Pope Benedict XVI served his final day as pontiff on Thursday, and the New York Times' Rome bureau chief Rachel Donadio sent him on his way from Vatican City under a dark cloud: "As Pope Departs, Discord Remains at Vatican."
As the sun set on Rome and on his turbulent eight-year papacy, Pope Benedict XVI, a shy theologian who never seemed entirely at home in the limelight, was whisked by helicopter into retirement on Thursday.
But while Benedict, 85, retires to a life of prayer, study, walks in the garden and piano practice, he leaves in his wake a Vatican hierarchy facing scandals and intrigue that are casting a shadow over the cardinals entrusted with electing his successor in a conclave this month.
I don't know about you, but when I think about a person who has the moral standing to call out the Catholic Church for a lack of moral conviction, I think of abortion-on-demand advocate Karen Finney. Okay, not really, but apparently MSNBC does.
On the February 28 edition of The Cycle, the former DNC communications director and current NARAL Pro-Choice America board member explained her thoughts as a "Berkeley Catholic" who wants to see the Church do more for the poor and downtrodden, while piping down when it comes to teaching biblical sexual ethics and opposing abortion (emphasis mine):
In what NPR thought was a fitting tribute to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the February 28 edition of Morning Edition sought to diminish the legacy of the pontiff emeritus by sharply criticizing his time in the chair of St. Peter.
Correspondent Sylvia Poggioli claimed that “while the cardinals publicly praise Benedict for his courageous act, privately many are reassessing his legacy.”
Keeping up NBC's barrage of attacks against the Catholic Church in the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, on Wednesday's Today, correspondent Anne Thompson made this nasty declaration: "...as one observer said, the stiletto knives came out as the battle for control of this institution begins, that some say is a holy mess....reports of infighting, back stabbing, and political jockeying that could make corporate America or Capitol Hill blush." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Thompson never bothered to identify the "observer" she mentioned nor the origin of the "reports" she cited. Wrapping up the piece, Thompson asked Italian novelist Alessandra Borghese: "Could you make up the drama that's going on inside the Vatican?...You couldn't make this stuff up?"
Washington Post staff writer Jason Horowitz marred an otherwise decent Style section feature item on Pope Benedict's resignation in his lead paragraph, which made a crack about the pontiff's retirement by hoping it goes off better than that of Pope Celestine V, whom Dante supposedly envisioned in Hell:
VATICAN CITY — On an April 2009 visit to the Italian mountain town of Sulmona, Pope Benedict XVI solemnly placed his pallium, the vestment symbolizing his papal authority, on the tomb of Celestine V. The medieval pontiff’s abdication in 1294 had resulted in imprisonment by his successor and banishment to hell by Dante for “the great refusal.” Benedict is no doubt hoping for a better retirement plan.
After CNN's initial report on Pope Benedict's final papal audience, the first guest to appear on CNN Newsroom on Wednesday was a radical leftist nun who believes the upcoming papal election is "invalid" because no women are involved.
Sister Donna Quinn lashed out: "We women are calling this papal election invalid. It has to be declared fraudulent because it has no women included in the process. By that I mean there are no women on the ballot in the conclave, there are no women voters, there are no women in the whole process, so we're very distressed." No church representative appeared to challenge Quinn's views; only CNN's Vatican analyst John Allen was on the air with Quinn. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made this hyperbolic declaration: "A moment of crisis for the Catholic Church hit by a wave of scandals, just as the leaders must gather to select a new pope." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams further hyped: "The problem for the Catholic Church is the drumbeat of scandal is now growing so loud and so vast, it's taking a lot of attention from this process." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Anne Thompson ominously declared: "... the world is seeing the darker side of the Church, the in-fighting and scandals....It's all revealing the sometimes nasty politics behind the pageantry."
In a 41-paragraph front-pager today, the Washington Post's William Wan looks at how the "New pope will be challenged by strained ties with China." "A reset is possible as both sides introduce new leadership," added a subheadline. The website version had a wildly different headline, "For China's Catholics, new pope brings hope."
