Over on the homepage, George Weigel has a scorching denunciation of the Vatican’s decision to shut down the press conferences held by American cardinals: “It was a remarkably woodenheaded move, even by recent Vatican-communications standards. The American press conferences were the one regular venue for developing good news stories about the Church; that venue has now been closed.” Weigel is right. There’s a lot at stake in this conclave process: The Vatican is drastically in need of reform, and this particular story is an especially pointed example of what’s wrong. At its heart, religion is mysterious; that is an inescapable truth. But when Vatican officials, even some among them who may have good intentions, add to it phony, trumped-up layers of mystification and lack of transparency — what Weigel refers to as “baroque evasions and obfuscations” and, even more pungently, “baloney” and “stupidity” — the result is only to strengthen secular-minded people in their suspicion that the whole thing is highly imaginative nonsense.
In short: The management of the Catholic Church’s head office is currently bringing the cause of religion into disrepute. Church reformers this month have the opportunity of a lifetime to try to set things right.