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February 11, 2013


The Coming Avalanche of Ignorance

Just so you know: one side-effect of the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI is that an ever-more incompetent and ill-disposed media will be weighing in night and day with misinformation by the bucketful. Exhibit A (though I’m sure there have already been plenty of others): someone named Sara Miller Llana of the Christian Science Monitor:

With the surprise announcement that Pope Benedict XVI will resign at the end of this month, many in the so-called “global south” are hopeful that a new pope might finally hail from Asia, Africa, or Latin America.

Latin America is home to 40 percent of the world’s 1 billion Catholics: Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world, and Mexico is the second largest.

There has never been a non-European pope, and naming a leader from Latin America, Africa, or Asia would be considered a radical new direction for the Eurocentric Vatican. But it would also reflect a new, and to many a long overdue, pragmatism within the institution.

“Never been a non-European pope?” Well, since the Great Schism that’s true, but never? A check of something as simple as Wikipedia reveals the following:

•Peter and Evaristus (first century), both from the Holy Land;
•Anicetus and Victor I (second century) from Syria and North Africa, respectively;
•Miltiades (fourth century) from North Africa;
•Gelasius I (fifth century) from North Africa;
•Theodore I and John V (seventh century) from Palestine and Syria, respectively;
•Sisinnius, Constantine, and Gregory III (eighth century), all from Syria.

There are lots of historical reasons why there haven’t been any non-European, and in fact not very many non-Italian, popes over the last thousand years, but the point is that even the slightest bit of research would have told Llana that her assertion quoted above was untrue. If the media is going to get such a simple matter of fact wrong right out of the gate, imagine what kind of nonsense the next several weeks are going to bring us.


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8 comments

David,

You make the common error of assuming that history extends more than several centuries into the past. Sara Miller Llana avoids that error by using the more current and correct definition of “never” that means “a long time, perhaps even stretching back to when the writer was a child.”

[1] Posted by Bill Cool on 2-11-2013 at 07:10 PM · [top]

You really have to just ignore some of this stoopidity.  Otherwise your head could explode.

[2] Posted by Nikolaus on 2-11-2013 at 07:19 PM · [top]

Give her a break,guys, after all, she IS a stringer for the CSM, one of the most reputable hard news sources around.  And, ‘never’ means not since last week.

[3] Posted by Fr. Chip, SF on 2-11-2013 at 07:40 PM · [top]

Just lemme polish up the ol’ crystal ball here, while I take a wild guess at the kind of speculation we’re going to see in the media.

Yes, yes… the voices are coming through…

“Will the next pope relax the ban on artificial contraception, abortion, divorce and remarriage, sex before and outside of marriage, condoms for AIDS in Africa, embryonic stem cell research, married priests, women priests, same-sex marriage, married gay women priests?”

And now, while I go into a trance and contact the invisibles, let us all join hands and raise the vibration frequency to break through to the astral plane.

What, O mystic orb, can the answer possibly be?

“Eh - no.  No, he won’t.”

There you have it - the veil has been pierced, the hidden ascended masters from the beyond have spoken!

[4] Posted by Martha on 2-11-2013 at 08:49 PM · [top]

But it would also reflect a new, and to many a long overdue, pragmatism within the institution.

By which I imagine she means that a new pope from Asia, Africa, or Latin America will have to favor things like redistribution of wealth, birth control, and abortion, because it is only gray-haired white guys of European descent who are opposed to them.

[5] Posted by radrector on 2-11-2013 at 10:01 PM · [top]

Good article and good comments.

You would think that the media had learned by now from the Anglican example that “Global South” is not antithetical to conservative theology!

Anything is possible in a conclave.  Interestingly, you don’t have to be a Cardinal or even a priest to be elected Pope, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting that to happen!

The international betting houses have non-European cardinals as the front-runners.  Marc Ouellet of Quebec and Peter Turkson of Ghana seem to be the hot favourites. 

Francis Arinze of Nigeria is also supposed to be a favourite, but he is 80 years of age and I just can’t see his colleagues electing him.

There are also a couple of Italians, an Austrian and an Argentine all thought to be inside runners.

There are more Cardinals from USA than anywhere else on earth except Italy.  But USA has also been the breeding ground for many of the liberal problems faced by RCC and I don’t think the Cardinals will consider anyone from there, even Timothy Dolan. 

And Cardinal Pell of Sydney - would be nice, but I wouldn’t put any cents on that horse either!

If I had to put my money on one horse, it would be Angelo Scola of Milan.

[6] Posted by MichaelA on 2-12-2013 at 12:11 AM · [top]

I found it really interesting to read Mollie Z’s piece at Get Religion and the comments there citing much of the ignorant and biased media commentary yesterday. 

This comment about one silly headline / article had me laughing outloud:

I normally try to keep my laughter to myself, but this time, I could not help but laugh out loud: “Pope’s Successor Is Likely to Share His Doctrine.” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/12/world/europe/with-popes-resignation-focus-shifts-to-a-successor.html Really? Ya think so? You mean all those Cardinals are *gasp* Catholic, too?!? Who woulda thunk it?

For those wanting to read what seems to be a SOLID article from Religion beat veteran Cathy Grossman at USA Today, here’s an interesting look at the top 5 “papabile” cited by a number of Papal watchers:

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/world/2013/02/11/vatican-next-pope/1908839/

[7] Posted by Karen B. on 2-12-2013 at 05:22 AM · [top]

Just heard from a field reporter on Fox News’s Studio B to Shepard Smith: “Shep, just spoke to young man from the Netherlands who going to study at a cemetery….” HAHAHA…..

[8] Posted by frmcn+ on 2-12-2013 at 03:30 PM · [top]

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