A lot of the seeming Vatican missteps of the past 5-10 years, such as the Limbo debacle (where the Times declared “Limbo closed by Pope” despite this being a gross misrepresentation of what happened), the problems with the Holocaust-denying SSPX bishop Williamson, or the most recent Vatileaks scandal are mostly chalked up to badly controlled PR. The Holy See has horrible people in place where, like the Vatileaks scandal (most major news outlets couldn’t even summarize what was leaked), some happens that’s usually not a big deal but which gets misrepresented and blown entirely out of proportion in the press. Or, something legitimately very wrong happens and the Holy See’s press office doesn’t issue a response for days or even weeks. Both cases are clearly just stupid PR. And it hurts souls – people are scandalized, the Church’s reputation is tarnished, etc. It’s funny – the Pope usually ends up having to try to clean it up himself in public audiences or addresses, when the PR office should be taking care of that. That’s why they’re being paid, after all.
This was discovered by the Holy See, really, around the time of Vatican II, during which many priests or religious with an agenda would often plant themselves near a press office (MSNBC, etc.) covering the Council and bombard them with their “translations” or “summaries” of the proceedings of the Council for that day. As a consequence, the US and other countries were passed along, through major media, mostly faulty translations or otherwise ideologically slanted accounts of what happened, leading to major misconceptions about the Council which, sadly, we are still cleaning up.
That’s why it’s such a relief, albeit limited cause for rejoicing, that the Holy See has finally hired a more competent fellow, the Rome correspondent for Fox News, to take over the role, essentially, of chief press officer for the Holy See. http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2012/06/il-consigliere-amid-media-meltdown.html.
God-willing, this might help the Holy See get it’s act together at least on the PR front.
Just remember – while it’s not a good thing in itself, it’s certainly proof for the divine origin and guidance of the Church that, despite our best efforts to screw it up, She keeps going strong throughout the ages.
Saint Gabriel, Archangel, Pray for Us!
Yours in Christ,
Br. James Dominic, OP