Updated 03/07/2013 07:04 AM
Cardinals' press briefings shut down over leak fears
American cardinals, who are gathered in Rome to elect the next pope, have decided to cancel their daily press briefings as concerns over the conclave's confidentiality grow. Vivian Lee filed the following report.
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VATICAN CITY – The news conferences by American cardinals at the North American College in Rome started last Thursday, and like clockwork continued Monday and Tuesday.
But on Wednesday, shortly after the daily Vatican briefing began, reporters got emails saying the American daily briefings would be shut down.
"We are not dealing with a congress or a synod during which we would try to give as much information as possible of what's taking place as we did in October at the synod. We are dealing with a journey and part of that journey are the meetings or the pre-conclave meetings," said Vatican Spokesman Reverend Thomas Rosica.
In a statement, Sister Mary Ann Walsh, Media Relations Director for the U.S. Bishops Conference, offered an explanation, saying, "Due to concerns over accounts being reported in the Italian press, which breached confidentiality, the College of Cardinals has agreed not to give interviews."
Experts say while nixing the American conferences is a bit of a blowback against how accessible the U.S. cardinals had become, they may have overstepped their bounds.
"American cardinals were not playing by the Italian rules and got a little knocked for sure," said Dennis Coday, editor of the National Catholic Reporter.
Experts also say it's not an accusation that U.S. cardinals broke their oath of silence about the proceedings of their meetings before the conclave, but that others have.
"What the American cardinals are doing is open. What the other cardinals are doing is not," noted Coday. "That doesn't mean that other cardinals are not talking to the press also."
Meanwhile, in spite of the information blackout, New York cardinal Timothy Dolan went on with his planned SiriusXM radio show and provided an explanation for why it's taking time to set a date for the conclave.
"The Vietnamese cardinal who we love and the church of Vietnam is under pressure and we wanna give him every chance in the world to get here. And what I'm getting at is probably when they get here, when the Cardinal electors get here, then we can decide when we can begin the conclave," Dolan said.
The cardinal from Vietnam is expected to arrive on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI's ring with personal crest on it has been defaced, meaning it will never be used again.