I thought I'd wait to write this post until I saw mainstream media coverage of one particular aspect of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico. And then, thousands of stories about the visit to Mexico later, I realized that the press wasn't going to be covering it. Which, assuming this story is true, says a lot about the media. Here's how Catholic News Agency reported the most recent diplomatic gaffe:
During her recent visit to Mexico, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an unexpected stop at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe and left a bouquet of white flowers "on behalf of the American people," after asking who painted the famous image.
You can read more about Guadalupe here, but Roman Catholics believe that the beautiful image was miraculously imprinted on the cloak of a 16th-century peasant. It is Mexico's most popular and important religious image and the basilica that houses it is the second-most popular Catholic shrine in the world.
Here are the details of the exchange:
Msgr. Monroy took Mrs. Clinton to the famous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, which had been previously lowered from its usual altar for the occasion.
After observing it for a while, Mrs. Clinton asked "who painted it?" to which Msgr. Monroy responded "God!"
Now, it's one thing to not know what the Catholic Church teaches about Guadalupe. But it's another for the State Department not to have briefed Clinton prior to her visit. Of course, those are political considerations.
Here's what I'm wondering: Why was this story not deemed newsworthy? I'm sure some people would say that it's just bias -- that if, say, a Bush Administration official had said it, we'd be hearing all about it. I'm not sure. I suspect that it's more likely we're seeing the media's ignorance of Mexico's religious heritage and her most important religious picture.
The reader who sent this story in thought the faux pas was certainly worthy of at least a line or two in coverage of the visit. I agree.
This being Catholic News Agency, it's also worth noting how the story ended:
This evening Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is set to receive the highest award given by Planned Parenthood Federation of America -- the Margaret Sanger Award, named for the organization's founder, a noted eugenicist. The award will be presented at a gala event in Houston, Texas.
Image via Wikimedia commons.