Action Alert!

Those Harleys again

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jun 17, 2013

Yesterday was “Evangelium Vitae Day” at the Vatican: a day when Pope Francis, surrounded by pro-lifers, sent the world a much-needed message about the Gospel of Life.

Yesterday was also the day of the Harley-Davidson motorcade to St. Peter’s Square: a nice commercial plug for a motorcycle manufacturer. A harmless event, but one that did nothing to advance Catholic teaching.

If you search the web today, you might find a story in the secular press about the Pope’s exhortation on the Gospel of Life. But you’ll find dozens of stories about the Harleys. If a media outlet carried one story from the Vatican, it was about motorcycles, not about the right to life.

Don’t blame the Harley manufacturers. They’re just doing their job, looking for publicity. But someone at the Vatican cooperated to set up that stunt, and that someone should have noticed that an offbeat story was going to drown out an important message. It's a good idea to dedicate a special day to the pro-life message. It may be—I'm not so sure about this—a good idea to host a motorcycle jamboree. But not on the same day.

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: mario.f.leblanc5598 - Jun. 18, 2013 8:57 PM ET USA

    I was more impressed by hearing one of the participants say something like 'we love bikes but we are first and foremost Christian'. The pope knows what he does, and keeps asking the Holy Spirit for counsel. Let's do the same!

  • Posted by: garedawg - Jun. 18, 2013 11:36 AM ET USA

    I'll be impressed when I see the Holy Father astride one of those machines, burning rubber and doing donuts in St. Peter's Square.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 17, 2013 8:52 PM ET USA

    I have nothing against Harley or any other bike, but the pope should not be lending himself to publicity of any kind. I see him getting a lot of "gifts" in the near future, a Smith&Wesson pearl-handled revolver here, a Dell special-papal-edition computer there. There may be no end to this and it demeans the office in my mind. Of course, I know someone is out there selling papal cologne already, not Francis' brand, but that of Pius X I believe! So the idea isn't totally new.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Jun. 17, 2013 3:53 PM ET USA

    I'm not so sure that the Harley stunt didn't do a lot to show our wonderful Holy Father as an "ordinary Joe" to millions of guys who wouldn't darken the door of a church, but would crawl on hot coals for a mile to see a Harley. God bless the monster machines.