If You Want to Get a Sense of How a Pope from a Developing Nation Will *Really* Received by Western Media

If You Want to Get a Sense of How a Pope from a Developing Nation Will *Really* Received by Western Media March 1, 2013

…look no further than the incredulity, horror, and mockery that greets a Salon reprint of a piece by Mahatma Gandhi opposing artificial contraception. The notion that the West is, in any serious way, “multicultural” is a complete, smug, self-congratulating fiction. We are a culture that is not only profoundly intolerant of ideas outside a narrow bandwidth and ready, at the drop of a hat, to sneer at those ignorant primitives who think differently from our middle class suburban enlightened selves, but we are also a people ready, willing, and able to go to war to impose our “values” on backward peoples in the name of spreading hedonistic democratic capitalism. And if that means the extermination or exile of, say, the Chaldean Christians in our quest for Enduring Freedom, well hey! You have to break a few eggs to make an omelette.

Gandhi is hip and cool as a picture on a T shirt or a Barnes and Noble bag for our cultured despisers. But *listen* to him when he says things that would not play on “All Things Considered”? Fuggedaboudit.

Exactly the same thing will happen with a Pope from a developing nation. When we get one (as I presume we will sooner or later, though I think not this time) there will be a few days of wonder that an African or Asian is doing the job, and then the hand-wringing will start about the Pope suffering from post-colonial false consciousness (meaning “he believes the Catholic faith”), outdated “tribal” sexism (and by “tribal” we think you catch our drift, hint, hint), “backward” superstitions and so forth. This will come far more from racists on the Left than on the Right. Because the racism of the Left will be played out by pop atheists and similar shallow pundits who make no distinctions between the Catholic faith and the natives of Skull Island doing the Kong Dance. It’s all just primitive savagery and mystical mumbo jumbo, as we are constantly assured. A Pope who says, well, what the Church says and what Gandhi says will not be received like some new Nelson Mandela by the Western press. He will be derided as an emissary from backward lands who need enlightened Westerners to teach them shallow atheism and cull their numbers with the blessings of birth control.

Here’s the deal: the world will always hate the gospel. Always. Nothing the Church does will ever change that. And certainly not the election of a Pope from a developing country. We are dealing with forces far beyond the merely cultural or political. We’re talking principalities and powers.  The devil will hate a faithful African, Brazilian, or Chinese as much as he hated a faithful Pole who was also from an oppressed people. Our task is to pray for a faithful Pope, not a popular one. Seek first the Kingdom and all else we need will be added as well.

Kevin O’Brien, who sent me the link, has some further remarks on Gandhi’s piece.

"Tell the Native Americans."

The March for Trump
"Oh, like wearing a MAGA hat isn't associated with calls to tribal war calls. Please. ..."

The March for Trump
"I said the same thing on another blog. I asked about Vigano's reply to Cardinal ..."

Vigano Distracts–Again
"Well, not all Trump supporters are racist and bigots...and start everything. You lost me there ..."

Sorting Out the Covington Narratives

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Marthe Lépine

    By the way, I had been wondering if you had seen the following article:
    From: http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/nigeria-to-western-nations-wed-sooner-refuse-aid-than-legalize-same-sex-mar
    Nigeria to Western nations: We’d sooner refuse aid than legalize same-sex “marriage”
    by Kirsten Andersen, Mon Dec 10, 2012 20:35 EST
    It is several weeks old, but it gives a good idea of what Africa would have to offer to our supposedly advanced Western culture… If and when we ever see an African cardinal elected to be Pope.

  • vox borealis

    My first attempt was deemed too short. But all I wanted to say was:

    Spot on.

  • meunke

    Like that horrid, animated Beowulf movie, Ghandi has been carefully castrated by the west to fit modern sensibilities.

  • bob cratchit

    Well put guv’nah! Well put.

  • midwestlady

    Mark, sometimes you’re all wet, but today your piece is on the money. If they get an African who is actually a Catholic Christian, they won’t have any clue what to do next. There are no stereotypes for that. Along about the time he says in a thick accent with a big smile, no birth control, no abortion, bless and keep you, the MSM will have a collective seizure. It might we worth electing someone like Arinze just for the entertainment value alone.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      There are many, many good reasons to elect Arinze. It’s too bad that he’ll likely be perceived as too old.

      • Dustin

        It’s not that he’s “perceived” as too old. He is, in fact, at 80, too old. What possible sense does it make to follow the retirement of an octogenarian, who stepped down specifically because of his advanced age, with the election of another octogenarian?

