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On Benedict XVI, the BBC is already writing the first draft of history

The Catholic liberal elite dominate the corporation

By on Monday, 18 February 2013

Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI

When I heard that Radio 4 was replacing the Moral Maze with a special programme about the Pope on Saturday night, I thought “That should be interesting.” Then I discovered that the programme would be chaired by Ed Stourton. Well, it’s Lent and charity matters so I will only say that he summoned up a predictable group of his chums and their remarks were what one would expect: largely predictable. Hans Küng, that most aged of aging liberals, spoke in his heavy German accent to ask what had happened to the youthful (and fellow liberal) Ratzinger since the heady days of the early 1960s; he decided that he must have suffered a “trauma.” John Wilkins, former editor of The Tablet, echoed Küng: the young Ratzinger, appalled by the student riots of 1968, had retreated into conservatism; otherwise, how could the man who had written such a hopeful book about Vatican II have morphed into the watchdog of orthodoxy?

Much was made of the Pope’s time as Prefect of the Congregation of the Faith. According to Wilkins he had had a “close bond” with John Paul II. He made it sound sinister: the meeting of minds of two deeply conservative men, both determined to turn the clock back, one a Polish Pope and the other the “Panzer-Kardinal” with a fearsome reputation. Fr Timothy Radcliffe, former Master of the Dominicans, was wheeled on; he said he had been called to the CDF to be interviewed by Cardinal Ratzinge, making it sound as if he had had a brush with the Inquisition.

Marco Politi, a Vaticanologist, who has trained his beady, critical eye on the Vatican in the same way that other people gaze at the stars, thought this was the “paradox”: personally Benedict XVI could be gentle and charming – but when it came to defending principles he could be “very tough.” Gentle and tough: I always think of Christ as being gentle (with sinners) and tough (with the other lot); perhaps a little bit of his divine master has rubbed off on Ratzinger?
Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, onetime rector of the English College in Rome, gave as his opinion that Ratzinger “got worried” by the new theology. He was surprised when the Cardinal was elected Pope; he had thought him “too old.” Professor Tina Beattie of Roehampton University felt the Cardinal saw the new theology as “a threat.” Michael Walsh, papal historian, referred to the Vatican Bank scandal and to “Vatileaks”; he felt the Pope had handled these badly. Then Benedict’s gaffes were mentioned: the Regensburg Lecture; SSPX Bishop Williamson and his denial of the Holocaust. Stourton opined that the child abuse scandal had “cast a long shadow over his pontificate.”

Just as I began to wonder if we would hear anything that has not been aired many times in the media I discerned the invisible but unmistakeable presence of the Holy Spirit in this discussion: the speakers turned to the Papal visit of 2010 and despite their previous caveats, criticisms and cautionary tales, they were clearly moved by its impact. Lord Sacks, outgoing Chief Rabbi, who had been very worried by the Bishop Williamson affair, felt “the sight of this deeply humble man dispersed the clouds” and that meeting him was like “an epiphany.” Tina Beattie thought Benedict hadn’t “put a foot wrong in his visit to Britain”; and Mark Dowd, former monk and now a TV producer, had knelt on the grass in Hyde Park in tears when singing the Tantum Ergo. I was waving and cheering in the Mall that same afternoon and know just how he felt.

Next time Radio 4 decides to put together a programme about Pope Benedict I would like to offer them a few suggestions so that listeners are not served up the same tired old menu. Instead of Tim Radcliffe, why not invite fellow Dominican, Aidan Nichols, who is a heavyweight theologian and who might well have insights to offer? Instead of Cardinal Murphy O’Connor, why not Bishop Egan of Portsmouth or Bishop Davies of Shrewsbury who have been appointed during this pontificate? Instead of Professor Beattie, why not Josephine Robinson, who has run the Association of (contented-at-not-being-ordained) Catholic Women for many years? Instead of Michael Walsh, why not Dr Joseph Shaw of the LMS, to talk about Benedict’s “reform of the reform” of the liturgy?

Instead of John Wilkins, why not Mgr Keith Newton, who is in charge of the Anglican Ordinariate? Amazingly, these imaginative, original and pastoral aspects of Benedict’s pontificate were never mentioned during Saturday night’s discussion. Instead of Mark Dowd, why not Fr Tim Finigan, whose widely read blog, “The Hermeneutic of Continuity”, was actually inspired by the election of this Pope? Instead of Marco Politi, why not Fr Ian Ker or an Oratorian priest, to talk about the influence of Newman on the Pope? And finally, instead of Ed Stourton, why not our own William Oddie to be the chairman -just in case the discussion needs to be livened up and the ghosts of elderly liberals put firmly back in their sarcophagi?

