In what NPR thought was a fitting tribute to the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the February 28 edition of Morning Edition sought to diminish the legacy of the pontiff emeritus by sharply criticizing his time in the chair of St. Peter.
Correspondent Sylvia Poggioli claimed that “while the cardinals publicly praise Benedict for his courageous act, privately many are reassessing his legacy.”
After detailing the logistical problems the Vatican has experienced after Benedict the XVI became the first pope in 600 years to resign, Poggioli then tore into the Church for what she described as a papacy “marred in crises.” Poggioli produces a laundry list of criticisms aimed at Benedict:
He angered Muslims when he quoted inflammatory remarks on Islam and violence; he offended Jews when he lifted the excommunication of a traditionalist Holocaust-denying bishop; and he was severely reprimanded by European politicians over his remarks that condoms help spread AIDS. He also failed to restore unity with Anglicans and Orthodox.
After detailing the papacy “marred in crises,” Poggioli then turned to liberals’ favorite attack line against the Catholic Church: sexual miscondut scandals. NPR cited David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests (SNAP), who criticizes Benedict for not sanctioning one bishop for covering up abuse cases.
NPR continued its Pope bashing by noting that:
The sex abuse cloud will hang over the conclave to elect the new pope. As will a confidential report on last year's embarrassing leaks of private papers that revealed corruption and turf battles within the Vatican. Benedict has left the report for his successor's eyes only, but many cardinals are already asking to be briefed on its contents.
Rather than provide any quotes from those speaking positively of Pope Benedict, Poggioli instead continued to quote critics, including Massimo Franco, author of numerous books about the Vatican, who said that the scandals have, “revealed Benedict to be a poor manager and a victim of the powerful administrative apparatus known as the Roman Curia.”
Poggioli concluded her sharply critical piece on Benedict’s resignation by opining that:
It's still unclear what influence the pope emeritus will wield and how two popes will co-exist inside the Vatican.
Benedict has indicated he'll live a monk-like life of prayerful seclusion, but rather than take the German priest's word for it, NPR opted to close on a note that suggests years of intrigue to come.