Monday, 13 December 2010

Wikileaks on the Vatican: tell me what I'm missing...

Thanks to Arabella for drawing my attention to the wikileaks cables on the Vatican, released to The Guardian newspaper.

Nothing all that new?

I have to say I must be missing something, because none of them seem to contain anything all that new:
  • Fr Z has been lamenting the Vatican's technophobia and disorganization when it comes to the media for years as if was needed: who after all, can forget Archbishop Fisichella saying the new Vatican organisation for the New Evangelization would work closely with the internet - and as a starting point, he would acquire a computer for himself?!  And American views on its effect on the management of various media crises in recent times has been the subject of a sustained critique by writers such as George Weigel and Robert Moynihan;
  • the Anglican Ordinariate was in response to Australian and UK requests.  Wow.  Have the newspapers never heard of the Traditional Anglican Communion's request for union with Rome?; 
  • Vatican attitudes to the procedures (or lack thereof) of the Irish child abuse inquiry were in the media at the time, as was commentary on the Pope's attitude to Turkey in the EU.
The most entertaining thing in them seems to be the English Government's hysteria at the Pope's initiative to embrace Anglican's returning to the faith.

The rest of it seems to be the normal workings of diplomacy behind the scenes.  Is it really such a surprise that the Vatican is actively engaged in the diplomatic scene?  If so, I'm not sure just what people thought all those ambassadors to the Holy See and Papal legates have been doing all these years!

Still, I obviously am missing something, since the newspaper headings all talk about "revelations".  Or could that be because they are trying to sell newspapers? Labelling it a revelation and repackaging old news as new by virtue of its appearance in a cable seems to me to be a great marketing scam for the papers concerned.  But should we be falling for it?

Still, the Vatican  itself has put our a statement pointing out the obvious, that the cables reflect the views of those who wrote them, not necessarily those of the Vatican, and should be read with prudence.

The ethics of wikileaks

Meanwhile the ethics of wikileaks gets ever murkier.  Its head is in jail, accused of rape by two women who on the face of it are left-wing sympathisers of his cause.  A number of members of his organisation are forming a breakaway site, angered at Assange's refusal to remove the names of people endangered by the cables, and otherwise exercise some sensible judgment on the releases.  And the next major round of releases, it is rumoured, could bring down a few banks...

Mercatornet have a couple of useful articles on the ethics of it all; if you are interested, start with this one.

Meanwhile back in Australia Get Up are lobbying in favour of Assange, using the excuse of extreme US reactions.  Yes, sure.  They are really worried about the views of unelected politicians who hold no positions of responsibility whatsoever such as Sarah Palin.  Give me a break...


Anonymous said...

And here, courtesy of 'our' ABC, is what the oleaginous Geoffrey 'Arrest the Pope' Robertson QC reaaly thinks about rape:

'Mr Assange was represented in court by Geoffrey Robertson, QC, who argued his client would be unlikely to flee the jurisdiction because his face is well known throughout the world.

He also told district judge Howard Riddle the evidence supporting the assault allegations against Mr Assange was too flimsy to warrant extradition.

He said there was no allegation Mr Assange had used violence or injured the two women who have made the allegations.

One claimed he had sex with her while she was sleeping, but Mr Robertson concluded that might not be an offence under English law.

Advice from Sweden suggested that even if Mr Assange was convicted, the offences are so minor that he would probably not be jailed.'

Anonymous said...

For a dose of cold water on the naive assumptions that Wikileaks will make for a more open and peaceful world, I'd recommend the post by Rory Medcalf entitled 'The cables and the damage done' on the Lowy Institute's Interpreter site. As an example he asks if the Northern Ireland peace process would have survived if the early exploratory talks had been splashed all over the media the next day for the extremists on both sides to see. This is a recipe not for democracy but by the rule of self-appointed New Class busybodiesand noisy extremists with ample money and leisure.

In the interests of transparency, can we have full disclosure of the membership, internal workings, funding, support and connections of Wikileaks, GetUp, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, etc, etc?

Terra said...

Please anon 1&2, in future give yourselves a pseudonyn of some kind!

On the rape charges, I think Robertson said on Q&A that his religion is lawyer - ie he'll say anything to get his client off or make his case (even if the case concerned is his own self-promotion). But I do find various feminist condemnations of the women very odd.

The court case has a long way to go of course, so we shouldn't make judgments one way or the other, not withstanding the self-evident immorality of all parties involved. But on the face of it the women aren't acting from political motivations at all (they were both sympahtizers to his cause), and are entitled to have thier claims heard.

Still we've long seen the double-standard - consider the paedophile charges against film director Polanksi.