Christianity, ethics and journalism: An anti-sermon on Easter Sunday

April 4, 2010

Easter Sunday and I feel like giving an anti-sermon on religion. I’m one of those heartless media types that thinks the Pope and the Catholic Church should be given “Hell” over allegations of child abuse going back 50 years.

On March 10, the chief exorcist of the Vatican, the Rev. Gabriele Amorth (who has held this demanding post for 25 years), was quoted as saying that “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican,” and that “when one speaks of ‘the smoke of Satan’ in the holy rooms, it is all true—including these latest stories of violence and pedophilia.” This can perhaps be taken as confirmation that something horrible has indeed been going on in the holy precincts, though most inquiries show it to have a perfectly good material explanation. [The great Catholic cover-up]

I agree with the eminent jurist Geoffrey Robertson that the Pope should be put on trial for covering up systematic child abuse that amounts to a crime against humanity.

Well may the pope defy “the petty gossip of dominant opinion“. But the Holy See can no longer ignore international law, which now counts the widespread or systematic sexual abuse of children as a crime against humanity. The anomalous claim of the Vatican to be a state – and of the pope to be a head of state and hence immune from legal action – cannot stand up to scrutiny. [Put the Pope in the dock]

But my real inspiration today is a couple of nice lines in Rosemary McLeod’s  “Easter” column in the Sunday Star Times, and a point that’s worth challenging.

This is quite good:

I’d guess that most journalists have barely had a Christian upbringing, have scant religious knowledge in general.

It might or might not be true. Certainly in my experience, there’s no shortage of Christian students in my journalism class; they’re probably in a slightly higher proportion than the gay and lesbian students and there might even be the occasional overlap between these cohorts. I’ve usually had more Christians than Muslims (for example) in my tutorials.

On the general point though I think Rosemary is right. Journalists tend to be cynical, hard-bitten and to swing along the spectrum from agnostic to atheist to humanist.

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