Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

The BBC wants white smoke — now!

Wednesday, 13 March, 2013

The black smoke was barely visible when the BBC headlined the result thus: “Cardinals deadlocked over next Pope.” The use of “deadlocked” there shows how absurd the media coverage of the conclave has become. How quickly people forget that the conclave of 1740, which ended with the election of Pope Benedict XIV, lasted from February 18 until August 17, a total of 181 days. In case the BBC does not understand what’s going on in Rome, this morning’s black smoke indicates that there have been three ballots so far without anyone getting the required 77 votes.

Along with impatience, the other hallmark of mainstream media coverage of the conclave has been the tireless output of stories about Vatican scandals and political intrigue. This has to be done to fill the industry’s maw, but it distracts from the bigger picture, namely that the Catholic Church is the world’s largest non-governmental organization, and its work in promoting international understanding, working for peace, and caring for the poorest of the poor is vital to global well-being. Sure, it is not always perfect in the pursuit of its aims, but it is fully engaged in parts of the world where states have failed.

The constant coverage of scandal and intrigue in the Vatican has become a staple of journalism today, but the Catholic Church cannot be reduced human weakness and power politics. For believers, the church is a divine as well as a human institution, one that is devoted to bringing peace and justice to the world. That’s why the election of a new Pope matters to non-Catholics as well as to Catholics. Given the importance of their task, the BBC should allow the Cardinals to take their time in making their choice. The confident prediction here is that we will have a new Pope tomorrow.

BBC News


Comments are closed.