It’s great having the Pope here if only to see how shallow our country’s media really is. (As if we needed reminding) The media clearly has no idea what to do with Pope Benedict’s visit. I know it’s no news flash that journalists don’t do God but the coverage of this trip has been abysmal.
Here’s what they’re not getting. The Church is international and universal. It’s so much bigger than one country. The hubris of organizations like the New York Times who’ve been around for what 100 years lecturing the 2,000 year old Church on how to connect with people and stay relevant just kills me. And it’s ironic as the Times is currently losing more readers than Hillary Clinton is losing superdelegates. The Times is a ship in search of an iceberg. Let me go out on the limb here, the Times will fold before the Church. Put your money on it.
Our country has been around for 230 years while the Catholic Church has been around for 2000. We’re a blip in the timeline. The Church is the basis for all of Western Civilization. I’d rather folks just thanked the Church and kept the rest of their comments and prognostications to themselves.
But the media just doesn’t know how to cover religion. Seriously, Rev. Jeremiah Wright gets better press coverage than the Pope. I haven’t heard the words “Hitler Youth” and “Hard-liner” this much since the Nuremberg trials.
My favorite thing is you have outrage every time a priest mentions abortion and you have folks trying to take away the Church’s tax exempt status while yelling about the separation of Church and state. But what the media does, which is evident with the Pope’s visit, is they confuse Church and state. By that I mean they’re stuck on political. They’re trying to pigeonhole the Pope into a head of state.
For example, I love the polls that these media organizations run of the Pope’s approval/disapproval numbers. It’s so absurdly irrelevant because those numbers actually just reflect how “Catholic” the Catholics are –which sadly, is not very.
It’s not like the Pope is going to say “OK Cardinals huddle up my approval numbers are fading fast, what can we give America on female ordination?” The Pope doesn’t do pork barrel projects. He’s not going to throw in condoms for a spike in the polls.
To be fair Benedict is all wrong for American media. He gives a speech that takes some pretty heavy cerebral work to comprehend. Take for example this quote from the Pope yesterday: “Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting the life and future of the nation.” You’ve got to move some heavy furniture around the attic to understand him but American media demands instant punditry by the same tooth-polished geniuses who just got done talking about the feng-shui of Valerie Bertinelli’s new bachelorette pad.
So they talk about it the only way they know how –a popularity contest among parties. So they fill up the hours of cable news with talk about whether the Pope is a Republican or a Democrat.
Look, a party can change and vacillate on issues. The Church can’t. The Church is in the business of “human dignity” and salvation. The Pope doesn’t care about political parties. Political parties come and go. The Church is forever. Nobody’s asking anymore if the Pope is a Whig or a Tory, are they? No. They’re gone. The Church isn’t.
I love it when the talking heads parse the Pope’s ideology. “Well the Pope’s against the war but he’s pro-life.” Heck under that definition the Pope would be Ron Paul and let’s all say a prayer of thanks that’s not true.
The Pope doesn’t do right and left. The Pope does right and wrong.
Someone down the street from me has a bumper sticker on their hybrid car that says “God is not a Republican!” But it seems to me to be completely backwards. I support the Republican Party only insofar as it reflects my worldview which is Catholicism. If they stray, I go elsewhere. (And I’m very very close to doing so)
But the media can only talk about how the Pope might effect the election. The liberal columnist EJ Dionne said in an AP article the other day “One of the troublesome things in the last election for a lot of Catholics is that the church did not seem to be an equal opportunity guilt producer.” So now liberals want affirmative action when it comes to guilt. Redistribution of sin to make everyone equally miserable.
But what Dionne was saying goes further. He said he thought it was wrong that the Church seemed to say that the abortion issue takes priority over all other questions including questions of social justice and the death penalty.
Yeah let’s compare the death of 40 million innocent babies to 42 rapists sitting on death row in Texas. Yeah. That’s logical. Look, I’m against both abortion and the death penalty but if I’m listing my priorities it’s not really a contest.
But everything is about the political race. You got Obama out there saying only bitter people cling to their religion. I watch a lot of news. The people out there to see the Pope look like pretty happy people. Contrast that with Bill Maher who looks like a mix between a troll doll and a screaming blond Gollum from Lord of the Rings.
These folks only see the Pope as someone trying to infringe on their freedom. Freedom is not an end goal. It’s the tablet on which our sin or salvation can be written. The rest is up to us. The Pope said as much but the media isn’t listening.