Peter Popham: Church prefers to gag its critics than listen to them

 

Share

The last testament of one of the towering figures in the Roman Catholic church could not have been clearer: in an interview with Corriere della Sera before he died, Cardinal Carlo Martini, the Archbishop of Milan, spelled out the dangers the church faces: the empty churches, the burgeoning power of the bureaucracy, the face of indifference and intolerance it often shows to those most in need of grace.

To take a single example: "The question of whether divorcees can receive communion should be turned upside down," Martini said. The correct question is, "how can the Church find a way to help with the power of the sacraments those who find themselves in complicated family situations?"

All told it was a bold, trenchant restatement of the liberal Catholic position by a man who would have stood an excellent chance of being elected pope on the death of John Paul II in 2005, had he not had Parkinson's disease. In a church open to dialogue, debate and renewal the last, tough words of this greatly loved and respected churchman would have rung from the rafters of churches all over Italy, as priests searched their souls for an honest response.

Instead ,what happened? Corriere della Sera sat on the interview until the Cardinal was dead, then published it – but only in the print edition. Was that the idea of editor Ferruccio de Bortoli – famous for once standing up to Silvio Berlusconi and getting sacked – or was there a discreet request from on high? When Michael Day tried to find out, de Bortoli told him by email that the decision not to put it online was the newspaper's alone. But three hours later, he mailed back to say that – thanks to The Independent – they had had a rethink. The piece is finally online.

Whatever the reason for the change of heart, it is welcome. Any reporter who has covered the Vatican knows how efficient they can be in burying bad news.

If a little moral pressure from a fellow European newspaper helps to lever things open a crack, we are happy to help out.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Technical Product Support Specialists

£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This world leader in the design...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant - Part Time

£17000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Following a sustained growth, t...

Recruitment Genius: IT Network Technician

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run IT service busi...

Recruitment Genius: Network Manager

£32000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family run IT service busi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

More actors should follow Mark Rylance’s lead on affordable seats

David Lister
Anti-fracking protestors gathered outside Lancashire County Hall in Preston last month (Alamy)  

If Cuadrilla get their way on fracking, it will come at the cost of Lancashire's democracy

Hannah Martin
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Philae lander data show comets could have brought 'building blocks of life' to Earth

Icy dust layer holds organic compounds similar to those found in living organisms
What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist? Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories

What turns someone into a conspiracy theorist?

Study to look at why some are more 'receptive' to such theories
Chinese web dissenters using coded language to dodge censorship filters and vent frustration at government

Are you a 50-center?

Decoding the Chinese web dissenters
The Beatles film Help, released 50 years ago, signalled the birth of the 'metrosexual' man

Help signalled birth of 'metrosexual' man

The Beatles' moptop haircuts and dandified fashion introduced a new style for the modern Englishman, says Martin King
Hollywood's new diet: Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?

Hollywood's new diet trends

Has LA stolen New York's crown as the ultimate foodie trend-setter?
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Ashes 2015: Steven Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Finn goes from being unselectable to simply unplayable

Middlesex bowler claims Ashes hat-trick of Clarke, Voges and Marsh
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works