Dwindling Catholics get New Saint


Brazil has its first saint. Pope Benedict XVI yesterday canonised Friar Antonio de Sant’Ana Galvao who is to this day credited with miracle cures. It goes that if you swallow “paper pills” with divine prayers written on them a miracle will occur.

The article describes the process in more detail. The language of the article is very careful and the tone maintains a strong objectivity when describing the events leading to the canonisation. The tension in the article is introduced in the final paragraph. While the tone remains objective it also suggests an ulterior or “political motive” for the canonisation which seems to give the article a more powerful impact. Overall the tone of the article is respectful but the last paragraph challenges the reader to think a little more deeply about the process. In regards to the Pope’s tour it is important to consider the timing of this canonization, in relation to the declining numbers of followers in the Brazilian Catholic church.


Drugs are Bad…mmmkay

I found this article in the St Petersburg Times, well actually on their website. I did not physically purchase a copy of the St Petersburg Times, I imagine it would be hard to find one here.

The Pope has continued his tour through Brazil warning drug dealers that they will face “divine justice”. In contrast to his controversial comments against abortion, the Pope’s words seem to have been meet with wide support. The article details the Brazilian drug problem.

‘ “God will call you to account for your deeds, ” he said before a cheering crowd of 6, 000 on a sprawling lawn outside the Fazenda de Esperanca, or Farm of Hope, a drug treatment center founded by a Franciscan friar…Brazil is the world’s second-largest consumer of cocaine, after the United States, according to the State Department…. Pope Benedict donated $100, 000 to the center and told more than 1, 500 recovering patients that they must become “ambassadors of hope.”‘

This article displays values of currency in detailing Brazil’s drug problem and an element of Human Interest bought in by treatment center.

Local Ramifications of Pope’s Speech

Perth Sunday Times

So, I have talked about the Pope’s comment, but how do they influence us here. This article discusses the local Catholic view of abortion. The article interviews two perspectives in order to claim objectivity. It attempts to illustrate the divide within the Catholic faith between the progressives and conservatives by using quotes from people from both sides. It uses the quotes to bring out the tension in the story while allowing the paper itself to avoid showing any bias towards a particular perspective on a particularly controversial issue. However it does not report the perspective of any one with a strong pro abortion; or anti-Catholic perspective. The lack of a strong opposing viewpoint plays down the debate between Pro-Lifers and those who campaign for abortion.
As a result one viewpoint dominates the article. Archbishop Hugh Ryan agrees with the Pope’s anti-abortion stance.

“Catholic doctors don’t perform abortions,” Mr Ryan said. “Anyone who kills is excluded from communion.”

Less emphatically Christine Read of Family Planning NSW said that she was not surprised by the Pope’s stance.

‘ “It’s probably sad for a lot of (Catholics) to hear this, but they would have seen it coming,” Dr Read said.

She said there were people of all faiths working as counsellors, but all of them must discuss every option with clients when it comes to unplanned pregnancies.’

Just to mix it up

Reuters Oddly Enough indeed… I have no words. Just read.

Actually I do have words… At first reading it seems absurd, but if we take into account the facts of the article it is quite serious. The article, which could potentially be a strong serious news piece, becomes almost comical due to the use of quotes. The story reports on a religion involving human sacrifice in PNG as an oddity and in the same week reported on miracle life-saving cures brought about by eating bits of paper as a serious news article. Why is it that an article about people being killed and child abduction in the name of religion reported as an oddity? It is actually pretty serious. I believe that this story exemplifies the way in which value judgment by journalists and editors can influence the way something is reported. As well as showing the strength of quotes in influencing the tone of an article.

Another Pro-Life Pope Story….

r-1.jpgA good article I found in the New Zealand Herald it has much of the same information as the London Times and New York Times but i find that it is a happy medium between the two stories.

In comparison to the other articles it is probably the most successful at presenting the facts while masking the journalist’s presence. The article cites differing perspectives from the Pope, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Brazilian Health Minister Jose Gomes Temporao, Geraldo Majella- head of Brazil’s bishops’ council, and Catholic two followers. Though the article references so many perspectives it only uses direct quotes for four of them. However they are used well in creating tension in the story and are well balanced. They exhibit the opinions of those in positions of power. The main quote by the Pope leads

“I am well aware that the soul of this people, as of all Latin America, safeguards values that are radically Christian,” the Pope said in a speech on his arrival in Sao Paulo.

“This identity will be reinforced through the promotion of respect for life from the moment of conception until natural death as an integral requirement of human nature”.

And then presents an opposing view from the Brazilian Health Minister

Temporao fired back on Wednesday, saying he wanted women to join in the debate because although men made the laws, it was women who were suffering.

“Unfortunately, men don’t get pregnant. If they did, this question would already be resolved,” Temporao said.

The article then introduces a human interest element referencing Brazilian’s reactions to the Pope’s visit.

“It’s marvellous having the Pope in our country. I hope he can help convert thousands and thousands of young people,” said 76-year-old Estelita de Farias Oliveira, who had travelled from outside Sao Paulo to see him when he appeared on the Sao Bento Monastery balcony.

