Today’s post-Christian Europe news chuckle

I have absolutely no comment about the following RNS piece at all.

None. Zero. Zip. Nada. Niente.


I mean, I have no comment other than that I am shocked, shocked, that this globe-shaking religion-news story did not receive more coverage in the mainstream press.

Are you sitting down?

BERLIN – Pope Benedict XVI can cross an outstanding charge of failing to use a seatbelt from his list of worries. The southern German city of Freiburg … threw out charges against the pontiff for riding in his popemobile without a seatbelt during a September visit.

“There will be no fine for the pope,” city spokeswoman Edith Lamersdorf, told the daily Badische Zeitung. “The charges were quashed.”

Although there is a requirement in Germany to wear seatbelts, even in slow-moving vehicles, city officials ruled that the law didn’t apply in the pope’s case because the street on which he was spotted without a seatbelt had been closed for public traffic the day of his visit. Attorney Christian Sundermann had filed the complaint on behalf of an unnamed German resident of Dortmund. …

The unnamed plaintiff argued that the pope was seen several times during the visit without a seat belt. The complaint offered several eyewitnesses, including the archbishop of Freiburg, the head of the German Conference of Bishops and the premier of the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg. Sundermann’s office had also entered a YouTube clip of the visit, which shows Benedict touring in a German-made Mercedes-Benz popemobile. …

Actually, it is possible that this riveting story received more coverage in Europe than in the United States. See what I mean?

Also, this blog item may also be evidence that your GetReligionistas will post almost anything during extremely busy weeks (it is exit week for students here at the Washington Journalism Center) that also happen to coincide with weeks that take the Divine Mrs. M.Z. Hemingway into corners of the world that do not contain wifi.

Just saying.

Feel free to discuss this news item, however. Make my day.

IMAGE: Crucial evidence is found at the end of this YouTube clip.

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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.

  • Jerry

    WHAT? How could you have missed the gigantic theological ghost that is raised from not looking at the theology of wearing seat belts.

    Without the “seat belt” of religion, any stray bump could knock us for a loop. And what about that syncretic Sufi perspective that says “Trust in God but tie your camel to a tree”? Clearly the Popemobile is a later day camel and the seat belt is a later day tree.

    But maybe the Pope has a different theology following the example of St. Francis who trusted in God alone and never had seat belts or anything else. After all, the Bible says:

    “Then Jesus asked them, ‘When I sent you without purse, bag or sandals, did you lack anything?’
    ‘Nothing,’ they answered.” (Luke 22:35)

    So by failing to explore this area and the theological issues it raises, the media has once again proven that it does not care about religion and only cares about sensational secular controversies like whether or not the Pope is a criminal for not wearing a seat belt and in once again illustrating the depravity of the Catholic Church.

    Terry, are you happy now? :-) :-) :-)

  • tmatt

    I’m doing the wave.

  • Martha

    Jerry, there are even greater ramifications to this piece! The sedevecantists may have it right: see John 21:18, where Jesus is speaking to Peter:

    “Truly, I tell you with certainty, when you were young, you would fasten your belt and go wherever you liked. But when you get old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will fasten your belt and take you where you don’t want to go.”

    If Pope Benedict is not fastening his belt in the Popemobile – and what else is that vehicle for except “someone else will fasten your belt and take you where you (don’t) want to go”? – then can he truly be said to be the genuine Successor of Peter?

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    Shouldn’t the media have done due diligence in this major event in the history of the papacy and dug out who the unnamed plaintiff is??? Inquiring minds want to know.

  • Jerry

    The sedevecantists may have it right:

    And we even have a new word for me to learn:

    Ah, what a wonderful day this is turning out to be.

  • Bill

    Are they telling us that Pope Benedict’s defense is, “Here I stand. I can do no other”? Wow! Mollie, call your office!

  • Ann Rodgers

    Aaah, but is the pope in violation of the Vatican’s own campaign to improve driving habits around the world? In 2007, in an effort to cut down on global traffic fatalities, the Vatican (I forget which office) issued Ten Commandments for Drivers.