Climate of fear in Vatican is very real

December 16, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Our Nov. 16-23 visit to Rome was the most dramatic of many such twice-per-year work trips we have taken there during the past 10 years. After meeting with cardinals, bishops and other Vatican agency and dicastery staff, John-Henry Westen, our new Rome reporter, Jan Bentz, and myself saw a consistent pattern of widespread anxiety and very real fear among faithful Church servants. We have never encountered this before.

Many were afraid of being removed from their positions, fired from their jobs in Vatican agencies or of encountering severe public or private reprimands and personal accusations from those around the pope or even from Francis himself. They are also fearful and anxious about the great damage being done to the Church and being helpless to stop it.

Near the end of our visit, one very high-level cleric confirmed our observations. He added, “One can sense the fear. It is tangible.” Another, who has always been willing to discuss difficult situations, immediately told us that he would not talk, even off the record, in confidence, about any of the current controversies. We were told not to ask him any questions about these things. By the end of that visit we were able to broach one of the controversies and the important information unknown to him was appreciated.

From left to right, LifeSite Editor-in-Chief/co-founder John-Henry Westen, Rome correspondent Jan Bentz and LifeSite president/co-founder Steve Jalsevac during Nov. 16-23 visit to Rome. St. Peter’s is in background.LifeSiteNews

The release of the dubia letter by the now known to be six brave cardinals, quietly supported by at least 20 to 30 other cardinals, has clearly sparked a heightened atmosphere of intimidation and fear in the Vatican.

On Nov. 23 LSN journalist Pete Baklinski reported that Bishop Athanasius Schneider said he had “great astonishment” for what he called the “unusually violent and intolerant” nature of the backlash, adding that such reaction runs contrary to the Pope’s call for “dialogue and acceptance of a legitimate plurality of opinions.”

The Francis papacy has created a radically different climate in Rome from that of Pope St. John Paul II and Benedict XVI, under whom Rome was a vastly more welcoming place for Catholic Culture of Life warriors such as ourselves.


Bisschop Athanasius Schneider vertelde dat “de reactie op de dubia een bewijs is van het klimaat waar we op dit moment in de Kerk in leven. “We leven in een klimaat van bedreigingen en van het afwijzen van dialoog tegenover een specifieke groep.” Schneider voegde eraan toe dat “dialoog enkel lijkt aanvaard te worden als je denkt zoals de rest – dat is bijna zoals in een regime.” Hij haalde vervolgens zijn ervaringen aan in Rusland, waar hij werd geboren ten tijden van de Sovjet Unie. Zijn ouders werden door Stalin naar de goelags gezonden na WOII. “Als je niet de lijn van de partij volgde, of als je het in vraag stelde, mocht je geen vragen stellen. Dat is voor mij een duidelijke parallel met wat er nu gebeurt in de reacties op de dubia – vragen van de kardinalen.”

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