On Monday evening and Tuesday, ABC, CBS, and CNN all highlighted a Catholic priest's call for Pope Benedict XVI's resignation due to his alleged mishandling of the Church sex abuse scandal, labeling him "outspoken," and even going so far to compliment him as "brave" and "gutsy." All three networks, however, ignored the priest's affiliation with a liberal group and his dissension from Church teaching.
During a report on the wider abuse scandal on Monday's World News With Diane Sawyer, ABC's Dan Harris mentioned Father James Scahill's public call for the Pope to step down during a recent sermon at his parish in Massachusetts. Before playing a clip from Father Scahill, Harris stated that "anger is clearly rising within the [Catholic] Church. In his Sunday sermon this week, Father James Scahill of Massachusetts called for the Pope to resign." The ABC correspondent did not give any details on the priest's background.
Father Scahill is the pastor of St. Michael's Catholic Church in East Longmeadow. In 2004, he accepted the "Priest of Integrity Award" from Voice of the Faithful. The organization, which purports to be Catholic, achieved some visibility in the media after the 2002 revelation of the sex abuse in the Boston archdiocese. It has taken heterodox positions on Church issues, such as calling for an end to priestly celibacy, and endorsed liberal dissenting theologians such as Rev. Charles Curran. CNN featured Dan Bartley, the president of VOTF, during a March 26, 2010 segment which also featured two other liberal Christians who advocated radical changes inside the Catholic Church.
Editor's Note:What follows is a statement Mr. Bozell released earlier today wherein he declared the intentional disparaging and false reporting of the Catholic Church and its leader Pope Benedict XVI an atrocity, and demanded the media immediately end their exaggerations:
The Catholic Church has always endured unfair characterizations from the left-wing media, but the most recent and phony ‘news’ coverage of the sexual abuse scandal has reached a new and alarming low.
Last week dozens of news outlets – including the Associated Press, Reuters, Washington Post, New York TimesCBS, MSNBC– reported that the abuse scandal is ‘widening.’ That is absolutely and unequivocally false. The scandal isn’t growing. As Catholic League President Bill Donohue aptly noted, citing evidence from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, abuse is shrinking in the United States, with an even more rapid decline over the last five years.
Maureen Dowd compared the Catholic Church's treatment of women to that of Saudi Arabia in her Sunday column "Worlds Without Women," before comparing herself, as a Catholic woman, to those living under that harsh Islamic regime.
When I was in Saudi Arabia, I had tea and sweets with a group of educated and sophisticated young professional women.
I asked why they were not more upset about living in a country where women's rights were strangled, an inbred and autocratic state more like an archaic men's club than a modern nation. They told me, somewhat defensively, that the kingdom was moving at its own pace, glacial as that seemed to outsiders.
How could such spirited women, smart and successful on every other level, acquiesce in their own subordination?
I was puzzling over that one when it hit me: As a Catholic woman, I was doing the same thing.
The broadcast networks couldn't ignore Holy Week, the pinnacle of the Christian calendar, so instead they used it this year to smear the Catholic Church as a harbor for abusive priests.
ABC, CBS and NBC featured 26 stories during Holy Week about Pope Benedict's perceived role in the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now facing. Only one story focused on the measures the church has adopted in recent years to prevent abuse. In 69 percent of the stories (18 out of 26) reporters used language that presumed the pope's guilt. Only one made specific mention of the recent drop in the incidence of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.
On her April 5 satellite radio show, Rosie O'Donnell took her anti-Catholicism to a new level by likening the Catholic Church to the Jonestown cult. As Brian Maloney of The Radio Equalizer put it, "in Rosie's twisted world, there's really no distinction to be made between the Pope and Jim Jones, murderous cult leader responsible for the deaths of more than 900 people in the Guyanese jungle."
O'Donnell certainly has a past of Catholic/Christian bashing. On the April 19, 2007 edition of ABC's The View, she expressed her concern that having five Catholic Supreme Court justice somehow violated the separation of church and state (Barbara Walters actually defended these justices in response). Later in 2007, the Catholic League placed an ad in the New York Times complaining about O'Donnell and her then-colleague Joy Behar's anti-Catholic remarks on the ABC daytime program.
