Saturday, March 13, 2010

Pope Bashing

is in high season now. I opened the paper while half-awake this morning to catch the lead "Pope helped house suspected pedophile" with a large colour picture of the current pope greeting the head of the German Bishops' Conference. The article is buried in Section B ('Canada & World'), page 8, with a header of "Religion".

There's a holy grail for pedophile-abuse lawyers--the incredible wealth of the Vatican. This is an idea that will not leave the popular imagination, facts be damned:

To put it bluntly, the Vatican is not rich. It has an annual operating budget of $260 million, which would not place it on any top 500 list of social institutions. To draw a comparison to the nonprofit sector, Harvard University has an annual operating budget of a little over $1.3 billion, which means it could run the equivalent of five Vaticans. This is to say nothing of the corporate world. Microsoft in 2002 spent $4.7 billion on research and development alone and has annual sales of $293 billion. On the scale of the world's mammoth enterprises, the Vatican doesn't rate.

John Allen

Greed will not believe anything less than billions, if not trillions, of dollars of wealth hidden somewhere by the opulent Vatican. And the Pope is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of this incredible treasure-trove. So, tagging a current pope to alleged misconduct directly then becomes the all-important tool to gain access to this booty.

I get the need for journalists to have no special friends who are above suspicion. And I understand that allegations like this need to be fully aired. Imagine my confusion when I read the article and come away with 'the current pope, then archbishop, arranged for housing for an accuse priest while he sought counselling and therapy'.

Where's the beef? Did the pope do something that was improper, illegal even? Did he fail to do something that he should have, morally or legally? No answers to these questions are to be found in this article. Did the Vancouver Sun edit the submission to eliminate these issues? Or did the author (Gina Doggett) think these wouldn't be germane to her story? She threw in enough hot-button issues in the article, with only a slender thread of relevance to the lead story. Why weren't the key questions asked and answered?

There is, alas, a possible explanation for these omissions. Read this for more.