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Catholic Culture Dedication
Catholic Culture Dedication

This whole process is ridiculous

By Phil Lawler ( bio - articles - email ) | Mar 12, 2013

The doors of the Sistine Chapel close, and Shephard Smith of Fox News tells the world that it’s “ridiculous” to have this sort of secret process in the Twitter era. Thanks for your opinion, Shep. We’ll let you know when we need more of your guidance.

Oh, wait; here’s another gem coming right now. Shep finds it absurd that dozens of media outlets are spending millions of dollars to cover the conclave, and in the end the result will be announced by a puff of white smoke.

This time he’s right. It certainly is absurd.

But what’s absurd is not the secret process, or the traditional white smoke. What’s absurd is that the networks spend their resources providing “news” coverage of an event about which no news is available. That’s what “secret” means, you know; we won’t have any news until we have a new Pontiff.

But the sound trucks are in place and the talking heads are on camera. They can’t just admit that there’s nothing to say, so they fill the airwaves with uninformed commentary.

Yessir, there’s a whole group of prominent people acting ridiculous. And I’m not talking about the cardinals.

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: bnewman - Mar. 12, 2013 5:31 PM ET USA

    How frustrating for the secular media. If the choice of a pope is kept secret, how can the source of all truth (that is the press) possibly influence the outcome? Shep. Smith is not alone in thinking that is not only ridiculous, but seriously annoying.

  • Posted by: tasha1996 - Mar. 12, 2013 4:15 PM ET USA

    It is "ridiculous"because it is the Catholic Church! It is ironic the world pays so much attention to the election of the Vicar of Christ! Other spiritual leaders' transition never command this much attention. Never heard of Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist leaders change in leadership. A little news of the change in the Archbishop of Canterbury and maybe the Dalai Lama. How interesting to think about...the Catholic Church is the one, true Church!

  • Posted by: Defender - Mar. 12, 2013 3:56 PM ET USA

    But you don't's what the press says that counts. Tradition - that's just too old, Secret - that just means the press has to try harder to find out things (if they can't they'll create it), Catholic - what's that?

  • Posted by: lovison4584 - Mar. 12, 2013 3:41 PM ET USA

    At the same time is is encouraging major news outlets see fit to cover the conclave. “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.” Oscar Wilde (deathbed Catholic Convert)

  • Posted by: - Mar. 12, 2013 3:20 PM ET USA

    Flipping around the major news networks, I was surprised to find that CNN seemed to have the best coverage (excluding EWTN of course.)

  • Posted by: skladach - Mar. 12, 2013 1:48 PM ET USA

    This commentary is a breath of fresh air!

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 12, 2013 1:46 PM ET USA

    There's a reason Roger Ailes does not give Shep Smith a commentary show. He does enough damage butchering the news.