The Washington Times prints a UPI story that says the Church is moving toward condemning smoking as a moral evil, but I’m not buying it. Here’s why.
They note, correctly, that the article appears in Civilta Cattolica, an Italian Jesuit journal that has its articles approved by “a top aide to Pope John Paul II” but doesn’t name the “aide”. That would be Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who is the number 2 official at the Vatican as Secretary of State, but only number 2 in governance, not in doctrinal matters. That would be Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Cardinal Sodano’s approval of a moral message bears no more magisterial weight than any other bishop’s approval would and does not signal a change in the Church’s teaching on smoking.
If, on the other hand, the journal had published an article concerning the disposition of pervert priests or the Holy See’s relationship with Israel or something of that nature, that could be taken as significant. But not on matters dealt with by the Catechism.