After too much information about the doings of the College of Cardinals was released to the press, the Vatican has decided to stop all press conferences until after a pope has been selected.
“Concern was expressed in the general congregation about leaks of confidential proceedings reported in Italian newspapers,” said Sister Mary Ann Walsh, director of media relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in a statement to the media. “As a precaution, the cardinals have agreed not to do interviews.”
Thus far, the U.S. cardinals were the only prelates who were holding regular press conferences. The Vatican hosted just three press briefings for the more than 5,000 journalists now in Rome to cover the Conclave and selection of Pope Benedict XVI’s successor.
However, the American cardinals are not to blame for the imposition of a media blackout. This is supposedly due to certain Italian cardinals who gave too much information to the Italian press. These cardinals were named in front of the general assembly of the College of Cardinals yesterday.
According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi, the American cardinals’ press conferences were in keeping with their usual relationship with the media and because they were better organized.
“The Americans are well organized, they have a good relationship with the media and so much American media with many people have come here (to Rome),” Fr. Lombardi said. “So I’m not surprised the American cardinals have paid attention to communicating with them.”
However, the time has come to cease all communicating with the press.
” . . . (I)t’s natural that their discernment progresses into more reflection and more silence,” he said, adding that during the conclave “there will be absolute silence.”
“The congregations are not a synod or a congress in which we try to report as much information as possible,” he noted. “They are on a path towards arriving at the decision of electing the Roman pontiff.”
The full complement of 115 cardinal-electors is now present in Rome and a decision on the date of the Conclave is expected soon.
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