I watched with interest yesterday the "Habemus papum!" (Latin for "We have a pope!") switching between the various networks. I found most of them poor in coverage and analysis. The Fox News special commentator, upon hearing that Cardinal Ratzinger, whom had been elected to be the next pope, had taken the name Benedict XVI, observed that "there were 15 Benedicts before him". While the Fox commentary seemed clueless, MSNBC and CNN seemed to stop translating the Latin once the new pope began his blessing.
Hugh Hewitt has a must read piece summarizing the naive editorial reaction of the major papers in America here.
Reuters runs with an interesting story titled "U.S. Cardinals Warn Against Snap Judgments on Pope" with the key paragraphs at the top of the article:
"U.S. cardinals criticized on Wednesday snap judgments on Pope Benedict XVI, saying some media coverage had been 'skewed' toward a mistaken caricature of the new Church leader as an iron-fisted conservative.
'I think we just have to be very careful about caricaturising the Holy Father, and very simply putting labels on this man of the Church,' Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles told reporters in Rome."
I find it ironic that secular media institutions are calling on the Vatican to take certain stances on issues of faith. I do not recall these same liberal opinion makers calling for a new type of Islam. The editorials that Hugh Hewitt links to with their criticisms give me more hope, not less, for this pope. As a Protestant, my prayers are with him and his flock. I think the MSM is wrong on this pope as well.
Update: Anne Applebaum, who is not "Catholic or religious", has an exceptional analysis of the European reaction to Cardinal Ratzinger's papacy. She writes:
"For the many Europeans who dislike religion, it was easy enough to dismiss the late pope as a "backward" Pole, and to find him inconsequential even when he somehow persuaded millions of young people to attend his outdoor "youth" Masses. But the advent of a German pope, who in fact shares many of John Paul II's views, may well make religion part of the European political debate again, this time on the western as well as the eastern half of the continent. At the very least, a German-speaking pope will be hard for Germans to ignore.
This will be a debate worth watching, even if you aren't Catholic or religious (and I am neither), because it will reveal much about the direction in which European politics is heading. It might also hold clues to the future of the battered, long-suffering transatlantic relationship. While many of the cultural differences between Europe and America are vastly overstated, the religious differences are profound."
Ms. Applebaum concludes with this observation:
"In their decision not to pick a pope from a part of the world in which the church is actually growing, the cardinals showed that they've nevertheless not given up on the continent where the papacy was born. Perhaps they see some trend that is invisible to the rest of us. Perhaps they are betting that the enormous growth in the European Muslim population, with all the questions it raises about national identity in countries such as Holland and France, may lead many Europeans, if not directly back to religion, then at least to a recognition that there is a role for the church in public life, or at the very least in history books."