  • Andrew K.

    Here’s the deal: the world will always hate the gospel. Always. Nothing the Church does will ever change that.

    Mark, please do not identify the Gospel with the Church. If you do, then the Gospel was responsible for the Magdalene laundries, Vatican cover-ups and intrigues, and the Borgias, among other disasters. I really do not think you want to go there. Or maybe you do. I stopped trying to figure out Catholic rationalizations a long time ago.

    • Chris M

      The Church brings the Gospel. The are not the same.. but neither can they be separated.

    • Maiki

      Of course they are not the same. The gospel is the message brought by the very human and sinful emissaries of the Church, that despite their failings still teach the gospel. The Borgias did not preach the encyclical: “On the validity of orgies”, nor does the current Catechism praise lying.

      (dunno what the Magdalene Laundries are beyond the wikipedia article i just read. Doesn’t sound like it was an exclusively Catholic deal, though? Seems more like a British Isles thing, protestant and Catholic — a bad solution to a social problem).

    • LUKE1732

      The Magdalene laundries were recently in the news:


      Maybe the lesson is to not identify media about the Church with the Church.

      • Andrew K.

        Well, THAT looks like an unbiased source!
        I will certainly follow up on what is written there. I think it likely they set out to find that the Magdalene laundries were benign, and lo, they were.

        • Blog Goliard

          What’s being talked about is the McAleese Report (see http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/MagdalenRpt2013), which is most certainly not a biased source that set out to find that the Magdalene laundries were benign.

          • Andrew K.

            Actually, that is NOT what they found, but read it however you like. While I have not read the entire report, summaries do suggest acknowledgement of “verbal and physical abuse.”

            Also, the report is being challenged:
            A week that promised so much for the survivors of Magdalene Laundries ended up delivering little.

            Despite the McAleese report finally rubber-stamping a fact that has been known for years — that the State was involved in all aspects of the Magdalene Laundries — no State apology has been forthcoming.

            The Government and Taoiseach Enda Kenny parsed and prevaricated, clinging to the razor-thin argument that just 26% of women in the laundries were sent by the State.

            The key point here is: Regardless of how women came to be there, the fact the State monitored, inspected, and had State contracts with the laundries make it responsible for all the women who worked for no pay in these institutions.

            However, the more unsettling aspect of the McAleese report is the rewriting of a narrative that has long been accepted through testimony — that these were places where women suffered physical abuse. It is noteworthy that this was not the job of Martin McAleese.

            What he presented in this regard is wildly at odds with what was established in the Ryan report, in more than 700 pages of survivor testimony presented to his committee — which is rapidly being treated as the historical narrative of what went on in these institutions.

            As he gave no public briefing, it has not been possible to question Mr McAleese on these findings.

            On Prime Time earlier this week, an angry Maeve O’Rourke, a human rights lawyer and member of the Justice for Magdalenes group, said Mr McAleese’s claim that little physical abuse occurred in the laundries was “an outrage”.

            “It has been accepted for a long time that these were abusive institutions and the idea that they were not physically abusive — the thing that is coming out from this report — I think is an outrage. Martin McAleese did not refute that the women earned no money and that they were locked in,” she said.

            “He spoke of the vast majority of women and girls never knowing when they would get out, if ever, and if they would ever see their families again. That was not refuted. If unpaid labour behind locked doors is not physical abuse, then I do not know what is.”

            The fact remains that the Catholic Church in Ireland acted as a private prison and slave labor system for decades. Wish that away all you want. Making the claim that “It was not that bad” is like looking at a alcohol related injury car accident and noting that no decapitations took place. Huzzah!

          • Andrew K.
    • midwestlady

      To Andrew K,
      May I remind you that a) God did not run the Magdalene Laundries, and b) neither did millions of other Catholics, including clergy, who weren’t even in the vicinity.
      My question to you: What do you propose as an alternative, hotshot?

      • Andrew K.

        I am not sure what “alternative” you are asking me about. If you mean to the Catholic Church, we have alternatives for the preaching of the Gospel. Pointing out corruption does not require me to propose alternatives, although it seems that the alternative is self-evident. Hotshot.

        • midwestlady

          Whining about something that happened in a 1st world country, which is what you’re doing, is off-topic anyway. Check the article.

      • Andrew K.

        If you refer to the alternative to what the Catholic Church did in Ireland, as a blogger once pointed out, “The Catholic Church, if it were what it sold itself as, and sells itself as, could have wrought all the wonders it promised, and promises, in Ireland post 1922.” Regardless of how benign the forced imprisonment of women was, it remained the wrong thing to do. Again, I do not need to propose an alternative to point out how absurd the status quo was.

