The Pope Deserves Respect, and Discretion


Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan recently cautioned against the disclosure of private details in her piece about the Duke of Sussex, “The Half-Madness of Prince Harry.” The Duke’s insistence on personal privacy for himself and his family does seem disingenuous in light of his public bludgeoning of the reputations of his family, with multimillion-dollar payouts as his reward. Harry’s mistake – called out as such by President Reagan’s daughter, Patti Davis, who regrets her own damaging memoir – should serve as a warning. As Davis writes in her New York Times op-ed, sometimes silence is the best policy.
One might consider the Catholic Church immune from tantalizing tabloid stories. Sadly, in the wake of the death of Pope Benedict XVI and other eminent churchmen, unfair personal grievances against Pope Francis have surfaced in the international press. While Church leaders and Catholics at large should not succumb to “ultramontanism” – a blind, uncritical and often irrational submission to whatever the Pope says or does outside of his authentic magisterium – they should observe discretion with regard to personal opinions about, and private conversations with, the Vicar of Christ on earth. Loyalty and decency don’t make someone a sycophant. They showcase character and trust. Certainly, the Holy Father deserves this, just like anyone else. How can the Pope share important matters with those with whom he works, if his own household will air personal grievances publicly? Publicizing private matters, much like the revelations by Prince Harry, is not only petty; it’s dangerous. The Pope deserves respect and discretion, not personal attacks. If the Church is the Body of Christ, don’t such lances against Christ’s Vicar also harm the entire body? When done without charity and discretion, it would seem so. Indeed, Ms. Davis is correct; sometimes silence is the best policy.