In the face of leaks of various Vatican documents, Holy See officials must not become caught up in controversy and confusion but should stay committed to reform and “authentic transparency” in government, Vatican spokesman Fr. Federico Lombardi said on Monday afternoon.
“Both sides bear responsibility: firstly the suppliers of documents of this kind, but also those who undertake to use them for purposes that certainly have nothing to do with pure love of truth,” he said in a Feb. 13 statement. “We must, therefore, stand firm, not allowing ourselves to be swallowed up by the vortex of confusion, which is what ill-intentioned people want, and remaining capable of using our reason.”
Fr. Lombardi said the documents in question differ in nature and importance and are from various times for varying situations. Some of the documents concern improved economic management of the Vatican, others concern current judicial and legislative questions. On these, the spokesman said, there is normally a contrast of opinion.
But other “delirious and incomprehensible reports” have surfaced “about plots against the Pope’s life,” he said.
One leaked memo concerned a cardinal’s complaint about another cardinal who reputedly spoke of a possible assassination attempt against the Pope within 12 months and speculated upon his successor.
Last month, an Italian television show broadcast private letters to Pope Benedict XVI and Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, the former deputy governor of Vatican City, who is currently the apostolic nuncio to the U.S. The archbishop contended that other Vatican officials have conducted a smear campaign against him because of his changes to purchasing procedures.
Other leaks center on the Vatican’s financial institution, the Institute of Works of Religion, which is also trying to reform and comply with international norms.
“The American administration was affected by Wikileaks, now the Vatican too has its disclosures, its leaked documents, which tend to create confusion and bewilderment, and to throw a bad light on the Vatican, the governance of the Church and, more broadly, on the Church herself,” Fr. Lombardi said.
All together, he continued, the leaked documents are “disloyally” passed on to help to “create confusion.”
The spokesman suggested that the emergence of more powerful attacks is a sign that an important turning point is at stake. He suggested that the leaks tend to discredit attempts at the reform of Vatican institutions, but contended that this is a reason the reforms should continue “with determination, not allowing ourselves to be cowed.”
“If many people insist on attacking us, the issue is obviously important. Whoever thinks he is discouraging the Pope and his collaborators in their commitment is mistaken.”
While commentators have suggested the leaks are evidence of internal conflict about control of Vatican positions and possibly even attempts to set the stage for a successor to Pope Benedict, Fr. Lombardi said such interpretations depend on the “moral coarseness of those who provoke them.”
“I would invite everyone to note that all the pontiffs elected during the last hundred years have been people of exalted and unquestioned spiritual merit. Cardinals have naturally sought, and still seek, to elect someone who deserves the respect of the people of God, someone who can serve humankind in our time with great moral and spiritual authority.”
“Not for nothing do we also believe in, and speak of, the assistance of the Holy Spirit.”