Jack Valero is hammered by Protect the Pope today for saying, in an interview with Zenit, that he does not believe the English media are anti-Catholic. Here is what he said:
“I don’t believe in that ‘anti-Catholicism’ of the [English] media. As I said, there is much religious ignorance and much indifference. On the other hand, the media is interested in dramas and controversies, and not in happy stories: this is how they function. That is why the majority of religious news that appears has a negative context — sexual or financial scandals, hypocrisy, etc.”
Mr Valero is absolutely right. There is a lot of negative stuff in the media – and such newspapers as the Independent and the Guardian are clearly anti-Catholic – but it does not follow that the media here are anti-Catholic. On the contrary. Two of the most powerful newspapers in Britain, the Daily Telegraph and the Daily Mail, are largely pro-Catholic. The Telegraph has a Catholic editor, Tony Gallagher. Two of its recent editors, Charles Moore and Martin Newland, a Downside boy, were Catholics.
On August 6, furthermore, the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Telegraph published a joint editorial attacking the secularists who were trying to undermine the Pope’s visit. This “unequivocal support of the Holy Father’s state visit” from “the most senior and reputable newspaper and media group in the UK” was welcomed by Protect the Pope, as it was by all of us.
Such smut papers as the Sun and the News of the World tend to be pro-Catholic, too, even if they do regularly publish saucy pictures. The editor of the NoW, Colin Myler, is a Catholic, and has been described as ”devout”. Nor should we forget that Rupert Murdoch was made a papal knight for giving millions of dollars to the Church. As for the mighty Spectator, its editor, Fraser Nelson, is a Catholic, and so are its deputy editor (Mary Wakefield), its assistant editor (Freddy Gray, late of this parish), its arts editor (Liz Anderson) and its assistant books editor (Clare Asquith). The director-general of the BBC, Mark Thompson, is also a Catholic.
Yes, yes, yes, of course so-called Catholics can be very anti-Catholic; in fact, the most virulently hostile anti-Catholics are often Catholic by birth. All the same, if I were a secular humanist I might begin to feel there was a Catholic conspiracy at work in this land. I greatly admire the loyalty that inspires the Protect the Pope website, but I have to say that it is as devoid of nuance, irony and scepticism as Protest the Pope, and has been too ready to see anti-Catholic plots.
Peter Tatchell is no threat. He has no power. The threat comes from our respectable middle-class rulers, most of whom welcomed the Pope’s visit but at the same time would agree with Tatchell on such matters as abortion, gay marriage, contraception and embryonic stem-cell research.