Yesterday, a friend sent me a copy of "The Wanderer" from December 4 of last year. My posting here suggesting that Doug Kmiec be named the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican had made the front page. I am deeply honored.
"The Wanderer" is a newspaper published in Minnesota that is about as far to the right as you can get and still be in the Catholic Church. Mind you, I believe it is a big church and there is plenty of room for everybody, including the editors in St. Paul though they seem to decline to extend the same presumption of good faith to me and mine. They are among the right-wing fringe that has forgotten that the line about being "more Catholic than the Pope" is a joke.
The article quoted from my post and then from an article (to which I am unable to link) that ran in the Catholic News Agency (CNA) which is not to be confused with the Catholic News Service (CNS). CNS is a news agency dedicated to reporting about the Church but CNA appears to have more of an ideological agenda. Their reports are free from some of the vitriol one finds in "The Wanderer" but not from the bias. CNA toes a conservative line at all times and on all stories.
What struck me about both the CNA and "TheWanderer" stories was the attribution of quotes to an "an official from the Vatican’s Secretariat of State" who spoke to CNA on the condition of anonymity. The official said that Cardinal James Stafford and Archbishop Raymond Burke, both American prelates working in the curia, considered Kmiec "a traitor" and that his appointment could not happen without upsetting Carl Anderson from the Knights of Columbus.
Where I come from, calling a fellow Catholic "a traitor" evidences a lack of charity, to say nothing of ignorance of canon law: "Traitor" is not a canonical term, is it? I have never met Archbishop Burke, but Cardinal Stafford is a lovely and kind man, and I have a hard time imagining him calling anyone but Benedict Arnold a traitor. The same goes for Mr. Anderson. More to the point, this anonymous official purports to be speaking for them, but why should we believe that he has any authorization to do so? Indeed, while the Secretary of State could consult whomever he wants in determining how to respond to a potential ambassadorial appointment, I am sure that the prelates would keep such consultations to themselves.
There is an old saying: Those who know, don’t talk and those who talk, don’t know. This is not always true or Vatican reporters would be out of a job. But, I was under the impression that Vatican officials make an oath not to speak to the press about their work. Why then are these oh, so Catholic news outlets helping someone to violate his oath?
As to the merits of the argument, there is a tautology in the objections this anonymous Vatican official raises. If supporting Barack Obama is enough to get one labeled a traitor, and an appointment denied, it is difficult to see whom Obama could appoint. My guess is that the Vatican is savvy enough to understand that Obama won and he gets to appoint a supporter and that Doug Kmiec is not only a supporter with access to the incoming President, but he is a Catholic in good standing whose lifelong efforts to create a culture of life and decency commend him for this job. And, although I am not authorized to speak for either of them, I fancy Pope Benedict and Professor Kmiec would enjoy long conversations about Natural Law theory, the danger of relativism, and other topics of intellectual import to which both men have made significant contributions. You can quote me on that.