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...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

France 2 and Benoît XVI

I didn't followup my Portuguese-language post about GLOBO'S coverage of the Pope's ascension yesterday night, because it was excessively negative even for the journalistic standards I am used to in Europe and in the US.

They even had a little smirking commentary piece by journalist/film director, Arnaldo Jabor, who quoted the late odious Edward Said, saying how divided religion makes Europe (just as politics make the Arab world divided), and how much it would be to "reform" it out of our lives. Jabor said we are living in "reactionary times not just conservative ones", and that a conservative Pope will add to that not lessen it. What a tragedy, he said.

Now why should I be surprised, since Jabor came out with a piece after the previous Pontiff's death, called I didn't like John Paul II. Talking about the world-wide emotional outpour of love towards the Pope, which he didn't share, he exclaimed, "Como eu estou sozinho!", or, "Gosh, I'm so alone feeling this way!". Whatever Arnaldinho. If old Roberto Marinho were still alive, you'd be f*dido.

So it was with trepidation that I tuned into France 2's nightly news broadcast, expecting the worst. As often happens when one does, I came out surprised and favourably so.

Yes, if I had a dollar/pound for every mention of "the Conservative Cardinal Ratzinger", I'd be atop Fortune 500 today, but fortunately, France 2 had more factual coverage than news analysis, as often happens with the Iraq or America coverage.

David Pujadas, the main presenter (anchor) of France 2's 8 PM newscast, always looks as if he has a naughty secret he's dying to impart but won't, so I am used to his Mona Lisa smile when talking about contentious issues. Today, he didn't restrain his amused glances when speaking to three guests, three French Cardinals in fact, who though under the vow of Secrecy about the Conclave, were surprisingly (to my mind) revealing.

  • Jean-Marie Cardinal Lustiger, ex-Metropolitan of the See of Paris, present-day priest at the Church of Saints Marcellino and Pietro in Rome.

The Cardinal said that the voting was very precise, and it was obvious from the first ballot who the runaway leader was.

  • Paul Cardinal Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council of Culture.

Said the problem with the smoke, which befuddled more than one viewer as to shade, had to do with the chimney not having been swept (!).

  • Philippe Cardinal Barbarin, Cardinal of Lyon.

Who speaks a mile a minute, and though perhaps lacks the gravitas expected of his Office, seems a very congenial man. He frankly admitted to being awed by the Conclave, and said the "Guatemalan Cardinal" (Rodolfo Quezada Toruño), who he was next to throughout the proceedings, was restlessly excited, and wouldn't stop "gossiping", saying what an amazing event they were privy to in the Sistine Chapel.

I have to admit, I LOL'ed when I heard that.

See, now why don't we get this type of coverage; human, approachable, readily understood by anyone without the judgementalism we get on US news media?

Cardinal Barbarin also confirmed what the talking heads on almost all news media speculated, namely, about the Papal Regnal name Cardinal Ratzinger took for himself, Benedict.

The pundits got it bang on when they suggested this was to honour Benedict XV (who most news outlets honed in his anti-WWI stance, an obvious reference to the Iraq Liberation), a man who sought to unify the Church. The Cardinal also said that the new Pope, when addressing his electors, said St. Benedict is the patron saint of Europe, and so it's an honour with a dual reference.

Then coverage turned to the Cardinals cornered in their cars by Italian journalists, asking them for any insider info, but these Italians and French Cardinals were wily, and didn't offer much. The most one said was, in response to the anti-conservative hysteria, that we must remember the old Pope's injuction, "Do not be afraid". "Do not be afraid!", first-gear cranking, speeding off.

And speaking about cars, with typical French esprit, the voice-over redacteur mentioned how the new Pope entered his Papal limousine with trepidation, though he shouldn't have, because it was a German car. *camera shot of a black Mercedes-Benz*

I also admit to laughing there too.

(It was like on Cavuto on Fox who had a journalist who said the food provided at the Vatican was typical Italian fare, except during lunch time the day of the election, when they were given frankfurters, and he knew then, "something was up". Heh)

France 2 said he was going in his limo because he wantd to visit his old Rome digs, in the Piazza Città Leonina, where he lived so many years, often to be seen walking on foot to his office in the Vatican. The crowds waiting for a wave, were not disapointed and he paused and made that now-trademark "old boxer" gesture with his two fists together held aloft. Maybe the crowds were gloryhunting, but man, you could feel a lot of love pouring out from the screen, for him already.

Going amongst the people in his first day as Pope was not only a wonderful gesture, but a very savvy one. As a friend told me, the more I find out, the more I am impressed by this man.

Finally, the coverage turned to the small village of Marktl ("little Market", a very gemütlich name in a typical Austro-Bavaro way), a humble Bavarian border town with Austria. There we got to see the local village church, already reverently putting up the photo of their favourite son, the new Pope Benedict XVI.

One elderly man said the new Pope, whilst still Cardinal, had visited them only recently, and he had blessed his granddaughter "quite tenderly". Even his fiercest critics universally have said what a kindly, even sweet man he is, and not the Torquemada-like ogre the intelligentsia would have us believe.

(And here I am reminded of what the news and academic powers-that-be did to George W. Bush the moment he ran for office. They did the same thing to Ronald Reagan when he won the White House. Likewise, the doomsday crowd are coming out in force for Benedict XVI, the EXACT way they did for John Paul II. "He's too conservative! It will lead to the destruction of the world! God help us all!". And what happened? The Fall of Communism. The Fall of the Taliban and Saddam Hussein. One of the most beloved, and respected Popes of all time. Some people just never learn)

This seems to echo the positive coverage in Germany yesterday, as even very progressive papers mentioned more with pride than distaste, the election of the first German Pope in almost a thousand years, since St. Leo IX, who was actually born in modern-day France, in Colmar, Alsace. Oh those Alsatians! The ping-pong of the West, were it not for Poland.

Here is an excellent German News media review site, which gathered the leading headlines of German dailies today. Note, sadly, the negative articles are starting already in Germany, but at least the first spate were not.

German Media react to Benedict XVI

Since I have access to a slew of foreign channels on my digital cable system, and futhermore, as you know, I am a polyglot, I will be keeping close tabs on all media regarding the new and (for most) hopeful reign of Benedict XVI.

Just as soon as the Installation Mass is over on Sunday, it'll be quirky business as usual on my blog. Until then, it's mostly "All Papa Ratzi, All the Time".

Well it beats a week of blogging about snooker.


  • Hello!!

    Should I say this in English or in my native tongue (Spanish)? Anyway, I love your comments about our dear Papa Ratzi, the Conclave, the news coverage, etc. Kudos to you!

    Looking forward to your next posts!


    By Anonymous Veronica, at Fri Apr 22, 06:46:00 pm GMT-4  

  • Veronica, thank you so much for taking the time to comment about liking my Papa blogposts.

    I hope it shows that I love blogging about the Pope, and although that's not what I will keep on doing since I have an 'eclectic' blog, it'll always be a topic I will return to with joy.

    As for the language:

    Puedes hablar cualquier idioma que quieras, Veronica, que para mi es un gran placer hablar en Castellano lo maximo posible.

    Gracias por tus palabras tan tiernas y sinceras. Espero verte por aqui en el futuro. :)


    By Blogger vbspurs, at Sat Apr 23, 04:33:00 pm GMT-4  

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