Journalist suspended for ‘Benedict death’ message

Correspondent Robert Mickens steps aside

The Catholic weekly magazine The Tablethas suspended its Rome correspondent following a derogatory Facebook exchange which speculated on the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and referenced him as “the Rat”.

Journalist Robert Mickens was asked to step aside following revelations within the media in Britain that he had used the insulting name for the retired Pontiff during an online discussion on the subject of the elevation of Loris Francesco Capovilla, former secretary to Pope John XXIII, to the College of Cardinals.

“This should have happened a long time ago,” Mickens wrote of that matter before adding: “Do you think he’ll make it to the Rat’s

A writer then responded to that online question to voice the hope that Cardinal Capovilla would be well enough to attend the forthcoming Rome canonisations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII, but added: “The Rat’s funeral the next day would be a bonus.”

In a statement announcing Mickens’ suspension, The Tablet said: “An inquiry is now being carried out. The Tablet’s editor, staff, directors and trustees all disassociate ourselves from these remarks.”