Just a few thoughts.

  • Cassandra

    I think it is a scam. International Criminal Court is in the Hague not Brussels.

  • chris

    Oh dear, am I having an impaired hearing? As someone educated by the followers of St Benedict, Markmangham should be able to discern what is balanced or lacking in proper judgment. The two sides simply do not match and mix well. I would be even more defensive and vocal than the author of this article but I thought he did a splendid job in highlighting the flaws of the secular media in presenting a balanced picture of Benedict XVI. Surely, Markmangham must be aware that the liberal theologians of the 20th century have no place in the Roman Church. Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI have never been clearer on this issue. Truth is truth and simply cannot be reduced to open debate or selectively picked apart for appreciation. This is all the more so when the truth pertains to a divinely revealed truth entrusted by Christ onto the Church to protect. Catholics who cannot accept the clarified beliefs may opt to leave. Trust me, there is no lost love here.

  • LongIslandMichael

     I could careless what non Catholics or liberal Catholic say or think. The only thing I care about is what Our Lord commands and guides the Church to do and obey. Liberals and non Catholics are too secular and think that they can impose man’s values and beliefs on Christ and His Church. They are too arrogant and selfish to understand this not about them and their will but about God’s Will and what he commands and desires.

  • LongIslandMichael

     Well said and this is exactly why the Holy Father is abdicating. IMO he recognizes and is being led by the Holy Spirit to abdicate now. He has done as much if not more then he can possibly achieve given his health and age. By abdicating he becomes an even more powerful advocate for God by entering into a life of prayer as the Church and Her people’s intercessor while the next pontiff carries and even heavier load but with more physical capacity to present the Good News.

  • Kerriblu


  • Kerriblu

    You have got it spot on, Peter!

  • Kerriblu


    So much for ‘impartiality’!

  • Kerriblu

    You speak for yourself!

  • Peter

    If any of this is true, such acts of desperation are a sign of atheism in its death throes.

  • Nesbyth

    I do think Francis has a point about the imbalance on the BBC with regard to the Catholic Church.
    You rarely get any traditionalist asked for their opinions of the Papacy, rather those who complain about the lack of women priests, married priests, contraception or the more traditional liturgy….they are always wheeled out.

    And with regard to women in the Church, I do not see any other of the Abrahamic faiths with so rich a tapestry of powerful women: four Doctors of the Church, St Catherine of Siena, St Teresa of Avila, St Therese of Lisieux and St Hildegard of Bingen as well as countless impressive women, from the first martyrs like St Lucy and St Cecilia, through the centuries…St Helen, St Elizabeth of Hungary, St Margaret, St Clare, St Bernadette, two of the children of Fatima (chosen by Our Lady…as in the case of Bernadette.)
    And many many more, the list is endless, not to mention the many foundresses of Women’s Orders and more recently, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

    The Catholic Church celebrates powerful women as well as those who lead hidden and contemplative lives, those who are missionaries and those who choose to do social work; Dorothy Day comes to mind.

    But what the Church does not entertain is for women to represent Christ at the altar. We have our spheres and our gifts and we are free to pursue and develop these.

    And a final note…I happened to be in Salisbury Cathedral the other day during a service and the procession which came onto the altar was almost entirely female clerics…just one male cleric bringing up the rear. The Anglican Church is becoming too feminised and I’ve heard that male vocations have fallen off considerably, almost to the 50% mark.

  • W Lewis513

    You mustmremember that C.M’O has beeb a coset Anglican for many years, like HK they are driven wild that the church did not swollow thier versionof ‘VAT !!  Bebe XVI  got right up teir nose when he suggested it was peopke like those I mentions who got it wrong. Even now the younger elements in the church are beginng to regogise their erroe, and calling for a retyrb or undreerstanding if TRADITION” which these gentlemen have long forgoton and tried to remove from the deposit of faith             

  • MsAneem

    It does seem like a scam. This comment about it from the R Dawkins’ website:

    “…. virtually ALL the news releases relating to an arrest warrant for this Pope, can be traced back to one source, ‘the International Tribunal of Crimes of Church and State’ (ITCCS), my research suggests that it is a bogus organization, led by one Kevin Annett, a defrocked priest. I cannot find any evidence that is is connected to any governments. I think the entire story may be an elaborate fraud….”

