Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Arms Control

If you look closely at this picture (right), you'll notice the arms of Bishop Laurence Brandt of Greensburg.

If you look closely at this picture (link), you'll notice something missing from the former -- namely, the arms of the diocese of Greensburg... not the best thing to leave out when your people are running, jumping and climbing trees to stamp out speculation of a move elsewhere.

It's so brutta figura one can hardly stand it.

Our Western Pennsylvania friends seem to have gotten into a bit of a tizzy over the summer buzz that Brandt -- a onetime Vatican diplomat whose JCD dissertation was audited by a certain Salesian professor -- has been mentioned as a possible Secretary for Relations with States... a post which, come Friday, will directly assist the aforementioned prof, now Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, SDB.

As it stands, the consensus is that the Pope's choice for the Vatican's top foreign-relations post will be revealed sometime before then, with the nuncios in Paris and Kampala (Uganda) -- Archbishops Fortunato Baldelli and Christophe Pierre, respectively -- leading the speculation sweepstakes in many quarters.

Apparently, though, the Pittsburgh media ran away with the Brandt story, so much so that Greensburg diocesean spokesman Jerry Zufelt felt compelled to send out a "rumor control" missive to the entire presbyterate on Monday. As you'd expect, the note didn't take long to find its way here... along with some donations from grateful clergy of the see.

Suffice it to say, I'm grateful for the plug. Zufelt claimed, however, that in a later post Whispers "stated that a priest from Oklahoma was getting the Vatican position."

Er, no.

As some of you know, I'll ride with a lot from our diocesan communications-folk -- many of whom put in long hours and make great sacrifices to do oft-thankless, oft-wrenching work.... Putting words in my mouth, however, is another story.

To clarify: while, as reported here, the Oklahoman -- namely, Msgr Peter Wells -- was indeed named head of State's English desk in the waning days of August, it doesn't take Larry Brandt to figure out that the priest-head of a language section and the archbishop-head of the Vatican's diplomatic service are not one and the same person, nor post.... Still, we can be sure Msgr Wells will be tickled by the spokesman's conflation -- not even Cardinal Sodano has been so kind.

For our purposes, it's nothing short of brilliance that a note intended to combat a misrepresentation ended up concocting... a misrepresentation. Then again, it's just another American chancery at work.

As for the kernel of the kerfluffle, we'll wait and see. In the meantime, I'd be happy to assist a well-meaning aide in navigating the nuances of his boss' former stomping grounds.

In other Catholic news from Steeler Nation, Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington interrupted a call with papal nuncio Archbishop Pietro Sambi (peace be upon him) last week to speak with a Pittsburgh TV reporter. In the conversation, Wuerl revealed that he had just been talking over his succession in the 'Burgh with Sambi before the interview and, effectively, that the diocese's 13th bishop will be its Christmas present.

Ed Zelachokski/The Catholic Accent