Newspaper director shows 'unprecedented level of rancor towards a cardinal'
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Cardinal Raymond Burke has always been a favorite target of attacks by the liberal wing of the Church, but ever since the new Italian government took over in May, the vilification of the cardinal from part of the Italian press has increased. Cardinal Burke recently reached out to Avvenire (the Italian Bishops' Conference newspaper) demanding an apology for a defamatory article about one of his talks, and the response from Avvenire was a timid mea culpa followed by a full-frontal attack accusing Burke of causing division in the Church.
There certainly is tension in the Vatican owing to recent actions of new Minister of Interior Matteo Salvini (who shut Italian ports to illegal migrant rescue ships), as immigration seems to have become a new "non-negotiable" for the Church. As explained by the president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, Abp. Vincenzo Paglia, the "widening of the scope of our academy" has to incorporate "a global understanding of life, encompassing the fetus in the womb, the immigrant on a vessel ... and the exploitation of the environment."
Salvini reportedly had a meeting with Cdl. Burke in 2017, and earlier this month they warmly greeted each other at an event, which was enough to trigger speculations in The Guardian about private collaboration between the two. In Italy, Cdl. Burke has already been referred to by the newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano as "the Salvinian cardinal."
It was from Il Fatto Quotidiano that Gianni Gennari, an ex-priest with a column in Avvenire, learned about Cdl. Burke's attitude towards the Pope. When covering the April conference "Catholic Church: Where Are You Heading?" (where Burke was one of the main speakers), Il Fattoclaimed that His Eminence "alluded to Pope Francis as the Antichrist" and that the cardinal's supporters are "surly and gossipy."
Gennari quotes these statements in his piece and then endorses the newspaper's malicious report: "This is how it is. ... Cardinal Burke speaks of today's Church as if it were going through the time of the Antichrist, using a reference from paragraph n.675 from the Catechism, hinting that the 'final trial' is already prevailing inside the Church."
On June 15, Cdl. Burke wrote to Marco Tarquinio, director of Avvenire:
I have learned with great astonishment and profound sorrow about Gianni Gennari's column ... of which I am the protagonist. The journalist ... didn't get firsthand information about the facts. ... My speech had no mention ... of the Antichrist. ... There also weren't any references to paragraph n.675 of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I ask you to amend, as a public correction, the aforementioned article, and at the same time, to [publish] your public apologies, reporting the real content and tone of my reflections. ... [It] should be indisputable that the newspaper of Catholic inspiration that you manage doesn't approve, even implicitly ... of these attacks to my person, and through myself, to the Catholic Church.
Marco Tarquinio's reply starts by clarifying that there was a misunderstanding, as Gennari's rebuke was directed to "apocalyptical" references made by Cdl. Burke in an interview to Catholic daily La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana (a conservative Catholic publication) two days before the conference.
Tarquinio defends Gennari, stating that Burke never corrected himself:
You've granted an interview to an Italian website. An interview that those who oppose the Pope and the ecclesial pathways launched by the Second Vatican Council have not only applauded, but ... emphasized all over the world. ... Perhaps you should address your request of public correction not to us, who have simply ... commented on your interview, but to those who have put in your mouth affirmations and intentions that you disavow, if you disavow them. ... [A]n attack on your person as a cardinal is ... an attack on the Catholic Church. If this is the yardstick that you, skilled canonist, declare rightful, I apologize in my responsibility as director, because I love the Church too much to offend Her. Applying the same yardstick, however, I now publicly ask, how should we define certain ... unfounded criticism, certain dubbi [Italian for "doubts," a reference to the dubia] ... that the media waves around without truth or charity, certain vulgar attacks ... against Francis, the Pope of the Church? Who's going to apologize for having nurtured, also through a surly and gossipy network spread over the internet, confusion and division in the Church, against the successor of Peter? Who's going to repair that, and how?
Riccardo Cascioli, director of La Nuova Bussola Quotidiana, stated that Gennari's article contained an "unprecedented level of rancor towards a cardinal." He also challenged "anyone to read Gennari's article and get the idea that it is not referring to the conference," inferring that the confusion was deliberate.
Gennari's article contained an 'unprecedented level of rancor towards a cardinal.'
Cascioli continues: "In the interview ... sure, there's reference to the apocalyptical situation of the Church, to the great reigning confusion ... and also to the duty of the cardinals to correct the Pope if he ever acted 'contrary to his office.' All within lengthy reasoning that draws from Tradition and Scripture, as should be the norm."
Cascioli also accuses Avvenire of spreading disinformation and claims that the publication has banned any mention of LaNuova Bussola Quotidiana, as well as anyone who associates with it.