Musician Franco Pietro said he was hoping for a message of love and unity.

“The Church has lost a lot of strength in Brazil, it has lost it to the Evangelical churches and because it is very conservative we are hoping for a renewal of Catholicism that Benedict supports it,” he said.

In both cases the article references opposing viewpoints to achieve an objective interpretation. The diversity of perspectives results in a good overview; not only of the impact of the Pope’s comments, but also their place in Brazil’s current political and religious climates.

London Calling…Pope

the London Times has published a similar article in reference to the Pope’s abortion comments. It is similar because they use the same quotes, however the two articles could not be more different. The London Times article uses much stronger language and gives the impression that the Pope’s comments were very intentional.

“Some had expected the Pope to adopt a diplomatic approach on his first significant overseas trip. A recent survey in Brazil said that 86 per cent favoured the use of condoms and more than half disagreed with the Church’s stand on abortion.

Instead, he came out with all guns blazing, a reflection of his belief that an assertion of bedrock Christian values is the only way to stem the tide toward secularism.”

In contrast to the New York Times article, it uses words like “combative”, “uncompromising” and “no-holds-barred”. The article also references the pontiff’s position in regards to liberation theology.

“He said that he was committed to social justice, but that those who followed liberation theology were “mistakenly mixing faith and politics”. Church teaching was “not aimed at destroying the commitment to justice but guiding it along the right path”.”

It is an interesting example of the many different angles that can be taken with a story. It shows that even if two journalists have the same sources and quotes, the angle and tone of the two stories can be completely separate.

The Pope – A Slip of the Tongue

As predicted the abortion debate has been once again become a news focal point after comments made by Pope Benedict XVI while touring Brazil. The New York Times has reported on the impact of Pope Benedict XVI comments against abortion, made in his first full-fledged news conference as Head of the Catholic Church. The comments are a result of a recent decision by Catholic legislators to legalize abortion in Mexico City. When asked whether the legislators should be considered excommunicated his Holiness replied,

“Yes,…The excommunication was not something arbitrary. It is part of the (canon law) code. It is based simply on the principle that the killing of an innocent human child is incompatible with going in Communion with the body of Christ. Thus, they (the bishops) didn’t do anything new or anything surprising. Or arbitrary.”

This emphatic statement later seems to have been recoiled.
Vatican officials later said the pope might have inferred from the question that the Mexican bishops had issued a formal declaration of excommunication for the legislators, something Mexican Cardinal Norberto Rivera has said he has no intention of doing.

Benedict’s spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said the pope was not setting a new policy and did not intend to formally excommunicate anyone — a rare process under church law that is separate from the doctrine of self-excommunication.

However this is not the first time that the Pope’s comments have caused ripples. This is one article in what i predict will be a stream during the Pope’s tour of Brazil.

Pope aborts plans for progress

This article posted in the Sydney Morning Herald May 9th is an introduction to what I am sure will be a continuing news story. Pope Benedict XVI is embarking on a five-day tour through South America. The SMH discussed the key issues that the Pope will address during his visit.

In Vatican City, the No. 2 official said Benedict will issue a “strong message” on poverty, social inequality, drug trafficking and violence and on the exodus of Catholics joining Protestant evangelical churches.

The story also identifies the issue of abortion that is sure to be a hot topic of discussion during the Pope’s tour. Abortion; always current issue in religious news, has once again come to prominence, as the article notes, after recent legislation has legalized abortion in Mexico City.
The article adds a degree of tension by noting the split views of abortion in Brazil. It notes the recent fall of support for the Church in Latin America. As well as opposition to the Pope coming from within the Brazilian Catholic Church many of whom believe the traditional ways of the Church are archaic and ineffective.

Leonardo Boff, a Brazilian theologian and author who left the priesthood and clashed with the Pope when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, said the church under Benedict is “authoritarian, medieval and insensitive to democratic rights”.

This article displays key news values of prominence, conflict, timeliness and currency.

Sheiky Ground

Three papers today covered the push to remove Australian Sheik al-Hilali as mufti. The recent push for the Sheik’s resignation comes after he recently called on Australian Muslims to back Iran’s hardline regime.

In the Daily Telegraph‘s coverage of the story focuses predominantly on the government’s position towards the Sheik. The exact same story was also published in News Corp’s The Advertiser

The Age focuses on the process of removing the Mufti from his position.

These news stories all contain key news issues of prominence due to the Mufti’s status and celebrity in Australia. It also displays proximity and currency.

What Not to Wear!

The BBC Onlinehas reported a development in the debate over religious dress in schools. The article covers many topics of debate surrounding societies reactions to certain cultural dress. Although it speaks of developments in legislation it does not give any indication as to when this will be inforced.
The same issue was later covered by The New York Times today. This article deals more concisely with the issue and focuses predominantly on the treatment of Britain’s Muslim population. I think the layout of this article, as well as the readability of the article itself is better than the BBC Online story.

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