On Monday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty continued his attack on Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church, devoting his fourth commentary in 12 days on the Church sex abuse scandal. Cafferty spun a recent comment by a high-ranking cardinal who denounced the media's campaign of innuendo against the Pope as "petty gossip," falsely portraying it as being about the abuse itself.
The commentator devoted his 5 pm Eastern hour "Cafferty File" segment to the scandal. After detailing the impact of the scandal in "the Pope's native Germany," Cafferty launched his latest spin on the Church hierarchy's reaction to the issue:
CAFFERTY: Meanwhile, Easter Sunday has come and gone with little from the Church. The Pope passed up yet another opportunity to address the scandal in his address. But we did get this: while defending the pope, one top Vatican cardinal denounced- quote, 'petty gossip,' unquote. That's what he called the accusations of the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests- 'petty gossip.'
CNN's Jack Cafferty slammed the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict XVI during his regular commentaries on Wednesday and Thursday, for a total of three times during the course of a week, as he also targeted them on March 25. On all three occasions, Cafferty also read mostly Catholic-bashing e-mails from viewers.
During the March 25 "Cafferty File" segment, the CNN commentator wasted little time in trying to cast the Church in the worst possible light, forwarding the NY Times's recent slanted coverage of the abuse scandal: "Here we go again. Time now for another chapter in the tawdry tale titled: The Pope and the Pedophile Priests. The New York Times reports that top Vatican officials - including the future Pope Benedict XVI - refused to defrock a Wisconsin priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys." He later asked as his "Question of the Hour" if Benedict XVI should resign. The five responses he read at the end of the hour all criticized the Pope and the Church.
CNN's Larry King, moderating a panel discussing the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal on his program on Tuesday, tossed softballs at noted anti-Catholic Sinead O'Connor, who recently pushed for Catholics to stop attending Mass. By contrast, King hostilely interrogated former Miss California USA Carrie Prejean in November 2009, to the point where she almost walked out of the interview.
The CNN host spent the second half of his 9 pm Eastern program to the Church scandal, bringing on Sinead O'Connor, two Catholic priests, the Catholic League's Bill Donahue, and former CNN anchor Thomas Roberts, a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when he was a teenager. After introducing his guests, King first turned to O'Connor and asked her about the previous segment, where he had interviewed two alleged victims of Father Lawrence Murphy, who was accused of molesting up to 200 deaf boys: "Did you hear the earlier guests talk about this, and what did you think about what they said?" Later, the anchor asked the Irish musician, "What do you think His Holiness [Pope Benedict XVI] should do?"
Editor's Note: In a statement released today, Media Research Center President Brent Bozell denounced CNN for relying on bigoted anti-Catholic singer Sinead O'Connor as a credible source to discuss recent allegations brought against the Catholic Church in the cable network's repeated interviews with her. Those comments are posted below.
Sinead O’Connor is a despicable, hate-filled person who has no business being portrayed as a reasonable voice to discuss the Catholic Church that she has disgraced for the past twenty years.
CNN’s decision to have her on as a credible source to bash and criticize the Pope and the Catholic Church is like having the KKK on to criticize President Obama, or Nazis on to criticize Jews. It’s disgusting, unacceptable, and disgraceful.
When CNN decides to have legitimate, non-bigoted guests on, perhaps Americans will begin to trust them again as a viable news source.
CNN's Anderson Cooper brought on anti-Catholic singer Sinead O'Connor on his program on Friday to discuss the Church sex scandal. Unsurprisingly, O'Connor, who infamously tore up a picture of then-Pope John Paul II on Saturday Night Live in 1992, has engaged in lesbian relationships, and went on to be "ordained" in a schismatic dissident church, spent much of the interview blasting Pope Benedict XVI.
The anchor aired the first part of his interview with O'Connor 15 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour. Cooper never brought up the celebrity's open dissent with Church teaching and practice during the interview, and only referred to her as a "singer." In his first question to his guest, he referenced her recent Washington Post column (in it, she actually urged her fellow Irish to stop attending Mass, but Cooper never raised this controversial proposal): "Sinead, in The Washington Post, you talk about this letter of apology that Pope Benedict wrote to the people of Ireland, and you say the letter is an insult to the people of Ireland. Why?"
