More media trash

For many years I have — along with every conscious Christian with an IQ above room temperature — noticed that ugly and ridiculous media attacks on Christian belief peak around Easter. This is what one would expect. Christmas matters less because it is already buried in commercialized feelgood; has been effectively de-Christianized, much like Hallowe’en. But Easter has yet to succumb entirely to the attack of the chocolate bunnies. And so we get, for instance, quack archaeology, calling biblical events into question with the plausibility of a Dan Brown story; or a few juicy quotes from an obvious heretic, dressed ostentatiously as priest or nun; or an op-ed rant from some virulent head-case. It never fails: mud towards Easter.

This Easter, their task will be easier, as it has been these last few years, because the pope himself says the “juicy” thing. The quote of the moment is that hell doesn’t exist, that everyone goes to heaven except a few really bad ones, and they just “disappear” — I suppose, like an Argentine who rubbed the Peronists the wrong way.

I am not making this up. It is not the first time the Holy Father has said this in an interview with the public atheist, Eugenio Scalfari, his old friend and a founder of Rome’s upmarket radical leftist daily, La Repubblica. But the shoe has now dropped again, more loudly.

The pope has said other things in these interviews (which he freely grants and has at least once had re-posted on the Vatican website) that would appal any serious Catholic. I don’t want to get into it: the information is easily available elsewhere. In this week’s case, the statement was so egregious that the Vatican publicists squeaked up with a non-correction, in which they insinuated that Scalfari might not have quoted the pope exactly; reticently, in case Scalfari made a recording. What they didn’t correct, was the statement itself.

I have been around for some time. I know at first hand how the media work, and I know that Bergoglio came to Rome (from Argentina of all places) with a reputation as an adept media manipulator, fond of playing the crowd. He is no babe in the woods. He must know as I do that if a journalist seriously misrepresents what you say, you don’t give him another opportunity. Moreover, you publicly correct him in a way not only unambiguous, but sharp enough to get everyone’s attention — at speed, I should think, if you have millions of Catholics hanging on your words. Instead he lets the outrage stand.

The quoted statement, of course, makes a hash of Good Friday. What was Christ doing, descending into Hell, if Hell does not exist? Why did Christ so often mention Hell in the Gospels, in very grave terms of warning? And speak of Judgement, more often still? Was He just being “ironical”?

A naïve correspondent, citing the latest, asks if I will leave the Church like so many others whose faith and intelligence this pope has insulted.

Let him leave; I’m staying Catholic.