Damian Thompson said that The Letter was worse than anything that ever befell Benedict. Now it looks like Cardinal Müller agrees: The Letter is “a new Vatileaks.” Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a purported signatory of The Letter, refused to confirm whether or not he signed, which, of course, points in one direction. However, according to the Catholic Herald, he told the Corriere della Sera:

“The scandal is that it makes public a private letter of the Pope. This is a new Vatileaks: the Pope’s private documents are private property of the Pope and no one else. No one can publish it, I do not know how that could happen.”

(Emphasis supplied.) We also noted that leaking The Letter to Sandro Magister was a particularly provocative act, since Magister has been persona non grata in the Press Office since he leaked an advance copy (mostly accurate) of Laudato si’.

Of course, we are not quite sure that this is a new Vatileaks. As everyone knows, there was a lot going on with Vatileaks: on one hand, it seems to us that the Sodano-Bertone rivalry (the old-line Secretariat of State crowd, which had gotten its own way under John Paul’s pontificate, against the “outsider” Bertone and his circle) was—at least in its essence—separate from the clique opposed to Benedict from the beginning. We are not sure that there is as much going on here. Really, there is one issue, which has created other issues. So, perhaps Vatileaks II isn’t the right name for lo scandalo della lettera.

Synodleaks, maybe?

Ain’t got time to take a fast train

We have a few takeaways from lo scandalo della lettera, day one:

  • It was the Pope’s own men, for the most part, who objected to the Synod’s procedure (as of October 5). Three heads of dicasteries—CDF, CDW, Economy—and four other papal appointees signed the letter, apparently.
  • Cardinal Dolan‘s signature on the letter, coupled with his interesting comment on his website, shows that the position contra Kasper has some nuance. No one would have lumped Cardinal Dolan in with the conservatives.
  • Africa is not backing down.
  • The Vatican really struggles with media. Banning Sandro Magister from the Press Office (over the Laudato si’ leak) has plainly not limited his influence. More than that, Fr. Rosica and Fr. Spadaro notwithstanding, the Vatican really seems to struggle with new media especially. A few coy statements to favored outlets will not slow down a story as explosive as The Letter.
  • Once again, the Synod is about process. The goal of consensus was going to be hard to achieve after last October. Now, with all the issues with process, it’s unlikely that consensus will be meaningful, even if achieved. No matter who “loses,” and it is passing strange to talk about winners and losers in this context, they’ll be able to blame the process. (The fix was in versus The right-wingers derailed our dialogue.)

To our mind, there is one interesting question. What does Francis do now? When he got The Letter, he intervened personally in the Synod to make it clear that he supported the process as it stood on October 5. But hardly anyone knew about it then. Things have changed.

Thirteen after all

Rorate Caeli reports that there were, after all, thirteen signatories to The Letter. They were, according to Rorate:

  • Carlo Cardinal Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna*
  • Thomas Cardinal Collins, archbishop of Toronto
  • Daniel Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston
  • Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York*
  • Willem Cardinal Eijk, archbishop of Utrecht
  • Gerhard Ludwig Cardinal Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith*
  • Wilfrid Fox Cardinal Napier, archbishop of Durban*
  • John Cardinal Njue, archbishop of Nairobi
  • George Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy*
  • Norberto Cardinal Rivera, archbishop of Mexico City
  • Robert Cardinal Sarah, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship*
  • Elio Cardinal Sgreccia, president emeritus of the Pontifical Council for Life*
  • Jorge Cardinal Urosa, archbishop of Caracas

Rorate does not report its source for this new information [SEE EDIT], and, while Sandro Magister has removed the names of the cardinals who disassociated themselves from the letter, he has not updated his blog to reflect the new purported signatories. Obviously, if there is a new round of denials, corrections, or dissociations, we will report it.

We have marked with an asterisk those prelates who are present at the Synod ex officio as dicastery heads (subject to papal appointment) or by special appointment of the Pope. Of the thirteen, we count seven cardinals on this list who are at the Synod essentially as papal nominees.

EDIT: Rorate did apparently report its source: Gerard O’Connell at America. O’Connell said,

America has learned from informed sources that 13 cardinals did indeed sign the letter, including four not named on Magister’s list:  Di Nardo (United States), Njue (Kenya), Rivera (Mexico) and Sgreccia (Italy). The full list of signatories is given below.

(Italics supplied.)

Hidden significance

Timothy Cardinal Dolan, archbishop of New York, has posted a very interesting statement, one which may explain his presence (so far uncontested) as a signatory of The Letter, notwithstanding his credentials as a moderate. We’re going to quote it in full:

A very refreshing, consistent theme of the synod has been inclusion.  The Church, our spiritual family, welcomes everyone, especially those who may feel excluded.  Among those, I’ve heard the synod fathers and observers comment, are the single, those with same-sex attraction, those divorced, widowed, or recently arrived in a new country, those with disabilities, the aged, the housebound, racial and ethnic minorities.  We in the family of the Church love them, welcome them, and need them.

Can I suggest as well that there is now a new minority in the world and even in the Church?  I am thinking of those who, relying on God’s grace and mercy, strive for virtue and fidelity: Couples who — given the fact that, at least in North America, only half of our people even enter the sacrament of matrimony–  approach the Church for the sacrament;  Couples who, inspired by the Church’s teaching that marriage is forever, have persevered through trials; couples who welcome God’s gifts of many babies; a young man and woman who have chosen not to live together until marriage; a gay man or woman who wants to be chaste; a couple who has decided that the wife would sacrifice a promising professional career to stay at home and raise their children — these wonderful people today often feel themselves a minority, certainly in culture, but even, at times in the Church!  I believe there are many more of them than we think, but, given today’s pressure, they often feel excluded.

Where do they receive support and encouragement? From TV?   From magazines or newspapers?  From movies?  From Broadway?  From their peers?  Forget it!

They are looking to the Church, and to us, for support and encouragement, a warm sense of inclusion.  We cannot let them down!

We think that this comment may well prove significant. It stands the Kasperites’ rhetoric on its head, and does so in terms that are essentially unanswerable.

It is clear that the broad consensus anticipated by Cardinal Kasper (and his supporters) is evaporating quickly.

(HT Damian Thompson.)