Gynogate: Is the Vatican Lying?
[“Through its teeth!” because in view of other recent things happening at (or being agreed to by) the Vatican, FrankenChurch is dumb enough to agree initially to such a harebrained conference on its premises]
Posted by Oakes Spalding
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 26, 2015
Nothing sexy here. Move along now.
The original story was that a Catholic university overseen by the Vatican would be hosting a conference of aesthetic gynecologists, headed by Dr. Alexandros Bader, a world-renown “expert” on the “G-spot”.
Mahound’s Paradise posted on this, offering some new information but also reprinting one of the juicer news stories on the conference from the Daily Mail.
The original story was based on claims made in promotional materials from the European Society of Aesthetic Gynecologists (ESAG). Essentially there were three claims:
The conference would be held in or at Vatican City.
Social events would include a tour of the Vatican gardens and an audience with the Pope.
The precise venue was the Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum.
My post suggested, based on the contents of the materials themselves, that the first claim was exaggeration–the Institute is near St. Peter’s but is not technically on Vatican grounds. Indeed, that it was exaggeration was sort of confirmed by a spokeswoman for the ESAG after the story broke.
However, a few days ago, all of the claims were apparently denied by the Director of the Holy See Press Office, Federico Lombardi (English text courtesy of Google Translate):
In some press reports there was talk of a First World Congress organized by the “European Society of Aesthetic Gynecology”, which would take place “in the Vatican” in the month of April.
The material for the program that is in the site intentionally suggests this approach, using the shape of the facade of St. Peter, specifying that participants may attend the general audience and visit the Vatican Gardens, and saying well – in some text – that the conference will take place “in the Vatican.”
In another text on the Site it is said that the conference will take place at the Institute Augustinianum. The Augustinianum denies in the strongest terms. Also not in any way that the organization of such a conference has to do with some Vatican institution or the Holy See.
A few journalists and bloggers who reported the original story then quasi-apologized for their initial enthusiasm, and used the word “hoax.” This was done out of admirable motives–in the interests of accuracy even at the expense of looking slightly silly. But I think it is fair to say that they now believe they were too quick to backtrack. One of them–The Bear of St. Corbinian’s Bear–decided to do some additional investigation (as we shall see below).
While it is true that on its official website the ESAG subsequently scrubbed references to “Vatican City”, the Vatican related social events and the Institute–the organization now lists the conference as occurring in “Rome”–there are still numerous links to the earlier claims on ESAG’s Facebook page, Dr. Bader’s Facebook page and some non-ESAG sites related to surgery or medical events.
Note that Lombardi does not deny this and even confirms part of it. But he essentially implies that the ESAG made it all up.
Bear with me as I enter some of it into the record.
This is from the Facebook page of Alma Surgery, announcing the conference and inviting attendees to purchase tickets. Note the claim that “. . . the first 50 registrations (will) attend the audience of Pope Francisco himself”
This letter from Dr. Bader was removed from the ESAG website, but the ESAG Facebook page still links to it at BlueEvents. Note the reference at the bottom to “the general audience of The Pope” and visits to “the vatican gardens” and “St. Peter’s Chapel.”
Here is one of the original virtual brochures, describing the venue as “Rome, 20-21 April 2016; Vatican City State, Italy, Rome; Venue Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum”. It is still on the ESAG Facebook page.
And this is taken from Dr. Bader’s current Facebook page:
So, if it was a hoax, it was a hoax perpetrated by someone inside ESAG–someone who, for example, thought it would be funny to write “Institutum Patristicum Augustinianum” on promotional brochures and forge a letter from Dr. Bader (by, I guess, hacking his Facebook site, among other things) describing that “tour of the vatican gardens” and that “audience.”
That possibility is clearly absurd and (as we’ll see) has been denied by the ESAG.
A second possibility is that the organizers of the ESAG lied about the Vatican links. There was no contract to use the Institute’s conference center and they just made up the bit about the social events. What inscrutable reasons could have motivated them to do this is of course anyone’s guess, as if potential attendees–aesthetic gynecologists and associated people–would be more likely to attend a conference on cosmetic surgery if it were held in the conference hall of a Catholic scholarly center dedicated to the study of the Christian Fathers, or as if multi-million dollar surgeons who specialize in “Brazilian Butt-lifting” techniques (from their brochure) would be more likely to come to Rome if they could meet the Pope (though wouldn’t some of them demand their money back if they found out that that promise–made by Dr. Bader himself–was a complete fib?).
A third possibility is that the ESAG made arrangements with the proper officials, but due to the embarrassing publicity, the Institute (and whoever is in charge of organizing garden tours and Papal audiences, etc.) cancelled. And now they think it’s best to deny everything.
Subsequently, The Bear did the obviously right thing (though it wasn’t obvious to me): He actually asked ESAG to comment. Here was the response from Dr. Bader himself:
Dear Mr. [Bear], we had a clear agreement with the Vatican to rent their premises in order to organize the Congress. Recently and in unfair way they regret and escalate the issue just to slip away from their responsibilities. We have evidence and documents to prove this and soon we will come out with an official press release as well as we still keep our rights for all legal actions against all involved parties who defame our Society and me personally. The Congress still will take place on the same dates in a different venue which will be announced soon.
By the way, stay tuned to St. Corbinian’s Bear on this. The Bear subsequently writes:
The Bear has engaged in subsequent communications with Dr. Bader, and expects to report more news soon.
Obviously, either ESAG is lying or the Vatican is. Again, ask yourself why the ESAG of all organizations would make up the Vatican links out of whole cloth and put them in their promotional materials. On the other hand, I suppose it might be claimed that even if the arrangements were initially made, the Vatican is not technically lying now. Saying that the Institute “denies in the strongest terms” that they will host such a conference does not technically contradict the claim that they had initially agreed to do so.
But that would be pharisaical.
Let me offer a charitable hypothesis as to what really happened: The Institute did indeed agree to host the conference and the tour and audience were arranged through the usual channels. Consider that the Institute does host non-religious events–they recently hosted a meeting on climate change–and the Pope has audiences with all sorts of people and groups. The relevant Vatican officials focused on the “surgery” or “surgeons” part, not quite realizing how potentially embarrassing (and non- or even un-Catholic) some of the thing was. Perhaps the ESAG tacitly cooperated here, not going out of its way to emphasize the juicier bits about the conference. (Imagine that they know from experience that they run into resistance whenever they do.) Possibly a few Catholic doctors were mentioned or used as references, etc.
If this hypothesis is true, then to be honest, it doesn’t really bother me that the arrangements for the conference were initially made. It was a silly mistake.
It does bother me that they now appear to be lying about it.
But then secrecy and deception are hallmarks of this pontificate, aren’t they?
Contrast that with the behavior of those Catholic bloggers who were quick to admit apparent error, even when as one of them put it, it showed them with “egg on their face.” That it now appears they weren’t in error makes the irony all the richer.
The crisis continues.