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.

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  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2006 7:45 AM ET USA

    "There are known knowns. These are the things we know that we know. "There are the known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know that we don't know. "But there are also unknown unknowns. These are things we don't know we don't know." SecDef Donald Rumsfeld clarifying US Policy on the war on terror at a Pentagon Briefing

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2006 12:00 AM ET USA

    Perhaps the good monsignor was rushing into that part of Town to hear the confession of an obdurate sinner?

  • Posted by: TheJournalist64 - May. 16, 2006 7:18 PM ET USA

    Actually, this sounds more like the Bogomils than the Albigensian/Cathars, although both share a common affinity for the not-so-fine. May God bring us back to a state when we can laugh at ourselves without fearing a lawsuit.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2006 5:55 PM ET USA

    I've done what CB may have done. And nobody ever made me do it. But maybe if I heard from our priests in the pulpit about what I'm not suppose to do, I might have at least thought about not doing it--a little bit sooner than I did. And then maybe some of them might not have done what they have done.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2006 5:52 PM ET USA

    Sounds like that department could use a media wise Cardinal. Someone who knows how to mix with public authorities and make them feel welcome at his place. Can I make a nomination? How does Roger of Rome sound?

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2006 4:30 PM ET USA

    Yeah, and my question is: why was he in an area frequented by homosexual males if he wasn't doing anything wrong? Huh?