    So perhaps a former priest, getting his own back. (?)

  • licjjs

    I am glad I missed it!  Apart from anything else, they are absolutely boring in their predictability.  When I see certain Catholic names now, I duck.  You can be sure that, if the Pope is not infallible, they certainly (think they) are. How much more interesting and life-giving to read (I did not see him either) that the young man who addressed the Pope outside Westminster Cathedral told Channel 4 that young Catholics did not want a Pope who was going to change the teaching of the Church but one who would feed them with sound doctrine which is the life-blood of Christ’s Church.

  • Mazzalfa

    Catholics on the BBC are usually dissidents and bashing the Catholic Church is their only chance of a career. Don’t fund the BBC see

  • majorcalamity

    You don’t care what non Catholics or liberal Catholics think. You also think THEY are arrogant and selfish! I think you need to take a long look in the mirror and then go read a dictionary.

    You really cannot dismiss those who don’t share your beliefs in this way. If you do you must not be surprised when they treat you with disdain.

  • Cassandra

    I think the media would have published this if it was true. As for Child Abuse, Can we also include NATO and its officials for it. The bombing and killing whole families as well as maiming children.
    Think of the money that can be saved to feed the poor and needy of this world if NATO is disbanded.

  • Cassandra

    My sympathies with you. I neither have nor watch the TV. It is such a ghastly waste of money and time.

  • amfortas

    I think Ed Stourton really excelled himself in his liberal bias this time. He made no effort to present a balanced view. The guest list, as ever, was made up of all his friends. I sent a critical email to the BBC but I really shouldn’t have wasted my time.

  • derek

    Never read read Catholic Herald before… 

    I became catholic under John Paul II and have continued the journey under Pope Benedict XVI.  I was fortunate enough to have had my youngest son kissed and blessed by the Pope in Cofton Park, Brimingham.  It drives me mad hearing these fellow catholics (i think…) always scrutinising and analysing the “blunders” – all to do with the worldly aspects of the pontificate, but they never remember to mention the gifts of encyclicals and books and all the other ways the pope has encouraged and loved us.

    Anyway, wonderful article.  Thank you!

  • scary goat

     Welcome…hope you enjoy it here.  Don’t worry about some of the posts….most of us are Catholic here, but there are a few who like to come in here and post “other perspectives”. 

  • Cassandra

    The 16th  Century reformers would have a fit! 
    So we can expect the congregations to get less and the Cathedrals to become virtual museums and we shall then see our young men joining Islam!!

  • Mark

     Typical to attack with insults and no rational argument; your commentary is also rude.  Your behavior is very puerile and  foolish.

  • Mark

     Same message to you as to AlanP.

  • Nesbyth

    I don’t follow your reasoning here? Do you mean the Anglican Cathedrals?

  • Thomaspj Poovathinkal

    “women priests, married priests”

    Women Priests may come about to be a fact when any Pope allows it.
    But we need to wait for it and PRAY.

    Jesus was not a woman hater. MOTHER OF THE LORD was a Woman and SHE was QUEEN OF THE APOSTLES, MARY MAGDALENE “APOSTLE TO THE APOSTLES”,  and the Samaritan Woman….and may be  many more like them… If WOMEN can be APOSTLES why not they be PRIESTS?

    The Problem is with SEX-OBSESSED MEN.

    Where the Society is mature and enlightened and women can be free and fearless, things will be different when the CHURCH will take the first step in a POPE Prepared by THE LORD HIMSELF. But we need to wait and pray for SUCH A POPE who will give THE PEOPLE OF GOD also their due place in the CHURCH. THIS REQUIRES DE-INSTITUTIONALISATION.


    APOSTLESHIP includes PRIESTHOOD and not the other way. Priesthood is found also in other religions BUT NOT THE  APOSTLESHIP WHICH THE LORD gave to his CHURCH.


    By institutionalising the CHURCH or let us say over-institutionalising the same THE CHURCH lost its SOUL  and the fruit of that very soul : APOSTLESHIP.

