Thursday, 17 January 2008

Dear Editor

I thought I'd write to La Repubblica to point out that the rest of the world (pace the horrified wailing of the Italian media) is actually not that interested in Ratzinger's failure to show at la Sapienza. On the assumption that it won't be appearing in tomorrow's edition, this is what I wrote:

Contrariamente a quanto detto da quasi tutti i giornali e telegiornali italiani, la rinuncia del papa di presentarsi all'inaugurazione del anno accademico della Sapienza ha avuto pochissimo risalto nei media internazionali, almeno quelli di lingua inglese. L'assenza del papa, per motivi squisitamente politici, e lo scompiglio creato all’interno del mondo politico sono affari che riguardano il Vaticano e il governo italiano e poco altro. Meglio così? O l'amore proprio nazionale vuole che anche i piccoli disaccordi di famiglia attirino gli occhi del mondo intero?
(Contrary to what has been said by practically every Italian newspaper and programme, very little attention has been given by the foreign press to the pope's decision not to appear at the inauguration of the academic year of the Sapienza. The pope's absence, for purely political reasons, and the upset this has caused in political circles interest the Vatican and the Italian government and practically no one else. This is no bad thing. Unless, of course, Italian amour propre would prefer every family tiff to draw the attention of the entire world?)

If it isn't published, I will, of course, claim to have been censored. Even better, I might just withdraw the letter first and then claim to have been censored!


d said...

Thought you might quite fancy wading through this.

Charles Lambert said...

I can't imagine why. You still don't seem to understand two things:

a) To censor someone is to prevent him or her from communicating his ideas in an absolute sense; to deny that person access to others. Nobody has suggested that the pope should be prevented from doing this. (God knows, the man's unstoppable.) But the corollary of this is not that he has a right to speak anywhere he likes. He doesn't. A university inauguration is not an appropriate place for an astrologer, or alchemist. Why should it be appropriate for someone who claims to believe in the virgin birth?

b) He chose not to go for motives that have nothing at all to do with freedom of speech and everything to do with political convenience. That's the choice he made. It was his choice. It wasn't for security reasons, and it wasn't because he was being censored. My feeling is that he doesn't like being contested, and he realised that it would be bad publicity. It's the way any other politician would have reasoned but it's hardly an example of the kind of moral authority that's claimed for the man.

d said...

You misunderstand.I was hoping you'd go say all of this to Vox. You're so much more articulate than I am.

Charles Lambert said...

Well, anyone who'd like to enjoy my articulacy can enjoy it here. I don't feel the need to proselytise, and if I did I'd do it in places where people were less convinced of their rightness than they seem to be on your site. I'd do it where it might make a difference.

But thank you for the invitation.