Benedict's UK Triumph Ignored in US

Shamelessly cribbed from

Deacon Greg, who rarely has time to really sit down and write like this, hits one out of the ballpark, today, as he takes a look at the complete non-coverage of Pope Benedict’s triumphant visit to the United Kingdom. Really, it’s so good that it’s difficult to excerpt, but here is a little:

One of the biggest surprises of Pope Benedict’s historic trip to the United Kingdom may be how few people realize that it was, in fact, historic. Sunday night, I was chatting by phone with my father-in-law in Maryland. I told him I’d been busy with the papal coverage all weekend.

“Didn’t seem like much happened,” he said.

“Really?,” I replied. “He was the first pope to visit the Church of England’s Westminster Abbey. He stood there with the Archbishop of Canterbury, side by side, as they both pronounced the final blessing and made the sign of the cross together.”

“He did that?” My father-in-law sounded genuinely surprised.

“He went to the hall where Thomas More was sentenced to death and delivered a speech about religion to the civil leaders of Great Britain . . .And he took part in his first beatification: Cardinal John Henry Newman, an Anglican priest who converted to Catholicism.” [...]

I started to wonder what sort of coverage the trip had received. After I hung up the phone, I searched through several newspaper websites. I clicked on the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe.

Nothing, nothing, nothing. None of them mentioned on their home page the pope’s just-completed trip.

You’ll want to read the whole thing. It’s interesting to ponder all we do not get told about the people whom the media supposedly “covers.”

Finishing up some reading last night, I was really impressed, also, with Ross Douthat’s equally excellent column about Benedict and the Crowds:

But in turning out for their beleaguered pope, Britain’s Catholics acknowledged something essential about their faith that many of the Vatican’s critics, secular and religious alike, persistently fail to understand. They weren’t there to voice agreement with Benedict, necessarily. They were there to show their respect — for the pontiff, for his office, and for the role it has played in sustaining Catholicism for 2,000 years.

Conventional wisdom holds that such respect is increasingly misplaced, and that the papacy is increasingly a millstone around Roman Catholicism’s neck. If it weren’t for the reactionaries in the Vatican, the argument runs, priests might have been permitted to marry, forestalling the sex abuse crisis. Birth control, gay relationships, divorce and remarriage might have been blessed, bringing lapsed Catholics back into the fold. Theological dissent would have been allowed to flourish, creating a more welcoming environment for religious seekers.

And yet none of these assumptions have any real evidence to back them up. Yes, sex abuse has been devastating to the church. But as Newsweek noted earlier this year, there’s no data suggesting that celibate priests commit abuse at higher rates than the population as a whole, or that married men are less prone to pedophilia. (The real problem was the hierarchy’s fear of scandal, which led to endless cover-ups and enabled serial predation.)

And yes, the church’s exclusive theological claims and stringent moral message don’t go over well in a multicultural, sexually liberated society. But the example of Catholicism’s rivals suggests that the church might well be much worse off if it had simply refashioned itself to fit the prevailing values of the age. That’s what the denominations of mainline Protestantism have done, across the last four decades — and instead of gaining members, they’ve dwindled into irrelevance.

That’s another must-read, right there. And you can watch a video of Douthat making his case, here (H/T Reader saveliberty)

Over at Inside Catholic, Joanna Bogle writes from England about what Benedict brought with him:

Will everything in Britain be different from now on? Of course not. Life trundles on. We’ve still got all our usual problems — our high crime rate, our broken families. But we’ve been reminded of the great and noble values on which a sane society needs to rest, about the need to recall spiritual things, about the fact that we should not try to pretend that we are without a religious heritage. We have seen that we can lift our minds and hearts to the things of God, that there are still huge numbers of young people who want to pray and who honor Jesus Christ and are glad to be part of His Church.

Benedict brought blessings with him — he has, in a sense, given us back a country we thought we had begun to lose and even to forget: a place of decency and neighborliness and kindness and good humor. This was a visit that rested on the goodwill and large-mindedness of great numbers of British people who too often get ignored — the people who were prepared to listen to what the pope really had to say, instead of what his opponents thought he would say; the people who liked the idea of a pope coming to visit, who thought that being reminded about Christianity was no bad thing.

And I DO like how Margaret Cabaniss throws her hands up in frustration at the press:

I’m curious to know how many state visits it will take — how many meetings with abuse victims, how many World Youth Days, how many photo ops like this — before people stop trotting out the Rottweiler line, as if he has suddenly undergone some radical transformation, and state the obvious: Pope Benedict is a “shy,” “warm,” “lovable, elderly figure.” It’s not some act he’s putting on to win over crowds; anyone who has been paying attention would know that — as the massive crowds who turned out for his visit can attest. Yes, Benedict had a reputation (unfair even then) as the Church’s watchdog — ten years ago. He’s now been pope for five. It’s not like he’s been hiding under a rock all that time, and this is some shocking new character development. Can we please come up with some new headlines?

Well, once the press fixes on a narrative, they are very unwilling to move from it. They’ve told us Benedict is God’s Rottweiler for decades, now. They are incapable of saying “we were wrong,” so they must gently move to a “how he’s changed!” template. That way they can keep repeating the old nonsense, while trying to analyze what vulnerability within the pope made him “come around.” Tiresome, isn’t it?