CNN's Kyra Phillips brought on three heterodox Christians on Friday's Newsroom, all of whom endorse leftist "reforms" inside the Catholic Church, such as women priests and acceptance of homosexual behavior. Phillips didn't bring on any guests who defended the Church's positions, and actually egged on her guests: "I think all three of you need to head to the Vatican and institute some change."
On Friday's CBS Early Show correspondent Allen Pizzey made the over-the-top declaration that allegations of child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church amounted to "a scandal that's threatening to become a plague of biblical proportions." A headline on-screen declared a "Catholic Crisis."
Pizzey was reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's efforts to address the scandal in a soon-to-be published Papal letter, but noted that such a statement "seems unlikely to assuage the anger of victims in parishes ranging from the U.S. to Ireland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Austria, Germany, and Brazil." Pizzey cited one victim of abuse, Andrew Madden, who argued: "I don't think a pastoral letter is the proper context in which to respond to a report about the cover-up of the rape of children."
Madden has made his opinions of the Catholic Church well-known on Twitter. One of his tweets reads: "Actual photo of the Devil at work in the Vatican," with a link to a picture of Pope. In response to another tweeter complimenting him on a recent television appearance, Madden replied: "do my best, but these really are the scum of the earth, I'd never have said that 6 months ago but I truly believe it today."
Allison Kilkenny, a self-styled “political humorist,” ripped the Catholic Church on the Huffington Post on Thursday for threatening to pull the plug in its social services in Washington, DC if same-sex “marriage” is legalized there. Kilkenny labeled the Church the “Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People,” and bashed Pope Benedict XVI as a “decrepit former Nazi youth.”
The “humorist” (pictured at right, courtesy of Wikimedia) began her screed, titled “Catholic Church Threatens to Stop Feeding Homeless Over Gay Marriage,” by comparing the Church to Goldman Sachs, and used her “evil” label only after three sentences (perhaps showing a bit of restraint on her part): “A few days ago, I wrote about Goldman Sachs’s transition from a bank holding company into a public relations disaster machine. I argued that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has been behaving like he wants to be attacked by a ferocious mob. Now, it appears the Catholic church is determined to unseat Blankfein in the ‘Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People’ category.”
Four paragraphs later, after spinning the content of the Archdiocese of Washington’s November 10 letter to the DC city council (which warned that the proposed legislation which would legalize same-sex “marriage” wouldn’t “permit Catholic Charities and other religious service organization to freely function as religious entities serving the needs of the District” and called for the expansion of “appropriate safeguards to protect religious freedom and to preserve the ability of...service providers to continue to serve the...unmet needs of the residents of the District”), Kilkenny used the tried-and-true priest sex abuse bludgeon against the Church (language warning):
Newsweek took their criticism of Pope Benedict XVI to the next level on Thursday- not only did guest columnist Kathleen Kennedy-Townsend affirm that the pontiff could learn from President Obama (something Newsweek and their partners at the Washington Post agreed upon back in April), but also blasted the Bishop of Rome and the Catholic hierarchy for their supposed “disdain” towards women and homosexuals.
The former lieutenant governor of Maryland began her column, titled "Without a Doubt: Why Barack Obama represents American Catholics better than the pope does," with the context of the pope’s upcoming meeting with the American president, and how it was “much anticipated and in some circles frowned upon by American Catholics in the wake of Obama’s controversial Notre Dame commencement speech in May.” She then laid out her central thesis about these two leaders: “In truth, though, Obama’s pragmatic approach to divisive policy...and his social-justice agenda reflect the views of American Catholic laity much more closely than those vocal bishops and pro-life activists...[T]hey’ll politely disagree about reproductive freedoms and homosexuality, but Catholics back home won’t care, because they know Obama’s on their side. In fact, Obama’s agenda is closer to their views than even the pope’s.”
Two major wire services- AP and Reuters- cherry picked excerpts from Pope Benedict XVI’s latest encyclical (a teaching document of the Catholic Church) on Tuesday to support left-wing economic and political positions, and all but ignored the pontiff’s traditional stances on the family, bioethics, and the environment. The AP also went so far to bring up “the state of the Vatican’s own [financial] books.”
