George Weigel’s essay on the shut-down of the American press conferences is spot-on, in my view, and I post here only to add a canonical perspective on events.
1983 CIC 212 § 3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they [the Christian faithful, which includes cardinals] have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.
Universi Dominici imposes secrecy concerning all matters directly or indirectly related to the election of the Roman Pontiff. UDG 10, 12, 48, etc.
I am aware of no particular law that prohibits cardinals from holding press conferences.
Having read many reports and transcripts, it seems to me that one may hold that either (1) the press briefings given by Fr. Lombardi are serious violations of UDG (a ridiculous conclusion, of course) or (2) the press conferences given by American prelates, exercising a fundamental right of the faithful, were wholly appropriate (a quite sound conclusion), but not that Lombardi’s numerous statements about what actually happens in general congregations are licit while press sessions held by Americans about matters occasioned by this great moment Church history are illicit.
An important opportunity to talk to an obviously interested world, on the record and in our own terms, is being lost here. Cui bono? + + +