The strange Vatican silence over Chile’s abuse survivors


Just over a week ago, three Chile abuse survivors met Pope Francis, and then gave an important press conference reflecting on the meeting. Juan Carlos Cruz, James Hamilton, and José Andres Murillo said Pope Francis had admitted he was “part of the problem”, and had pledged to do more in future.

It’s a bit of a head-scratcher.

The news was widely covered – but not by Vatican media.

The weekly Spanish-language edition of L’Osservatore Romano that came out last Friday had a piece that took note of the weekend meetings and briefly mentioned the Wednesday press conference.

Otherwise, crickets.

Sources inside the Secretariat for Communications, which oversees most of the Vatican’s media and public relations apparatus, including the new Vatican News web portal, suggest the decision not to cover the event – which received worldwide press attention – was in keeping with the Holy Father’s wishes that the meetings be private and reserved.

The acting head of the Secretariat for Communications, Mgr Lucio Ruiz, did not respond to repeated requests for a statement, while the Press Office of the Holy See declined to comment.

“It’s a bit surprising,” the Wall Street Journal’s Vatican correspondent, Francis X Rocca, told the Catholic Herald.

“After the Pope’s dramatic gesture, and given his willingness to field tough questions, it’s puzzling that his own media apparatus would keep silent on such a major event and an important topic.”

Rocca saw both sides of the question.

“I can understand the desire to exercise discretion, so as not to be seen to ‘spin’ the event,” he said.

On the other hand, the argument could be made that a brief statement acknowledging the presser might have shown the Pope’s willingness to face criticism; it was a judgment call. Continue reading

  • Christopher Altieri is a contributing editor of the Catholic Herald
  • Image: Twitter
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