Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

The Media and John Paul II

I used to be a fan of the BBC, preferring to watch it rather than CNN in a nation which far prefers American journalism. However, I noticed during the recent Tsunami tragedy and again now at the Pope's death, the CNN coverage is far more extensive, intelligent, sensitive and professional.

Granted the BBC's coverage is far more comprehensive than I would have expected from a network that has been noted by some of harbouring an anti-Catholic bias, nonetheless it is still highly aggressive towards many of the Pope's more 'controversial' policies, and its coverage is at times rather inaccurate or plainly incompetent.

Last night, I stayed up to watch the Pope's body being transferred to the Vatican Basilica. It was a splendid sight, fully conjuring up the tradition and antiquity of the papal office. As I watched it I was aware that it would probably raise the ire of many evangelicals and confuse and annoy many secularists and Protestants but it had me quite simply delighted and moved. One saw the procession of religious, priests, bishops and cardinals (albeit all men) and the various Vatican and Papal Household officials and Swiss guards go in solemn procession through splendid halls to the largest church in the world. As the glorious chant enveloped the ceremony, one felt truly the weight of history and tradition on the papal office, the solemn sense of continuity for this, the 264th successor of Peter. Of course, I am grateful to the mass media for making it possible for us to view this ceremony in such un-precedented detail. It has been enlightening...

CNN broadcast all this without commentary except when strictly necessary or to translate prayers. This made it possible for viewers to feel they were actually there and to participate in their own way- I sang along and prayed along! When I occasionally switched over to the BBC to compare, the commentators simply talked incessantly on a series of inane topics and silly speculation which one had heard flogged for the last couple of days. I felt all the talk of the conclave etc could be left until later as CNN so sensitively did. Moreover, when the BBC later broadcast a part of the Vespers from Westminster Cathedral, they chose to speak just as the Cardinal began his prayer. Truly a stupid and irreligious decision! When they subsequently screened a documentary on the Church's needs and the problems the cardinals faced, I watched with mild interest. But looking at Africa, one was told that the Church there faced an "aggressively evangelising Islam."! I wondered exactly which Evangel (or Gospel) the African Muslims preached and annoyed by the BBC's incompetence and inaccuracy, turned off.

I would urge those who had a choice to do the same. The BBC is clearly still biased! I understand that many of my friends in the UK have no choice and are grateful for what 'service' the BBC provides on the Papal death but those of us who have a choice would be better served by going to CNN and John Allen's insightful and intelligent analyses and comments.

On another note, I was amused by these two comments in today's 'The Guardian':
John Hooper noted that the Prince of Wales has had to postpone his wedding in this way:
"Earlier in the day, the cardinals had heard their late pontiff's will and fixed the date of his funeral in a way that, no doubt unintentionally, snookered the wedding of a divorced English heretic."

On the other hand, a fuming Martin Kettle (and I am told there were angry Muslims in the Arabic world too who opposed all the media coverage) said:
"Even so, it is hard not to catch one's breath at the rupture with national history that all this represents. Ours is still, after all, legally established as a Protestant nation. Until very recently the mere idea that a prime minister or the head of the Anglican church might have any kind of dialogue with Rome - never mind rearrange the next Protestant king's wedding to suit the cardinals in Rome - would have been regarded as close to treason. Catholicism, in its time, was as anathema to the British state as communism was in a later era. Five centuries ago we broke with Rome so that a king could remarry. Today our re-embrace of Rome means that a future king's remarriage has to be postponed."

At least Mr Kettle is honest and recognises that the Church of England's break with Rome was not strictly theological or Scriptural but political. As I have heard it said, it was built on the "syphillitic loins of Henry VIII"! I may not wish to personally express it in quite that way, but the underlying truth is there...

Apart from all this, there has been all sorts of fascinating letters, opinions and comments. As an aspiring religious in 'secular' Britain, this gives me much food for thought, reflection, prayer and analysis. The candid views of people tells me what we do right or wrong and the sort of impression and view of (Catholic) Christianity some people have. Either way, our work as Preachers of the Truth is cut out for us.


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