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Easter: not as the world sees...

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 01, 2010

For the past several years, the approach of Easter has brought out stories about the "Jesus Seminar." The unorthodox scholars affiliated with that project tell the world that the Church had had things all wrong for 2,000 years, that the "historical Jesus" (who is nowhere evident in the Scriptural or historical record) actually advanced views completely compatible with secular humanism.

The timing of those stories has not been accidental. The attention of the mass media swings toward the Vatican during Holy Week; there are invariably headline stories about the Pope's involvement in the traditional liturgies of the Easter Triduum and about his Urbi et Orbi message on Easter Sunday. If a shrewd publicist can plant another story about the faith in the popular consciousness-- the latest theory from the Jesus Seminar, perhaps-- then each new report from the Vatican will re-awaken those thoughts. The world's attention is drawn to the Christian faith, so critics of that faith have their best opportunity for exposure.

This year the Jesus Seminar has been forced off the front pages by a far more direct assault on the Church: the attacks on Pope Benedict XVI. These attacks, too, are nicely timed to ensure full exposure for the critics' views. Each time the Pope makes a statement, reporters will analyze it for one purpose and one purpose only: to consider its implications for the sex-abuse story. A message from the Holy Father on any other topic will be largely ignored.

Thus do the workings of the mass media deflect attention from the message of the Church. But at this time of year especially, it behooves Christians to keep in mind the fundamental message of Easter Sunday: that the risen Christ has won victory over the powers of darkness, of ignorance, of injustice, of untruth: "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (Jn 16:33)


Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: adamah - Apr. 01, 2010 3:27 PM ET USA