When you actually know something about something and then read what journalists write about it, you can’t help wondering if they’re being just as ignorant and arrogant about everything else they write.
Here are some of the glaring errors in the coverage of the papal resignation:
1. Pope Benedict was a failure because he was not Bl. John Paul II. It is understandable that people compare Benedict to his predecessor, but this judgment indicates a lack of knowledge about the popes down the ages. Sure, most people only remember two popes, but each pope is completely different. Comparing them to one another is a foolish waste of time.
2. The church now has the chance to modernize and be brought up to date. This is code for “we want women priests, contraception, abortion and gay marriage.” What the pundits don’t understand is that the reason the Catholic Church has survived and thrived for 2000 years is precisely because it has refused to follow the fashions of every age.
3. If an American is elected the Catholic Church will become more up to date. — Has anyone spotted the implicit bigotry and racism in this comment? The subtext is, “Those old European white guys are stuck in the Middle Ages and who wants some ooga booga African jungle boy to be pope?” It’s reminiscent of the Episcopal bishops who told African Anglican bishops that “one day when they are more civilized they too will have a more sophisticated understanding of sexuality.” Only to be told by the African Anglicans that they had more earned PhDs from Oxford, Cambridge, Yale and Harvard than all the Episcopal bishops put together.
4. The church is so right wing and conservative! Will the liberal wing of the church at last move forward? These people are thinking with their groin. When they say “conservative” they mean the church is against promiscuity, co-habitation, contraception, divorce and re-marriage, gay sex etc. On other words–the Catholic Church teaches traditional morality. What they don’t see is that the terms “left” and “right” don’t make any sense for Catholics. The true Catholic is “right” in family and moral values and “left” in social and economic values–and even that simplistic explanation is not totally accurate.
5. Will the Catholic Church now change it’s doctrine? No understanding of the distinction between doctrine, dogma, discipline and devotion. They think everything Catholic is mandatory–you know–prescribed by those old white guys in Rome. Doctrine is our general beliefs. Dogmas are the beliefs required of all Catholics. We can’t change that stuff. Disciplines and devotions of the church–most of that is optional and can be changed. What they don’t know is that there is actually very little that is mandatory.
6. The Catholic Church is shrinking and the sooner it folds the better: Duh. Read Jenkins’ The New Christendom to see that the Catholic Church is booming across the globe–even if it is shrinking in Europe.
7. There is a dark conspiracy behind this mysterious and unprecedented resignation. Uh huh. Like John Paul I was poisoned, George Bush planned 911, and Bigfoot is really an alien from the planet Zog.
8. The Vatican is an antiquated absolute monarchy. Yes, that’s why we like it. Seriously though, what we really have is a head guy who has an international network of very qualified and experienced leaders called cardinals, archbishops and bishops–who report to him regularly. They are the ones who elect his successor. Is that so different from any large multinational company? What’s the problem–you’re upset because they wear old fashioned clothes and cool hats?
I think Todd Unctuous is planning to write on the resignation today…