Vatican admits it DID doctor photo of BXVI’s letter, omitting 3rd paragraph.

The doctored photo.

The doctored photo.

The Vatican admitted Thursday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.

The Vatican’s communications office released the photo of the letter on Monday on the eve of Francis’ five-year anniversary. The letter was cited by Monsignor Dario Vigano, chief of communications, to rebut critics of Francis who question his theological and philosophical heft and say he represents a rupture from Benedict’s doctrine-minded papacy.

In the part of the letter that is legible in the photo, Benedict praised a new volume of books on the theology of Francis as evidence of the “foolish prejudice” of his critics. The book project, Benedict wrote, “helps to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, with all the differences in style and temperament.”

The Vatican admitted Thursday that it blurred the two final lines of the first page where Benedict begins to explain that he didn’t actually read the books in question. He wrote that he cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis as requested by Vigano because he has other projects to do.

The Vatican didn’t explain why it blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict’s tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.

The missing content significantly altered the meaning of the quotes the Vatican chose to highlight, which were widely picked up by the media. Those quotes suggested that Benedict had read the volume, agreed with it and given it his full endorsement and assessment. The doctoring of the photo is significant because news media rely on Vatican photographers for images of the pope at events that are closed to independent media.

Vigano read parts of the letter during a press conference launching the volume, including the lines that were blurred out. A journalist who attended the presentation, Sandro Magister, transcribed Vigano’s comments and posted them on his blog. But Vigano didn’t read the whole letter. The Vatican didn’t respond to a request to see the full text.

Most independent news media, including The Associated Press, follow strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos.

“No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph,” the AP standards read.

Source: https://apnews.com/01983501d40d47a4aa7a32b6afb70661

The truth about that Pope Benedict letter (and the last paragraph they “forgot” to publish)

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The now infamous letter and the “small volumes” written on the Theology of Pope Francis.

So if you haven’t heard by now, the entire world is up in arms regarding a letter sent from Pope Emeritus Benedict to Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications. BXVI wrote the letter in thanks for having received an advance copy of the recently released series of books on the Theology of Pope Francis.

On 12 January, Mgr. Viganò wrote to BXVI, asking him to write something on eleven volumes, in which many theologians speak of the theology of Pope Francis. BXVI replied, stating that these books “contradicts the foolish prejudice of those who see Pope Francis as someone who lacks a particular theological and philosophical formation…” He then seems to gush as he tells us that Francis is a “man of profound philosophical and theological formation… and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, even with all the differences in style and temperament.”

Here is Mgr. Viganò telling us (in Italian) all about it:

Sounds like quite an endorsement hey? – for Francis and for the set of books. I mean, who could possibly give a greater endorsement than BXVI? He is one of the greatest theologians we have ever had.

Many people have been extremely upset by this incident. Despairing bloggers have turned on BXVI calling him a liberal in disguise. I have had priests coming to me in tears about the fact that they feel betrayed by his comments. I have to say I was also shocked when I read it, but something didn’t seem right, and as I opened up social media I was reassured by the massive amount of people – even critics of BXVI and non-Catholics who were saying that this must be false.

Now, I am not particularly educated myself, but you do not have to be a theologian to work out that BXVI and Francis are like chalk and cheese when it comes to, well, everything. It seemed very strange that BXVI – a man of almost infinite theological knowledge and insight, would suggest that there is very little difference between the two Popes. There clearly is. Infact this comment was so out of character that half of Twitter was debating whether BXVI was suffering from senile dementia!

The other thing that struck me as being a bit fishy was the way he seemed to openly chastise those who criticise Francis. This is certainly not the BXVI I met almost 12 months ago. He was the most gentle and meek man you could ever meet: full of joy, always smiling, deeply serene. He simply does not use harsh and hurtful words to criticise the faithful. He never has. He is truly gentle – even when correcting people. We can see this from his 2013 letter to the atheist mathematician Piergiorgio Odifreddi.

So what on Earth is going on?

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When I met BXVI last year.

Well it seems that Mgr. Dario Edoardo Viganò, prefect of the Secretary for Communications, has not been 100% honest with us. You see, he withheld the last paragraph of the letter from the press, which does rather put the entire letter into a different context. Read the entire letter (below) keeping in mind the omitted paragraph (in bold), and you can see that there is much more going on between the lines than we have been led to believe:

From: Benedictus XVI, Pope Emeritus

To: Rev. Lord Mons. Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretariat for Communication.

Vatican CITY, 7 February 2018

Most Reverend Monsignor,

I thank you for your kind letter of 12 January and for the attached gift of the eleven small volumes edited by Roberto Repole.

I applaud this initiative that wants to oppose and react to the foolish prejudice that Pope Francis would be only a practical man devoid of special theological or philosophical formation, while I would be only a theorist of theology that would have understood little of the concrete life of a Christian today.

