Too much for sure from the Vatican’s viewpoint. The Frequently Misspelled One broadcasts that the Vatican wanted him to come to Rome. Insisted:
Without my even having to inquire, the nuncio in Washington phoned me a week or so ago and said, “I have had word from the highest folks in the Vatican: you are to come to Rome and you are to participate in the conclave.”
I’m not sure this is a good thing, especially for the Vatican. Minds have been made up on the retired Los Angeles archbishop. But for him to suggest publicly that “the highest folks” wanted him in Rome–that strikes me as a public relations blunder. Maybe minor. Maybe not.
The comment from the Vatican’s Father Federico Lombardi:
(Cardinal Mahony’s statement) can be understood in light of the communique of the Secretariat of State that insisted on the importance of not giving in to external pressures that might limit the freedom of the electors and the conclave.
Said document criticizes a potential influence of “public opinion that is often based on judgements that do not typically capture the spiritual aspect of the moment that the church is living.”
Fair enough. And yet, the “public opinion” is grounded in a morality that embraces responsible management, truthfulness, and cooperation with the rule of law. The public, especially the Catholic laity, have moral reasons for being critical of the man. They don’t strike me as especially political. Except in the sense of the relationship between two church factions: the Vatican bureaucracy and the American laity.
On the other hand, a moral equivalency might be for the laity to tell the bishops they don’t wish themselves to give in to external pressures. What might that mean if it gets thrown back into the laps of the episcopacy? I suspect it already has.
I’m actually starting to worry about Cardinal Mahony. Every public statement coming from him these days strikes me as cringeworthy. He doesn’t get the gravity of the consequences of his actions. The “highest folks” share that blindness. These are the people who will select the next pope. Maybe we should be worried … a little bit.