Many readers following papal affairs may be familiar with Sandro Magister’s blog. He is a veteran journalist writing for the Italian paper L’Espresso. He is also noted for having the cajones to criticize Francis and not fall in line like so many yes men, even though he is by no stretch a Traditionalist. His blog chiesa (linked above) also has good English translations, making commentary closer to the Vatican accessible for those who do not speak Italian.
Magistro, however, is allegedly at the heart of the leak of the Pope’s Encyclical, now said to be a draft. As a result, the Pontificate of Mercy swung into action:
The “excommunication” came in a letter and a copy of it has been posted on the Vatican press office: “Dear Dr. Magister, in regard to the publication of a draft of the encyclical that had been declared under embargo, this is obviously an inappropriate initiative, a source of great distress to many colleagues and journalists of serious disturbance of the good service of this press room. I communicate so that your credit at our press room is suspended indefinitely from tomorrow. I’m very sorry, yours Federico Lombardi.” – which is the same Vatican press spokesman. The letter ends with a postscript: “Of course, this penalty should be made known to colleagues of the press room.”. [Source] [My Translation]
Now, certainly the encyclical was known to be under Embargo starting from Monday, therefore Magister could not claim any particular ignorance on the subject. Now the leaked version (which the Vatican is now calling a draft – yeah right!) does not make any declaration of embargo on it. Still common sense would tell you that it is embargoed. So this is being depicted as Magister, who has been critical of the Francis Pontificate, was trying to get the encyclical leaked early to potentially allow for criticism of Francis. Yet it does not appear that way.
In the wake of this some have criticized Magister, while others have defended his brave leaking. What this act has in fact done, has been to get the encyclical out there so it cannot be framed by the Holy See, but rather people can look at it and make up their own minds, which is what is happening now. Francis has an all star lineup to present the new encyclical, including Prof. Hans Joachim (John) Schellnhuber, founder and director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, who believes aggressive population control is necessary to stop global warming, and of course Dr. Carolyn Woo, CEO and President of Catholic Relief Services and former dean of the Mendoza College of Business, University of Notre Dame, U.S.A., who has increased funding from Catholic Relief Services to pro-abortion groups, as well as maintains a vice president who is in a homosexual “marriage” and a homosexual activist. [source] Perfect for the year of the Family, I was thinking the same thing myself.
The fact is, the leak by L’Espresso has stolen the thunder of such great defenders of Catholic morals. And this has irritated Lombardi for one reason or another, leading to such harsh response. For his part, Magister maintains:
“Reached by text message, Magister pointed the finger at his editor. “Let me just say that the ‘scoop’ wasn’t mine,” Magister replied. “It belongs to the editor in chief of L’Espresso. He had the draft and published it. I only wrote the introduction.” [Source]
and again from another source:
Magister himself has said that a draft of the encyclical was given to the editor of L’Espresso, who asked him to write an introductory piece. Thus the veteran Vatican journalist says that he was not the direct recipient of the leaked document. [Source]
Now it gets more interesting. Why did not the pontificate of mercy call Magister in and call him on the carpet, and offer to forgive him in lieu of a public apology? Because he didn’t actually do it, unless of course he is lying in his explanation, which I seriously doubt. I don’t believe he would say what he was saying if he couldn’t prove it. This has all the appearances of some form of set up from some direction, though I have no means of proving it. It is a perfect way to get rid of a highly respected and moderated journalist, as well as blacken his reputation, and it is not above the absurd politics of Romanità to arrange something like this. Nor does it necessarily involve the Pope himself or Lombardi. Then again, that is perhaps my overly conspiratorial mind, as I can’t prove this particular assertion, so take it for what it’s worth. Either way, the only other explanation seems to be an incompetent lashing out in some direction without investigating who might be responsible. That is very fitting to the way that Lombardi does things.
Nevertheless this story just gets more interesting. I don’t know if it is as has been claimed, that the leak has allowed conservative groups to criticize the encyclical. If anything, controversy creates more attention, and perhaps the Pope is actually benefiting from the international attention the leak has provided. In the end, the Magister leak might prove to be a more interesting story than the document itself.
The very last thing, Lombardi called this act “heinous”. If we granted his side of the story, without any reference to Magister’s claim that he is not the one to leak it, or even if we consider the leak itself regardless of who did it, some adjectives come to mind: unprofessional, irresponsible, regrettable, mistaken. Heinous?
Heinous is graviora delicta, heinous is pro-abortion politicians receiving communion and pontificating like theologians with mere silence from the Supreme Head, heinous is the president of Catholic Relief Services supporting and funding abortion, and…. presenting on the Pope’s encyclical? whoops…
Now truly, thanks to the leak I am reading the encyclical right now, and will be able to formulate my thoughts much sooner than I could have otherwise. I will not speak on it until it is formally out, however, as many people are out there pontificating on what the encyclical means and is, who certainly have not yet read the entire thing.