The small volumes show, rightly, that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation and therefore help to see the inner continuity between the two pontificates, despite all the differences in style and temperament.

However, I do not feel like writing a short and dense theological page on them because in all my life it has always been clear that I would write and express myself only on books that I had also really read. Unfortunately, even for physical reasons, I am not able to read the eleven volumes in the near future, all the more so because I am already waiting for other commitments.

I am sure he will have understanding and I greet him cordially.

His,

Benedict XVI.

Pope_Benedict_XVI_on_Aug_28_2010_Credit_LOsservatore_Romano_CNA_2

In short – he hasn’t read them! And he does not intend to! He blames his “other commitments” but I truly wonder how packed a schedule a 90 year old man can have!

In reality Mgr. Viganò has spun it. He chose deliberately not to include the final paragraph which puts the letter in a completely different light. In actual fact, the third paragraph completely empties the first two paragraphs and the attempt to credit the endorsement.

There is no doubt here that Mgr. Viganò has manipulated the situation, because he could not manipulate BXVI himself. Ironically, he has also seemed to completely miss the gentle and subtle way BXVI has chosen to defend himself from the bullying. BXVI masterfully deflected the attack with politeness and calmness – showing that he is still mentally absolutely astute. Mgr. Viganò failed to read between the lines, he failed to notice the mastful and subtle irony and now he has made himself look stupid.  Because of him, the entirety of Pope Francis’ profound philosophical and theological knowledge will now be referred to for the rest of time as the “small volumes” LOL!

pope-francis-sad

It is interesting to me that they would chose to use BXVI to prop up Francis in this way. If Francis is such a wonderful theologian, then why would he need the endorsement of another Pope? Surely he can stand on his own two feet without needing to lean on BXVI? Or is his popularity really that low now?

I chuckled a little when I imagined for a second that the tables were turned: Could we really imagine BXVI going to Francis for an endorsement of his next book?! I don’t think so!

I think this whole sorry debacle has brought to light the collapse of the communications reform that Francis wanted. Its centralisation is in fact, a reflection of the centralisation of “Bergoglio” in this pontificate. It is all simply an empty failing propaganda machine.

But the piece de resistance comes in the form of a quote by Mgr. Viganò himself in which he describes how the worst kind of fake news stories are not made up out of thin air, but are actually true stories that have been spun:

“Fake news is one of the elements that poisons relationships. These are true-to-life news stories, but the information is in fact unfounded, partial, and not even false. In fake news, the problem is not the non-truthfulness, which is very evident, but the verisimilitude (the appearance of being true or real.)”

– Monsignor Dario Edoardo Viganò, Prefect of the Secretary for Communication (an interview with the Vatican News portal, commenting on the Pope’s message for the 52nd World Communications Day, which will be celebrated next May 13, but a text was released today, as per tradition, for the feast of St. Francis de Sales patron of journalists.)

To end, I would like to answer a question that despairing faithful Catholics ask me all the time: Why doesn’t BXVI come out and say something harsh and critical against Francis?

The answer is simple: That is not his style.

UPDATE!! The Vatican has ADMITTED that they doctored the photo of the letter!! HERE: https://apnews.com/01983501d40d47a4aa7a32b6afb70661

The 5 Cardinals – Pope Francis – Kasper: Stuck in the middle with you!

Benedict XVI,  Pope Francis

 

Personally I can totally understand why Francis has been “irritated” by the recent 5 cardinals book reaffirming the true teaching on marriage. It shows that they have not understood his approach and they do not trust him. But why not?

Following my previous post on Pope Francis You are Loved I received this comment:

“Orthodox Catholics feel shaky, afraid the Traditional Latin Mass will be diminished, afraid that all the errors they were taught as children will continue, afraid that the Magisterium will not support the true faith. Many of us are like starving refugees who have (under Benedict) finally got food, terrified the lean times will come again. That’s a cross we must learn to bear; we must love and evangelize in the midst of our fear.”

I think this comment expresses perfectly what so many western orthodox Catholics are feeling at the moment in regards to Pope Francis. Generally i think most of us who are secure in the teachings of the church want to like him but there is this underlying fear that he is more favourable to the liberal side of things. I have already discussed that i feel these fears are unfounded. If you read Evangelii Gaudium you will see that he is an orthodox Pope. His papal style strips away the unnecessary superficial parts of the catholic tradition (the red shoes ect…) and focuses on the central message of mercy. He sees the person before he sees the sin. He meets them where they are in their process of conversion and shows them the dignity and respect they are due simply because they are a human being who Christ died for.

