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call a grownup

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 30, 2009

 We shouldn't realize expect European commentators to understand the American political scene. So the rosy portrait of Barack Obama painted on the pages of L'Osservatore Romano, while annoying, are not necessarily cause for panic about the Vatican paper's editorial slant.

The tributes to the Beatles and to Easy Rider were hard to swallow, but easy to understand. The new editor was trying to wrench L'Osservatore out of its old, staid mold, and appeal to younger readers. ("Younger" is a relative term; a cadre of middle-aged readers, weaned on Beatles music, would be a step in the right direction.)

But now the paper has gone a step further with a breathless eulogy for the late Michael Jackson, and we're reached the breaking point. Edward Peters makes the relevant points in devastatingly accurate critique entitled "L'OR and the Loss of Reason." After commenting briefly on the "embarrassingly naïve" treatment of Obama, he focuses on the "high-schoolish tribute" to Jackson, noting that

… the L'OR report leaves Catholics little sense that much of Jackson's work was sexually exploitative, at times quasi-obscene; it dismisses as insignificant the terrible example that Jackson's chronic pursuit of superficial "beauty" gave to millions of young people; and, worst of all, it trivializes the serious, and in some cases unresolved, allegations of child sexual abuse made against him.

You'd think that, after a decade of education by the most painful process imaginable, any literate Catholic would realize that you just don't dismiss accusations of sexual abuse. Yet here is L'Osservatore, fawning over Jackson: "But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world."

Naïve, yes. High-schoolish, indeed. Giddy, in fact. In general, dangerously immature. Maybe it's time to put the adults back in charge.

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