Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

A publicity stunt: ludicrous yet successful

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Sep 20, 2011

The headline of a Time magazine story poses a question: “Could the Vatican Go to Court for Human-Rights Abuses?”

The answer is simple: No.

Every informed observer agrees that the International Criminal Court is not likely to pursue human-rights charges against the Vatican. International-law experts say that the bid to prosecute the Pope for “crimes against humanity” is going nowhere. Even the people who brought the charges—on those rare occasions when they step off their soapboxes—acknowledge as much.

And yet Time is still asking the question. Why?

Time quotes the Vatican as saying that the legal complaint is a “ludicrous publicity stunt.” (Time doesn’t bother to cite a source for that quotation—a highly undiplomatic comment, albeit an accurate one.) Since the legal complaint is DOA, it’s hard to see what other benefit the hope to gain, aside from publicity. So Time enlightens us:

And yet, while few experts give the case much of a chance of success--or even believe it will make it before the judge--the fact that it's even up for discussion is testament to the success that victims groups have had in bringing their cause against the church before the law.

Right: it’s up for discussion. But Time just reported, earlier in the same sentence, that it’s very unlikely the case will come up for discussion at the International Criminal Court.

Where, then, will this case be discussed? In Time magazine, and in other media outlets with a similar editorial outlook. The Vatican’s accusers can’t expect the International Criminal Court to take up their case, but they could expect the mainstream media to be sympathetic. So it’s more than just a publicity stunt—the topic is legitimately “up for discussion”—because..because… because

Because the publicity stunt was successful.

An appeal from our founder, Dr. Jeffrey Mirus:

Dear reader: If you found the information on this page helpful in your pursuit of a better Catholic life, please support our work with a donation. Your donation will help us reach seven million Truth-seeking readers worldwide this year. Thank you!

Our Fall Campaign
Progress toward our year-end goal ($27,707 to go):
$150,000.00 $122,292.96
18% 82%
Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: polish.pinecone4371 - Sep. 23, 2011 12:01 AM ET USA

    Yet, I have to wonder. For all those who keep insisting that it won't happen (btw, the "ludicrous publicity stunt" quote was made by Jeffrey Lena), I wonder whether or not the ICC will take it up just as a way to get at the Catholic Church. Sure, they have no jurisdiction, but has such a "minor" detail stopped the Church's enemies before? If it was another venue with no media involved, I'd be slightly more assured. But Media+SNAP+Catholic clergy sex abuse+ICC=dangerous combo.

  • Posted by: Defender - Sep. 20, 2011 7:47 PM ET USA

    "...and inquiring minds want to know." It used to be that one could generally depend on the major magazines to remain somewhat non-partisan. I guess they can't afford to anymore, so they have all turned into "national inquirers" - keep that circulation up, costs down, etc. As for the truth and/or fairness...what's that?

Fall 2014 Campaign
Subscribe for free
Shop Amazon
Click here to advertise on CatholicCulture.org

Recent Catholic Commentary

Another side of Francis: US-Cuba role shows Pope's diplomatic muscle 14 hours ago
Silly season: a Christmas approaches, a scholar questions whether Jesus ever existed 15 hours ago
The intrinsic immorality of torture: still not convinced? 20 hours ago
The Complexity of Reforming Religious Communities December 17
Speaking Softly to Women Religious December 16

Top Catholic News

Most Important Stories of the Last 30 Days
Pope Francis: Europe seems 'elderly and haggard' CWN - November 25
Pope Francis, Ecumenical Patriarch sign joint declaration, lament persecution of Christians CWN - December 1
Consistory for new cardinals scheduled for February CWN - December 11
Vatican report on US women religious calls for further self-assessment CWN - December 16
Pope brokered deal to open US-Cuba ties CWN - December 17