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Quick Hits: Benedict as the Great Reformer, Crux as an objective source

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Apr 19, 2016

What were you doing on this date, April 19, eleven years ago?

After a quiet morning, I spent the afternoon joyously celebrating the election of Pope Benedict XVI-- and also frantically wondering when the CWN site would recover, after our early headline, “White Smoke!” drew so much traffic that the server crashed.

  • To mark the anniversary, John Allen of Crux has a balanced essay on Pope Benedict, in which he argues that the Pope-emeritus will be known to history as a Great Reformer. Allen does not shy away from recalling some of the administrative missteps that plagued the last pontificate. But he makes a convincing argument that Benedict XVI launched the drive to reform the Vatican, particularly by unleashing the prosecution of abusive clerics and by acknowledging the need for accountability in financial affairs. Allen also gives the retired Pontiff credit for simplification of the papal office, contributing to the “demystification” of the papacy—most notably by his resignation. Pope Benedict, observes Allen, “was every bit as humble as his successor—arguably, in some ways, more so—even if that wasn’t always clear from his public image.”
  • And speaking of public image—and speaking of the Crux web site—veteran religious journalist Ken Briggs is worried about the future of that enterprise, now that Allen & Co. have been cut loose by the Boston Globe and formed a new partnership with the Knights of Columbus. Being sponsored by the Globe was a better arrangement, Briggs argues: “However unusual the journalistic arrangement, Crux at least could be held to its prevailing standards of objectivity and independence. Its very existence could be and was argued, but it was in place.” But now, being sponsored by the KofC, Crux may be subject to subtle pressures, he worries. Do you see the logic of this argument? It’s OK to be subsidized by a secular newspaper with a long history of anti-Catholic bias. But it’s dangerous to be subsidized by the Knights, who have a bias in favor of Catholicism! By the way this remarkable Briggs analysis was done for the National Catholic Reporter, which can’t be accused of a bias in favor of the Church.

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 CatholicCulture.org. See full bio.

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  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Apr. 20, 2016 5:21 PM ET USA

    I had just come out of a series of special education planning meetings, headed for lunch, and heard the news on NPR, the only station I could receive in that part of south Arkansas. They were nonplussed that Papa Benedetto had been elected: I almost ran off the road in my excitement, and I forgot where I agreed to meet my colleagues for lunch.