  • The Deuce

    Yup. “Multiculturalism” doesn’t actually entail knowledge or respect for other cultures, but merely contempt for the morals and traditions that have defined our own civilization.

  • Scott W.

    As an example of progressivist lunacy, there was an interview with my local ordinary Bishop Malone who said he thought a non-European pope would bring certain welcome advantages. Some chucklehead in the comments rebuked him saying, “Distinctions, however so slight, with regard to race, ethnicity or geographic origin are made in the minds of biased individuals.” Get that? If you acknowledge the existence of common-sense things like race, ethnicity, etc., you are a bigot. But the whole premise of multiculturalism is celebrating those differences. It’s an impoverished substitute religion with a third-rate kluge of the doctrine of Original Sin to make sure that one is guilty no matter which view you choose.

    • midwestlady

      Scott, it’s a post-modern Western enthusiasm, born of ignorance about how people in 3rd world countries really live. Most of the people who yell about this the most would have a nervous breakdown if they couldn’t recharge their cell phones and take a bath once in a while. The lack of low-fat lattes alone would probably wreck them.

  • “joe”

    “the western media”
    “racists on the Left”

    i thought this blog was about ideas, not talking points and monolithic strawmen.
    sorry to waste my time.

    • Brian

      “goodbye”, “joe”

      • Dale Price

        His bubble keeps him warm.

    • midwestlady

      If I’m not mistaken, accusing us of talking about monolithic strawmen without actually making a point is a monolithic strawman. Correct me if I’m wrong.

    • Scott W.

      Show me one mainstream media editorial by a non-Catholic that isn’t some variation of “They need to pick a pope that will bring the Church up to date”

  • Pray for us, O Holy Mother of God! That we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

  • Philip

    Mark, I hate to say it, but you are absolutely right. I think it was a momentary romantic fantasy which made me think the world might be taken aback and admire the Church for electing a non-European Pope, but your analysis just blasted that notion to pieces.

    What a shame. I am not clamoring for an African or Asian Pope (thought I think Cardinal Ranjith would be a wonderful Pope), but I certainly would follow any such Pope to the cross of martyrdom with joy.

  • Dante Aligheri

    This is so true. The Western world sanitizes people to make them fit for consumption in present day value systems. Just look what the United States educational system has done to Martin Luther King, Jr. They gave him a holiday but do not bother to look at his religious or economic visions or his hard stance against the Vietnam War. Conservatives and liberals – whatever those mean – claim him as their own, and they can’t both be right.

  • fats
  • David Naas

    The thing about Gandhi was, unlike his Western Admirers, he loved his opponents, even as he was resisting them. I do not perceive these Moderns loving those they oppose. Rather, their actions, like perpetuating lies and myths deliberately, for the purpose of “Liberating” a suffering humanity (ignorant wretched peasants who need the guidance of the sophisticated cultural elites) more evince a deep smouldering hate for anything — or any one — “Not Us”. But, they DO have an Excuse, and an Out — “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

  • Mike

    Gandhi thought masturbation was wrong. The Dalai Lhama thinks homosexuality is very very bad. Buddhism sees no value in it whatsoever. And yet they get a pass, I wonder why? BTW I know why.

  • CK

    This is a great observation. You should read what Martin Luther King said about “white moderates” in his monumental “Letter in Birmingham Jail.”

  • Jason Miller

    So Andrew, is that media link biased in its report about the Magdalene laundries or are you just biased because you’re a Catholic hater? Those ad hominem attacks cut both ways. You accuse our thoughts on these mattets as being rationalizations, yet you offer no reasoned response, just accusations. My guess if you revealed something about your particular faith, we could easily do the same as well – all people are sinners. You seem to enjoy casting stones though.

  • get behind me satan…. you are thinking like the world thinks…

    The Pope of God is our Pope regARDLESS….

  • John Iliff

    Outstanding piece, Mark!

  • Kristina

    I do not pretend to know the future. Or what will happen in the future.

    I’m not saying I disagree. I’m just saying is all.

    Thanks for the shout-out to the Chaldean Christians ! We rarely get it outside of news reports of us being killed (which this is in reference to : (

  • Kenneth

    Why is it hypocritical to admire the overall actions and philosophy of someone like Gandhi or the Dalai Lama while disagreeing with some of their views? The implication seems to be (if you’re a liberal), that you are a racist for “expecting third worlders to conform to your white suburban values”. On the other hand, if you admit that disagreement but continue to admire the person in any measure, you’re “giving them a pass.” Well, which is it?

