Oh those God is Love headlines!

00086popebenedictWe must offer another mitre tip to the Catholic uberblogger Amy Welborn: The Ratzinger Fan Club website has posted a vast (friends and neighbors, I do mean vast) collection of links related to commentary on and information about the new Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI. The new Christianity Today weblog has a nice collection, too.

Welborn also passed along one of the best snort your coffee (or hot tea) paragraphs that I have seen in quite some time. It’s from a Globe & Mail reaction piece that went out on the wires:

Few Catholic scholars contacted this week had read the encyclical or planned to do so. Two professed amusement at the notion that the pope had written about love. And what puzzled some scholars is why Benedict had chosen the subject.

In other post-encyclical coverage of the news coverage, it is interesting to note that the veteran New York Times scribe Peter Steinfels did a bit of damage control in a weekend analysis piece entitled “Combing Through the Pope’s First Encyclical.” The heart of the piece is his admission that most reporters read this papal text — well duh — looking for traditional New York Times material about the Roman Catholic Church. Other papers, as always, then look to the Times for leadership.

Well, he didn’t say precisely that. But he did say this:

Was it true, as two headlines claimed last Thursday, that “Pope Chooses an Uncontroversial Topic for First Encyclical: Love” and “Pope’s Encyclical on Love Avoids Controversy”?

Controversy, it seems, means the intersection of religion with sex, science, politics and violence — in short, the raw material of the culture wars. It was understandable, therefore, that reporters combed “God Is Love,” the long-awaited first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, for declarations on homosexuality, monogamy, terrorism, and church and state. Other headlines capturing that effort were these: “Pope Warns About Loveless Sex.” “Pope Defends Marriage While Eschewing Politics.” “Church Cannot Stay on Sidelines in Fight for Justice.” “Pope: Church Duty Is to Influence Leaders.”

Yes, Steinfels could have mentioned the wackiest headline of all, but that would have been in bad form: “Benedict’s First Encyclical Shuns Strictures of Orthodoxy.”

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Intellectual Pariah

    It’s worth noting that Star-Tribune piece is actually reprinted from the Toronto Globe and Mail; the writer, Michael Valpy, is (or was) their regular religion reporter.

  • Amy H

    Hey, I thought that quote looked familiar!

    It’s also worth nothing that the paper is called The Globe and Mail (The Globe for short) and although I’m sure many in the centre of the universe (as those of us who live elsewhere in Canada call Toronto) would wish it otherwise, the word Toronto is not, in fact, part of the title.

    And while I’m being picky, could I make a request to posters and commenters alike: that you try to spell out at least once the full names of groups you are referring to before using the acronym. The other day, the comments on a post got on to various Lutheran and Episcopal (I think; I’m still not sure) groups and there were so many acronyms (okay, I know, initialisms) that I couldn’t figure out what was going on. The ABCD group and the WXYZ group may be very familiar to all of you, but they’re a mystery to others.

    Why, yes, I went to J-school. Why do you ask? :-)

  • tmatt

    IP and AMY H:

    Thank you for your good humor. I feel like a shallow American dufus. Wait, did I spell dufus right?

  • Intellectual Pariah

    OK, Amy, next time I’ll write “the Toronto Globe and Mail“. (I know some publications are picky about including the “The”, but I don’t hold with that sort of thing.)

  • Intellectual Pariah

    About that centre-of-the-universe thing, I’ll always wanted to create graphic of the Local Galactic Cluster, divided into Yorkville, Rosedale, Cabbagetown, and Downtown quadrants.

  • Tom R

    Tempting though it may be to set Papa Ratzi’s new release to the music of “Day By Day”, it may, just, in fact, BE controversial. The Resprimarians‘ blog http://www.firstthings.com/onthesquare/?p=159 has spotted a ticking time bomb embedded beneath the innocuous surface:

    “Are all forms of love basically one?” Benedict’s answer is in the affirmative…. Nor is CS Lewis mentioned, but Benedict’s argument is at important points at odds with Lewis’ famous description of the “four loves.” All love is one because the Trinitarian God is one, and God is love…

    If Casanova has interpreted B16 correctly, this will blow apart any chance of Catholic and Evangelical rapprochement. The Pope vs CS Lewis! One is divinely guaranteed to be infalllible on all matters of doctrine and morals… while the other…

  • Amy H

    Actually, IP, I wasn’t taking issue with your comment, but rather with tmatt’s interpretation of it, when he fixed the original post to read Toronto Globe. You’ll see that it now reads “Globe & Mail.” I don’t have any strong feelings about the “the”, or the ampersand, for that matter. :-)