Throughout his article, Wan used language that suggested that the Vatican and the Communist Chinese dictatorship were on the same moral plane (emphases mine):
In an effort to hype controversy days before Pope Benedict XVI steps down as the leader of the Catholic Church, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Anne Thompson proclaimed: "Even in his final days as pope, scandal continues to dog Benedict's papacy and the Church." The chyron on screen throughout the segment declared: "Vatican Intrigue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Beyond reporting on an actual controversy surrounding the resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Thompson decided to also promote completely unfounded claims from the Italian press that "headline rumors of blackmail and conspiracy that the Vatican vehemently denies." NBC went through the effort of displaying and translating one such salacious headline on screen: "Sex and ambition, the blackmailing behind the resignation of Benedict XVI."
According to Good Morning America's David Wright on Monday, the upcoming "papal election campaign is getting ugly." The ABC correspondent then declared that Pope Benedict an "absolute monarch."
In a report live from Rome, Wright explained, "Pope Benedict is expected to issue new rules about the timing and procedures of the conclave [the meeting of cardinals to elect a new pope.]" He added, "[Benedict] can do that by degree. The Pope is an absolute monarch." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Of course, Wright's experience in judging any kind of election is questionable. Back in 2002, he reported from Iraq and insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."
Not wanting to leave conservative Protestants out of the fun, today's On Faith page in the Washington Post featured not only the requisite Sally Quinn pontification against the Catholic Church but a Methodist minister's essay on how he hopes that one day all Christians will view as irrelevant and unbinding the Bible's teachings on homosexuality.
Change it must "or else the Catholic Church may end up like Colonial Williamsburg, with the pageantry, the regalia, red shoes and all, a relic of what was once a vibrant, living institution," Quinn scolded in the concluding paragraph of "Will the Catholic Church become its own relic?" Below the fold on the same page, editors published Methodist minister Adam Hamilton's 9-paragraph item "Citing the Bible for the wrong side of history." The digital version's headline reads "On homosexuality, many Christians get the Bible wrong."
On Friday, the now all-digital Newsweek marked Benedict XVI's impending departure from the papacy by turning to British writer Tim Parks, who took the opportunity to air his grievances against the current pontiff's predecessor, John Paul II. Parks bemoaned "how reactionary and old-fashioned" the Polish-born bishop of Rome was for daring to believe in Catholic devotions and in divine providence.
The Cambridge and Harvard-educated novelist later indicted John Paul for daring to speak out against a whole host of left-wing causes:
"[W]hat do you get for the serial human rights abuser who has everything?" the folks at Twitchy snarked today reacting to this tweet by CNN anchor Christiane Amanpour: "Happy Birthday, President Mugabe: http://on.cnn.com/VQ4kTK #Zimbabwe"
But wait, it gets better. The link in the tweet takes viewers to a short video [embedded below the page break] narrated by the CNN anchor, which opens with a strange comparison to Pope Benedict XVI:
Robin Pomeroy did her best impression of a publicist in a nearly one-sided article for Reuters on Tuesday that spotlighted homosexuals in Rome "toasting the departure of the worst Church leader they can imagine" – Pope Benedict XVI. Pomeroy quoted extensively from LGBT activist Franco Grillini, but failed to mention his radical left wing politics, which included a run as a Communist Party candidate in Italy in the 1980s.
Grillini decried the outgoing pontiff as "the most reactionary pope ever, who made homophobia one of his battle cries." The far left politician must not have heard of the past four bishops of Rome who took the name Pius. In particular, Pius XI prophetically foresaw the current push to redefine marriage in a 1930 encyclical and issued the strongest condemnation of this course:
ABC News reporter David Wright chose an odd metaphor to describe criticism of the possible timing of the selection of Pope Benedict XVI's successor.
