The recent Time magazine cover story on Pope Benedict, sniping and unprofessional and at times juvenile, is getting the attention it sought. And some that maybe it didn’t…
George Weigel breaks it down, though the case was poorly constructed to begin with.
Itâ€™s not easy to understand the decision of Timeâ€™s editors to run the magazineâ€™s current (June 7) cover story, with its cheesy title, â€œWhy Being Pope Means Never Having to Say Youâ€™re Sorry.â€ The lengthy essay inside breaks no news; it recycles several lame charges against Benedict XVI that have been flatly denied or effectively rebutted; and it indulges an adolescent literary style (e.g., â€œmealymouthed declarations buttressed by arcane religious philosophyâ€) that makes one yearn and pine for the days of Henry Luce.
The lengthy story is also poorly sourced, relying (as many such exercises do) on alleged â€œVatican insidersâ€…
…which are easy pickings tabloid-style journalism.
As real Vatican insiders know, real Vatican insiders donâ€™t give back-stabbing and score-settling sound bites to the American media. That practice is more typically indulged in by clerics far down the Vatican food chain, monsignori who have no real idea of whatâ€™s happening within the small circle where real decisions get made inside the Leonine Wall, but who are happy to chat up journalists over a cappuccino or a Campari and soda while pretending to a knowledge they donâ€™t possess. Such sources can be occasionally amusing; they are almost never authoritative.
But that has never stopped Time, at least since the days I was there. Henry Luce days.
The Time story may serve a useful purpose, however, in that it encapsulates, within ten pages, many of the things the world media continue to get wrong about the Catholic Church, the Vatican, and the pontificates of John Paul II and Benedict XVI.
So to that end, follow the guide Weigel provides and be informed.Â It will come in handy as these attacks on the Church continue.