The Sr. Catherine Daily has “The Definitive Guide” to the papal visit. And there are more thoughts here

Finally, Benedict and Your First Communicant: I’ve written before about the lovely children’s book, emFriendship With Jesus, written by Amy Welborn with gorgeous illustrations by Ann Engelhart. Currents TV recently interviewed Engelhart, which reminded me to recommend it again. She informs me:

Ignatius Press is supposed to be distributing it which, should be great…not sure yet when…but soon… according to our publishers at Catholic Truth Society.

Buy it as a Christmas present or put it away until May; you’ll be glad.

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Bender

    I’m curious to know how many times we need to go through this whole exercise before Catholics begin to realize that this isn’t about what the Pope says or does, but is instead about a substantial portion of the world opposing (and even outright hating) the Pope, the Church, Christianity in general because that is what they do – they are hard-hearted people of darkness. There is NOTHING that the Pope can say or do to ever satisfy them (and there is nothing that the Vatican press office can do or say either), so we should stop getting frustrated at our “own side.”

  • saveliberty

    We are getting tired of the scripts used by the establishment media.

    Ross Douthat gave an interview about how many reporters assigned to stories about religion are undereducated about it. The story can be found here.

  • DWiss

    I, for one, like B16′s reputation as a Rottweiler. We need more empassioned defenders of the faith. It’s the truth, after all, so why not defend it vigorously? Honestly, if we had one or two such people in government these days it would be a very good thing.

  • Warren Jewell

    I’ve been around a long time – long enough to have been an old-fashioned paperboy. Even as a teen-aged paperboy, it surprised me, the low qualities of American journalism – though now I am led more and more to believe journalistic mediocrity is common across the world, that high caliber journalism is too rare.

    Agenda have tended to define what ‘news’ we get to read (or, find broadcast) for a long, long time. That it must sell to the like-minded has become more important to journalists than that their coverage bring in subscribers of more general turns of mind.

    To me, it’s been problematic since before Cronkite and Sulzberger began to be and direct know-it-all-know-nothings.

  • Jeff

    Their strategy is to pretend that the pope doesn’t exist.

  • Patrick

    Yes, but …. why the two-year old picture of the Holy Father from his trip to Switzerland?

    [Because it charmed me - admin]

  • c matt

    As for ignoring the Pope’s UK trip – what did you expect? The MSM’s purpose for existing is to sell advertising first, and to get Democrats elected second. The Pope’s trip furthers neither agenda.

  • David

    Well, you chaps are a little parochial in the US. There is a wider world out there.

    It was extraordinary to live through this weekend. By the end of the weekend, The News of the World, the UK’s biggest and most ferocious tabloid (sorta like The New York Post on steroids) was calling B16 “The People’s Pope”.

    Papa Benedict had gone from “God’s Rottweiler” to “God’s English sheep dog” (Anne Widdecombe).

    And you guys missed it all. Pity.

  • gb

    Anchoress, Last nite I was talking with a Jesuit friend on the phone re: the UK trip. We agreed that a few years ago, we were all in the boat with Deacon Greg’s father in law. We had to take what the MSM fed us. Now we don’t & you’ve helped alot in that regard. My friend hadn’t ever heard of your blog (although he goes to FirstThings) so I sent him the URL for this site. I think the link’s so small on the home pg, he never saw it. Anyway, this just to say that the “times of the Times” are on their way out, thank goodness.

  • Robb76

    I’m with you Warren#4. I too was a deliverer of our local paper. And I also remember Cronkite and his nonsense. I recall those few days he spent in Nam after Tet 68 and declared the war lost. Well, I was there during Tet 68 and we cleaned the VCs clock.
    Have not given the MSM much credence since then.

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  • Beatrix


  • CV

    Ifor one am not ashamed to say that I LOVED the pope n’ puppies photo, regardless of when it was taken.

    St. Bernard, ora pro nobis!

  • Joe Odegaard

    Remember when Gobachev (sp?) said that he was a Christian & a devotee of St. Francis of Assisi? That was a huge thing, in the big picture, and it also was just almost totally ignored by the media.

  • alexandrag

    I thoroughly enjoyed participating in Pope Benedict’s visit to England via the internet, catching some on live feed, via EWTN radio, and by downloading and reading the speeches he gave, especially those I did not hear live. Until you mentioned it, it did not occur to me that there was little to no MSM coverage here. Shows what a wonderful thing the MSMers missed. Thank God for the internet and EWTN.

  • Ellen

    My sister, who does not get EWTN said there was nothing about the pope’s visit on the news she watches – nothing.

  • Joe

    Maybe the lack of coverage suggests a cultural shift. Religious leaders aren’t viewed as important or noteworthy in a positive or substantive way like they used to be. Authority simply does not carry the same weight, so people don’t care. The Pope is a big deal to Catholics, but why should anyone else care… so goes the mindset. Or in the US, why should WE care about the pope having Tea with the Queen or talking to Tony Blair? Unless one of them has been on American Idol…

  • Patti Fordyce

    As an American living in England, it seems to me that the American MSM is so inward-looking that they were probably not even aware of the Holy Father’s visit to Britain, and, even if they had been, they would not have seen it as in any way significant (the last Papal visit that mattered was to the US in 2008, right?).

    There were two really important outcomes of this visit: first, the ordinary people of Britain (Catholic and non-Catholic) have now seen the real Pope Benedict, unmediated by those who have persisted in pushing the “rottweiler” description, in the full knowledge that it wasn’t true, and second, the Holy Father has gone home knowing that he can now speak over the heads of the commentators, directly to the faithful.

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