The original home of the blog known as 802 Online

Sunday, April 03, 2005

John Paul, our pope

Whenever I think of Pope John Paul, I recall the words of the liturgy I grew up with in Michigan. Every Sunday at Mass, there was a part — it's been so long now that I have trouble remembering just when it occurred — when the priest would ask us to pray for "John Paul, our pope." The words come to me from memory, like phrases from the Nicene Creed — no longer my creed, but still embedded in me so strongly I don't want to escape them. I feel a visceral sadness at the pope's passing, and I do honor the ways in which he embodied the best things that Christianity and Catholicism have to offer — peace, humility, forgiveness, love for our fellow human beings.

But the little teaser box on the cover of today's Free Press still bugs me — "5 Pages of Coverage Inside." There are only 12 pages in Section A, and the last page is taken up with a weather map and ads, and has room for only one very short story. Pope coverage takes up 2/3 of the front page, and 5 additional pages inside. There are actually only 2 articles in the entire section A written by Vermont reporters (and one pope-related sidebar, missing a byline, that has a Vermont angle.) One of the stories is about Vermonters' reaction to the death of the pope. Another, buried at the bottom of page 1A, is about a UVM scientist who falsified research and is facing federal fraud charges — on any other day, probably the lead story.

And yes, I'm a little concerned about the coverage of President Bush praising the pope. The AP article that appears in the Free Press doesn't mention anywhere the pope's strong disapproval of capital punishment or the war in Iraq. They weren't exactly two peas in a pod, our president and our pope. Is it accurate to link them so prominently without mentioning their disagreements?

And how do non-Catholics feel about all of this coverage, especially queer people? This pope adamantly opposed homosexuality and gay marriage (and women priests). He called my civil union "evil." Frankly, that's difficult to ignore.
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