U.S. Bishops Blast Papal Biographer for “False and Misleading” Stories

Bishops attend the opening session of the Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) at the Vatican on May 20, 2019. (Photo by Tiziana FABI / AFP) (Photo credit should read TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images)
TIZIANA FABI/AFP/Getty Images

ROME — The U.S. Bishops’ Conference has issued a statement slamming papal biographer Austen Ivereigh for publishing “false and misleading” stories about the American bishops’ relationship with the Vatican.

The bishops’ chief communications officer, James Rogers, said in a statement Thursday that “Austen Ivereigh’s new book, Wounded Shepherd, perpetuates an unfortunate and inaccurate myth that the Holy Father finds resistance among the leadership and staff of the U.S. Bishops Conference.”

“The author disparages the General Secretary and a consultant to the Committee on Canonical Affairs particularly by suggesting they drew up documents in October that were then deliberately excluded from Rome,” Rogers said. “This is false and misleading.”

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the sin of calumny consists in making “remarks contrary to the truth” harming the reputation of others and “giving occasion for false judgments concerning them.”

Mr. Ivereigh, a British Vatican pundit who often inveighs against “conservative American Catholics,” is currently “on a 3-week, 11-city lecture / book-signing tour following launch of my new pope book,” according to his Twitter feed.

Curiously, Ivereigh says that the bishops’ statement “doesn’t dispute the facts of the account I give,” despite the fact that the bishops called his treatment “false and misleading,” adding that it “perpetuates an unfortunate and inaccurate myth.”

The bishops’ statement offers a point-by-point chronicle of the activities of the conference to address clerical sex abuse in summer and autumn 2018, along with their interaction with the Vatican when Pope Francis asked them to stand down and await a general meeting on the topic to be held in the Vatican.

“When Pope Francis announced the new universal Church law establishing a worldwide program of protection, Cardinal DiNardo strongly supported the measures and moved quickly to ensure the Conference’s proposals would be both ready for votes in June of this year and would be complementary to the Holy Father’s own program,” the statement reads.

“The June agenda moved forward without the objection of the Holy See,” it concludes. “Because of the decisive actions of Pope Francis and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Church is a safer place for children and adults in vulnerable situations.”

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