Only a very few journalists working in the field of religion reporting today consistently produce quality work distinguished by a pleasing and fluid skill with language, a deep knowledge of the field, discrimination, and a maturity of insight that enables the journalist to offer just the right remark or vignette that takes a story a level beyond reporting to journalism.
Jean-Marie Guénois, Le Figaro’s religion reporter, is just such a craftsman. His reports from Pope Francis’ trip last month to Strasbourg to address the European parliament have been the most well rounded, considered and intelligent of the reports I have read of this event.
A great deal has been written about what the pope said on November 25 when he addressed the European Parliament -- and most of what has been written is of high quality. The BBC, New York Times, the wire services, and major European newspapers have accurately conveyed the concerns Francis has for Europe.
The BBC’s report covered most of the bases:
Pope Francis has warned that the world sees Europe as "somewhat elderly and haggard" during a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg. The Pope said the continent felt "less and less a protagonist", in a world that regarded it with mistrust. He also called for a "united response" to the help the boatloads of migrants arriving in Europe.
Pope Francis's whistle-stop visit to Strasbourg disgruntled some, who accused him of neglecting Europe. Many of Strasbourg's Catholics were upset that the Pope would not meet them or visit the city's cathedral.
The BBC combines the political and religious aspects of this story -- summarizing the pope’s words while also reporting the back-story of local Catholic disquiet. Le Figaro’s reports also examine the implications of Francis’ address, but where it distinguishes itself is in developing the back-story.
The article "Le Pape au chevet d'une Europe fatiguée" notes the disquiet mentioned by the BBC, but does so in a way that conveys greater meaning than the BBC’s mention of “disgruntled” Strasbourgers.
Continue reading "Le Figaro finds that pope Francis may have lost his touch" by George Conger.