(Rome) In the evening two days ago, in the Estonian capital Tallinn, a plane lifted off with Pope Francis on board. As is customary after every pastoral trip, a flying press conference was held where the head of the Church is asked questions by journalists. Yesterday, however, everything went a little differently.
In the past, the pope's answers were published on the Vatican official website in several languages. After yesterday's return flight, the publication was delayed in the original language. First, the house Vaticanist, Andrea Tornielli published the pope's answers to Vatican Insider. Meanwhile, they were also published on the website of the Holy See.
According to the statements of various journalists who were on board, the head of the Church seemed "nervous". Above all, strict requirements were made yesterday. The pope wanted only to answer questions that had to do with the pastoral trip to the Baltic States. The directive was clear: McCarrick, Viganò dossier and Murphy-O'Connor issues were undesirable. The hot irons were excluded. Anyone who had any questions from the journalists was put off ("first the questions about the trip") and then just got the word, no more ("I'm told dinner is ready, and the flight is not long").
When Vatican spokesman Greg Burke declared the travel questions to be complete, Pope Francis himself quickly took the floor and addressed a few things. This was not a press conference, but a monologue. On the Pennsylvania Report on Sexual Abuse, Francis said:
"I take the Pennsylvania Report, for example, and we see that until the early 1970s there were many priests who fell into this corruption. Then, more recently, they have decreased because the Church realized that it had to fight it in some other way. In times past, such things were covered up. They were also covered at home when the uncle raped the little niece when the father raped the children: they were covered up because it was a great shame. That was the thinking of past centuries and of the last century."
Is the problem of sexual abuse only a matter of the past, "until the beginning of the 70s"? Is that correct? There is a counter-argument that the abuse and total sexual misconduct only spread epidemically in the church in the late 1960s, and especially in the 1970s in parallel with the Sexual Revolution. There were inquiries by the journalists but they were not allowed.
Following the Papal remarks, only one question was allowed, that of a Spanish journalist for an agreement with the People's Republic of China.
The unusual procedure was clearly noted by the journalists and caused some irritation.
"One month after the publication of the Viganò dossier, the Vatican still has no answer - or denial - to the allegations of the former Apostolic Nuncio in the US," said Nuova Bussola Quotidiana.
On August 26, the Viganò dossier had been raised with its grave allegations against Pope Francis and high-ranking Church representatives of his immediate circle and his resignation was demanded. In response, Francis decreed strict silence the same day on the return flight from Ireland. He gained time, but he did not answer. From his circle, in the following days, content, cryptic announcements were made that the Pope was preparing the "counter-strike" and "coming soon" there would be an answer from Rome that would refute "point by point" the accusations.
Since then, new questions and allegations have been raised with the United Kingdom and Argentina. But the Vatican still lacks any answer. Francis chose a desperate and at the same time, simplest way: he is trying to endure the problem. This only works as long as the secular media spare him. This tactic therefore has a downside: it creates dependencies.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
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