Lo scandalo della lettera

Cardinal Pell, the prime mover behind the letter to the Holy Father broken by Sandro Magister today, has issued a statement, Edward Pentin reports. The full statement is as follows:

Statement from Spokesperson for Cardinal George Pell 

Monday 12 October 2015

A spokesperson for Cardinal Pell said that there is strong agreement in the Synod on most points but obviously there is some disagreement because minority elements want to change the Church’s teachings on the proper dispositions necessary for the reception of Communion.

Obviously there is no possibility of change on this doctrine.

A private letter should remain private but it seems that there are errors in both the content and the list of signatories.

The Cardinal is aware that concerns remain among many of the Synod Fathers about the composition of the drafting committee of the final relatio and about the process by which it will be presented to the Synod fathers and voted upon.

In essence, Cardinal Pell’s statement confirms (1) that there was a letter and (2) that there were multiple signatories. But the plot begins to thicken quickly.

John Allen, at Crux, reports that a “senior member of the synod,” also confirms the letter’s existence. But this “senior member” notes errors in Magister’s text. Allen again, doing some joint reporting at Crux, reveals that Cardinal Napier (the “senior member of the synod”?) acknowledges signing a letter. However, Cardinal Napier also points to differences between Magister’s text and what he signed. Allen gives the impression that Cardinal Napier’s letter was specifically about the ten-member drafting commission:

Earlier on Monday, veteran Italian Vatican writer Sandro Magister published a letter allegedly signed by 13 cardinals, including Napier, expressing fear that “the new process seems designed to facilitate predetermined results on important disputed questions.”

Napier acknowledged signing a letter, but said its content was different from that presented in Magister’s report. The letter he signed, he said, was specifically about the 10-member commission preparing the final document.

(Emphasis supplied.) So, we see that Cardinal Pell, Cardinal Napier, and the “senior member of the synod” all confirm that there was a letter. Cardinal Pell’s confirmation is especially important, since Magister said that Cardinal Pell was the one who delivered the letter to the Holy Father. But they all say that there were differences between Magister’s text and the text with which they were familiar. It would be nice to know what the differences are.

It would be nicer still if Magister would simply release his copy of the letter, making, of course, any necessary redactions. Magister’s quote was not presented as a paraphrase or synthesis or excerpt of a longer letter, and one assumes—we did anyway—that he was in possession of a copy of the letter. This would, of course, run the risk of burning sources. But, at this point, what does he have to lose? (It’s not like Father Lombardi could ban him from the Press Office again.)

(With respect to the title: we don’t claim such great Italian. However, we couldn’t bear the thought of “Lettergate” or some such.)