In what is shaping up to be a serious scandal with potentially greater implications, the Vatican has just admitted it doctored a photo a letter from Pope Benedict to the current pope to give the impression of Benedict’s support of Bergoglio’s works. The doctoring is considered so serious it ‘violated photojournalistic industry standards’ for ethics:
The Vatican admitted Wednesday that it altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis. The manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.
The Vatican’s communications office released the photo of the letter on Monday, the eve of the fifth anniversary of Francis’ election. The letter was cited by Msgr. Dario Vigano, chief of communications, to rebut critics of Francis who question his theological and philosophical heft and say he represents a rupture from Benedict’s doctrine-minded papacy.
In the part of the letter that is legible in the photo, Benedict praised a new volume of books on the theology of Francis as evidence of the “foolish prejudice” of his critics. The book project, Benedict wrote, “helps to see the interior continuity between the two pontificates, with all the differences in style and temperament.”
The Vatican admitted to the Associated Press on Wednesday that it blurred the two final lines of the first page where Benedict begins to explain that he didn’t actually read the books in question. He wrote that he cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis as requested by Vigano because he has other projects to do.
A Vatican spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity, didn’t explain why the Holy See blurred the lines other than to say it never intended for the full letter to be released. In fact, the entire second page of the letter is covered in the photo by a stack of books, with just Benedict’s tiny signature showing, to prove its authenticity.
The missing content significantly altered the meaning of the quotes the Vatican chose to highlight, which were widely picked up by the media. Those quotes suggested that Benedict had read the volume, agreed with it and given it his full endorsement and assessment. The doctoring of the photo is significant because news media rely on Vatican photographers for images of the pope at events that are otherwise closed to independent media.
Vigano read parts of the letter during a news conference launching the volume, including the lines that were blurred out. A journalist who attended the presentation, Sandro Magister, transcribed Vigano’s comments and posted them on his blog. But Vigano didn’t read the whole letter. The Vatican didn’t respond to a request to see the full text.
Most independent news media, including the Associated Press, follow strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos.
“No element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph,” read the AP norms, which are considered to be the industry standard among news agencies.
Vigano heads the Vatican’s new Secretariat for Communications, which has brought all Vatican media under one umbrella in a bid to reduce costs and improve efficiency, part of Francis’ reform efforts. The office’s recent message for the church’s World Day of Social Communications denounced “fake news” as evil and urged media to seek the truth. (source)
This story is overdue, and it is about time that something like it came out because it could precipitate a further investigation.
I have for some years now been an open critic of Pope Francis as are many Catholics who are serious about their faith. Pope Francis, who was met with a burst of enthusiasm and hope upon his election gave me cause for concern because as it was famously reported, lightening struck the top of St. Peter’s Basilica TWICE the moment after Benedict announced his resignation:
Lightning strikes St. Peter’s basilica during a storm in the Vatican City on Feb. 11, 2013, the same day Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation. (source)
I’m not superstitious- that is a sin. I do notice patterns, and the Bible makes clear that the Heavens proclaim the works of the Lord, and that God speaks through natural events at times. It seems quite odd that the Basicilia would be struck twice in such a way that would be seen by the entire world on the exact day of this man’s election to the papacy amidst a questionable resignation by Pope Benedict.
I say questionable resignation because as some Catholic commentators have pointed out such as Steve Skojec at OnePeterFive, the circumstances of the resignation are suspect in light of the political and social climate in the Benedict may have been forced out.
As other Catholic commentators, including the late Fr. Gruner explains also, Pope Benedict’s letter of resignation itself was also suspect because he does NOT speak of renouncing the office of the papacy, just his public ministry:
There was the curious incident where the head of Freemasonry in Italy, Giuseppe Raffi, officially saluted Pope Francis, which is a first ever for a Freemason, considering that the Catholic Church has stood against Freemasonry since 1738:
There are the constant strange and contradictory phrases uttered by Pope Francis that while people initially attempted to explain them in a broader context, have been forced to take a more critical look at Francis himself because the more an explanation is asked for the less one is given.
There are Pope Francis’ statements on Islam, which are outright wrong and contradict Catholic teaching.
There is the interesting phenomenon of how on issues of upholding Catholic tradition and morality Francis will speak out in direct or indirect ways against “rigidity” or some other word concerning it while at the same time he will be silent on the increasing presence of homosexual or persons who promote homosexuality in direct contradiction to the Catholic Faith.
There are a lot of people who have documented Francis’ behavior. Many believe, with good reason, that Francis is indeed a formal heretic.
Now this letter comes out, and in this scandal the Vatican was caught red-handed forging evidence to give the appearance that Pope Benedict support Bergoglio.
What other evidence has been forged on Francis’ watch?
This scandal is not going away, because now that such a lie has been caught, any future statements from the Vatican during the reign of Francis are going to be subject to intense scrutiny by the laity.
What little trust may have been left among the Pope’s cabinet, which has presented itself as hostile to the very faith they are charged to defend, has now been destroyed. This is not a bad thing, but a good thing, because it is an ideal lever that can and will be used to further pry an investigation into the abuses of the current pontificate as many have been working on doing.
Just as history always shows and is happening again, the laity will step in and step up where the leadership does not, and given the climate today, this is just the beginning of a very interesting future.