. At any rate, the newspapers announced they're sticking by their story. Strangely -- or perhaps not-so-strangely, given Cardinal Sodano's superintendency of the persons involved -- the Press Office has taken down Monday's statement from its website and the link is now broken.

If you're one of those many Catholics who've been puzzled at how often the Holy See's own diplomatic corps succeeds in torpedoing the initiatives of the papacy itself, you may find the episode eerily familiar. Arguments from silence are weak, but presumably we're now meant to be free to think that the foundationlessness of the disseminated information is not on the brink of being demonstrated as expeditiously as it was yesterday morning. Clear, I trust? Either Monsignor didn't not do what he was said to have not did when he done it -- or he did:

~(~(~(~ P))) \/ Q

Pick one.

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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