Sunday, March 22, 2009

The Pope, Angola, and the News: No Wonder 'Everybody Knows' What Those Catholics Are Like

The Pope celebrated Mass in Angola today. He also had a few words to say.

The impression you got of the Holy Father and those Catholics might depend on where you get your news.

The Associated Press: Catholic Church, "Ally of the Colonizers"

The Associated Press lead paragraph:
"LUANDA, Angola (AP) — Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass Sunday with hundreds of thousands of Angolans and decried the 'clouds of evil' over Africa that have spawned war, tribalism and ethnic rivalry that he said condemned poor people to virtual slavery...."
The AP article's 5th and 6th paragraphs give a pretty strong hint about what malignant force is behind Africa's troubles:
"...Angolans have been enslaved, subjugated and at war almost nonstop since Portuguese colonizers brought the first Catholic missionaries in 1491. Many of the slaves taken to Brazil, for example, came from Angola.

"The Catholic Church was an ally of the colonizers who discriminated against the people until independence from Portugal in 1975, when civil war erupted, in part fueled by the country's oil and diamond wealth...." (AP) (emphasis mine)
Unlike The Associated Press, Al Jazeera didn't imply a link between slavery, subjugation, war and the Catholic Church. The network did, however, quote excerpts from the Holy Father's remarks on corruption, war, and condoms.

Al Jazeera Lead Paragraph:
"The Roman Catholic pope has appealed to Africans to rid the continent of corruption and to combat poverty...."
Al Jazeera didn't say much about Catholicism in the article, apart from noting that there would be a Mass celebrated today.

Al Jazeera Paragraphs 7 through 10:
"...Benedict called on Africa to show 'a determination born from the conversion of hearts to excise corruption once and for all.

" 'Unfortunately within the borders of Angola there are still many poor people demanding that their rights be respected. Do not disappoint their expectations,' he said in his televised address.

"Benedict called for 'respect and promotion of human rights, transparent governance, an independent judiciary, a free press, a civil service of integrity, a properly functioning network of schools and hospitals'.

"Many of those are still lacking in Angola where two-thirds of the population still live on less than $2...." (Al Jazeera)

No Wonder 'Everybody Knows' What Those Catholics are Like

A few days ago, I wrote about the sort of indignation some people feel toward the "irresponsible" and "immoral" Catholic Church.

This was a sampling of comments, after the Pope said that condoms aren't a good idea: :
  • "[name redacted] You can always count on the Catholic church (for anything from idiocy to downright fascism): [link redacted]
  • "[name redacted] [link redacted] I refuse to be counted a Catholic. I didn't ask to be one and there should be a way of renouncing one's forced baptism.
  • "[name redacted] Condoms don't prevent AIDS, religion does. [link redacted] Get f****d, Catholic Church.
    (March 18, 2009)
Although America as a whole is fairly tolerant of people who don't fit the WASP/Boston Brahma mold, That sort of attitude toward the Catholic Church isn't at all uncommon.

Looking at today's news, I think I can see part of the reason

In America, quite a few people read and hear stories distributed by The Associated Press and other Western news media. The old-school, traditional news outlets have competition now, but I suspect that most Americans still don't read Al Jazeera, or any other of the newer news outlets.
Traditional News Media: Not Hostile, Just Clueless
At best, American news media just doesn't get religion in general. Generally, I'm grateful when reporting of a crime involving a Catholic doesn't revert to the "former altar boy" treatment. I'll take what improvement has happened, and be grateful.

My guess is that the "ally of the colonizers" innuendo got past because
  • It's sort of true
    • Missionaries did come on Portuguese ships
    • They did not, so far as I know, try to antagonize Portugal while doing so
  • The idea that Catholic leaders are oppressive seems to be pretty wide-spread
I think some anti-Catholic feelings come from getting information from outfits like The Associated Press. Many news and publishing institutions seem to have not gotten past the Nast & Monk view of those Catholics.

But, maybe they'll learn.

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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.