Bishop Nunzio Galantino, who was roundly criticized for appearing to disapprove of those who recite the Rosary outside abortion clinics, has defended his comments, saying he was taken out of context and manipulated by the media.

In an interview in the latest edition of the Italian monthly Sempre, the Secretary of the Italian bishops’ conference (CEI) said the vehemence of the accusations made against him were “an aggression that in reality hurt me."

In May, an interviewer asked the prelate the question: “In recent years, the CEI has invested heavily in the non-negotiable values ​​(life, family, education). The Pope doesn’t care for that expression, you too?”

Bishop Galantino replied: “Let’s think about the sacredness of life. In the past we have focused exclusively on the no to abortion and euthanasia. It cannot be so, in the middle [of these two] there is the existence [of the person] that continuously develops. I do not identify with the expressionless faces of those who recite the Rosary outside the clinics that practice the interruption of a pregnancy [‘l’interruzione della gravidanza’], but with those young people who are opposed to this practice and strive for the quality of life of the people, for their right to health, to work.”

The bishop now tells Sempre the reaction was a misunderstanding due to media manipulation.

“The interview in question was born in a specific context: the influence of social media,” he says. “On that occasion I said we should be careful, especially with television, in which only images are used that help to support personal theories. I gave as an example those that focus on the most inexpressive faces of [persons] praying the Rosary against abortion in front of clinics."

He added it is a media method that “intends to belittle not only the Rosary prayed in front of a clinic, but also the great and extraordinary movement that is behind it.” It was, he maintains, an admonition to be on guard against similar manipulation. Therefore, the interview’s statement, taken out of context, was the source of the misunderstanding.

“Sometimes the exponents of certain movements of ours don’t read the whole interview, but only the headline of the newspaper, which obviously is especially interested in choosing only an expression that scandalizes and causes problems. This is how 10,000 Tweets begin or 15,000 posted on Facebook against Bishop Galantino,” he explained.

In the context of the criticisms leveled against him, CEI’s Secretary said he was “struck” by the malice of certain persons who say they pray the Rosary. "It is worrying to know that one who prays the Rosary is then capable of expressing himself in these tones, with this verbal violence,” he said.

But the bishop’s defense of his comments hasn't satisfied everyone. Vaticanista Marco Tosatti says that reading through the interview, there doesn’t appear to be anything about social media or television. The bishop, he says, is playing the “old game” of saying it’s “always the fault of journalists” and his defense is “full of holes.”

It's conceivable that those parts may have been omitted from the final published interview. We’d like to verify the bishop’s remarks, but unfortunately after trying for an interview since the end of May – and being promised one by his office – Bishop Galantino has yet to speak to us.