While praising Pope Benedict for proving himself a ‘fine pastor’, George Weigel criticises the Vatican Press office for letting the Holy Father down during recent crisis as a consequence of it ‘archaic communication culture’.
It particular Weigel believes that the Vatican has not adapted institutionally to the 24/7 media culture:
“They do not live in the 24/7 information environment. They don’t feel any institutional need to have a rapid-response mechanism that every other major institution has. So the impression is created they don’t care. That’s a false impression, but it’s an understandable one, given the fact that we’re all used to living in the same news cycle.”
He also criticises the Vatican Press Office under the Rev. Federico Lombardi for not imposing ‘message discipline’ on the cardinals to avoid them messing up in public.
‘Weigel said the current Vatican press office under the Rev. Federico Lombardi does not insist on “message discipline,” leaving highly placed cardinals to sow controversy in personal remarks at official functions that do not reflect Benedict’s views.’
‘Weigel cited Cardinal Angelo Sodano’s observation during a Holy Week homily last year deploring as “petty gossip” criticisms of the church’s handling of the clerical sex abuse crisis.’
George Weigel also holds that a modern media office would have quickly resolved the confusion over Pope Benedict’s statement about condoms:
‘In addition, Weigel said a more professional communications apparatus might have dampened some of the recent confusion and sensation around a brief Benedict observation in the Seewald book about condom use and AIDS.’
Some theologians belatedly trying to explain the concept compared it to a bank robber having sufficient conscience to at least use an unloaded pistol to avoid hurting anyone. But by then, much of the public damage was done.
“Why Lombardi could not come up with an illustration of that is just beyond my imagination,” Weigel said. “And the church is not well-served by that. It’s not been a happy week.”