Of all the previously-secret documents that's been shown to the world, though, what the U.S. embassy at the Vatican wrote in 2008 is among the least worrisome - to me, anyway.
Vatican Seeks FBI Explosives Training?!Essentially, it seems that the folks responsible for security in the Vatican wanted a bit of help. Training, that is. Specifically, "...security training from the FBI, including explosives ordinance training for Vatican Gendarmerie members at the Quantico Marine Corps base in Virginia...." (CNA)
Why Not Just Pray?That may sound awfully 'worldly' for the headquarters of the Catholic Church. 'If they're so concerned about their safety, why don't they pray or something?' As I've written before, "we're called to holiness, not stupidity." (May 19, 2010)
Yes, prayer is important. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2558-2565) So is using the brains God gave us, and doing something constructive. An example of this is what the Catechism says about work, economic initiative, and related topics. (Catechism, 2427-2436)
By the way, trying to squeeze that teaching into contemporary America's "conservative" or "liberal" mindsets won't, in my view, work. Not because Catholic teachings are "vague," but because they're Catholic - universal. We do not try to fit what we've been given into whatever intellectual pigeonholes are fashionable at the moment. I've written about this sort of thing before. (November 17, 2010, July 18, 2009, November 3, 2008)
Vatican and Ordinance Training? It's a Rough WorldI think the request for training was sensible - and that it also made sense to be quiet about it. I even think I see the Vatican official's point of view, about being " 'reluctant to engage in a comprehensive dialogue with the United States about Vatican capabilities and preparedness to respond to a terrorist attack.' "
as a news item put it:
"...The Rome Embassy cable noted the Holy See’s sensitivity about appearing to be too close to any one state, which the embassy described as a challenge to fostering dialogue about security. Another challenge was 'the Vatican's conviction that its facilities must be easily accessible to all Catholics.'..."I do not envy anyone responsible for keeping the Vatican safe.
Now, a (comparatively) short rant about WikiLeaks.
My Opinion About Secrets, WikiLeaks, and Common SenseI would like to think that the folks running WikiLeaks are clueless idealists, who honestly believe that displaying confidential documents on their website will do nothing but promote peace, harmony and "love between all of my brothers and my sisters: All over this land."
That Hays and Seeger song has been around for over a half-century, expresses some fine sentiments, and has very little to do with what WikiLeaks is likely to accomplish, in my opinion.
Whatever their motives, WikiLeaks has been broadcasting previously-secret documents for months.
Being Informed is Good: To a PointIn general, I think it's a good idea for citizens to be informed about what their government is doing. Particularly in a country like the United States, where citizens - in theory, anyway - have some say in national affairs.
Too Much 'Openness'On the other hand, I recognize that we live in a distinctly less-than-perfect world. On a personal level, that's why we have locks on doors: and don't, usually, tell perfect strangers how to access our bank accounts. And that's getting me into another topic.
On a national level, leaders need some level of secrecy. I think a diplomat from another country might be more open about what the other country's leadership really thought if that diplomat was reasonably confident that details of the conversation wouldn't become public knowledge. At least, not any time soon.
Politics!Why? Remember America's recent midterm elections? I think anybody following the campaigns might guess that, when politics is involved, facts can be handled - with quite a bit of imagination, and little regard to accuracy.
Leaders in some other countries have similar concerns about staying in office themselves, and not giving opposition parties material for the next elections.
It Could be WorseThen there are countries where folks who disagree with the government die or disappear.
When names - or even enough information to identify an individual - of someone who wasn't suitably approving of the local leadership in one of these criticism-averse countries shows up in a WikiLeaks document dump?
My guess is that, in a situation like that, it's likely that somebody's going to die, disappear, or maybe be re-educated.
It'd be nice if we lived in a nice world. But we don't. More about my take on WikiLeaks in another blog:
- "WikiLeaks, Saudi Arabia, and Staying Alive"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (November 28, 2010)
- "WikiLeaks, Real Journalists, and Common Sense"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (August 13, 2010)
- "WikiLeaks, Killing People Who don't Agree, and Living in the Real World"
Another War-on-Terror Blog (July 30, 2010)
Threats, Real and ImaginedThe views of folks who believe that "Catholics and Muslims along with the fake Jews all are Satanic cults" notwithstanding, I really am not concerned about what those folks in the Vatican will do, now that the secret document is out.
