This masterpiece of understatement is from diplomat (and Seven Sisters alumna) Julieta Valls Noyes in an internal 2009 State Department document, released by Wikileaks (and published by the Guardian). Regular readers will recall that the Egg has often made the same point: Vatican PR and crisis management are both unspeakably bad. We have also argued that this lack of media savvy is injuring the credibility not only of the Roman Catholic Church, but of Christianity as a whole.
Noyes's cable is a must-read for anybody concerned about the problem. In a brief, clear and well-informed report, she lays out the problem in terms that anybody can understand. Here are a few highlights.
1. The structure of the curia:
In practice, this means that, as an archbishop involved puts it, "
2. The personnel:
No wonder they sound out of touch. They are out of touch.
(For the record, our one curial-staff acquaintance was a priest of our own age, meaning that he was in his early 30s when he served a cardinal's secretary, back in the 1990s. He could barely type, and had apparently never seen a computer. Ivy League, or wasn't that obvious?)
They are also "Italo-centric," with a single American as the only Anglophone in the Pope's inner circle. This means that
Here's an especially glorious detail, at least for anybody who has ever tried to read Vatican-speak:
And those guys can read a language without vowels.
3. Benedict vs. JP2: