The news of Pope Benedict's surprise resignation topped the chart on this morning's news shows. And while some of the discussion involved questions surrounding the Pope's health, there was more than a mention of the global and systemic Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal which has enveloped not only the papacy of Benedict, but his role as a bishop in Germany and head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But in the sacred sanctuary of Fox & Friends, neither the "Friends" nor Fox's resident clergyman Fr. Jonathan Morris mentioned this stain on the papacy which, in addition to sexual abuse, includes allegations of Vatican corruption. Interesting.
Fr. Morris, on an audio feed, said he was shocked when, as he was getting ready to board a plane (he does lots of traveling) he heard the news. Morris spoke, in general terms, about the papacy. Nobody asked, as was done on Morning Joe during their interview with a priest, about Benedict's legacy because, one surmises, the issue of the Pope's handling of the Catholic sex abuse scandal could have come up.
After some talk about whether age would be a factor in the selection of the next pope, Brian Kilmeade put in a plug for Fox fave, NY's Cardinal Timothy Dolan who is head of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops whose views on the HHS mandate received extensive validation from Fox News. Kilmeade said that he didn't know any cardinals; "but it's hard to imagine a cardinal with more charisma and than the one we have here, Cardinal Dolan." He asked Morris if Dolan is a "legitimate contender." Morris enthused about Dolan, with whom he is very close, as "such a likeable, good holy man."
Morris then spoke about how the Pope's role is to preserve and protect Catholic dogma but in recent years, the pope's functions seem to be expanding as shown by the Pope's new Twitter feed. (Still no women!) He said that he found the pope's resignation "humble and a positive sign of changing with the times." Gretchen closed with a comment about this is "interesting because a lot of times, folks don't go out on top so to speak and this is a pure example of humility in that sense." (Was she making an oblique reference to the abuse scandal?)
While in another segment, Fox reporter Greg Palkot did bring up the scandal, it wasn't mentioned during this segment. Interesting.
And BTW, one of the legacies of Benedict was his laying the papal hammer down on Fr. Jonathan Morris' former order, the Legionaries of Christ, whose leader, Fr. Marciel Maciel, was not exactly a model of holiness. Somehow I doubt if you'll hear about that from the cute little Fox padre!
Benedict may have been the better man; he may have been the better man in the position. But he came across as cold, uncaring. Many people dregged up his past as a Nazi because there was a point where people were concerned he still believed the philosophy.
His “protect the priest” mentality on the sex scandals he presided over didn’t help, either.
FWIW: A few centuries ago, a Papal election in Viterbo had been going on for several years, until the local government, sick and tired of feeding the college of Cardinals, decided to rip the roof off of the venue. Within the space of a week or so, Habemus Papam was called out.
The lightening strike of today will, of course, be perceived as a signal from the supreme top dog but against/for whom??
The top theological minds on all sides are beavering away to work out how to spin that to best advantage and I’ve just bought all the popcorn available in the local supermarket.
Fox News probably thought he was just awesome, though.
Since the Fox Channel is infested with good caring loving Catholics it will be very very interesting to watch how they are going to spin this mess.