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Interview: Edward Pentin of the National Catholic Register Talks about Covering the Vatican

On day two of the Lumen Fidei Conference on the Family in Ireland last week, I was able to sit down with a number of the speakers presenting, for my new show on Buzz Patterson’s “Power & Patriots,” Conversations in Discomfiture. The show itself targets a secular (albeit conservative) audience. The premise? Interviews, roundtables, and investigations on uncomfortable topics – and the “World Meeting of Families” provided ample opportunity for those.

Those of us attending the Lumen Fidei conference were not too surprised that only Cardinals Wuerl and O’Malley had (reluctantly) withdrawn from attendance at the Vatican-endorsed one, taking place at the same time – just down the road, in Dublin. After all, even as the Pennsylvanian investigation into the sex abuse scandals had engulfed many of the U.S. headlines the week prior, the saccharine, heterodox agenda being pushed abroad had successfully smoke-screened most of the abuse crisis from the general public. News that Fr. James Martin’s keynote was fully attended, and that Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga had crooned, adoringly, over the merits of the current pontiff, had reached us by midday.

By that time, Edward Pentin, the Rome correspondent for the National Catholic Register, had granted me an exclusive interview. I was fully aware of the professional honor it was to speak with him on the many issues spewing from the Vatican. Little did I know, however, that he had already been briefed on what was about to burst forth in the days ahead – the testimony of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò.

Those who have followed Pentin’s career can easily recall the repulsive episode when he was attacked by Cardinal Walter Kasper, who sought to discredit Pentin’s personal and professional integrity. On that occasion, after Pentin reported that Kasper had made what was arguably a racist comment about the African bishops, Kasper accused Pentin of making the whole thing up. Pentin, however, had recorded the whole interview, and Kasper was left looking like a liar. (You can read a bit more about that in a blog post today by John-Henry Westin of LifeSiteNews, who defends Pentin from accusations made by Cardinal Maradiaga, the top adviser to Pope Francis, that Pentin is a “‘hit man’ who practises media harassment”).

As you see in the following interview, however, Pentin – while fair and balanced, as always – had already anticipated the backlash for breaking the Viganò revelations. A transcript of the video follows.

[00:00:11] Dail: This Is Bree Dail for Power and Patriots here with an exclusive with Edward Pentin. Thank you very much for joining me.

[00:00:16] Pentin: Thanks very much for having me.

[00:00:17] Dail: So we’ve been discussing throughout this conference many of the different controversies that are coming from the World Meeting of Families and you’ve written quite extensively and many of our viewers have seen me retweet you on Twitter quite a bit because you are an expert on what’s going on in the Vatican. There are times when you do a scoop. And it seems that very quickly your story is overshadowed by other stories that come out at the same time from the press office. One of those things one of the topics that our viewership are very interested in… Are kind of following the money to the connections in the scandals in the Church. And so I’m going to ask you some questions regarding some of those in detail so when it comes to the McCarrick scandal we’ve heard prior to McCarrick scandals coming out of the Vatican from Archbishop Paglia to Cardinal Coccopalmerio and I’ve discussed this on our own patriots. Do you think that this time around something’s going to be done because the worldwide media has attention now in the United States?

[00:01:36] Pentin: Well it’s an interesting phenomenon that these scandals as we heard earlier today that people knew about them for a long time. And it’s only when it hits the media that the bishops want to take action. So it’s sad in a way that it has to reach the media for us to… For the Church to actually take action. But that’s, that’s what we’re seeing. So I think we’re going to see more certainly after the Cardinal McCarrick former Cardinal McCarrick scandal that we’re going to see a lot of steps taken to try to root out this kind of thing from ever happening again. We saw it after 2002 when we had all the abuse big abuse crisis in the U.S. But I think we’re going to see a repeat of that probably in a bigger way now.

[00:02:22] Dail: A lot of the bishops in the USCCB have been talking about forming a kind of internal audit. And we’ve also heard from the World Meeting of Families this week. Individuals who have been really mouthpieces for the Vatican who are also very much in pro-homosexual mentality. Why is it that on one hand we’ve got the McCarrick scandal where we have discussed on Power and Patriots, 81 percent of this is clearly homosexual – this is from the John Jay Report – so why is it that we’ve got that on one hand and yet the Vatican is seeming to prop up these individuals? I believe it’s Cardinal Maradiaga who is a keynote speaker for a World Meeting of Families.

[00:03:11] Pentin: Spoke today. Yes.

[00:03:13] Dail: So why is it that why is it that there seems to be kind of a double handedness going on?

[00:03:17] Pentin: Well I think, I think it’s clear beyond any doubt that at the highest levels of the Church today in the Vatican and in episcopates we’ve got bishops who want to see homosexual practice accepted into the Church. That’s quite clear. I mean we’ve see it. It’s documented. It’s evident. And I think you’ve got I think this is why you’ve got these powerful prelates in place who despite allowing this sort of thing to carry on they stay there because there is a network that goes right up to the top and that’s…. you can’t deny it.

[00:04:04] Dail: Following that though, thinking, you know, so just a little bit of a change of course, but considering what you’ve written about the Vatican Bank. Many of our viewers and I should let you know in my church they let you know this for our viewers are not Catholic.

[00:04:21] Pentin: Right.

[00:04:21] Dail: But They all understand how it works when it comes to individuals like George Soros having his hands on an a lot of different social movements and movements to try to contradict Catholic social teaching as well as Catholic moral teaching. You’ve written extensively on some of the scandals that have come out of the Vatican Bank which has really gotten no press whatsoever. I want to give you an opportunity now and a platform to speak on those particular subjects. I know it’s pretty detailed. And then I want to ask you a follow up question regarding that and possibly the connection to this kind of circling of the wagons that we’re seeing.

