headline rewrite

By Diogenes (articles ) | May 23, 2008

Pope Benedict attacked by Catholic Church’s most senior theologians
That's the headline of the latest sensationalistic story in the Daily Telegraph. And just in case you missed the reference to the "most senior theologians," the first paragraph offers a reminder:
One of the Catholic Church’s most senior theologians, and former mentor to Pope Benedict XVI, has launched a stinging attack on the Vatican.

Wait a minute: You mean one of the most senior theologians? The headline used the plural form.

And wait a minute, again: A "former mentor" of Benedict XVI? The Holy Father isn't exactly young, you know. Are any of his old teachers still alive?

Actually, no. The "most senior theologians" turn out to form a set of one: the irrepressible Hans Küng, who qualifies as a "mentor" because he once recommended Joseph Ratzinger for a post on the theology faculty at Tübingen.

(A question before we continue: If you put a Ronald Reagan bumper sticker on your car in 1980-- a clear endorsement of his presidential bid, in effect a job recommendation-- can you now describe yourself as Reagan's mentor?)

So if you wanted the headline to convey the content of the story, maybe this would do the trick:

Pope Benedict attacked by Hans Küng
Or maybe:
Pope Benedict attacked by veteran dissident

And now let's take a crack at that lede. How's this:

An elderly theologian who has made a career of criticizing Catholic doctrine has repeated his familiar complaints against Pope Benedict.

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Show 9 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - May. 28, 2008 4:54 PM ET USA

    At this point whatever Kung says is a non event. But exactly what is he advocating now? Is his complaint general or specific? Is it against the Papacy or the Pope as an individual?

  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2008 8:56 AM ET USA

    That sort of criticism from that singular source is accurately and commonly called a complement.

  • Posted by: - May. 24, 2008 9:57 AM ET USA

    I think the Telegraph must have been thinking along the lines of: Man bites Docile German Shepherd.

  • Posted by: - May. 24, 2008 9:41 AM ET USA

    My understanding is that Kung & BXVI have a solid personal relationship, albeit they remain principled advesaries on theological digressions. They exemplify the rule that that theologans can disagree without being disagreeable. Verbum sap satiens.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2008 11:38 PM ET USA

    I'd prefer: More Blather from one of the Usual Suspects.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2008 7:13 PM ET USA

    These rants by Hans remind me of those wonderful scenes in Amadeus, in which the (fictional) Salieri, having outlived both the great genius Mozart and his own relevance, declares himself the "patron saint of mediocrity." Give us your benediction, Rev. excuse me, Mr. Kung.

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2008 6:15 PM ET USA

    Must have been a real slow news day over at the Daily Telegraph

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2008 3:09 PM ET USA

    Kung attacked the Holy Father? This even after BXVI bought him breakfast at the Vatican chow hall? Shame!

  • Posted by: - May. 23, 2008 1:21 PM ET USA

    So you think the Evil One would use his media (which he substantially controls) to defend the Holy Father....? Naive, Diogenes,,, "When he tells lies it is only natural for him, for lying is his native tongue..."