So here is the journalism question I offer to you today: What does a letter from Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI written on Nov. 23, 2017, have to do with the written testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano, which exploded into public view at the end of August, 2018?
If you look at this as a matter of logic, the answer is clear: Nothing.
Well, I guess one could argue that Benedict could have had a prophetic vision of what Vigano was going to do. But I think that’s a bit of a stretch. How about you?
Anyway, in this case it really helps to report the contents of the Benedict letter and look for the news contained therein.
That’s what the team at Crux did, under this recent headline: “Benedict XVI hits back at critics in leaked letters.” Note: The retired pope is speaking to his own critics.
Now hold that thought, while we look at the amazing and bizarre New York Times report about the same Benedict letters. The headline proclaimed: “In Private Letters, Benedict Rebukes Critics of Pope Francis.”
You see, everything has to be about conservative Catholics attacking Pope Francis. Got that? Here is the overture, which opens with — you got it — the Vigano letter:
ROME — The remarkable letter last month calling on Pope Francis to resign for allegedly shielding an abusive American cardinal also served as a public call to arms for some conservative Catholics who pine for the pontificate of the previous pope, Benedict XVI. For years now, they have carried his name like a battle standard into the ideological trenches.
Benedict apparently would like them to knock it off.
In private letters published on Thursday by the German newspaper Bild, Benedict, who in retirement has remained studiously quiet through the controversies over Francis’ fitness to lead the church, says that the “anger” expressed by some of his staunchest defenders risks tarnishing his own pontificate.