The path to sainthood

If you have recovered from the royal wedding, the NFL draft, or whatever else captured your attention over the weekend, you can now direct your attention to an important ceremony that took place in Rome today. A few days ago, we talked about whether the royal wedding would overshadow Pope John Paul II's beatification, but I was pleased to see many outlets devoting reporters and space to the ceremony. Media Bistro, for instance, reports that cable shows were up and running this morning on the story.

Reuters' FaithWorld blog offers several posts from an international perspective, CNN's Belief Blog rounds up its television coverage, the Washington Post's On Faith has a round-up of commentary on the Pope's legacy, and you can catch audio from NPR. So many options!

Many of the stories follow a similar formula: 1.5 million (especially Poles and many VIPs) watched the beatification, the former Pope played an important role globally, and the beatification is the fastest in modern history. Most of the stories include at least one paragraph devoted to the sexual abuse crisis, a subject that has loomed in the background of this story for several years. Here are a few samples:


Advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse have objected to Sunday's honor, arguing the late pope failed to stop the problem and even favored the late Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ, after Maciel was accurately accused of sex abuse.


But the late pope has critics as well as supporters, particularly among those who accuse him of not doing enough to stop the abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

The New York Times:

Benedict inherited a sex abuse scandal that emerged in the final decade of John Paul’s reign, prompting some victims and critics to oppose the beatification or at least to question its speed, the fastest in modern times.

Most news outlets mentioned the sex abuse scandal in passing or towards the end, but The Guardian led with sex abuse scandal.

More than a million Roman Catholics set aside the scandals that have rocked their church to take part in a jubilant beatification of their late pope, John Paul II.

The Wall Street Journal chose to first highlight other issues, using the polarizing, vague "liberal" and "conservative" terms.

John Paul II's papacy has drawn criticism, however, among liberal Catholics who fault the pope for reinforcing conservative Church teachings, such as opposition to birth control and to women entering the priesthood.

This paragraph seems like more of a token mention rather than central to the criticisms of the beatification.

If you read one story, you might hop over to the Associated Press, which put six reporters on the story from all over the world, turning around a well-rounded look at symbolism around the event. Overall, it was good to see mainstream outlets keeping this ceremony high on the radar screen.

I had hoped that Slate might pursue an explainer on something like what the beatification signifies, miracles and steps to sainthood, or maybe the blood on display, but other outlets did a nice job of looking at different angles. Let us know if you see particularly encouraging or discouraging coverage.

Image via Wikimedia Commons.

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