The Pope’s Visit to Australia
As part of World Youth Day 2008, Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit Australia. The visit will undoubtedly attract media attention and I am going to speculate on what to expect from their coverage.
We can expect:
- The standard fanfare that accompanies any world leaders visit. This will include the mention of the number of Catholics worldwide and the age of the religion.
- The expense of the visit and whether it’s justified for the taxpayer.
- A number of individuals who have been sexually abused by priests will be interviewed for their opinions. No doubt a number of claims of cover-up will be made and uncritically accepted by the media.
- A comparison of Catholicism with ‘pop Christianity’ variants such as Hillsong Church and commentary on the appeal of one versus the other.
- Comment of the Church’s views on contraception and whether they may be causing harm in combating HIV.
I don’t really have any problem with the above (except for the ‘cover-up’ bit), but I suspect that elements of the media will also engage in the following:
- Repetition of the Crimen sollicitationis conspiracy theory. There are elements of the media that are truly dumb and when you’re biased against an organisation you become even dumber when assessing negative claims made against it. Any organisation that publicises these views is beneath contempt, more so if they were to broadcast the discredited ‘Sex Crimes and the Vatican‘ documentary.
- Contrived secular/atheist counterpoints in stories. There is no reason to include, as the BBC often does, responses of members of secular advocacy groups unless the subject of the story is religion itself. If they’re simply given a platform to take pot-shots as those of opposing beliefs then that’s unjustified.
- Mention of “the Inquisition” or “the Crusades.” This is a good indication that the author/producer of a story is attempting to persuade others that Catholicism is ‘bad’ without relying upon reason.1
Even though I’m not a Catholic, I am very sceptical that the Australian media will be fair and accurate when covering Catholic issues. I hope they prove me wrong, but I will (probably) blog on the situation come July.
- This assumes that they are not attempting a balanced, scholarly discussion of Catholic history. That may of course occur. [↩]
- Crimen sollicitationis
- Deliver Us From Evil Review
- Crimen sollicitationis and the Media
- Secular and Ecclesiastical Conceptions of Authority
- American Catholicism Test