Monday, July 26, 2010

Hey Journalists, Take the Vatican Literacy Quiz


John Allen, (who writes for National Catholic Reporter, so is hardly in a position to complain) is fed up with "Catholic media experts" who don't know a "discastery from a deacom".

Oh, aren't we all, John. Aren't we all!

In recent weeks, the air has been filled with competing opinions on various Vatican matters: Whether or not it was appropriate for the Vatican to treat the sexual abuse of minors and the attempted ordination of women in the same legal document, for example, or whether Pope Benedict XVI's record on handling sex abuse cases while he was at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith passes muster. People who've done their homework can reach very different conclusions on such subjects, and informed perspectives are always worth hearing.

What's tougher to take, however, are polemics (whether intended to praise the Vatican or to bury it) from commentators who obviously don't know a motu proprio from a miter, or a dicastery from a deacon.

So, he would like to offer the world of journalism a
ten-point Vatican literacy test, designed to establish someone's bona fides. These questions test entry-level material, the kind of stuff that people paying attention would know, as opposed to being arcane points that only real devotees could summon.

If you can imagine yourself being sucked into an unwanted debate about papal policy, I suggest you clip this column and shove it in your wallet, so you can produce it at the just-right moment. Faced with someone who insists on voicing strong opinions, but who can't go at least eight-for-ten off the top of their head, you might suggest they take a pledge of abstinence for a year from posting blog entries, writing letters to the editor or op/ed pieces, or otherwise holding forth on any Vatican subject, while they go on retreat and bone up.


1) Which of the following is not the last name of a 20th century pope?
A. Roncalli
B. Sodano
C. Montini
D. Luciani

2) Which of the following is not a traditional term for a Vatican department?
A. Congregation
B. Committee
C. Council
D. Commission

3) Roughly how many bishops participate in a Synod of Bishops?
A. 10
B. 100
C. 250
D. 2,000

4) What's the term for the central government of the Catholic Church as a sovereign entity in international law?
A. Apostolic Camera
B. Holy See
C. Vatican City-State
D. Sala Stampa

5) Which Vatican department oversees foreign relations?
A. Congregation for Bishops
B. Secretariat of State
C. Council for Justice and Peace
D. Prefecture of the Papal Household

6) What's the name of the Vatican newspaper?

7) Which of the following is not a kind of papal document?
A. Apostolic summons
B. Apostolic exhortation
C. Apostolic constitution
D. Apostolic letter

8) Which Pontifical Council is the youngest?
A. Laity
B. Family
C. Migrants and Refugees
D. New Evangelization

9) True or False: There is no provision in church law for a pope to resign.

10) Which of the following is not presently headed by an American?
A. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
B. Basilica of St. Mary Major
C. Council for Justice and Peace
D. Prefecture of the Papal Household


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