Now, the Vatican is reacting to two things, as far as I can tell: 1) the fact that people have the nerve to critice the Pope, and 2) that the criticism of the Pope over the condom comments is overshadowing some of the other things that he said and did during his African visit.
#2 is perfectly valid. The Pope did say and do many other things while in Africa, and they have been eclipsed by controversy over his condom comments. This is problematic from any point of view, and the Vatican has every right to be annoyed with that.
The notion that the Pope should be spared criticism is beyond absurd. Like it or not, think it’s right or not, the Pope is a significant political figure, and as such he is going to be subject to the same types of scrutiny and criticism as any other major political figure. The fact that he would take a position that is at such odds with reality as claiming that the use of condoms may increase HIV transmission richly deserves criticism and condemnation – it’s a view that is out of touch with reality and in a place such as Africa, DANGEROUSLY STUPID for a major political figure to espouse, especially one that a large number of people assume has divine authority.
I have to say that my favorite quote comes from Bishop Bagnasco:
"He represents for everyone a moral authority, which this journey has made people appreciate even more," Bagnasco said.
Ummm, he’s encouraging an abandonment of one of the primary effective tools in the fight against a deadly disease that has engulfed the African continent not because the tool doesn’t work (it does) but because his a-priori assumptions won’t allow him to actually examine the evidence. That alone means that he is not a moral authority. By choosing to ignore evidence in favor of dogma, he has chosen a path that is only going to lead to the death of others. How the Hell is that a moral stance?
EDITED TO ADD:
By the way, he represents "for everyone a moral authority"? Umm, last I checked, non-Catholics were part of "everyone", and many (maybe most) of us don't consider him a moral authority. If the guy (or his spokesmen) are going to try to assert his moral authority over everyone and not just his followers, then they had damn well better be prepared for more criticism and mockery.