A weekly column by Father George Rutler.
Pope Benedict XVI was in Lebanon last week where the principal Catholic rite, the Maronite, traces its roots to Saint Maroun, who in the fourth century was a friend of Saint John Chrysostom. The Holy Father spoke to people who “know all too well the tragedy of conflict and . . . the cry of the widow and the orphan.” Like Blessed Teresa of Calcutta, the Pope linked violence to contempt for the right to life: “The effectiveness of our commitment to peace depends on our understanding of human life.” The defense of life “leads us to reject not only war and terrorism, but every assault on innocent human life, on men and women as creatures willed by God. Wherever the truth of human nature is ignored or denied, it becomes impossible to respect that grammar which is the natural law inscribed in the human heart.”
This contradicts those in our own country who plead for peace while violating the innocent unborn. Our current President has defended “partial-birth abortion” when (in arguing against the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act of 2002), as he infelicitously put it, “. . . that fetus, or child, however you want to describe it, is now outside of the mother’s womb . . .” It is not surprising that The New York Times should be so opposed to the Catholic Church whose teaching on the sanctity of life exposes the hypocrisy of that publication. If, according to the adage, “hypocrisy is the tribute which vice pays to virtue,” there is much vice promoted by The New York Times, but one is hard pressed to detect the remnant virtue.
Pope Benedict's final Mass in Lebanon attracted 350,000, yet the largest gathering of faithful in the long history of that ancient land was mentioned only on the bottom of page eight of The New York Times with a tiny photograph. The same issue's “Quotation of the Day” was by an “Egyptian religious scholar” Ismail Mohamed: “We don't think that depictions of the prophets are freedom of expression; we think it is an offense against our rights.” This is where hypocrisy burst into a veritable tap dance, for in March of this year, the Times ran a full-page advertisement mocking the Catholic Church, and a few days later refused to run a similar one mocking Islam.
The “Grey Lady” is only a few shades removed from what our Lord called “whitewashed tombs.” The mainstream media have defended vulgar and even pornographic anti-Christian films, stage plays, sculptures and painting as “art” entitled by free expression. When it comes to Islam, there is a different standard. Perhaps it is because newspaper editors know that Pope Benedict XVI will not demand that they be decapitated.
The Pope risked his life to go to the Middle East. At 85, he still is on active duty. And so will his successors be, long after the last subscriber to The New York Times has cancelled his subscription.