Hardliner cracks down, tramples freedom

benedictxviReader Martha pointed us toward an article by Reuters religion reporter Michael Conlon. The piece takes the increasingly common view that Pope Benedict XVI will focus on education when he visits the United States next month. For a particularly insightful look at the matter, I commend this piece by someone you may be familiar with. But look at how Conlon framed his story:

Pope Benedict likely will walk a fine line between trampling on academic freedom and laying down the law on orthodoxy when he meets with top U.S. Catholic educators next month, experts and observers say.

He will walk a fine line between trampling on academic freedom and laying down the law? Any line between those doesn't so great. This pope is clearly a bad man, according to this story. Well, let's see how Conlon backs it up. He claims that experts and observers are making this claim. Do they?:

"My guess is that Benedict might present a strong statement about Catholic character but probably not what I would call a rebuke," said Timothy Matovina, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame. . . .

"The suggestion that the pope is coming to the United States with a hammer for Catholic educational issues is not only premature but also prejudicial," the Rev. David O'Connell, president of Catholic University, said in a letter published in The Washington Post.

Quel horror! Oh wait, neither of those things seem to support the lede. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter predicts a broadly positive tone while Rev. Tom Reese (the former editor of the Jesuit magazine "America" -- and he's former for a reason, if you recall) says he's worried about academic freedom. If the lede replaced "experts and observers" with "the Rev. Tom Reese," it would be more accurate.

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