Inside the Vatican with Wikileaks

U.S. embassy cables from Vatican City have been released through Wikileaks, and while The New York Times says they "do not appear to contain any bombshells about the Vatican," anyone interested in what goes on inside the Vatican will want to look at them.For the moment, there are details available about Vatican objections to Ireland's Murphy Commission investigation into clergy sexual abuse in a cable that cites an American priest in the Vatican as a source. There is a look back at Pope Benedict's XVI's outreach to dissident Anglicans, with the British ambassador to the Vatican, Francis Campbell, who is Catholic, telling an American diplomat that it was so inflammatory that it might lead to violence against British Catholics.The one I've found most interesting at this point is an American diplomat's critique of the Vatican's communications and of the decision-making process in general. Here is an excerpt (by way of the Guardian, which has links to a number of the cables):

More broadly, critics point to a lack of generational or geographical diversity in the Pope's inner circle. Most of the top ranks of the Vatican -- all men, generally in their seventies -- do not understand modern media and new information technologies. The blackberry-using Father Lombardi remains an anomaly in a culture in which many officials do not even have official email accounts. XXXXXXXXXXXX laid even greater emphasis on the Italo-centric nature of the Pope's closest advisors. Other than Archbishop James Harvey, an American and head of the Papal household, there is no one from an Anglophone country in the Pope's inner circle. XXXXXXXXXXXX said this meant few had exposure to the American -- or, indeed, global -- rough and tumble of media communications. The Pope's Italian advisors, he said, tend towards old-fashioned, inwardly focused communications written in "coded" language that no-one outside their tight circles can decipher. (The Israeli Ambassador, for example, told CDA that he recently received a Vatican statement that was supposed to contain a positive message for Israel, but it was so veiled he missed it, even when told it was there.)7. (C) There is also the question of who, if anyone, brings dissenting views to the Pope's attention. As noted, Cardinal Bertone is considered a "yes man," and other Cardinals don't hold much sway with the Pope -- or lack the confidence to bring him bad news.

Paul Moses, a contributing writer at Commonweal, is the author of The Saint and the Sultan: The Crusades, Islam and Francis of Assisi's Mission of Peace (Doubleday, 2009) and An Unlikely Union: The Love-Hate Story of New York's Irish and Italians (NYU Press, 2015). Follow him on Twitter @PaulBMoses. 

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