Time’s Jeff Israely Asks ‘Will The Pope Behave in Austria?’

Jeff Israely's September 6 article on Time magazine’s website about Pope Benedict XVI’s upcoming trip to Austria is more proof that the mainstream media fear a muscular Christianity more than radical Islam. The article’s title itself asked, "Will the Pope Behave in Austria?," and recounted the Pope’s "provocative lecture about faith and reason" at the University of Regensberg, which took place nearly a year ago on September 12, 2006, and, as Israely put it, "set off riots in some corners of the Muslim world." Needless to say, the author is directing his question in the wrong direction, given the rage-filled Islamic masses that ran amok in reaction to the lecture.

Israely characterized that the "mild-mannered" Pope’s address threw him "into the fire of breaking-news notoriety — with both his keen intelligence and striking lack of political acumen on fine display" and that the "controversial" lecture is "the singular watershed of his papacy. Indeed, Vatican watchers now commonly divide Benedict's reign into ‘before and after’ Regensberg." That point is arguable, though the significance of the address cannot be overlooked.

Israely’s liberal viewpoint also emerged at other points in the article. In the same sentence as his mention of the "riots in some corners of the Muslim world," Israely wrote that the lecture "sparked renewed debate about the theological and philosophical roots of the so-called ‘clash of civilizations’ percolating across the globe." So-called "clash of civilizations"? Is that a bit of denial on the part of Israely?

Israely then discussed the Pope’s recent visit to Brazil.

On his last trip to Brazil, the Pope was making big news before even landing by telling reporters on the Rome-to-Sao Paulo flight that pro-choice politicians were automatically excommunicated. Later, he would speak about the Church's role in colonizing Latin America, without mentioning the history of forced conversions and other violence by Catholics against the indigenous population.

One question that immediately comes to mind in response is whether Israely would ever bring up is the more recent instances of forced conversions and "other violence," such as terrorism, that is perpetuated in "some corners of the Muslim world."

Israely closed the article by bringing up a standard mainstream media line in many articles about the Catholic Church - how Catholics in Austria "will be looking to their pontiff for words of encouragement as the nation's Church continues to recover from a sex abuse scandal in the 1990s.... Indeed, some will consider the trip a success... if Benedict can simply heal old wounds rather than open new ones."

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Matthew Balan's picture