George Weigel makes an interesting point. He calls the decision by the College of Cardinals to shut-down all communication ” a remarkably woodenheaded move, even by recent Vatican-communications standards.”
His point is this. The leaks of verbatim information from the meeting to the Italian press did not come from the cardinals, but almost certainly from the translators. But rather than deal with that problem, they shut down the press conferences from the American Cardinals. Those conferences, Weigel says, were the one regular venue for developing good news stories about the Church; that venue has now been closed. The leaks will continue, since the source of the leaks had nothing to do with the American press conferences; but the press conferences will not be available to correct misapprehensions, distortions, and confusions coming from the leaks.”
Weigel goes on to say
A Church that is suffering from a terrible public image involving alleged cover-ups and scandals has reinforced that image, rather than highlighting one of the few instruments at its disposal for dispelling that image. And the widely advertised Vatican commitment to the full use of all media, including social media, as tools of the New Evangelization has been sacrificed to a lockdown communications “strategy” that is the antithesis of the openness essential in preaching the Gospel in a skeptical and often nihilistic 21st-century West.
I will admit my distrust for and antipathy towards the press prompted me to initially agree with the lock-down strategy, but I think Weigel makes some good points. For a Church with a history of turning management failures into public relations nightmares through silence and cover-up, it seems that some lessons have yet to be internalized.