WASHINGTON, DC (Catholic Online) – The anti-Catholicism that abounds in the mainstream media, the academy, and the entertainment world continues to both amuse and upset us greatly! Who needs morning coffee when you can read the latest stupidity about the Conclave scheduled to commence in the Vatican next week?  It’s enough to evoke peals of laughter or growls of anger. 

Being seasoned Catholic journalists who have "been there done that" we prefer the former, knowing that the latter shows more respect than is due.
Tim Stanley, a very fine young Catholic pundit in the UK, report that the very unfunny Ricky Gervais, whp purports to be a comedian, has called Catholics "morons."  Stanley had tweeted that, "Crowd greeting #Pope estimated at 200,000. Beat that, Richard Dawkins," to which Gervais responded, "Some people are morons, beat that, education!" (Stanley, by the way, is smart, tough, and articulate, a young talent to watch!)

Stanley responds in the most appropriate way — with the laughter that kills a non-argument more efficiently than any argument.

Stanley writes,

"Why is Gervais so angry with God? Perhaps because the entertainment industry could soon be reading the Last Rites over his career. Since The Office and Extras, nothing has quite worked: Gervais shrieks mid-life crisis, the work of a comedian who has resorted to pathos, so much easier to pull off than gags. As for his claim that Catholics are morons, one wonders if his own education extends to the Renaissance – light on laughs, perhaps, but a lot smarter than An Idiot Abroad. Catholics should pray that Ricky recovers his sense of proportion – and his comic talent."

All too often Catholic pundits and journalists eagerly "swallow the hook" the swinish comments aimed at the Church.  Some are best ignored, since the intent behind them is to attract publicity.  Others deserve the comic slap down provided by Stanley, or the devastatingly brusque face smack of Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League. 

Donohue’s latest victim is a Andrew Sullivan, the dean of gay Catholic journalists in Washington, DC. On the eve of the his retirement, Sullivan accuses Benedict XVI of being a homosexual. As Donohue notes, Sullivan’s only evidence is based upon the handsome appearance of Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the "handsome male companion who will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day." Sullivan then asks, "Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement?"

Donohue writes, 

"There’s nothing new to any of this. In 2010, he wrote that ‘it seems pretty obvious to me.that the current Pope is a gay man.’ What clinched it for him was ‘the Pope’s mental architecture.’ By this he means the pope’s ‘frissy fastidiousness, the effeminate voice.the over-the-top clothing accessories,’ etc. Nice to know Sullivan indulges in gay stereotypes when it suits him. But if the pope were truly gay, why doesn’t he have that prototypical gay lisp? Nor has anyone ever accused him of being a narcissist, another trait associated with homosexuals."

If "over-the-top-clothing accessories" were an accurate predictor of homosexual inclinations then both of us would have to plead guilty as charged! 

Sullivan, unlike Ricky Gervais, is a serious man, deeply educated, cultured, and capable of saying things worth hearing. It’s a shame that the ideology of his proclivities have warped his view of the faith that he once embraced. 

But what is being said about Benedict XVI is only an exercise in blade-sharpening for the new pontiff who will walk onto the main balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica next week.  Should it be any of the likely candidates, the reaction from pundits such as Sullivan and fools such as Gervais will be swift and damning. 

Our conversations with those close to the cardinals attending the Conclave suggest that committed, practicing, and orthodox Catholics will be pleased with next pontiff.  We are not interested in making predictions on the work of the Holy Spirit, yet like a child on Christmas Eve it’s difficult not to imagine what will be waiting under the tree come Christmas morning. 

For example, we have long admired the Archbishop of Ottawa, Marc Cardinal Quellet.  One of the leading Catholic journalists in Canada, Deborah Gyapong has lucidly explained the reasons for Quellet’s being on the list of "papabile."

She opens with this comment: "Journalists are not supposed to be changed by the stories or people they cover, but we are often changed, sometimes for the worse. Five and half years of writing about Cardinal Marc Ouellet, however, has been among the most meaningful and transformative experiences of my life." That’s quite a tribute from a veteran journalist!

Here, in a previous article, Gyapong offers a more personal perspective on her years of covering Cardinal Quellet. Cardinal Quellet, as Gyapong explains, has passed through difficult times in Canada, and succeeded in proclaiming the faith without compromise or fear, and not being marginalized.  In fact, he has become beloved in a Catholic culture not necessarily disposed to embrace a cleric who takes public stands on the controversial issues. 

Reading about Cardinal Quellet reminds us of the last two pontiffs who have been able to steer a course though post-modernity without losing direction and without caving in to the cultural and institutional pressure.

Several of the other "papabile," who we shall discuss over the next few days have much in common with Cardinal Quellet: They do not belong to the old left-wing of the Church, with its defunct liberation theology, its half-baked liturgy, or its need to please an anti-Catholic media.