I found this quote in my notes without a link. If anyone knows the source, I will happily correct it. Also, it is second-hand, so take it with the same grain of salt as that interview that ‘reconstructed from memory’ the ‘sense’ of the conversation. Still, this sums up what i have been hearing from many in the communications world of the Vatican for a year.
[UPDATED: From the New Yorker, and no apparent comment from Lombardi on the conversation].
James Carroll reports a conversation with Lombardi:
I met Lombardi in a spartan room in a grand Mussolini-era building just outside St. Peter’s Square. Lombardi is a dark-eyed, silver-haired man of seventy-one, who looks as if he could be an Italian film director. I asked what his life had been like since Benedict stepped down. Lombardi broke into a broad smile. Then he said, “We experienced for years—and for good reason, also—that the Church said, ‘No! This is not the right way! This is against the commandments of God!’ The negative aspect of the announcement . . . this was in my personal experience one of the problems.” Father Lombardi and I are almost the same age. In his earnest good will and kindliness, he struck me as the priest I would have liked to become. He said, “The people thought I always had a negative message for them. I am very happy that, with Francis, the situation has changed.” He laughed. “Now I am at the service of a message . . . of love and mercy.” He laughed again.