Catholic tabloid news.
"The gossip is a ‘terrorist’ who throws a grenade - chatter - in order to destroy." - Pope Francis
It's been my woefully uniformed understanding that the biggest questions regarding Amoris laetitia focus upon sacraments for the unwed who cohabit, and that sort of stuff one would call adulterous. It's all related to the Synod on the family and assorted questions posed by prelates to the pope, which haven't been addressed - and all that stuff. It doesn't concern me because I'm old and single and will never have to deal with this question. I go to Mass, receive the sacraments regularly (confession before communion), pray, perform the duties of my state in life as best I can, and so on. Whatever Amoris says that is problematic for others, isn't for me.
That said - it is my understanding the issues which have become a source of conflict are a matter of conscience and are to be dealt with in confession and or spiritual direction. In other words, it's a spiritual matter between the Church, specifically the person who stands in the place of Christ - the priest - and the penitent. Even more reason for me not to concern myself, since no one is holding me back from the sacraments.
However, over the years, there have been instances that I've heard of - known about - which correlate very well to the 'permissive lines' of Amoris laetitia which many devout souls question, condemn, and judge. These exceptions and dispensations, licit or not, are nothing new. Are they abuses? Technically yes, but they have not been uncommon. Yet that's neither here, nor there - I just mention it so the young people and the meddlesome realize these things are not new. Perhaps what is new is that it is admitted to by a reigning pontiff and put in writing... not as a change in teaching, but rather a consideration within the context of pastoral practice. Disagree with me on that, it's perfectly fine - I have no dog in this race.
Nevertheless it did strike me as ironic that 1P5 writer Steve Skojec included in his essay a sort of defense of rumor and gossip in reporting matters of faith and morals, as well as the behind the scenes intrigue of Vatican government and operations and persons. (It's easy to give ourselves dispensations regarding personal moral choices when we want to.) I couldn't help but wonder if that is how these people justify what they report on, speculate about, and say and do on a daily basis? How much research and digging up dirt is involved in that? That would be a matter of conscience for most people, but how would one confess it? "Bless me Father, but I wasn't able to control my tongue. Someone contacted me and gave me information they heard from another source. It isn't really gossip because it came from a very holy person in the Vatican, and I just want to defend the good reputation of Cardinal Prefect of Nothing"?
So, without further ado, apparently this is how to justify gossip and rumor mongering for the glory of God, the salvation of souls, and the triumph of the Church Militant:
I want to stop for a moment to say something important on this topic: it is difficult to explain, to those accustomed to the fact-based reporting standards of Western Journalism, that intrigue and rumor are the primary vehicles of information transfer in the world’s oldest bureaucracy. Press conferences in Rome, when they happen (or when their principals bother to show up) are just the tiny tips of rather substantial icebergs. Everyone is always playing the long game at the Vatican. Politics, positioning, power-plays. I recently joked that if we didn’t report on Vatican rumors, there wouldn’t be anything about the Vatican to report on at all. (After all, we can’t even get a direct answer from the pope to the dubia. Trying to nail down solid information is like grasping at shadows.)
We are not, at this phase of our existence as a publication, a full-fledged news shop. We don’t have journalists we can send around the world to investigate stories, even if we could afford to. We rely on a number of international relationships, inside sources, existing reporting, and the like. We are given a great deal of information all the time by our contacts, and we have to sift through it for what we can ethically share. We try very hard to leave as much hearsay as possible on the cutting room floor, seeking out only the most credible information to pass on. Just this morning, in fact, I found myself turning down an extremely important piece of news given to me by someone trustworthy because I don’t want to report these things without a first-hand source. I have no interest in 1P5 becoming, essentially, a Vatican TMZ. - Skojec
No worry there, LifeSite, Canon 212 and Pewsitters pretty much fit the TMZ category. 1P5 is getting more like The Remnant and Novus Ordo Watch. Earlier today, I came across a priest online who referred to these sites as bomb-throwers. Rather than playing Cardinal Burke as a victim of the Holy Father's criticism or appropriating the Holy Father's comparison of gossipers as taking the place of scribes and Pharisees and claiming he is condemning Burke, I think Catholic 'journalists' and social media commentators should take his words to heart as being addressed to them. Cardinal Burke is doing just fine all by himself and is touring the country basking in the devotion of the faithful. He's doing very well.
We all need to examine ourselves, and as Pope Francis says: “It is never to late to convert! Never! Up until the last moment: The patience of God who waits for us.”