Both Philip Pullella, who regularly writes about the Pope and the Vatican for Reuters, and the AP’s Nicole Winfield zeroed in on paragraph 67 of the encyclical, which is titled “Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” which was released was signed by the Bishop of Rome on June 29, and released on Tuesday. In this paragraph, to use Pullella’s lede, “Pope Benedict…called for a ‘world political authority’ to manage the global economy.” Winfield put it this way near the beginning of her article: “In the third encyclical of his pontificate, Benedict pressed for reform of the United Nations and international economic and financial institutions to give poorer countries more of a say in international policy.”
While Pope Benedict did call for a “world political authority” and a “reform of the United Nations,” both authors (not to mention spectators on the left and the right) missed the context of this call. Later in his article, Pullella speculated that “the pope appeared to back government intervention ‘in correcting errors and malfunctions’ in the economy, saying ‘one could foresee an increase in the new forms of political participation, nationally and internationally.’” But this “government intervention” would not go so far to the level of a micromanaging/centrally-planning regime, if one goes by the pontiff’s own words in the encyclical.
Time magazine’s senior editor Amy Sullivan, who, like most of her peers in the mainstream media, is an amateur when it comes to religion, twice implied in May that the pro-life Catholics in the U.S. who are upset about President Obama’s recent commencement address at Notre Dame are more Catholic than Pope Benedict XVI. In a May 16, 2009 article on Time.com, Sullivan, the former aide to Democrat Tom Daschle, and the author of an entire book on how Democrats could appeal to Christians, snarked that the Pope “may find his next trip to the U.S. dogged by airplanes overhead trailing banners with images of aborted fetuses,” due to his purported silence on the matter.
Less than a week later on May 21, after outlining on Time’s “Swampland” blog that the semi-official Vatican news has been “calm” and “fairly positive” towards the Democratic president, “in stark contrast to the furious reaction of many conservative Catholics here,” the editor quipped, “Uh, oh. It sounds like the Vatican newspaper ‘doesn’t understand what it means to be Catholic.’” Sullivan, like the rest of the media, was also selective in the articles she chose to emphasize from the newspaper.
Not only does Pope Benedict XVI have crappy PR, he has absolutely no excuse for it, Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller informs readers in a May 14 piece written for the May 25 dead-tree edition. Yet while insisting that her advice is submitted "with respect," Miller failed to remove the log from her own eye by considering the role that she and other reporters play in trumping up alleged papal PR blunders by virtual of their biased, shoddy reporting (emphasis mine):
Benedict makes international news only when he does something thoughtless (like "reconciling" with a Holocaust-denying bish-op) or when he fumbles in public, as he did on the plane to Cameroon in March when he awkwardly noted that AIDS "cannot be overcome by the distribution of prophylactics; on the contrary, they increase it." This remark, though in keeping with his theology, reverberated in the media echo chamber for a week—overshadowing other stops that might have served him better, such as meeting with representatives of Cameroon's Muslim community and a mass for as many as a million people in Angola. Benedict will never be John Paul, but why don't he and his people do a better job—to be perfectly crass about it—marketing their message?
While Miller tries to insist that the Pope would be more loved and respected if only he had a better PR shop, she betrays the fact that she really finds fault with his steadfast adherence to traditional Catholic teachings, particularly on sexual morality. Far from constituting a "fumble," back in March a top AIDS researcher -- no conservative Catholic he -- defended as accurate the Pope's remarks on condoms and AIDS infection rates in Africa. It seems that Miller is either ignorant of or willingly disregards this fact two months later. As I noted in NewsBusters back then:
Happy Easter, Catholics. Your pope is not much different from a secular politician exercising damage control. Fortunately, President Obama is helping him "repent faster" when he steps into controversy.
That's the message being sent by the "On Faith" editorial staff with their excerpts "From the Panel" published in the April 11 print edition of the Washington Post. A partnership with Newsweek, "On Faith" is edited by the magazine's Jon Meacham and the Post's Sally Quinn.
"What's Behind Pope's Apologies?" asks the headline. An editorial note gives readers the question asked "On Faith" panelists:
Two journalists appearing as guests on CNN on Wednesday and Thursday praised “mighty Michelle” Obama for being “stylish,” “successful,” and for showing “an interest in wanting to reach out to people who may feel they’ve been disenfranchised or held at a distance from the power structure.”
