Charles Dufour, Guest Columnist
I cannot remain silent in the face of the manipulative and deeply disrespectful attitude of most great media names who have been yielding again to the rehash of the usual platitudes, demonstrating lack of analysis as well as elementary respect for truth with base attacks on His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, in the wake of his resignation and the impending conclave.
As for the media in our own island, the disappointment expressed by Father Donald Chambers in his article published in The Gleaner on Wednesday, March 6, 2013 truly reflects how the Catholic community of Jamaica feels.
As was rightly pointed out by British writer, Brendan O'Neil, an ex-Catholic, on February 26th in an online article of the Telegraph: "Consider how every sex scandal gets politicised, turned from something that exposes the moral depravity of one individual or a group of individuals into something which calls into question the entire culture and belief systems of institutions. So those of an anti-Catholic persuasion - i.e. virtually the entire English establishment - have turned the child abuse scandal in the Catholic Church into a platform for attacking Catholicism itself."
This is the prism which allows us to understand the mindset behind certain attitudes in the media concerning the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. Whilst the Catholic Church is a community of sinners striving to reform, I do not think that the Catholic Church is in a "crisis of relevance". Indeed, if the Church and the papacy were truly irrelevant, the media wouldn't give us any attention and we would die a natural death.
Rightly does Father Chambers point out that while numbers might be small or have diminished in the West, statistics demonstrate the rapid growth of the Catholic Church in Asia and Africa. There is an anti-Catholic bias in the Western media, often seen on CNN and BBC. The anti-Catholic bias is, unfortunately, alive in our very country, and that in itself is a scandal. As Jamaicans we should not allow yellow journalism to take foot in our country.
SPEAKING THE TRUTH
As for the assertion that Pope Benedict XVI did not do enough in his pontificate concerning the abuse crisis, allow me to quote American Cardinal William Levada in a conference he gave on February 6, 2012 on a symposium concerning sex abuse and healing: "I want to express my personal gratitude to Pope Benedict, who as then prefect was so instrumental in implementing these new norms for the good of the Church, and for his support in approving the Essential Norms for the United States. Unfortunately, the Pope has had to suffer attacks by the media over these past years in various parts of the world, when he should receive the gratitude of us all, in the Church and outside it."
Indeed, once again, the TRUTH needs to be spoken. It was Cardinal Ratzinger who, as the Vatican's "top cop", to use the Gleaner's expression, issued the document titled 'On the Care of the Sacraments' (Sacramentorum Tutela), which was a direct response in the face of cases being brought to the Holy See.
These norms replaced the Instruction of 1922 regarding these crimes which had been reissued in 1962 with modifications at the time of the Second Vatican Council. It was Benedict XVI who met victims of abuse all over the world. It was the same Benedict the XVI who reiterated the thought of John Paul II - through norms published on May 21, 2010 and May 3, 2011 - that there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm children.
It is the same Benedict the XVI who defrocked guilty priests, thus purging the Church of elements that mar its face. It is, again, Benedict who caused an investigation in the Church of Ireland where heads rolled at his hands. It is the same Benedict XVI who unmasked the famous case of Father Marcial Marciel of Mexico. It was, again, Benedict who, on Ash Wednesday this year, spoke again in penitential terms for those who are ready to listen and hear.
WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT?
What more does the media want the Pope to do? If something more has to be done, in this area, it doesn't have to do with compensation, therapy or the defrocking of guilty priests and justice given in courts, which now is the normal fare.
Cardinal Ouellet, the Canadian cardinal, who was sent to Ireland by Pope Benedict as his personal envoy to meet abuse victims, stated in an interview with Canadian TV that the victims said to him that the Church needs to do more, not on the areas just stated, but in the spiritual aspect of the lives of those who were victims. These persons indicated to the cardinal that the Church has to work on spiritual healing and power of forgiveness.
The world has a debt of gratitude for Benedict XVI. Only in the future will we understand the greatness of this pontificate once the noise of the rumbling waves of indignation of the self-righteous media which want a Pope refashioned in its image of accepting gay marriages, of loosening up on sexual ethics, of redefining the family will have passed into the dust of forgotten memories.
It is my hope that the media at large will not follow the footsteps of The New York Times, which sweeps under the carpet sex scandals when they are not linked with the Catholic Church, but have a field day when a Catholic priest is accused and branded forever by the media as guilty, even before going to trial.
It is a fact the Catholic Church worldwide is a leader in the protection of youth and in helping victims. Recent scandals in the US in the sporting arena and the Boy Scouts clearly demonstrate that these organisations, and society at large, have a long way to go before they reach the safety norms which the Catholic Church has put in place to protect children from very sick adults.
We Catholics in Jamaica expect better from the media. Since the mid XIX century, we have been at the forefront of education (think of Immaculate and St George's College. Leaders have come out of our institutions.
Let us remember that Marcus Mosiah Garvey was deeply influenced by Catholic thought. Let us remember that generations of teachers have been formed in our colleges, the poor have been taken care of and the sick have been assisted.
In the face of this, the least one would expect from our media is respectful and balanced reporting on the closing of a brief, yet astounding pontificate.
The Most Rev Charles H. Dufour is Archbishop of Kingston. Email feedback to email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.