[00:04:59] Pentin: Yes. It’s hard to put together the financial scandals with the homosexual or sexual scandals that we’re seeing. So I think…

[00:05:11] Dail: Is it because they’re so they’re so easily covered up whether they’ve got a trial or is it just…

[00:05:17] Pentin: Well it’s hard to put the two together. I mean it’s just you can with some in some cases. I think in Honduras there was a connection there. I think the bishop – Pineda – who resigned last month because of the financial scandals was also heavily involved in homosexual transgressions. So you got the same you’ve got the connection there. But as far as the Vatican concern is concerned with its financial corruption there is there’s always been a certain amount because ever since Mussolini signed the Lateran Pact for the Church the Vatican has become its own state and it’s become a kind of playground for corruption that’s allowed this financial corruption to just take off unmonitored, unaccountable. So you’ve you’ve it’s just got steadily worse in a sense. And that’s why you have not the Vatican Bank corrupt so much now, that’s been cleaned out. But you’ve got this other group this other department of the Vatican called APSA which is responsible for for real estate and they’ve been used by ordinary Italians or others not necessarily prelates or clergy but lay people as a sort of instrument as an offshore instrument to to put their money hide their money away from the tax man and then just use it as a that, as a kind of mechanism…

[00:06:48] Dail: Is there anybody getting kickbacks for that?

[00:06:51] Pentin: Well we think I mean from what I’ve found out from the people I’ve spoken to is that there are real… there’s a lot of money involved and there’s concern that Pope Francis is going to clamp down on this and he’s going to sort it out, and in a way he has in his own time he’s done it slowly but there is a sign.. there are signs now that this is starting to be starting to make some changes in this area which is a good thing.

[00:07:21] Dail: Was this happening under Benedict and John Paul?

[00:07:23] Pentin: Yeah, Benedict started the cleanup. He did quite a lot. But then Francis hasn’t really done much for five years but now he’s starting it seems by changing personnel at the top in the last few months that there might be some sort of cleanup going on now. But it’s difficult because they obviously have… there’s a lot of there’s a lot at stake for these people.

[00:07:47] Dail: OK so let’s kind of do some final questions and follow ups on this. So we’ve also seen some issues with Catholic press in the Vatican. Some press have access. Some don’t have access. You yourself have had some troubles. And I want to talk to you about the freedom that you have to be able to write what you write and do you see yourself as having to walk the line or tow the water for example or do you find yourself in a position where you are free to speak of what is going on? Or is it becoming more and more difficult? I mean because we’re bringing out you know that the pope used “fake news” a while back and then a major scandal broke shortly after you actually broke the Vatican Bank story. Uh… Lettergate came out it seemed to be quite an interesting situation that took place there. And for our viewers I’ve spoken about Lettergate you guys can go ahead and go to our Website and see a little bit more on that and I’ll also make some of these stories so that you can take a look at those as well but his reports. What do you think is the future for the press and in the Vatican and the press that’s reporting on the Vatican is there…?

[00:09:11] Pentin: Well at the moment it’s it’s I feel fairly free actually I mean I don’t feel restricted. You always have the balance the what you report with access. But at the same time I found it to be quite OK. I think what they do though what I’ve noticed in the Vatican under Pope Francis is that they don’t necessarily clamp down on you but they do spin against you or they try to cover up a story you’ve done they try to cause you say…

[00:09:39] Dail: Do They have a PR team behind them that does that?

[00:09:43] Pentin: No but there are people very close, uh journalists very close to Pope Francis who, who, kind of are at his beck and call you know to to spin stuff out. Doesn’t come from the press office, it comes from say Vatican Insider or… I know that Andrea Tornielli is very close to him and you’ll see him spin things out in a kind of… Either as a damage limitation or whatever. But it’s quite interesting to see that work. That’s something I’ve not seen before.

[00:10:14] Dail: So it’s more of like a political edge…

[00:10:17] Pentin: Yeah it is. It’s very much like a political thing. The other thing that I find really quite disturbing is that they have – not so much recently – but they have been almost demonizing those who criticize who even report on criticism and they’ll make it personal against the person. Who’s the messenger.

[00:10:37] Dail: I’ve seen that happen with you yeah. As well. So. You’re just the messenger!

[00:10:41] Pentin: I’m just the messenger. But that’s always a revealing sign that the things you’ve either struck a nerve or you know things aren’t as well as they seem. Unfortunately that’s being seen quite a lot. But I should say these aren’t… if it’s not a Catholic audience that they don’t want to paint a completely black view of the Vatican because although it is going through some quite serious problems, the majority of people working in the Vatican are good people and they they take their faith seriously and they do really love Christ, love the Church and they’re just trying to do what they can. You don’t hear from them. And this is the problem with journalism is that we’re always reporting on the…

[00:11:23] Dail: The bad news because it sells.

[00:11:24] Pentin: So here you’re reporting on the guy who’s falling from the scaffolding without realizing there’s thousands of people who don’t fall off scaffolding. And those are the positive stories.

[00:11:31] Dail: G.K. Chesterton. Brilliant.

[00:11:31] Dail: Well thank you so much for taking time with us today and for all of you at home, definitely stay in touch with me and you can follow Ed Pentin where?

[00:11:46] Pentin: At

[00:11:46] Dail: Brilliant Thank you.

[00:11:48] Pentin: Thanks.

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