Monday – June 29, 2009

The Roman Catholic World

Marielena Montesino de Stuart

The following article by MARIELENA MONTESINO de STUART appeared on the front page of The Wanderer online, on Friday, June 26, 2009.  (This is the July 2nd, 2009 edition).

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In recent months, Giovanni Maria Vian, the editor- in- chief of L’Osservatore Romano has been increasingly criticized for his unusual opinions as he con­tinues to paint President Barack Obama in a palette of gentle hues.

In a recent interview with the National Review we are cautioned to first consider Gio­vanni Maria Vians background and religious education, before issuing judgments about his opinions, as editor of L’Osservatore Romano. The objective of this consideration is that we are not to assume that he has “ dropped in from left- field.”


Well, if we apply this norm, I would say we have cause to be quite worried — consider­ing the following record and common thread among several Communist leaders of the 20th and 21st centuries: religious education and socialist ideology. While this by no means represents that one leads to the other — it is nevertheless, worthy of note that:

Joseph Stalin ( former USSR) attended a Georgian Orthodox Seminary; Fidel Castro ( Cuba) educated at a Jesuit boarding school; Kim Il-Sung (North Korea) educated at a Prot­estant mission school; Pol Pot (Cambodia) at­tended École Miche, a Catholic school; Ho Chi Minh ( Vietnam) was immersed in Confu­cian home- schooling; Bela Kun ( Hungary) at­tended a Reformed church boarding school; Khorloogiin Choibalsan ( Mongolia) studied at a monastery of Lamaist ( Buddhist) Monks.

Why do I mention this? Because the reli­gious education of an individual can only bear good fruit if the individual is well formed to discern and combat a secular environment that is intrinsically hostile to goodness.

Religious education, in and of itself, cou­pled with originality, philosophical sophis­tication, literary genius, and intellectual pow­er, is no guarantee in the formation of a good human being — unless there is clear understanding of good and evil, in their most subtle manifestations.

As Catholics in America grow deeper in despair about their government, it would seem obvious that they would look to the Vatican as the legitimate center and source of all things clear, when it comes to political issues, free enterprise, and the defense of human life. The Vati­can, after all, has refined the system of corporations which allowed the average individual to pursue economic freedom within a set of guidelines that encompass the protection of a free market economy, and the individual’s freedom to pursue it. The Vatican, after all, has also been the lone voice in the wilderness, in defense of moral imperatives that others consid­er mere options.

The economic and social horizon contin­ues to narrow in the U. S., and economists and sociologists have begun to express their outrage at the increase of government fi­nancial takeovers, brought about in part by the overwhelming control and planning from the Federal Reserve. We are also faced with the menace of a state that will control who will live and who will die, un­der socialist healthcare systems.

Given this grim scenario, it would also seem obvious that we, as Catholics, should hear through the newspaper which acts “at the service of the thinking of the Pope” a firm and clear message from the Vatican regarding the benefits of natural law — both in terms of the economy and in the non­negotiable defense of human life.

Yet, if one considers his recent judgment of Obama, Vian would have us think that these are times for reflection on the possi­bility that inherent evil, may not be so. That our perception of the threat to human life may not be true. This sense of re- enlight­ened misinformation is at its best subtle, and at its worse, misleading. A dangerous game indeed, with issues that are consid­ered categorical imperatives — issues that admit no exceptions.

Which begs the question: Is Vian issuing his opinions in consultation with the Sec­retariat of State? Yes, says Vian to the Na­tional Review, and insists that the Secre­tary of State, Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, is fully aware of his editorial excursions. Vian also claims that L’Osservatore Romano is “the newspaper of the Pope” and that his “editor, in the Italian sense of the owner of the paper, is the Pope, via the Secretary of State,” and he goes on to say that he “could not possibly create a paper in disagreement with the owner.” He added that “the Pope and the Secretary of State have so far given me and the newspaper their full confidence,” and “we work in full autonomy except in a few areas of particular interest on internation­al questions, and then we work in close col­laboration with the Secretariat of State.”

Well, either Vian is saying the truth, or there is a key ingredient missing in this sauce: accurate facts. If Vian enjoys full au­tonomy on everything except “international questions” — then, does this mean that nu­clear disarmament, Iran, Korea, China — are more important to Benedict XVI than the destruction of civilization through the extermination of over 50 million human beings through abortion — in the U. S. alone? Does this also mean that the Pope, as “ the owner” leaves the discus­sion of abortion in L’Osservatore Ro­mano in the hands of Giovanni Maria Vian, so that Vian can refer to it as a “ del­icate matter”?

Vian goes on to say that L’Osservatore Romano “is mis-used by everyone for their own agenda.” Well, this is probably true, and it confirms that L’Osservatore Ro­mano is not following a clear path of un­derstanding and reflection of the opinions of “ its owner” ( Benedict XVI); therefore, it’s time that Vian stop playing pirate in the high seas of journalism — and that a new editor be ushered in al più presto possi­bile.

Vian defines himself as a European. An Italian. Well — what an existential discov­ery! He claims that he is not a liberal, nor a socialist. What he clearly leaves out of his existential equation is the word “Catholic.” Well, Mr. Vian, you are the editor- in- chief of the world’s most prominent Roman Catholic newspaper. As such, your most prominent identification should be as a Catholic, which would then naturally involve a true and SOLID representation of “ the owner’s” thinking — who after all, is the successor of Peter ( remember “ the ROCK”?).

One can imagine that the Vatican, which moves in God’s time, would not like the idea of a scandal and expulsion of the ed­itor- in- chief, of a newspaper which acts “ at the service of the thinking of the Pope.”

Vian ends his interview with the National Review, by taking a cheap shot at news re­porters and bloggers — and referring to them as “ going to the bar where everyone has their own opinion.” Does this mean that Vian’s opinion is the only one that counts? He also alludes to the fact that Americans don’t really understand ­L’Osservatore Romano because they cannot read every arti­cle in Italian.

Well, Mr. Vian, in this bar of ideas I can read you in Italian, very well and between the lines — and reflected in my cup of no­ble wine I see your words and opinions as nothing but a cosmic game of heads or tails.  Cin cin.

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© Marielena Montesino de Stuart


You may also read Marielena Montesino de Stuart’s commentaries through: RenewAmerica, USAToday, The Dallas Morning News, U.S. Politics Today (an EIN Service for Political Professionals-*) Poynter Online, Spero News, Daily Estimate, The New Liturgical Movement-Poland, The Naples Daily News, Les Femmes-The Truth, Culture War Notes,  ProLife Blogs,  The Wanderer, etc.

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The first part of  The Hijacking of  L’Osservatore Romano is available at: