Oh those God is Love headlines!

00086popebenedictWe must offer another mitre tip to the Catholic uberblogger Amy Welborn: The Ratzinger Fan Club website has posted a vast (friends and neighbors, I do mean vast) collection of links related to commentary on and information about the new Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) encyclical by Pope Benedict XVI. The new Christianity Today weblog has a nice collection, too. Welborn also passed along one of the best snort your coffee (or hot tea) paragraphs that I have seen in quite some time. It's from a Globe & Mail reaction piece that went out on the wires:

Few Catholic scholars contacted this week had read the encyclical or planned to do so. Two professed amusement at the notion that the pope had written about love. And what puzzled some scholars is why Benedict had chosen the subject.

In other post-encyclical coverage of the news coverage, it is interesting to note that the veteran New York Times scribe Peter Steinfels did a bit of damage control in a weekend analysis piece entitled "Combing Through the Pope's First Encyclical." The heart of the piece is his admission that most reporters read this papal text -- well duh -- looking for traditional New York Times material about the Roman Catholic Church. Other papers, as always, then look to the Times for leadership.

Well, he didn't say precisely that. But he did say this:

Was it true, as two headlines claimed last Thursday, that "Pope Chooses an Uncontroversial Topic for First Encyclical: Love" and "Pope's Encyclical on Love Avoids Controversy"?

Controversy, it seems, means the intersection of religion with sex, science, politics and violence -- in short, the raw material of the culture wars. It was understandable, therefore, that reporters combed "God Is Love," the long-awaited first encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI, for declarations on homosexuality, monogamy, terrorism, and church and state. Other headlines capturing that effort were these: "Pope Warns About Loveless Sex." "Pope Defends Marriage While Eschewing Politics." "Church Cannot Stay on Sidelines in Fight for Justice." "Pope: Church Duty Is to Influence Leaders."

Yes, Steinfels could have mentioned the wackiest headline of all, but that would have been in bad form: "Benedict's First Encyclical Shuns Strictures of Orthodoxy."

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