Manipulators in the Vatican betray Benedict’s “Personal reserved” letter!

VATICAN CITY (AP) — “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 on the eve of Francis’ five-year anniversary. The letter was cited by Monsignor 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.



UPDATE by Edward Pentin on the National Catholic Register

Quoting an anonymous Vatican spokesman, the Associated Press reported Wednesday that the Vatican admitted to having “altered a photo sent to the media of a letter from retired Pope Benedict XVI about Pope Francis.” The AP added that the “manipulation changed the meaning of the image in a way that violated photojournalist industry standards.”

The report said that the Vatican admitted to blurring “the two final lines of the first page” where Benedict explains that he “didn’t actually read the books in question” and “cannot contribute a theological assessment of Francis” as he had other commitments.

The AP added: “The Vatican didn’t explain why it 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.”

AP’s report continued that the missing content “significantly altered the meaning of the quotes the Vatican chose to highlight, which were widely picked up by the media.” The suggestion given was that Benedict “had read the volume, agreed with it and given it his full endorsement and assessment,” it said.

The news agency said the doctoring was “significant” because news media “rely on Vatican photographers for images of the Pope at events that are closed to independent media.”

The AP made the point that as with most independent news media, it follows “strict standards that forbid digital manipulation of photos” and that “no element should be digitally added to or subtracted from any photograph.”

This episode is particularly embarrassing for the Vatican, coming barely a month since it issued Pope Francis’ message for this year’s World of Social Communications in which the Holy Father called for a “journalism of peace” in an era of [Ahem] “fake news.”


Father Z weighs in once more with the latest on this convoluted topic.


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3 Responses to Manipulators in the Vatican betray Benedict’s “Personal reserved” letter!

  1. Crow says:

    But why did Pope Benedict not have time to read a book on which he had been asked to write a review? What is going on there?


  2. kathleen says:

    According to Chris Ferrara at The Remnant:

    Vigano “never intended for the full letter to be released” because­­—is anyone really surprised? —both the letter and the eleven hastily produced volumes it falsely appears to endorse are part of an elaborate fake news operation designed to promote the fictional narrative that Bergoglio’s theology is wholly orthodox.


    Benedict’s obvious slighting of “the theology of Pope Francis” does indeed lend itself to reading the letter as a whole thus: “I am saying what I am expected to say, but I want you to know that I cannot vouch for it.” And yet Benedict was still willing to subscribe to the claim that eleven volumes he hadn’t read “rightly show that Pope Francis is a man of profound philosophical and theological formation,” thus providing the Vatican PR machine with a handy blurb for a work of which he knows practically nothing. This bespeaks either undue influence upon him or his own lack of candor. Which, I cannot say for certain.

    However, Ferrara then goes on to compare it with, “the laudatory preface Benedict provided to Cardinal Robert Sarah’s “The Power of Silence: Against the Dictatorship of Noise”—a book that Benedict has read.”

    Most of the remainder of his fairly long article describes how:

    Francis, in short, is the one and only Pope in 2,000 years who has dared to attempt a flat contradiction of all prior teaching of the Magisterium on a matter of basic morality that binds all men without exception, and then label this outrage “authentic Magisterium.” The only way Benedict would not be aware of this catastrophe is if he has lost the capacity for reason since his abdication, or else has been kept from seeing or even hearing about the pertinent Bergoglian texts and oral utterances….

    This latter possibility is something Chris Ferrara thinks is “plausible”.

    But really the whole issue (including the one we posted on two days ago) is no more than another chapter of disgraceful and/or confusing stories and reports coming out of a compromised Vatican news agency.


  3. kathleen says:

    Hello Crow…
    I think Pope Benedict might have been trying to say that he had better things to do than read these 11 little theological books. (He repeats the word “little” a few times… reminiscent of Mark Anthony’s repetition of “Brutus was an honourable man” in Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar’😉.)


    Yet another update from Ed Pentin at the National Catholic Register about this infamous “Personal Reserved Letter” that we seem to be getting in pieces!! He says:

    “The second missing paragraph which comes at the end of letter reads (my translation):

    “Only as an aside, I would like to note my surprise at the fact that among the authors is also Professor Hünermann, who during my pontificate had distinguished himself by leading anti-papal initiatives. He played a major part in the release of the “Kölner Erklärung”, which, in relation to the encyclical “Veritatis splendour”, virulently attacked the magisterial authority of the Pope, especially on questions of moral theology. Also the “Europaische Theologengesellschaft”, which he founded, was initially conceived by him as an organization in opposition to the papal magisterium. Later, the ecclesial sentiment of many theologians prevented this orientation, allowing that organization to become a normal instrument of encounter among theologians.”

    According to Magister, Hünermann was an “implacable critic both of John Paul II and of Joseph Ratzinger himself as theologian and as pope.” A professor at the university of Tubingen, Magister said “he is the author of, among other things, a commentary on Vatican Council II that is the polar opposite of the Ratzingerian interpretation.”

    Curiouser and curiouser – (pace, Alice in Wonderland).


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