Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

'the most appropriate time'

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Jul 25, 2011

Last week Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, released an “unofficial response” to the Cloyne report.

Readers who are not familiar with the curious workings of the Vatican’s public-relations machinery might pause to wonder how—and why—an official spokesman would release an unofficial response. But leave that aside. Let’s look at the content of Father Lombardi’s message. He said: 

It is to be expected, therefore, that the Holy See’s response and considerations will be forthcoming in the most appropriate time and manner.

That, again, was last week. Since that “unofficial” response was released, the head of Ireland’s government has delivered a major speech condemning the Vatican, and the nation’s parliament has passed a resolution denouncing the hierarchy. Critics of Catholicism are on the offensive in Ireland, while the hierarchy is in retreat. The faithful are demoralized; the public is disdainful.

If folks in Rome are still wondering what would be the “most appropriate time” for a Vatican response to the uproar, here’s a bit of bad news: That time has already passed.

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 See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Jul. 30, 2011 11:39 PM ET USA

    Phil has correctly diagnosed the deleterious nature of the Vatican response to the exigencies of the Irish situation. It has been said that while we may think in terms of days, the Vatican has developed it's thinking over centuries. But in the modern era of fast-moving events and instantaneous news, one does have the luxury of putting 'official' reactions on the back burner.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 28, 2011 7:14 PM ET USA

    The Church transcends individual men, but men have put Her in a bad position. The apostles were directed by Christ to "feed my sheep." Too many of their successors in recent days have not. Pope Benedict is, and he appears to have been transformed by his sacred office. He is trying to redirect the Church's prelates to their proper orientation- the striking image of a Man crucified on a barren hillside, shedding His most precious blood so that each of us might share eternally His enduring love.

  • Posted by: bkmajer3729 - Jul. 28, 2011 5:46 PM ET USA

    Oh, Come on... Why is this the Vatican's problem - because it is at a national political level? We are the church - we. If lay Catholics really practiced what we professed to believe, would we be in this predicament today? But, the genie is out of the bottle and it's tough to get it back in. But maybe that's the Holy Spirit at work too. Maybe there is need for all of us to change from our selfish ways and stand up for our Faith - right where we are.

  • Posted by: koinonia - Jul. 28, 2011 5:24 PM ET USA

    For decades many loyal Catholics have BEGGED prelates from the local bishops all the way to the Vatican to do something about the widespread doctrinal and liturgical problems in the Church. There was ample evidence all along that something was SERIOUSLY wrong with many bishops. In recent years we've learned of a whole new dimension to the "abuse." Donning ashes and sackcloth might help, but little else is going to make much of an impression. Perhaps Pope Benedict is convinced "it is what it is."

  • Posted by: Contrary1995 - Jul. 28, 2011 3:50 PM ET USA

    As ineffective as Pope Benedict's Curia is (most especially the Secretary of State) we must remember that as St. Josemaria Escriva was wont to say, God doesn't lose any battles. In the end, the Spirit will win the day. This does not mean that human effort is irrelevant, but that God writes straight with crooked lines.