Wright, speaking live from the Vatican on today's Good Morning America, reported that yesterday the Vatican spokesman had floated a trial balloon suggesting that the conclave to choose a new Pope could be moved up from its originally established date of March 15th. Continued Wright: "but in other quarters of the Church, that trial balloon is being shot down faster than an old-school nun might rap you on the knuckles." View the video after the jump.
Last Saturday I noted how the On Faith feature in the February 9 Washington Post celebrated Muslim modesty while trashing American Catholic bishops as being prudish on sex and stubborn in their opposition to the ObamaCare contraception mandate. Well this weekend, the Post continued its hypocritical attack on the Church by complaining that it doesn't listen to women while, well, squelching the op-ed piece of a conservative Catholic woman.
The February 16 On Faith section published two items related to Pope Benedict's announcement on Monday that he was abdicating the papacy at the end of February. Editors ran Lisa Miller's column headlined "Some nuns hope new pope will listen to women," in which the Post religion writer highlighted the calls of feminist nuns for, among other things, an openness by the Church to female priests. Also featured on the page B2 feature was a 7-paragraph item by one Annie Selak, headlined "The church young Catholics want," which included a call for the Church to "dialogue concerning the ordination of women and church teaching on homosexuality." Yet On Faith editors declined to feature in print an excellent piece by a conservative Catholic woman that was published online earlier in the week.
Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world on Monday morning by announcing he would resign at the end of February. For Catholics, there was sorrow and there was gratitude for a Holy Father who taught with such distinction and worked with such care to safeguard the church’s theological traditions.
But there are those people who hate the Catholic Church, and they are ecstatic. Take documentary filmmaker Alex Gibney, a man who clearly thinks he is holier than the Pope. He told The Daily Beast that Benedict is a “criminal.” This helps explain why he’s made a documentary for HBO, the home of toxic God-haters like Bill Maher.
As stranded Carnival Cruise passengers began finally disembarking in Mobile, Alabama, late Thursday evening, MSNBC had NBC News correspondent Mark Potter on the scene to speak with them.
One young lady during her over three minute interview tried to cite a Bible verse that helped her get through the ordeal, but Potter pulled his microphone away and quickly ended the discussion (video follows with transcript and commentary):
It seems as though MSNBC’s liberal agenda doesn't concern itself simply with secular politics. They want the Catholic Church to "lean forward" into fundamentally changing themselves to reflect liberal values. In service of this pulpit-pounding, MSNBC's Jansing & Co. program brought on two liberal Catholic women over two days. At no point did she turn to a traditionalist, orthodox Catholic to defend the church's traditional teachings.
On February 14, fill-in host Richard Lui interviewed Sister Louise Akers, of the Sisters of Charity to rail against the Church, in what she views as, “the last bastion of sexism.” Lui began the segment with the liberal nun by noting:
New York Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow, a devout evangelical Christian, is slated to speak at the First Baptist Church of Dallas on April 28. It's hardly newsworthy that a celebrity of evangelical conviction might speak at a megachurch, but NBC Sports "Off the Bench" blogger Rick Chandler insists the visit is freighted with "a large helping of controversy" because the church's senior pastor, Dr. Robert Jeffress, is, according to Chandler, "virulently anti-gay and anti-Semitic."
But to back up his assertions, Chandler highlights claims Jeffress made that are either fundamentally doctrinal or political in nature. What's more, Chandler failed to point to any personal animus Jeffress has expressed toward either homosexuals or Jews, which should be incredibly easy to do if Jeffress really is "virulent" in his hatred of gays and Jews.
If your Valentine’s Day was a complete fail this year, it’s probably because you listen to Pope Benedict XVI’s advice, according to AlterNet’s Geri Silver. Because those Hallmark cards just don’t do the holiday justice, AlterNet’s Geri Silver felt obliged to wish her readers a Happy Valentine’s Day via “Pope Benedict XVI's Most Unromantic Quotes on Love, Sex and Marriage.”