"Satanic cult?" I am not making that up. (April 2, 2009)
Having grown up when and where I did, I'm not terribly surprised at the colorful claims made about the Catholic Church. In a comment on a post in another blog, Anonymous (that prolific online correspondent) opened with this interesting set of assertions:
"Both the Catholics and Muslims are Satanic Cults. As a matter of fact if people weren't so ignorant, they would know that: 1.) The Catholic Church is NOT a Religious Organization but is a Political Organization; 2.) The Catholic Church violates EVERYTHING in the Bible and is not Christian at all, but a Satanic Mass-Murdering Cult steeped in Witchcraft, Satanism and materialistically disguised as being 'Christian' to fool as many people as possible, usually the Bible-Illiterate people; 3.) The Vatican back in 620 A.D. set up and financed Islam, as their non-European minions of hitmen to kill off all the real Christians outside of Europe, as the Catholic Cult was killing off the real Christians inside of Europe...."I've written this before: I've long since stopped trying to reason with fanatics.
(Comment by Anonymous (March 25, 2009), on "Murderous Muslims, Catholic Extermination Camps, and Common Sense," Another War-on-Terror Blog (February 8, 2009))
I'd no more try to convince someone who believed - intensely, hysterically - that Catholics are ignorant of the Bible (that we're strongly encouraged to read), than I would try to reason with someone who thought that the dozen or so families in their little enclave were the only "real" Catholics left - and that Vatican II is some kind of plot.
It's not that I think it's 'okay' to believe weird things like that. But folks make their own decisions. All I can do is say what's true, point to where more information is available, and leave it at that.
As for the Catholic Church being a Satanic cult that founded Islam? It makes a little more sense than claims that shape-shifting, space-alien lizard people really rule the world: but not by much. In my opinion.
I'm not very concerned about folks who fear lizard people, or wear foil-lined hats. They don't have a track record that includes flying airliners into skyscrapers.
Al Qaeda, and like-minded folks? Them, I'll be concerned about.
Al Qaeda and the Vatican: They Don't Like the Pope (Big Surprise)From yesterday's news:
"Speaking frankly about 'the known al-Qaida antipathy to the Pope,' American embassy officials in 2008 asked the U.S. State Department to consider an effort to help Vatican security forces deal with terrorist threats.I don't expect Anonymous to be convinced by the CNA (Catholic News Agency) article. They're Catholics: And everybody knows what they're like.
"The WikiLeaks website recently published a Dec. 19, 2008 State Department cable reputedly from the U.S. Embassy in Rome. The cable, classified as 'secret,' documented a request from the U.S. Vatican Embassy to plan and fund a 'crisis management tabletop exercise' with Vatican security services.
"The stated purpose of this effort was to enhance the Vatican’s crisis response abilities and to 'foster a dialogue with the Vatican on counter-terrorism.'
" 'Al-Qaida has publicly identified the Pope and the Catholic Church as an enemy ("Crusaders"), and Vatican City attracts hundreds of thousands of American citizen visitors each year, both tourists and pilgrims,' the cable continued...."
I'm Catholic, myself: and - well, in some circles that means I'm either a dupe or a conspirator. Like I said, "it comes with the territory." (March 18, 2009)
- "If Catholics aren't Supposed to Read the Bible, How Come We're Told to Read the Bible?"
(May 31, 2010)
- "Pedophile Priests! - or - My Mind is Made Up, Don't Confuse Me With the Facts"
(April 11, 2010)
- " 'Death Cookie' Comic: Seemed Like a Good Idea At the Time?"
(March 5, 2010)
- "Hating People: Not a Good Idea"
(January 22, 2010)
- " 'Catholics and Muslims along with the fake Jews all are Satanic Cults' - Who Knew?"
(April 2, 2009)
- "Al-Qaida hatred for Pope caused US worries about Vatican security"
CNA Catholic News Agency (December 14, 2010)