30 December 2009

John Allen and a Rant

In an early New Year's treat, NCR posted John Allen's year-end column a few days early.  As I've mentioned before, Allen is a graduate of a high school the Capuchins ran in Kansas until the few years.  He's widely read by those on both the left and right of the ecclesio-political spectrum.  (I think I just coined a phrase, albeit an opaque one.)

In this particular column, Allen focuses on the Church in the media for the past decade.  You can enjoy the column in full here.

Here are a few highlights.

On Bias in the Media:
Nevertheless, looking back at patterns of coverage over the last ten years, it’s difficult to sustain an impression of systematic anti-Catholic or anti-papal bias. On the whole, the press in this country seemed to cover the good with the bad -- and, based purely on statistical counts, the good (from the Vatican’s point of view) often seemed to prevail.
On the difference between coverage of John Paul II and Benedict XVI:
A much greater share of Benedict’s coverage has been rooted in the here-and-now. He’s been in office less than five years, so legacy pieces are premature, and there’s been no health scare to kick-start speculation about a successor. While he’s amassed a mixed record as a communicator, at least his major stories have been about substantive issues: the “clash of civilizations” between Islam and the West, his battle against a “dictatorship of relativism,” Christian-Jewish relations, faith and politics (including the relationship between the Vatican and the Obama administration), and so on.
Allen's final words:
As I’m fond of saying, German machinery is built to last. The way Benedict XVI rebounded from that collision on Christmas Eve would seem to suggest he’s remarkably resilient for a guy of 82 … but, of course, I’m not a doctor.

As I've indicated in previous posts - mostly with an implicit wink - I'm more of a "B16" guy than a "JPII" guy.  This puts me in a distinct minority among current vocations, I should add.  On one hand there is still a plethora of "JPII priests/vocations" moving through the American seminary system.  On the other, there is a hard cadre of progressive/liberal men and women early in their religious lives who seem to fashion themselves as necessarily opposed to the legacy of JPII.  Surely, my friends on the left are not particularly enamored towards the current pope, but I find their animus to be deeply rooted against the theological stances of John Paul II.

And where do I sit?

Firmly between these two schools when I'm at my best, I hope.  I find Benedict to be a thinking man's (or woman's) theologian in the best tradition of Augustine and Bonaventure.   He's concerned about tradition, but he's also concerned about unity within the Christian Churches.  It seems to me that this pope has made neither orthopraxy or orthodoxy his calling card.  With that in mind, I do hope John Allen is correct and the Benedict XVI has a few good years left in him.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Didn't read the full post, but your excerpts. I am currently reading "The Myth of Hitler's Pope" about Pius XII. The author (a rabbi who teachers at Ave Maria U) believes the reason why so many people think he was a lackey to Hitler is because of this media bias, among other things. I am early on in the book, but it is pretty good so far.

Chris J