Every once in a while, I fail to take my own advice: I actually read mainstream coverage of church matters. This is never wise, since mainstream reporters are absolutely incapable of writing about religion. What they produce is usually laced with bias and innuendo masquerading as fact.
Even though I do read AP or CNN or the Times, I usually avoid the despicable Reuters: a nakedly biased, anti-American, anti-Israel, and anti-Catholic organization. Today, I made the mistake of reading this combination of flaccid banalities, mendacity, and negativity by Crispian Balmer and Philip Pullella.
The headline gives the game away: “Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope for troubled Church.”
Troubled? How? Quantify it, please, and if the best you can do is a minor Vatileaks story and the aging abuse story, then that’s not enough.
And why is that the lede? A real news service would have simply titled it “Cardinals head to conclave to elect pope.” We don’t need your elbow in our ribs nudging us in the goodthink direction you want.
But let’s get to the real heart of the stupidity from the writers and editors involved in this sham: the part when they call this “one of the most difficult periods in the Church’s history.”
See, I actually teach Church history. I know a little about the subject. 2013 wouldn’t even make the top-ten of “most difficult periods in Church history.”
Honestly? Given the way the church in the third world is thriving, I’d call it one of the best periods in Church history.
Let’s not go by the subjective standards of anti-Catholic reporters. Let’s stick with the facts.
*The execution of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
*The executions of
- Pope St. Peter
- Pope St. Anacletus
- Pope St. Sixtus
- Pope St. Telesephorus
- Pope St. Hyginus
- Pope St. Pius I
- Pope St. Anicetus
- Pope St. Soter
- Pope St. Eleuterus
- Pope St. Callixtus I
- Pope St. Urban I
- Pope St. Pontian
- Pope St. Fabian
- Pope St. Cornelius
- Pope St. Stephen I
- Pope St. Sixtus II
- Pope St. Martin I
*The assassinations of
- Stephen VI
- Benedict VI
- John X
- John XIV
- Gregory V
- and perhaps 6 or 7 other popes who died under suspicious circumstances
*The Persecution by Nero
*The Persecution by Diocletian
*Various other persecutions and executions up until the Edict of Milan
*The Arian heresy
*The collapse of the Roman Empire
*The sack of Rome by Alaric
*The sack of Rome by the Saracens
*The massacres by Timur (Tamerlane)
*Various other Islamic persecutions too numerous to mention
*The Cadaver Synod
*The Saeculum Obscurum
*The Great Schism
*The Western Schism
*The election of Gregory X (a conclave lasting three years)
*The Albigensian Crusade
*The Spanish Inquisition
*Pope Alexander VI
*The Protestant Reformation
*The Act of Succession and the dissolution of the monasteries in England
*The reign of Elizabeth I
*The Ascendancy in Ireland
*The French Revolution
*The invasion of the Papal States and the imprisonment of Pope Pius VII by Napoleon
*The anticlerical movement in Mexico
*The Spanish Civil War
*World War II and the Holocaust (estimates of Polish Catholics killed range from 2-3 million, not to mention clergy and religious killed by the Nazis)
*Persecutions under the Soviets and other communist regimes
*Ongoing persecutions in Islamic countries
Although I checked the list of early pope martyrs, the rest is just off the top of my head, so I’m sure I’m missing some. If you’re going to be covering the oldest institution on the planet, one deeply rooted in history, and make claims about its current status in reference to that history, then you should have a tiny clue about the topic, or else maybe just shut up about it.
This is not only not “one of the most difficult periods in the Church’s history”: it’s not even close. I guess you could say this is “a” period in Church history, and there are some difficulties, as there always are. The abuse scandal continues to loom over us as one of those troubles, but under Benedict we’ve gone a long way toward addressing it. There is no current abuse scandal in the church: just facts emerging from abuse in the past.
In other words, we’ve already moved out of a troubled period, but the press won’t allow that. Whatever the Church does ever after, it will always be done “amidst scandal.” We will never be allowed any distance between us and the abuse scandal. For the media, it will always 2002.
This is not to underplay the tragedy and scandal of the sexual abuse crisis and the failures of certain bishops. But if you look at the list above, filled with literally millions of murdered Catholics and decades of trials and social collapse throughout the ages, how can we reasonably call our current state in 2013 “one of the most troubled”? It takes a particularly short view of history, a remarkably limited understanding of the world, and a narrow-minded modernist perspective to think there’s something unique–or even interesting–about our times.
Actually, it’s pretty simple: you just need to be a biased media institution looking to paint the Church in the worst possible light. Once you decide we’re a villain that needs to be put down, everything else is easy.
UPDATE: Reuters appears to be revising the story as the day goes on, but not backing off their slimy little attacks. Now the focus is on cardinals meeting “at a time of strife and scandal for the Roman Catholic Church.”
Try to parse this idiocy:
There are constant reminders of the scandals and controversies facing the Church.
In the past month, the only British cardinal elector recused himself from the conclave and apologized for sexual misconduct.
Police detained two women who staged a brief topless protest against the Church before the massed ranks of television crews who have come from around the world to follow the conclave.
And that’s where that useless section dribbles away into nothingness. So … “constant reminders” are two naked bozos and O’Brien recusing himself a month ago? Those are “constant” reminders? Do Reuters writers even need a basic familiarity with the English language, or do they just assume we don’t have one?
The rest is just bland nonsense any reporter for a high-school paper could have churned out with a couple of Google searches. What garbage. Quite clearly, it doesn’t take much to write for Reuters.
Actually, I’m wrong: it took five writers (Balmer and Pullella, plus Naomi O’Leary, Catherine Hornby and Tom Heneghan) plus four editors (Barry Moody, Alastair Macdonald, Peter Graff and Giles Elgood) to crank out this crap, reminding us why mainstream news is cratering. Bloated, biased, and incompetent is a poor combination.
“Brothers and sisters, good evening!
“You know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems as though my brother cardinals went almost to the end of the world to get him. But here we are. I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome has a bishop. Thank you!
“Before all else, I would like to say a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may watch over him that Our Lady may watch over him” is a correction to the text I just sent.”
Then the crowd prayed the “Our Father, “ and the “Hail Mary,” and the “Glory Be” for Benedict XVI.
“And now let us begin this journey, [together] as bishop and people. This journey of the Church of Rome, which is to preside over all the Churches in charity. It is a journey of fraternity, of love, of trust between us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the world, so that a great brotherhood might come about. I hope that this journey of the Church—which we begin today and in which my Cardinal Vicar who is present here will assist me—will be fruitful for the Evangelization of this beautiful city.
“And now I would like to give you my blessing. But before I do, I would like to ask you a favor: before the bishop blesses the people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that He bless me…. the prayer of the people for a blessing upon their bishop. Let us take a moment of silence for you to offer your prayer for me.”
The crowd kept silence while the Pope Francis I bowed and received their prayers.
Then the Pope proceeded.
“Now I will give you my blessing and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.”
After making the sign of the Cross and uttering a prayer, Pope Francis I said:
“Brothers and Sisters,
“I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me. And we’ll see one another again soon. Tomorrow I want to go and pray to Our Lady, asking her to watch over Rome. Good night and have a good rest.”