    No reporter, or anyone who knows anything about the world outside of our borders would ever expect an African or Latin American pope to be politically or theologically liberal. We would certainly not expect an African pope to favor gay marriage. This is the same continent where countries are drafting the death penalty just for BEING gay (with no small encouragement from certain American Christian missionaries.)

    The idea that darker skin color confers a genetic pre-disposition to leftist/progressive politics is an artifact of America’s warped political dynamic. Blacks tend to be Democrat because the GOP narrative since the 80s has been rooted in the politics of white millionaire entitlement. The Republican narrative has heavily spun black folk as “welfare queens”, dangerous criminals and people just looking for a handout. Latinos have been alienated by the virulently anti-immigrant bent of the GOP. Muslims, who are a natural constituency for Republicans, have been treated as congenital terrorists or sympathizers.

    It is because of those conditions that liberals tend to see any person of color as “one of ours” and conservatives tend to label people of color as “them.” Unfortunately, there’s a grain of truth to this self-created political apartheid, but it has no applicability to the wider world nor the politics of non-U.S. Catholicism.

    • Mark Shea

      Not sure how this became a rant about GOP immigration backwardness (a charge I fully agree with, by the way), but I am amused that a “continent” is somehow implicated in the barbarism of some of its inhabitants. Kinda illustrates my point. Should an African pope reiterate the rejection of the moral licitness of homosex, he will indeed be lumped in with the savages of Ooga Booga who want to murder gays. A very useful and common trope among first worlders who like their racism PC flavored.

      • Kenneth

        I’ll reserve judgement on what an African pope or anyone says before I judge whether their position on gays is rooted in hate. It’s one thing to maintain loyalty to a theological position. On the other hand, when people speak of gays as “disordered” or a “scourge” as some are wont to do, or drive the debate to a tenor designed to encourage hate, that’s something else. I don’t think a pope is obligated to support gay marriage or approve of sex of any kind. My point is that in this country, at least, it should not matter. The case for gay marriage in this country is rooted in our country’s legal traditions of equality before the law and the burden a government must meet before properly outlawing something. The opposition of a pope does not negate that, and his support would not really lend anything to the legitimacy of the gay claim to marriage as far as I’m concerned.

        • Mark Shea

          The Church does not and never has spoken of homosexuals as “disordered”. It does speak of their appetite (for sexual congress with someone of the same sex) as disordered, for the same reason it speaks of my appetites (for too much food) as disordered: because such appetites are not rightly ordered toward their proper object. One thing you can do in the future to cease speaking false regurgitated web memes is to stop repeating the lie that the Church “singles out gays as disordered”. There is a distinction between the person and the disordered appetite. Homosexual desires are but one form of concupiscence. Heterosexuals are plenty disordered too.

          And no, the case for gay marriage in this country is rooted in the will to overturn our country’s legal tradition and make the word “marriage” mean whatever we please. Indeed, in an ironic way, they seek to invent and impose de novo ideas on the older tradition of marriage just as miscegenation laws did: http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2010/05/1324/

          That said, once again you are reverting to American politics. This too is a harbinger of what to expect should we get a pope from the Third World. Because Americans, being fake “multiculturalists”, tend to read all other cultures according to how they measure up to the middle class suburban opinions and to reject without trial any view that does not conform to that narrow and bigoted template.

          • Nobody

            “according to how they measure up to the middle class suburban opinions ”

            I think rather that the standard is the coastal urban liberal opinions of the vast majority of corporate media. Middle class Americans, at least in my 53 years of experience, basically want to be left alone, do not want to know about other peoples’ sex lives, and want their kids to do better than they themselves have managed to do. Nothing PC about that.

            But that’s just my experience in flyover country.

            • Mark Shea

              Fair enough.

          • Kenneth

            You may or may not agree with the values used by the liberal media or middle class America used to judge other cultures, but to say we cannot judge at all is to endorse moral relativism. I break company with liberals who say that multiculturalism requires a judgment free zone where other cultures are concerned. Some things about other cultures – Africa, the Middle East, you name it, just suck. Homophobia, child brides, witch burning, female circumcision, killing albinos (seriously), executing people for apostasy, these things just suck. They are savage and backwards, and I’m not afraid to call them out as such out of fear that someone will label me a white privileged Western chauvanist. Some of the values that are cultural norms in some African societies suck, as do some of the values within our own. Any future African pope is not responsible for all of those things, and may or may not reflect those values himself, just as any of us may or may not buy into our own culture’s conventional wisdom.

