Wednesday, March 6, 2013

And We're Off

We've been waiting for this type of stuff to come up. Didn't have to wait long.

First, you've got folks going ape over the possibility (inevitability) of leaks. To me, this is a legit concern given everything else that's been going on. Rocco Palma has probably the most balanced account of the story:

After an anonymous cardinal leaked details of yesterday's sessions to the Italian press, in the kind of move that only makes sense in Vatiworld, the US delegation yielded to apparent pressure in shutting down its daily on-record briefings at the Pontifical North American College as the General Congregation agreed to maintain a media "blackout" by the cardinals in the run-up to the Conclave. (Above, the primate of the Gauls, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, is shown being hounded by reporters as he arrived at the GC on his bike.)

Featuring a half-hour of lunchtime Q&As with a rotating cast of two among the 11 Stateside electors, the NAC sessions rapidly became a big draw – a major US network livestreamed one of the briefings in full, and by yesterday's round, over 100 media were said to have converged as Cardinals Se├ín O'Malley OFM Cap of Boston and Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston provided general summaries of the scene, yet without violating the oath taken by each cardinal against divulging specifics. (An audio file of the event posted shortly after its close attracted so much interest that the server hosting it crashed under the demand.)

While the clamp-down was communicated by e.mail to reporters an hour or so in advance, it still came so suddenly that some press only learned of the change after arriving at the college for today's previously-scheduled briefing. 

Fr. Lombardi gave his standard "nothing to see here," but the press is treating this like Obama going to see Tiger Woods. It's insane. Hell, the whole conclave is going to be on lock-down, so is this really that big of a deal?

Second, you've got the latest from Rorate, which is a pretty horrible story about media manipulation to try and raise Cardinal Sherer's profile and get him elected. This is way out there, and I'm waiting for the backlash. Cardinal Turkson took flak for some comments he made that came off as campaigning. I can't imagine what the reaction should be for outright collusion. Disgust is what registered for me.

Third, and this is more of an aside, you've only got one cardinal who hasn't made it to Rome yet: His Eminence Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh of Viet Nam. He's expected to make it in tomorrow.

Remember Pope Benedict's lament about how the media helped hijack the Council. Hopefully, the cardinals will be on their guard this time.

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