Eighteen hours later on Thursday’s American Morning, the Washington Post’s Robin Givhan tried to sell how Mrs. Obama could aid her husband on the international stage: “[She] helps people to get more of a human sense of the administration. And also, I think that for many people, there was, to some degree, a sense of being closed off to the rest of the world or closed off to those who are kind of outside of the mainstream by other administrations. And I think this is a way of trying to build those bridges in a way that is very non-confrontational.”
A leading HIV researcher -- and self-described liberal -- defends what the pope has said recently about condoms and AIDS.
I won't hold my breath for the secular mainstream media to notice, but that's what Christianity Today magazine reported on March 20 with its publication of an e-mail interview between deputy managing editor Tim Morgan and the director of Harvard's AIDS Prevention Research Project, Edward C. Green:
[Morgan]: Is Pope Benedict being criticized unfairly for his comments about HIV and condoms?
[Dr. Green]: This is hard for a liberal like me to admit, but yes, it's unfair because in fact, the best evidence we have supports his comments — at least his major comments, the ones I have seen.
Green went on to say that, at least as far as African countries are concerned, Pope Benedict is correct that condom promotion doesn't lessen the AIDS problem (emphases mine):
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.
Time magazine's Jeff "The pope's a Scrooge" Israely is at it again, lecturing Benedict XVI on his "inflammatory rhetoric."
Israely joins CNN's Jack Cafferty, Washington Post/Newsweek's "On Faith", and PBS's Bonnie Erbe in the bash-Benedict choir's latest oratorio. His March 19 article evaluated the pontiff's recent comments on condoms and HIV/AIDS as "candor over P.R.", lamenting Benedict's word choice and seeming lack of concern about how liberal secular media outlets parse his statements (emphases mine):
Amidst the outrage and consternation lies the question: Why? If we already know the basic tenets of church teaching — not to mention the extent of the AIDS epidemic and disproportionate ignorance about condom use in Africa — why did the Pope say what he said, when and where he said it? What do this and other recent episodes tell us about how the modern papacy operates at that unique nexus where philosophy meets public relations? And why, nearly four years into his reign, does this hyper articulate and well-versed Pope continue to see his attempts at mass communication blow up in his face?
Seemingly not satisfied with bashing the likes of former President Bush or Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty took aim at a more international target on Wednesday’s Situation Room -- Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church. He joined PBS’s Bonnie Erbe and the Washington Post’s On Faith webpage in attacking the pontiff’s recent comment against the effectiveness of condoms in reducing the spread of HIV in Africa. Cafferty used the standard left-wing talking point that the Church is stuck in the Middle Ages: “It’s time -- it is past time for the Catholic Church to enter the 21st century, or at least try to drag itself out of the 13th century.”
After quoting the pope’s remark, Cafferty summarized the Church’s overall message of “encouraging sexual abstinence as the way to stop the disease from spreading.” He then actually blamed this message indirectly for the spread of the virus: “Obviously, the message has not delivered the desired results in Africa -- 22 million people in Africa infected with HIV. Not to mention right here in our nation’s capital -- a new report shows that three percent of Washington, DC’s residents have HIV or AIDS....One official says Washington rates are higher than parts of West Africa, and on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.”
The Washington Post's On Faith website loves to post liberal writers who thumb their noses at traditional religion. Take liberal professor Robert McElvaine and his blog, "Impeach the Pope." He was so upset at Pope Benedict's remarks on Islam, his resistance to ordaining women, and his lifting an excommunication of a Holocaust denier, he exclaimed:
I am a Catholic and the idea that such a man is God's spokesperson on earth is absurd to me.
There are, of course, no provisions in the hierarchical institution set up, not by Jesus but by men who hijacked his name and in many cases perverted his teachings, for impeaching a pope and removing him from office. But there ought to be.
This betrays a serious refusal to accept the concept of papal infallibility, that the Pope's declarations on faith and morals are guided by the Holy Spirit to avoid error. There's a word for people who do not recognize the Pope as an authority: they're called Protestants.
But this inflammatory article may be simply a ploy to sell books:
Hell hath no fury like a feminist writer directing a hissy fit at the pope.
Bonnie Erbe -- the US News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host who argued that Bristol Palin is more "mature" than her abstinence education-advocating mother -- finds the pope "horrifically ignorant" when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
What exactly did the pontiff say that set Erbe off? Try, "AIDS cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms," hardly a controversial, implausible statement, but one that, to Erbe, showed the pope has "no sympathy" for women in Africa.
