VATICAN CITY –– Along with statistics on the 22 new cardinals named by Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican press office offered journalists quick biographical notes – mainly drawn from Wikipedia.
“If we’d had a week, we would have prepared official biographies,” Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, told Catholic News Service Jan. 9.
The vast majority of profiles handed out Jan. 6 were brief and factual.
However, the biography of Dutch Cardinal-designate Willem J. Eijk of Utrecht also described him as a social conservative, “especially in matters of abortion and homosexuality, which have made him one of the most controversial religious leaders in the country; according to some, however, the bishop is doing nothing other than conforming to directions coming from Rome.”
Fr. Lombardi said the press office was trying to assist those journalists who work on tight deadlines. The biographies were handed out to accredited journalists and placed on the password-protected portion of the press office website, but were not made available to the general public.
The initial profiles, he said, “were withdrawn quickly and replaced” with more formal biographical notes. The Vatican Secretariat of State will prepare and publish the official biographies in time for the consistory Feb. 18 when the new cardinals will be inducted into the College of Cardinals.