It’s safe to assume that, at this moment in time, Pope Francis is a rock star when it comes to his relationship with the mainstream news media. It would appear that whatever the man wants to say about a controversial issue is going to be reported and, miracle of miracles, perhaps even graced with an attention-grabbing headline.
Alas, it would wrong to assume this. It’s clear that the pope can speak on issues of global importance and receive very little mainstream coverage of all, if the issues are not related (in the minds of many journalists) to the Sexual Revolution.
Consider, for example, the following news report from the omnipresent and highly respected (by a wide array of Catholics) John L. Allen, Jr., of the liberal National Catholic Reporter:
Three days after an attack on an Anglican church in Peshawar, Pakistan, left at least 85 people dead, Pope Francis on Wednesday urged Christians to an examination of conscience about their response to such acts of anti-Christian persecution.
“So many Christians in the world are suffering,” the pope said during his general audience Wednesday morning in St. Peter’s Square. “Am I indifferent to that, or does it affect me like it’s a member of the family?”
“Does it touch my heart, or doesn’t it really affect me, [to know that] so many brothers and sisters in the family are giving their lives for Jesus Christ?”
OK, that’s interesting — but is there a larger story here? A subject worthy of mainstream news attention? Allen continues with a summary of some brutal facts:
The Sunday atrocity in Pakistan is the latest instance of a mounting wave of anti-Christian violence in different parts of the world. According to the International Society for Human Rights in Frankfurt, Germany, 80 percent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed against Christians.
The Center for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that in the last decade, an average of 100,000 Christians have died each year in what the center calls a “situation of witness,” meaning for motives related to their faith. Although some experts regard that estimate as inflated, it works out to an average of 11 Christians killed each hour throughout the past decade.
Parts of the Middle East, the Indian subcontinent and regions of sub-Saharan Africa tend to be the greatest danger zones, though there are recent examples of Christians experiencing violent persecution in many other parts of the world as well.
That German human rights report is not unique or unusual. More on that in a minute.
So surely the pope’s remarks — linked to bloody massacres that are still in the news — drew news coverage. Let’s run an online search for “Pope Francis,” “persecution” and “Christians.” Click here for the results. Spot any familiar patterns?