This does not mean however, that he is ignoring their sin. Not at all. What he is doing is putting that persons growing relationship with Christ in top priority. He understands that without a relationship with Christ, Catholic doctrine is just a set of cold hard rules that don’t make a lot of sense in the modern world. So in this respect i guess you could say he is putting the doctrine bit ‘on hold’ until that person is in a place where they are going to be able to understand and accept it. And this is where the problem lies…

In the early 1960’s we had Vatican 2. The 16 documents of Vatican 2 clearly set out the Catholic faith in relationship to the modern world. It was a time of massive change in the church. Sadly, some in positions of authority here in the west either did not study and understand these documents properly, or they purposely chose to interpret them incorrectly. It is down to their poor decisions that the true catholic faith has not been transmitted properly, which has resulted in hundreds and thousands of babies now not getting baptised because their parents don’t see the point.

I used to feel a huge amount of anger and resentment towards these people in authority. But now i realise that they too were/are on their own conversion journey’s and are also in need of compassion and forgiveness.  It’s just a shame they ever got into positions of authority. Anyway, here in the west, post Vatican 2, we entered a period where through our schools and parishes, the true teachings of the catholic church were just not taught to ordinary catholic’s. At a time in the worlds history when the true teachings of the church should have been upheld and taught with more vigour than ever, we got served ‘progressive’ ‘modern’ twaddle. Opinions and trends were prioritised over clear doctrinal teaching. In fact it was the faithful catholic’s who clung onto the doctrine for dear life that (i believe) has kept the church going in the west in the midst of a tsunami of modern progressive falsity.

This is the last time i will talk negatively about that period in the church’s recent history, because although it is important to acknowledge why things have happened, i feel it is unhelpful to keep dragging up the past. The new generations of committed western catholic’s coming through now ARE solid in their faith AND they are brilliant evangelisers.

One more very interesting point from a American friend of mine living in the UK…

“I admire Pope Francis for his compassion, his humility and his ceaseless preaching about the mercy and love of our Lord.  But I think there are things he does not understand about the Church in the English-speaking Western world.  Here, orthodox Catholics are often the movers and shakers amongst the faithful, in contrast to the more liberal within the Church who view traditional liturgical practice as exclusionary and irrelevant, piety as quaint, and evangelisation as gauche and anti-social.  Traditionalists are scandalised when the Pope appears to encourage this latter element.  Conversely, in much of Latin America and the developing world “conservative” can be a byword for arrogance, clericalism, and an attitude towards the poor that is at best indifferent and at worst repressive, whereas so-called liberals may burn with the boundless evangelical zeal the pope wishes for all Catholics to have.  Of course not everyone fits into these boxes, but I do think that these are the social trends that shape the way many of the faithful, including the Holy Father, speak and listen to each other, and may be at the root of the suspicion with which Pope Francis is regarded by some traditionalists, despite their shared aim to live and spread the Gospel.” – Victoria Seed.

Pope Francis

Pope Francis’ style is reminiscent of this post Vatican 2 era for us in the west because, as i said earlier, he puts the doctrine part of the conversion process ‘on hold’ until the person has established a relationship with Christ. He is showing the person mercy. But the huge and fundamental difference here is that he still upholds the doctrine. Repentance comes later on in the conversion process and he knows this.

This is fundamentally different from the approach Cardinal Kasper has taken. Kasper also believes in ‘mercy’ for the individual but in his mind this means changing the teachings of the church so as to make it so the person is no longer committing a sin. For example his solution to the issue that most catholic’s use artificial contraception, is to allow artificial contraception rather than actually teaching NFP (something that hasn’t been done over the last 2 generations). His solution to re-married catholic’s receiving communion is to just let them, rather than explore the annulment process AND take responsibility for the lack of effective marriage prep available at the time these people got married. Kasper is choosing to ignore the sin and ignore any responsibility the church may have had in terms of lack of catechesis. He wants to give in and change the doctrine. That is not mercy, it is indulgence. It is defeatist because it implies that the church has nothing better to offer. Kasper is at a stage in his conversion where he believes he knows better than the Holy Spirit. We’ve all been there.

Cardinal Walter Kasper

Cardinal Walter Kasper 

People are getting confused between the two hugely different approaches of Francis and Kasper because they both holler ‘Mercy’. They both look very similar on the surface but one does not have to dig very deep to see that the two men are coming at it from vastly different angles.

