Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False

[Updates at the bottom of this post.]

In what is a common occurrence that happens more than you think, the media again has done a poor job of reporting the news that emanates from the Vatican.  If it came from the Vatican at all.  The new one today is that the Catholic Church condemns Halloween, or some variation there of.

Various news outlets have reported that the Pope, the Catholic Church, or the Vatican have condemned, blasted, slammed, or as the Times of London said, “reserved their venom for the millions of parents who allowed their children to celebrate this “pagan” festival.”

And people say anti-Catholicism doesn’t exist?

Apparently some reporter of London’s Telegraph read on the L’Osservatore Romano newspaper based in Rome, Italy, that Halloween is anti-Christian.  L’Osservatore Romano is sometimes referred as the “semi-official” or even “official” newspaper of the Vatican, ie, the Catholic Church.  First of all, it has an independent editorial board that has connections with the Vatican, hence why the confusion of whether it is an official or semi-official mouthpiece of the Vatican.  My personal opinion is that it is semi-official, if that.

L’Osservator Romano covers all  of Pope Benedict XVI”s public activities, publishes editorials by prominent clerics and laypeople, and runs official documents from the Vatican.  The fact that it publishes editorials by prominent clerics does not mean that it is official, standing policy of the Vatican.  Only the Vatican via it’s official documents can do this.  Hence the confusion when editorials are run that can be confusing to most non-Catholics and even Catholics themselves.  Even the secular website Wikipedia entry about L’Osservatore Romano says these mistakes often happen:

A common error for journalists and theologians is to interpret the texts of L’Osservatore Romano as if they were of official value for the Magisterium. In fact, they cannot have such a value, except if a high-ranking bishop is writing a more solemn text, and not a mere theological opinion. Otherwise, L’Osservatore does not have the ability to write or approve encyclicals and papal allocutions.

For instance, a 2008 article expressed the wish that the debate on brain death be re-opened because of new developments in the medical world. An official spokesman said that the article presented a personal opinion of the author and “did not reflect a change in the Catholic Church’s position”

More importantly the article that reported the Vatican condemning Halloween in the L’Osservatore Romano quoted a liturgical expert by the name of Joan Maria Canals, who is actually Father Joan Maria Canals, CMF a liturgy official with the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.  As Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog reports:

Now there is a fellow named Fr. Joan Maria Canals, CMF, a liturgy official with the Spanish Bishops’ Conference who has been pushing the idea that as Spain appropriates this U.S. holiday it ought to do so in a life affirming way as opposed to celebrating the occult and death. Catholic News Agency wrote about that effort and similar efforts in France and Chile. I expect L’Osservatore wrote a similar report. I’m certain the Pope didn’t comment in the article. Unfortunately, L’Osservatore does not archive their articles, so the first sensational or misrepresentative press piece about any article in L’Osservatore becomes the source – no other source being available.

So there you have it.  A quote from a priest in Spain reported in an Italian newspaper read by an Englishman who then reported it as fact that the Vatican condemns Halloween.


For the complete analysis of the misreporting and how it occurred by Jack Smith of The Catholic Key Blog, click here.

For the Wikipedia entry for L’Osservatore Romano click here.

For the latest article on Halloween by The American Catholic titled, Moving Halloween to Saturday:  Treat or Trick? by Elaine Krewer, click here.


Update I: Doug Stanglin of the USA Today is an excellent example of a lazy journalist.  Instead of doing his own research, he regurgitates information from a London tabloid and posts it as valid journalism.  He’s nothing more than a hack.  For Doug Stanglin’s hack piece of journalism click here.

7 Responses to Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False

  1. foxfier says:

    I’m kinda curious how folks are celebrating Halloween in Spain, that they were able to find two quotes that could be shoe-horned into this story.

    The Times story says:
    José Sánchez González, the Bishop of Sigüenza-Guadalajara, in central Spain, went further, suggesting that Hallowe’en parties had a “background of the occult and anti-Christianity”. He said that he saw the dark influence of Hollywood playing with the young minds of Spanish children as they danced innocently around pumpkins, little realising that they were attending a pagan festival.

    “Due to this influence, Hallowe’en started being celebrated several years ago and it is spreading more and more, without people knowing what it is that they are celebrating,” he said.

    Sounds to me like they might actually have a problem– same way that the GB Christian group they quote to support their article is trying to deal with the real problems of vandalism and kids getting hit by cars while they’re out trick or treating.

  2. […] my article titled, Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False, click here. Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)Reciprocal invitation to RomeThe Vatican’s […]

  3. Elizabeth says:

    And who wrote this article “Vatican Condemnation of Halloween is False” ?? There is no author under the title … so we don’t know who to respond to, but going to the Contributors list, I realized that not one of the contributors is a Church Official or a priest. So, how could YOU be the authority on what the Church teaches? I would rather go with the priest from Spain than your opinions. Hope you can find the Truth and discern spirits .. especially during this time of occult and satanic rituals.

  4. Foxfier says:

    So, how could YOU be the authority on what the Church teaches?

    The Church publishes her binding teachings, and I don’t mean in a newspaper.

    Thus, it’s not a matter of the person posting having authority or not– it’s a matter of truth, which requires no authority to share.

    It doesn’t matter if someone is a Priest or “Church Official,” if they’re saying something is true when it isn’t, or if they’re being quoted as “the Vatican says” when it’s their view.

    (BTW, while there isn’t an author listed, you could go to the trackback right above your comment, go through and notice the first comment there is “Bravo, Tito.”)

  5. Dale Price says:

    I would rather go with the priest from Spain than your opinions.

    So that means I can follow whatever Richard McBrien says? After all, he’s a priest and dresses like one when he’s on TV.

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