Silver plucked short controversial Pope Benedict XVI quotes from their vital context to attack them one by one in her latest article. She wasted no time explaining her perspective – or rather her brimming hatred – of the Church: “Whenever you need a reminder that absolutely nothing about your love life is acceptable, you can always rely on the good old Catholic Church for a solid unreality check” or, in other words, Pope Benedict XVI’s “backward rhetoric.”
When listing the qualifications for a papal successor, comedian David Letterman used the Catholic church's clerical abuse scandal as a parting blast at Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday night's Late Show.
Letterman quipped that the church is "looking for a guy who is good at transferring creepy priests." Earlier, he took another shot at Pope Benedict: "I guess you know by now, big news coming out of the Vatican. Pope Benedict was fired." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On her Current TV show Say Anything on Tuesday night, Joy Behar brought on two political consultants to discuss the Pope’s resignation. Behar insisted that the Roman Catholic church made a terrible, mystifying mistake by selecting a pope who “was in the Hitler Youth.”
Democratic strategist Robert Zimmerman implied that the membership wasn’t entirely voluntary, but Behar wasn’t budging that his compulsory membership should have completely disqualified him from the papacy. (Rich Noyes video and transcript below.)
At CNN.com, correspondent Ben Wedeman touted "what some Catholics want in next pope," and by "some Catholics" he meant those who thought Pope Benedict's papacy was too conservative or inward-looking. He arrogantly prescribed that if the next pontiff focuses on social justice and has a global outreach, "Then perhaps the Catholic Church can be a light unto all nations."
Since when could CNN reporters tell the Catholic church what it should be doing? Wedeman hammered the church's problems, "a church in which the gap between the shepherd and his flock seems to be growing ever wider." He hyped the "Winds buffeting the church."
It's no secret that the liberal media are heavily sympathetic to liberal-leaning feminist nuns who have a habit of challenging or disregarding Church teaching. But the Daily Beast seems to think that said liberal nuns speak for all women religious (and lay Catholic women for that matter) in the church.
Tuesday's Entertainment Tonight ran quite the hit piece on Pope Benedict, promoting the distorted anti-Catholic documentary on the clerical abuse scandals and revisiting ABC reporter Brian Ross's 2002 confrontation with then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
"Then he slapped me like this on the wrist as if I were a schoolboy, asking an impertinent question," Ross recalled, when he rudely accosted Ratzinger on the streets of Rome about the abuse scandals. "When I got slapped, it actually stung. And I was surprised. I've been hit before by others. But generally crooks," he self-righteously gushed. Has Ross shown such scrutiny toward the embattled Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.)? Nope. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
There clearly is no limit to Bill Maher’s depravity.
On TBS’s Conan Tuesday, the comedian beloved by the liberal media said that Catholic priests would use birth control if altar boys could get pregnant (video follows with transcribed highlights and commentary):
At the top of Tuesday's NBC Today, co-host Savannah Guthrie suggested ulterior motives behind Pope Benedict XIV's abdication: "Vatican intrigue. Is there more to Pope Benedict's sudden decision to step down?" In the report that followed, chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel also insinuated something more: "Although there's no evidence to suggest a motive, other than old age, the Pope's unusual departure has left some wondering." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Engel then turned to a random man on the street wearing a fedora, who speculated: "It could be deeper, you know, than what we've been told at the moment." Moments later, Engel provided more anonymous rumors: "Italians say his age and the weight of scandals, especially revelations of sexual abuse by priests, may have gotten to the scholarly Pontiff."
Shocking news Monday morning -- the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI, the first time a pontiff has stepped down in almost 600 years. The banner headline over the front of Tuesday's New York Times read "Pope Resigns, With Church At Crossroads – Scandals and a Shift Away From Europe Pose Challenges." The story from Vatican City by Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo was also front-loaded with negatives and the problems the church faces, seen through the prism of what liberal Manhattanites (i.e. Times reporters) consider vital issues: Condoms and the ordination of women.