“They claim to know on their own what truth is, but Catholic doctrine is not a closed system, but a living tradition that develops. They want to crystallize the truth in certain formulas … the formulas of tradition.” – Cardinal Walter Kasper, September 2014

This is what Pope Francis said regarding Doctrine:

“Fidelity to the Church, fidelity to its teaching; fidelity to the Creed; fidelity to the doctrine, safeguarding this doctrine. Humility and fidelity. Even Paul VI reminded us that we receive the message of the Gospel as a gift and we need to transmit it as a gift, but not as a something of ours: it is a gift that we received. And be faithful in this transmission. Because we have received and we have to gift a Gospel that is not ours, that is Jesus’, and we must not – he would say – become masters of the Gospel, masters of the doctrine we have received, to use it as we please”. – Pope Francis, Janurary 2014

Francis is not a threat to doctrine. He is not repeating the errors of past. He is a threat however to those of us who see the sin before we see the person behind the sin, and believe that following doctrine comes before a relationship with Christ. We must not let our fear of the past make us cold. Love comes first, and those of us here in the west who are secure in the true teachings of the church must be the ones to make the first move. Francis is challenging the Pharisees amongst us Orthodox to become Evangelisers –  “…we must love and evangelize in the midst of our fear.”

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You are Loved.

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I had a thoroughly good time this morning. A nice young man from BBC Radio 4 came round to interview me for like 2 hours on how people view Pope Francis. He was very interested to hear that i identify as a totally orthodox catholic but i am also totally pro Francis. I will post the interview here when it airs at the beginning of October (please pray that they edit it fairly!).

I have had many discussions online recently regarding Pope Francis where the tone has been rather negative to say the least. It seems that my orthodox buddies just don’t get Francis. At best people think he is sloppy at his job and at worst they think he is single handedly going to destroy the catholic church!

There are several reasons for this:

1. He is not Benedict. 

Benedict was just the most wonderful pope for the orthodox catholic community. He sorted out the liturgy, he loved and embraced the ‘traditional’ parts of Catholicism in a very visible way, he was a master theologian. He was old skool and rock steady. Orthodox catholic’s were extremely comfortable under Benedict.

Francis on the other hand has shunned many ‘traditional’ things ie. the red shoes, the papal apartment, the pomp and the highly bejewelled vestments ect… He has a completely different, simplistic style. He breaks with tradition in a big way.

I think there is a temptation to misunderstand Francis here. He is only breaking with tradition on superficial matters. If you take the time to really listen to his homilies and read Evangelii Gaudium (or a summary of it – it is 51,000 words long!) you immediately see that he is a completely orthodox pope. The man knows he is not God. He is not trying to change doctrine or re-write the 10 commandments or ‘loosen the rules’. What colour the man’s shoes are makes no difference to his capability to lead the people of God for goodness sake!

2. He uses ambiguous language.

Many orthodox catholic’s i have spoken to have described Francis’ ‘conversational’ style to be wishy-washy at best, and open to wrong interpretation at worst. Personally I think this style of speaking to be extremely clever. I believe he uses ambiguous language on purpose. It is difficult for the fringe catholic to immediately reject something that he/she might agree with in part… Francis understands modern western culture. He understands modern man’s lack of respect and suspicion of authority. He understands the moral relativist media style we have all become so accustomed to hearing. In fact the style Francis uses is actually very biblical in nature. Jesus spoke in parables which people could easily understand and interpret in different ways – the core element of the teaching is still the same, but the interpretation of how it actually effects your life is individually relevant to each listener on a personal level. Francis’ style actually encourages the reader to look within themselves and apply what is being said to their own lives.

The ugly side to this of course is that people on both sides of the fence can take ‘some’ of the information and misunderstand what has really been said ie the “who am i to judge” comment.

3. He challenges the Orthodox catholic to evangelise.

Something i have certainly been guilty of in the past has been to sit up nice and tall on my theological and moral high horse. Even though i still am in no doubt that I AM RIGHT, high-horsing is never going to work in terms of evangelisation.

Francis is a man of great humility. Just as Christ did, Francis meets people where they are on their journey of conversion. He doesn’t point the finger or condemn, but instead sees the person behind the sin and encourages them into a deeper relationship with Christ. This requires sensitivity, kindness, compassion and patience.

By his example, Francis challenges us to evangelise in the same way. Essentially the Gospel is a message of mercy and forgiveness. Christ died for every single human being who has ever lived out of total pure love including all members of ISIS and Adolf Hitler and paedophiles. He loves and values every human being the same as he loves you. This is the radical message of Christianity. Introducing people to this love, to this person – Jesus Christ – is the first step.

We are called not only to preach love, but to be love to others. For those of us who are secure and solid in our faith the weight of responsibility is much, much heavier regarding evangelisation. If we don’t get out there and start proclaiming the truth, other will (and their version of the truth is well, not true!) But it is how we approach our brothers and sisters that is key. Calling someone ‘a homosexual’ or ‘a muslim’ or a this or that in a negative tone, dilutes their humanity. This makes the person defensive. This is not bringing Christ to them. Im not saying sweep all the other stuff under the carpet – not at all, what i am saying is that they will never understand and accept the doctrine without first having a relationship with Christ. You have to BE Christ to them as you build bridges of trust, and respect where they are on their journey of conversion.

Pope Francis understands this. He is out there doing it. And you might, just might, have totally misunderstood what he is doing.