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:
Pope Benedict XVI has offered a number of apologies recently, for clergy sex abuse, for promoting a Holocaust denier, for statements about Islam. What does it mean that a pope has started doing that? Should those apologies be accepted? Should more religious leaders do that?
Three panelists were excerpted, including author and reporter Susan Jacoby, who insisted that:
When the pope apologizes for anything, his statement generally signifies nothing more than an attempt at damage control in the wake of an unanticipated public relations disaster created by his and his church's actions.
But, "[i]n all fairness," Jacoby snarked, "it must be said that this generalization also applies to nearly every apology made by secular politicians" which "should not be surprising, because all popes are politicians" who "wouldn't have gotten to be popes otherwise."
As if to rub salt in the wound, another panelist, "minister, teacher and author" Willis E. Elliott added that President Obama has probably been a positive influence on the Bishop of Rome (italics his):
"I screwed up" is the way President Obama admitted a mistake ahead of the media curve, and America smiled. Maybe this president, master of the media, helped this pope repent faster. That's a welcome change in papal behavior, and a good model for all religious leaders -- indeed, for all leaders.