Today, 12 September, the Spanish-speaking Catholic website Infovaticana published an important report about Cardinal Carlo Caffarra. It is of such worthiness that Giuseppe Nardi, the Vatican specialist of the German website Katholisches.info, has already reported on this story, which affirms that the dubia cardinals are being regularly monitored.
Gabriel Ariza, the journalist writing for Infovaticana, reports how a few months ago he himself had visited at his home in Bologna the recently deceased dubia cardinal, Carlo Caffarra. First, he describes the modest apartment in which Cardinal Caffarra had lived since his retirement, in 2015, as Archbishop of Bologna:
I must say that I was deeply moved by the simplicity with which the cardinal lived. Caffarra occupied a small apartment in one of the buildings of the seminary of Bologna. An apartment that needed a good renovation, with walls full of holes and hanging wires, and a heating system more than deficient. In Bologna, a cold city, Caffarra spent his hours surrounded by books, letters and papers, and he kept responding to any of the letters or emails he received from all over the world.
On the occasion of his visit, Cardinal Caffarra spoke with Ariza about many important topics, to include the message from Sister Lucia of Fatima concerning the struggle about marriage and the family, about the crisis stemming from Amoris Laetitia, as well as the subsequent publication of the dubia. While he maintained that he would rather be called a man who is having an affair with another man rather than to be considered an “enemy of the pope,” Cardinal Caffarra made it clear that there have been in the last decades, since Pope Paul VI, some unfortunate developments with regard to the papacy. Ariza reports, as follows:
One of the things that most worried him [Caffarra] was the conception that some people have of the papacy. I remember that he detailed two symptoms: the first being, when Pius XII wanted to change the discipline of the Eucharistic fast, he asked a theological commission not first to study the change, but first to tell him if he had the legitimacy to make that change. Such was the feeling that Pope Pacelli had with regard to his own smallness as the Supreme Pontiff. The second symptom was the cardinals’ oath. Caffarra said that, until Paul VI, the cardinals swore always to tell the truth, “and not what the Pope wants to hear.” Since the reforms of Montini, the cardinals now vow to defend the Pope with their blood.
It was here in the context of this very important distinction that Cardinal Caffarra – with all of his learning and life experience – made an explicit unexpected reference to the work of Professor Josef Seifert, that very same professor who now just has been dismissed from his Dietrich von Hildebrand Chair at the International Academy of Philosophy in Granada, Spain, for having written some polite but keen criticisms of the papal document Amoris Laetitia. As Ariza says: “On this point, he [Caffarra] recommended to me to read a great intellectual: Josef Seifert.” [my emphasis]
Gabriel Ariza also importantly reveals a part of his conversation with Cardinal Caffarra, where the cardinal confirms rumors about the four dubia cardinals’ being monitored. Ariza writes:
I told him that I had heard that he was being monitored, that his communications were being intercepted. He told me that he knew that the four cardinals who had made public the dubia were being observed, that they had their communications tapped and that they could do little more than seek some form of more secure communication. It was evident that this fact did not take away his own inner peace, namely, that some curial member could come to know the most intimate secrets of their conversations. For, he was a man of God, and it was Jesus Christ who came out of his mouth whenever he spoke.
Ariza himself then makes a reference to an earlier article by Edward Pentin, the Rome Correspondent of the National Catholic Register, who himself had reported about such phenomena of surveillance in Rome. Ariza sums up part of Pentin’s article, saying:
Pentin recounts, for example, how top-level officials avoid giving details of their work over the phone, how they do not talk about anything in the office or how they leave the cell phone outside the room whenever they have a confidential meeting. The IT [Information Technology] technicians of the Vatican, in fact, can gain remote access to the computers of any curial member, and, since Vatican City is not an example of secure procedural guarantees, the Vatican Gendarmerie can themselves use that system without first having to obtain a court order.
Gabriel Ariza himself confirms this sort of report by saying that he himself has already witnessed, on one occasion, “how a motorist watched the house door of an important cardinal, noting who is going up to him and how much time is spent together with the cardinal.”
Already in December of 2016, Steve Jalsevac had written for LifeSiteNews about similar reports coming to him and his colleagues from Rome.
Since I myself have worked for some years now with various members of the Roman Curia, I can confirm from my own experience, and from personal reports to me from high-ranking prelates, that, indeed, such monitoring is regularly taking place. In my own case, my e-mail address was at one time suddenly blocked from reaching certain Vatican addressees, and it was shortly after I myself had contacted some progressive curial members and afterwards had written a critical report about a Vatican event. In some cases, I had to switch my correspondence to the personal e-mail addresses. On another occasion, my telephone conversation with a Vatican clergyman was cut off accidentally, and our previous conversation kept being audibly and recurrently played back to me. (Some of these forms of surveillance might very well also include activities of foreign intelligence services.)
These are intimidating things and matters of moment. Yet, let us here follow, if we can, the courageous example of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra himself. For, we have nothing of culpability to hide and thus let us keep openly (and loyally) working for Christ.
Dr. Maike Hickson, born and raised in Germany, studied History and French Literature at the University of Hannover and lived for several years in Switzerland where she wrote her doctoral dissertation. She is married to Dr. Robert Hickson, and they have been blessed with two beautiful children. She is a happy housewife who likes to write articles when time permits.
Her articles have appeared in American and European journals such as Catholicism.org, LifeSiteNews, The Wanderer, Culture Wars, Catholic Family News, Christian Order, Apropos, and Zeit-Fragen.