Monday, April 21, 2008

All Poped Out

Pope Benedict XVI went back to Rome last night and relinquished control of the airwaves after a week of televangelizing. Granted, he just showed up here, the media did the televangelizing.

In the aftermath of the papal visit, during which reporters breathlessly recounted every last detail of Benedict's stay, two things stand out in my mind:

1 - Americans are in desperate need of spiritual guidance
2 - The media really whored themselves out and set the separation of church and state debate back a couple of hundred years

That America is devoid of a moral compass and needs God isn't a belief limited to crackpots in the Bible Belt. There's a reason why there are so many self-help books out there and why Americans flip flop between faiths - many of us are searching for something bigger than us to help us navigate these crazy times. In that context, I can appreciate why so many people, even disenchanted Catholics, are reeling over the first visit to the U.S. by the new Pontif.

The media blitz surrounding the Pope's visit, though, was unnecessary. All the screens at my gym were tuned in to the Pope's Mass at Yankee Stadium yesterday and I couldn't help but think that some weird, twisted force had taken over the press and turned them all into mouthpieces for the Church. Yes, coverage on the papal visit inclded mentions of sexual abuse by priests, but by all accounts the media couldn't get enough Benedict. Why? Isn't the press supposed to remain objective on issues of faith and politics? Why, then, did FOX and ABC and NY1 send their reporters for on-the-scene coverage and hours of live broadcasting from a Catholic mass? NY1 even had a priest from Opus Dei describing how the mass works -- you can't buy that kind of publicity! And I found that offensive. While Americans may need spiritual guidance I hardly think the Catholic Church has any moral authority on any of the issues of that affect humanity. That the media was so eager to be a part of the Vatican's PR campaign was disappointing and kind of frightening.

I guess things could be worse, we could be in Iran and the religious proaganda would be far more constant and ridiculous.

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