Edited 10/31: I’m revising this since it makes more sense that the Diario Directo article came first.
I just couldn’t leave it alone. Was going through some articles tonight and came across one about the Vatican being against Halloween — and yup, the comments were there. “The Pope just doesn’t want us to have fun”. “The Pope said this, the Pope said that, yadayadayada….” I was sleepy, but the more I thought about it, the more I got incensed. The Pope gets blamed, AGAIN, for something he didn’t even say!!! So I dug…
Looks like it started here: a report LAST YEAR from Diario Directo with a ‘quote’ from Padre Canals, dated 10/31/08. The next day, 11/01/08, Guillermo Fesser writes an Opinion column in Spain’s El Mundo. No connection to the Magisterium that I can find. Can’t even find the actual quote, supposedly from Padre Juan Maria Canals Casas (that’s a pic by the way, on the Conferencia Episcopal website). The official website of the Conference doesn’t have anything except a few articles talking about Halloween, plus some movie reviews (I think) and none of them written by P. Canals.
Now the rest of this is all my conjecture, but bear with me.
This year on 10/26, Jose Manuel Vidal (religious correspondent for El Mundo) wrote this… but again, no source for his supposed quote. Just so you know, he seems to be a religious man, but that doesn’t mean his report is accurate. For all we know he could have been mining his own newspaper’s archives and came up with that.
From there, it branches out all over the place… Agence France-Press, and numerous other websites, news sites, blogs etc. all screaming “Spanish Catholic Leaders Lash Out Against Pagan Halloween”. I don’t know exactly what appeared on L’Osservatore Romano, but neither will you. You can search L’Osservatore Romano’s website yourself, if you like. Jack Smith has a possible explanation here. I highly doubt the existence of an actual quote though. And of course, people assume ANYTHING that comes from L’Osservatore Romano must come from the Vatican and hence, the Pope.
It doesn’t help when our favorite FAITHFUL Catholic websites report it as well.
Of course, I could be very wrong about all this and there *may* be recent quotes somewhere from Fr. Canals or Bishop Sanchez, but I have yet to find them. It’s tempting to trace the supposed quote from Bishop Sanchez, but I’m sleepy. Plus it doesn’t change the conclusion.
From there we get to the article everyone has been linking to from UK’s Telegraph… but again, no sources linked. Nick Squires is in Rome, so he should probably know that while L’Osservatore Romano is published in Vatican City and often they get first dibs on the official stuff, not everything published in L’OR is directly coming from the Magisterium, which means they’re not direct quotes from the Pope. But then, would the average reader know that? Would it occur to them to question the connection between L’OR and the Pope? Nope. They assume L’Osservatore Romano = The Vatican = Pope Benedict XVI.
So now here’s a sampling of the junk that’s out there:
- Vatican warns parents that Halloween is ‘anti-Christian’ from USA Today
- Halloween is ‘dangerous’ says the Pope as he slams ‘anti-Christian’ festival, from Nick Pisa at Daily Mail
Pisa even attaches a picture of the Pope, just to make it look “official”. Wanna bet he just picked up the “news” from one of his feeds?
This is what annoys me about feeds. I’m quite certain its use (and misuse) is a major reason why we have all these misattributions. Feeds = shortcuts = hardly any real reporting going on.
Now mind you, I’m not saying there’s no grain of truth at all in the claim that Halloween is related to the occult, etc. The way some people celebrate it and the stuff that goes on in some places (won’t link here, you’ll have to search for them yourself — they’re easy enough to find)… it gets difficult to disprove that notion. But just to make sure we’re clear on this, some Catholics do celebrate Halloween — lots of ideas here — but the decision to celebrate or not really depends on each family. That’s not something the Church dictates (so those of you who like using the word “impose”, you can stop right there 🙂 ).
Each family has its own traditions, or non-traditions. Some celebrate on Hallow’s Eve (our preferred name for the day, since it’s the most historically accurate also). Some choose to celebrate on All Saints and/or All Souls Day instead. There are some years we (and by we I mean *our* family) do choose to have fun with it. For instance, we refuse to buy candy, but my kids love playing dress-up. So on years when Mommy and Daddy let them, they don simple costumes (no, I don’t like paying for that stuff either, unless it’s something they can wear year-round, so theirs are usually saint or angel or knight costumes which get a lot of mileage), go around the block getting candy, come home and pick out the chocolate (the only kind I allow, because the dentist gets on our case when we let them have the sticky stuff), and then turn on our lamp porch and wait for the trick-and-treaters to come. We then give them the candy we got! Yes, some people will consider that tacky, but if you do, how about you come over here and help floss my kids’ teeth? Or just be a nice reader and tell me that’s smart! Heee… the difference with the Catholic way of doing it, is that most of our emphasis is not on the candy or even the dressing up, but on the SAINTS themselves, who continue to inspire us and help us and lead us along the way to Christ. Yup.
On a side note, I wonder if this attack on the Spanish bishops is at all related to their position on abortion which the Catholic faithful has been applauding recently. Here’s a peek at what’s been keeping them busy these past few days. And don’t forget the recent MASSIVE demonstration in Madrid against abortion. Yeah.