CNN’s Zain Verjee couldn’t seem to find any health care “experts” who agreed with Pope Benedict XVI during a report on Tuesday’s Situation Room about the “political firestorm” the pontiff apparently set off during his first visit to Africa. Verjee not only cited unnamed “experts” who disagreed with the pope’s statement that the distribution of condoms on the continent “increases the problem” of HIV/AIDS instead of helping it, but also found “some priests and nuns working with AIDS victims in Africa question the church’s anti-condom policy.”
Anchor Wolf Blitzer introduced the correspondent’s report, hyping how “Pope Benedict XVI is facing a condom controversy right now. That may be last thing he needs on his first tour of Africa, [which is] struggling to cope with a massive AIDS epidemic.” Verjee continued in this vein: “Pope Benedict XVI set off another political firestorm, even before he landed in Africa, saying condoms could make the HIV/AIDS crisis worse. He told reporters, ‘It’s a tragedy, but you can’t resolve with it the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.’
Pope Rebukes Pelosi, Tells Her Catholic Legislators Obligated to Protect Life
The Vatican Press Office released a note this morning detailing part of the conversation which Pope Benedict XVI had with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Vatican insiders inform LifeSiteNews.com that such releases are always phrased in diplomatic language and thus the correction of the Speaker who fancies herself a faithful Catholic despite her abortion advocacy can be taken as a rebuke.
The text of the note reads: "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."
Those interested in learning how the press will minimize the Pope's rebuke have an early example to peruse at Agence France-Presse (AFP). It contains the expected watering-down of the rebuke, and more (AFP link is dynamic; its report as it appeared when this post was drafted is here):
That's how Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear began her Feb. 11 The Seeker blog post, practically considering the Pope to be another politician who must watch out for how his PR blunders affect his poll numbers (emphasis mine):
Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI quelled concerns last week regarding the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, he caused another stir closer to home. He reportedly tapped a bishop who once described Hurricane Katrina as God’s punishment for sin and debauchery in New Orleans.
According to the Times of London, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner, an ultraconservative parish priest at Windischgarsten in Austria, published his theory of divine retribution in his parish newsletter four years ago.
Time magazine’s Jeff Israely compared Pope Benedict XVI to Charles Dickens' most famous character in his latest column, which focuses on the “tough line on Church doctrine” the pontiff has taken: “...[T]here is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is...quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.” Israely later put Scrooge’s characteristic anti-Christmas exclamation in the mouth of the Holy Father: “...[O]ne can imagine Benedict flashing that gentle smile, tilting his head ever so slightly and declaring: Bah Humbug!”
The correspondent’s Thursday column on Time.com, titled “The Pope’s Christmas Gift: A Tough Line on Church Doctrine,” began with Israely apparently lamenting that the old nicknames for the Pope are no longer effective tools: “Those nicknames from the past — God's Rottweiler, the Panzercardinal — don't seem to stick anymore. After acquiring a reputation as an aggressive, doctrine-enforcing Cardinal, Pope Benedict XVI has surprised many with his gentle manner and his writings on Christian love.” He then saw it fit to give the Pope the “Scrooge” nickname, just in time for Christmas: “But with the Christmas season upon us, there is growing proof that the 82-year-old Pope is also quite willing to play the part of Scrooge to defend his often rigid view of Church doctrine.”
ABCNews.com, reporting on the Catholic Diocese of Rome refusing permission to Ron Howard’s plans to film the movie prequel to Dan Brown’s "The DaVinci Code" in two historic churches, used loaded wording in the headline: "Church Cracks Down on New ‘Da Vinci’ Film."
The lead for the report, written by Phoebe Natanson and Luchina Fisher, also used similar imagery to describe the Catholic Church’s refusal: "Once again, the Catholic Church is coming down hard on writer Dan Brown, the author of ‘The Da Vinci Code.’ The producers of Brown's latest thriller to be made into a film, ‘Angels and Demons,’ have been banned from filming key scenes inside any church in Rome, on the grounds that the book is "an offense against God," according to a church spokesman.
Speaking of "coming down hard," wasn’t Brown doing just that in "The Da Vinci Code" by depicting the Catholic Church as a nefarious organization?