    But then of course, those craving for Married Priests in the CHURCH are to be pitied as SPIRITUAL IDIOTS, who neither care for the PERSONAL EXAMPLE OF THE LORD and of the 12 APOSTLES and THE MIND AND INTERESTS of THE LORD and HIS CHURCH.

    Following the EXAMPLE OF THE LORD in recruiting from Married and retirable people………………………VERY DESIRABLE. It will glorify THE LORD and HIS CAUSE.

    Those who care for the CHURCH ONLY AS AN INSTITUTION may still persist with the demand for married clergy. These may include from among the clergy those never called by the Lord – PROFESSIONAL PRIESTS; AND Those called but LOST THE LORD’S CALL through UNFAITHFULNESS.

  • RuariJM

    And instead of Hans Kung, why not a period of silence?

  • RuariJM

    If you are seeking a Catholic perspective on events then may I suggest that you would be most likely to get what you’re looking for if you actually approach orthodox Catholics?
    Same as for a perspective on Marxism it is best to ask Marxist, rather than a follower of the Chicago School; for capitalism, ask an Adam Smith or Economist economic liberal rather than Alexei Sayle…and so on.

  • RuariJM


  • RuariJM

    Were ‘most Anglicans’ embarrassed? I thought the House of Laity represented ‘most Anglicans’.

  • Cassandra

    Both! If CC follows the same path!

  • Nesbyth


  • Percy_Fleur

    I presume that you are exonerated from your own injunction to “learn some charity”, and that you are free to continue to find the views of others “arrogant nonsense” and “hard to take seriously”?  Sounds to me like the “self-righteous and closed to argument” world of orthodox Catholicism is right up your street.  

  • majorcalamity

    I show plenty of charity, but we are not discussing me are we? If we were I could easily show you how and why. If the best answer that you can give is to attack the deliverer of the message then I think we know what to conclude. 

  • kentgeordie

    The blunders which you correctly put in inverted commas are the inventions of media pundits who are either ill-informed or hostile. If only our secular leaders could govern with the wisdom, firmness and love of our Holy Father …

  • majorcalamity

    There is absolutely no doubt whatsoever that those who are in favour of the extension of marriage DO occupy the moral high ground on this matter and those religionists who object have been exposed as the hypocrites they so often are. For those who claim to know “THE TRUTH” to be so ignorant is hard to understand. You seem to be so wrapped up in your own interpretations of this and that, to not have any common sense any more.

  • Ruari McCallion

    Do not confuse ‘moral high ground’ with ‘applauded by the noisome mob’.

    Easy to do but best avoided…

  • Ruari McCallion

    You may not seek the ‘orthodox Catholic view’ but if you are hosting audio programme that Is claiming to do so, then people like Hans Kung are not the best placed to present it.

  • AK P

    Great suggestions – don’t expect it will happen, but wouldn’t it be wonderful to have faithful Catholics representing our Faith.

  • majorcalamity

    Did they say “orthodox” in the programme?  I thought it was simply “Catholic”. Hans Kung might not be the pin up boy of the trads, but he makes sense to many of us, and I take him seriously. He represents a valid view of where your Church needs to be. 

  • majorcalamity

    Oh I don’t at all. I think for myself. The mob have no influence on me. The mob on here seem, in contrast, seem to influence each other pretty strongly.

  • LongIslandMichael

    Welcome home Derek and wells said!

  • LongIslandMichael

     Like I said I could careless what Non Catholics and liberal Catholics think. I  certainly pray for them and would not hesitate to be charitable to them but when it comes to their ideas I could careless because they are wrong.

    Truth does not change and will not change. Christ is the Truth and His Truth is the Catholic Church and its teachings and sacraments.  What those people believe and think is called  moral relativism. Moral Relativist are the opponents of Truth and freedom because they ultimately attempt to impose their will (ie., the will of man) over the will of God. 

  • LongIslandMichael

     Han Kung is a heretic. PERIOD. He has been part of the problem for many decades and sadly he has led many people astray from the Truth of Christ. We all have to answer for our own sins and the Good Lord knows I have many that I have done and will do penance for in purgatory but some people will be held b God for greater accountability then others especially shepherd’s who have led their flock astray. Hans Kung is one of the many shepherds who either knowingly or due to a lack of courage and faith has led many poor souls astray.

  • Quierosd

    This is the hardest job in the world!! God bless Pope Benedict…..and the choice of our next papal see even harder.