Bad weather continues in a corner of the Catholic blogosphere over a supposed conversation between Pope Francis and Cardinal Gerhard Müller that supposedly resulted in an immediate dismissal of the latter from his position at the top of the CDF. Some eyewitness noticed the former asking the latter five questions, and when the answers received were not the ones wanted, *266 let the room without returning with a present.
Interesting that the publishing website, racking up comments and hit counts as the rain falls, doubles down on its anonymous-sourced news. This, in spite of the Cardinal Müller’s wish that the false story be corrected. Mystification there also that persistence in the Five Question Story could harm the Cardinal. What damage, a faithfulcatholic™ asks, could happen to someone whose wishy-washiness on liberation theology is so conveniently forgotten when he can be raised up as a martyr to the Cause?
Well … the outgoing CDF head is painted as a milquetoast, unwilling to join the Dubia Four, unwilling to stand up to a mean old man in white, unwilling to engage in some ecclesiastical blow-up that will really drive up the site visit meters at the faithfulcatholic™ sites. In the end, maybe liberation theology will come back to haunt him.
In all seriousness, while I can appreciate the efforts of those in pajama media to aspire to journalism that makes a difference, there is a basic moral situation for any believer who is serious about faithfulness. If the conversation actually happened, the reporting of it is gossip. If the purpose was to out bad behavior of the pope, then it is also detraction, which is a serious wrong. I suppose if none of the story’s readers have emerged with a lesser opinoon of the Holy Father, the damage is more or less minimal. On the other hand, this story, if untrue, is calumny, which is another thing entirely.
The catechism, 2539, cites St Gregory the Great, linking these offenses to a capital sin:
“From envy are born hatred, detraction, calumny, joy caused by the misfortune of a neighbor, and displeasure caused by his prosperity.”