Andrew M. Brown at the Telegraph.co.uk says it all in his opening paragraphs.
I read the coverage of the Pope every day in the newspapers and listen to the BBC news and as a Catholic and a journalist I feel like crying out pathetically: “This is not fair!” And it isn’t fair, or reasonable. Intelligent journalists who are normally capable of mental subtlety and of coping with complexities have abandoned their critical faculties. There is an atmosphere of unreason.
I cannot help feeling that a lot of it is down to sheer, blind hatred. It amounts to the demonisation of a whole institution and its leader. We have come to a stage where nothing good whatever, no good faith can be assumed of anybody involved in the Church – however senior, however greatly respected, loved, admired, including the Pope.
Damian Thompson says its liberal payback time!
It is also clear that many prominent liberal Catholics are turning a blind eye to this media vendetta because they don’t like Pope Benedict. They are happy for him to take the rap for diocesan cover-ups initiated, in some cases, by liberal prelates. Those relates are grateful for the opportunity to pass the buck to the one man who, though his record on this matter is certainly not beyond criticism, has done more than any other to rectify the Church’s lax procedures – Joseph Ratzinger.
If I was Benedict XVI, I’d be asking myself if I even wanted to visit Britain this autumn. For, when he does, he will meet English bishops, Catholic journalists and self-appointed spokesmen for the Catholic community who did not dare offend liberal opinion by defending him properly, or whose judgment was clouded by personal dislike of the Pope and his agenda.
Some Catholics – not many, but they are prominent – are actually thinking: it’s payback time, Ratzinger. If we can make this mud stick, then we can continue to sabotage your liturgical reforms. In other words, they are using the victims of clerical child abuse to fight internal political battles. Why am I not surprised?
The Pope, for his part, say he won’t be intimidated by the gossip mongers.
Pope Benedict today risked inflaming opinion as he appeared to round on critics of the Catholic church over the widening sexual abuse scandal, saying he would not “be intimidated by … petty gossip”.
The 82-year-old pontiff led tens of thousands of people in a Palm Sunday service in St Peter’s square. He did not mention the scandal engulfing the church directly, but parts of his sermon alluded to it.
The pope said that faith in God helped lead one “towards the courage of not allowing oneself to be intimidated by the petty gossip of dominant opinion”.