Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why does the mainstream media care about the pope?

It seems the mainstream media is covering the pope's resignation and the upcoming papal election pretty closely. Many people in the general public are talking about it. Yet, most of the people and groups involved in this discussion are not practicing Catholics and probably know very little about the Church. So why the interest?

Perhaps they are interested because it is an event with major significance. About one sixth of the world is Catholic and therefore the pope has more followers than almost any leader. The pope has influence on a lot of people, especially practicing Catholics. But why would the secular be interested?

Ultimately I think a lot of the interest stems from the secular world's false hope. With news of a retiring pope or one who just passed away, the secular world is filled with hope that the next pope will implement their social agenda in one or several areas. They see the Church as an obstacle to the worldwide implementation of their plans and hold on to hope that perhaps the next pope will change all of that.

People truly and honestly believe that the next pope may reconsider the Church's opposition to gay marriage or abortion. Some believe the Church will do away with rules about contraception or women priests. Unfortunately for these people, these things will never change. Would the media continue to cover this story as much as they do now if people were convinced the Church's stance on all the "hot button" moral issues of the day are pretty much already settled? I doubt it.

To a typical secular person, the next pope will be ideologically identical to Pope Benedict XVI. If there are any differences, the secular person could probably not perceive them, even if they were to be explained. There may be changes where the Church has the authority to make them, but they will not reverse 2000 years of tradition.

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