    • Will

      But the Culturally Dominant Demogogues do NOT “admit that disagreement”, but simply bury it.
      In this video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI3r6otl53o) John Safran cites a number of statements about … sexual practices and asks passers-by whether they were made by the Pope or the Dalai Lama. The questioned guess wrong in every case.

  • Kenneth

    For what it’s worth, I think non-Catholics, or the media in general, have no real business caring what the next pope thinks about gay marriage, women priests, birth control or anything else. That’s the beauty of church-state separation. As long as that is maintained, I don’t care if the next pope is so theologically conservative that he makes Benedict look like a pot-smoking pony-tailed Liberation Theology Carmelite.

    • Mark Shea

      Works for me. i wish more non-Catholics took your view.

    • MT

      I was once surprised by how many non-Catholics, particularly atheists, took such such strong interest in the goings-on in Church. So many of my atheist friends took interest in everything from who the new priest in my church was going to be, to who the next archbishop of the archdiocese was going to be; and the new pope, well, that’s about as important to the highly-educated and politically savvy atheists I know as it is to any fellow Catholic I know. When my smug atheist brother-in-law expressed such concern over our newly appointed “conservative” archbishop, stating, “he’s no good,” (knowing nothing of the man outside of his unacceptable orthodoxy), I was at first surprised. No more. He and other non-Catholics do indeed have a strong interest in what the Church does. The reason, as I see it, is that they adhere to the maxim, “know thine enemy.” They rightly understand that the only real obstacle standing in the way of the full implementation of their worldview is the Holy Catholic Church.

  • Richard M

    Once more, we have proof: In the world of the Sexual Revolution, sexual “liberty” will trump all other concerns, no matter how dearly held on the Left.

    That includes not only multi-culturalism (“we’re in favor of and cherish other cultures, so long as they accept our moral premises”) but environmentalism, social democracy…you name it.

  • Matthew J. Ogden

    I don’t know about you, Mark (or anyone commenting on here), but I think this sense of “inclusion” (a clearly abused term) influences the attitude of non-Catholics about how they think the Church should be. They want to be inclusive, so they think that since it’s all one world and one humanity, everyone is in it together, and they have a “right” (another clearly abused term) to tell people in groups to which they don’t belong what they think those groups should do.

    My attitude towards this is best summed up by British PM Harold Wilson: “Get your tanks off my lawn.” There has to be some distinction between “us” and “them.” This is not an excuse to treat others uncharitably, and never can be. But let’s not be crazy and assume everyone has the “right” (see above parenthetical note) to intrude upon everyone else’s business.

  • Julia

    “The case for gay marriage in this country is rooted in our country’s legal traditions of equality before the law and the burden a government must meet before properly outlawing something.”
    Nobody is trying to overturn and outlaw marriages between same-sex people that already existed. Where is that coming from? Marriage between same-sex people has never been the settled law. Civil unions were invented to give gays the rights they wanted. Now they want to invent a new kind of “marriage” which has always been between opposite sex people.

    – See more at: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/markshea/2013/03/if-you-want-to-get-a-sense-of-how-a-pope-from-a-developing-nation-will-really-received-by-western-media.html#sthash.yIVSkE9i.dpuf

    • Mark Shea

      Radical innovators perpetually talk as though the innovation is the settled law of the ages that somebody is suddenly trying to change. So we hear about people trying to “outlaw” same sex marriage when it was never legal to start with. It’s remarkably perverse.

  • Katt

    I really don’t see a problem with an African pope, he will do what is required for the church, remember that they are going to discuss before beginning conclave on the kind of leader that is required now for the church, and the Holy Spirit will be there guiding them to choose the right one. As for gays, I yearn for the day the church realises that homosexuality, and the practise thereof(when done in a chaste-like manner), is not and cannot be sinful, as it is intrinsically part of the nature of those who identify themselves as such. Sede vacante, now we pray!!!

  • RuariJM

    I didn’t see this when it first came out, Mark, but I have to say… Bullseye! Time after time. Your point on tribalism is particularly astute, imho. I think I have alluded to something similar in my most revet blog – which you, in your turn, may have missed…! Just in case, here it is:


    I am also unearthing some interesting connections between the old Apartheid regime and the present-day attacks on the Church in Central Africa. But all in good time…