AP, AFP, Reuters: French Supporters of Pope 'Far-Right' or 'Right-Wing'

The three largest mainstream media wire services all agreed that supporters of Pope Benedict XVI who dared to stand up to anti-Catholic leftists in front of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on Sunday were extremists of the right of some sort. The Associated Press used the “right-wing” label to describe the faithful Catholics. Both Reuters and the French Agence France-Presse both used the term “far-right youths,” with the AFP going so far as describing the pro-Benedict protesters as  “far-right militants” in another report.

ACT-UP Paris, joined by communists and “green” activists, protested in front of the famed Gothic cathedral to voice opposition to the pontiff’s recent remarks against condom use during his visit to Africa. In addition to holding signs which labeled Benedict XVI an “assassin,” they threw condoms on the ground while giving others to passers-by as people were leaving Mass. The radical left-wing activists skirmished with the supporters of the Pope, leading to the arrest of eleven people by police.

None of the press reports went into any detail as to why the pro-Benedict demonstrators would be given the “right-wing” or “far-right” label. The Reuters story only cited an unidentified “police source” which apparently identified them as being “associated with the far-right.” The AP reported that the “about 20 ‘right-wing’ youth” were chanting “lay off my Pope.” One of the AFP reports apparently cited the same police source, that the Catholics were “associated with the far-right and who were carrying placards saying ‘Leave my Pope alone.’” These three reports agreed that those who were criticizing the pontiff were merely “left-wing” or “leftist.”

The other AFP report, after labeling the papal supporters as “far-right militants,” gave an additional detail:

Eleven people were arrested after skirmishes pitted two dozen far-right militants against a group of green and communist activists handing out condoms outside the cathedral after Sunday mass, police said.....

Held back by a police cordon, the Catholics chanted in Latin and hurled eggs and water at the activists, an AFP correspondent reported.

The assorted anti-Benedict XVI protesters were initially described in the report as being “anti-AIDS activists.” Bizarrely, there was no label describing them as being from the political left, despite the mention of the greens and the communists.

An official with the French Young Greens, cited in a French-only report (roughly translated here), gave a statement about the papal supporters: “Clearly, they were extreme right-wing activists: they sang in Latin and shouted traditional anti left-wing slogans.” By using the “far-right” label, the three press agencies are showing their tacit agreement with the take of this leftist activist. Go figure.

Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan
Matthew Balan is a news analyst at Media Research Center