Let’s get the elephant in the room out of the way first: yes, I watch CNN, for a variety of reasons. (I don’t particularly like FoxNews’s format and I’m not watching MSNBC. Although lately I’ve been watching that One America News Network, but it can’t keep up with breaking news.)
Anyway. My wife and I have been watching the Pope’s visit on CNN. Now I know that that this Pope is more than a little controversial, especially in conservative circles (for my part I’m still forming a full opinion, but having listened to him thus far, I worry he places far to much faith in governments to solve any problems. Here there be tyranny.)
Setting aside this for the moment though, what should upset even this Pope’s fans should be the blatant disrespect being shown to his predecessor John Paul II (or as Bannion so helpfully reminded me a few days back “Saint John Paul the Great.”)
Listening to the banal commentary before and after a papal event you hear the talking heads on CNN say more or less the same things (all quotes paraphrases from memory):
- “He loves to get into the crowd, like no other pope before him.”
Really? I seem to recall that JPII also loved being near the crowds, until a nutjob got close enough to shoot him. After that he was sorta restricted a bit on contact.
- “The crowds love him, not since John XXIII have a seen a pope so adored by crowds.”
I mean WTF?! It seems like there is a bit of history just totally zapped there. (I didn’t catch who actually said this, but I think it was a priest not just one of their random commentators. C’mon man you should know better.)
- “He tells jokes, which is not something other popes did.”
Yeah no. I was only 12 when JPII came to town. By that point he was already showing pretty big symptoms of the Parkinson’s. I still remember when they gave him the Blue’s Jersey that he took the microphone said in his heavily accented English “I will return to play hockey” Then turned his cane upside down to mimic a hockey stick (until 2 of his aides grabbed him so he wouldn’t fall over.) Yeah it’s not exactly a side splitter, but the guy cracked a joke off the cuff in a language he’s only passingly familiar with. So the idea popes don’t tell jokes is flat wrong.
Even terming him “The People’s pope” is a slap at JPII (arguably the first rock star pope). I get it, cerebral Benedict XVI wasn’t a media darling. This was to be expected. But the sudden erasure of JPII from the media’s collective memory would be stunning if it weren’t so obvious why: JPII must be supplanted because he wasn’t the progressive darling they want Francis to be. In fact, JPII specifically stood against communism. How dare he!
If you listen to the subtext of everything, they figure Francis is just months away from making abortion the 8th sacrament, ordaining women priests and performing the first gay marriage at the Sistine Chapel. (None of which is actually true.) The fact that they imply he’s a big lover of over-intrusive government is really just bonus to them. This pope will turn out to be whatever he turns out to be, but no one should let the media simply pretend John Paul II never existed because he didn’t curl up lovingly to their friend Karl Marx.