Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Times: Never mind white lies

Sunday, October 2, 2011
Roamer's column

Try lies as black as Hades, of the sort AFP indulges in. Here is the concluding sentence of one of its reports, which was carried in last Monday's edition of The Times. "The Pope has used his trip to call on German Catholics to hammer home his ultra-conservative credo on a range of issues such as artificial contraception, abortion, euthanasia and gaymarriage."

We had forgotten that these calm educated Libyan men exist, so complete was their removal from the periphery, never mind the centre, of power
It is well to point out that during his four-day state visit to Germany, Pope Benedict delivered some 18 speeches and homilies. He spoke with journalists on his flight to his homeland, addressed the Federal Parliament, met with representatives of the Jewish community and celebrated Mass at the Olympiastadion, met representatives of the Muslim community and the German Evangelical Church Council.

He participated in an ecumenical celebration, attended vespers and the next day celebrated Holy Mass at Domplatz in Erfurt, greeted citizens gathered at Munsterplatz, addressed seminarians in Freiburg, held a prayer vigil with young people, met with a group of Catholics active in the Church and society, also at Freiburg – a wicked schedule for an 84-year-old who never fails to surprise.
I made a point to visit the Vatican site where his speeches, homilies and addresses can be found, downloaded them and found not a single reference to contraception, abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, nor the skimpiest sign of a hammer.

What I did find was an impassioned call to his "Dear Young Friends" to "Dare to be glowing saints" because, "You are the light of the world. Where God is, there is a future." He reminded them of the existence of evil about which "we cannot remain silent". And he spelt out that evil – "selfishness, envy, aggression... sloth, or laziness in willing and doing good... (The) damage to the Church comes not from her opponents, but from uncommitted Christians... Christ is not so much interested in how often in our lives we stumble and fall, as in how often with his help we pick ourselves up again."

In Thuringia he reminded his audience in what was the former German Democratic Republic that they had "to endure first a brown and then a red dictatorship, which acted on the Christian faith like acid rain".

He then returned to the theme for his visit: "Yet the last two decades have also brought good experiences; a broader horizon, an exchange that reaches beyond borders, a faithful confidence that God does not abandon us and that he leads us along new paths. Where there is God, there is a future."

Checked his speech to lay Catholics in Freiburg – no sign of hammering. But he did take a swipe at "exaggerated individualism... People can hardly find the courage now to promise to be faithful for a whole lifetime... the real crisis facing the Church in the Western world is a crisis of faith (without which) all structural reform will remain ineffective".

And still no reference to the Big Four. So why do the media lie in so obscene and perverse a manner? For you can bet your bottom dollar that any newspaper that picked up that AFP report printed it tale quale if, that is, it deemed it necessary to carry it.

May have missed all that hammering, of course; I doubt it. Perhaps AFP's reports on Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church should be treated with more circumspection and subjected to more scrutiny.

[Click on the hyperlink above to view the comments on the Times' website.]

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