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Friday, December 01, 2006

Uhhh, right

John Allen posted this:

To date, the line on Benedict XVI has been that this is a pope of words, often set in contrast with John Paul II’s mastery of gestures and symbols. Joseph Ratzinger is possessed of an extraordinarily refined intellect, and his natural medium is indeed the written word. This is a pope, after all, who had penned some 60 books by the time of his election, to say nothing of countless essays, lectures, journal articles and scholarly monographs.

Does anyone else remember the talk of imagery when Benedict XVI met the representatives of the Muslim community during World Youth Day last year? I wrote:

At WYD 05 in Cologne, the Holy Father met the Muslim representatives in the unique setting of him sitting with a large cross behind him on the wall. The fact that he is now putting in place the personnel to ensure that his gestures become more than just gestures is heartening to see in a world where cartoons can spark so much destruction.

If you're not familiar with it, when Benedict XVI met with the Muslim representatives in Cologne during World Youth Day in 2005, he did so sitting in front of the group. Behind him on the wall was a really big cross. At the time, commentators noted the imagery of the Supreme Pontiff sitting under the Cross of Jesus and telling the locals 'this is how it is'.

John Allen does great on-the-scene reporting, but even he sometimes likes to perpetuate certain stereotypes just to have something to write about when 'the Wordsmith Pope' figures out how to use images.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

John Allen is unable to divest himself of his years at National "Catholic" Reporter. I.e., it is his & his colleagues calling in life to judge the Holy Father. This bias usually comes thru in his reports. As Cardinal Newman once remarked, the sooner we realize that we're not the judge of the truth of the Church but rather its suppliants, the sooner we are in touch with reality.

FJM Madden said...

Two points:

1 Your quote from Alledn includes the sentence 'To date, the line on Benedict XVI'. The use of the phrase 'the line' does not in any way mean that it is Allen's view; rather that it is received wisdom. That is certainly the implication of the remainder of Allen's article.

2 The comment made by 'anonymous' is facile and inaccurate. While in the past Allen was more critical of Benedict (when he was Cardinal Ratzinger), I feel that his analysis of the Pope has become more even-handed, more nuanced since April 2005. His reporting of the REgensburg debacle and the Turkey trip certainly suggest this.

Jacob said...

Re: fjm madden

I don't claim that it's John Allen's view. I merely point out the hypothesis that he is perpetuating the stereotype in order to have something to write about. After all, for all intents and purposes, he is 'the line'. He writes for NCR and he is CNN's chief Vatican analyst. Aside from him, who else out there is as well known to the general public?