Dear Editor, Your front page coverage of Pope Francis’ warning on the plight of Christians in the Middle East (Danger of Christian ‘extinction’ in Mid-East, IC 21/11/13) reveals a sad, not to say disturbing reality in what our current Pope represents to Western observers and the media which has been so keen on the so-called ‘Francis effect’.
While the public profile of Pope Francis is ready-made for news print and colourful enough for television pieces, how many secular news outlets ground to a staggering silence when presented with the Pontiff’s words on Christian suffering in the midst of the Arab spring and the dreadful conflict in Syria?
Where the Pope has, to date, spoken on a raft of issues, the media has utilised his words to offer good news segments to counter an otherwise cynical outlook, finding much to praise in this Pope’s messages of humility and a return to a ministry based on simplicity and service. How much coverage we have seen of Vatican sins laid bare through the prism of ‘papal reforms’, so rightly pursued by the Pope, and even his appeals for disaster areas, such as the ongoing plight for the people of the Philippines; the Pope has been afforded air time and column inches in being the voice of a truly spiritual and blessed individual.
And yet, as soon as the Pope utters words of support for struggling Christian communities in the non-Western world, silence from those same media bodies so eager for ‘media moments’.
What ailment within quarters of the world of journalism dictates that media moments with the leader of the single largest Christian community are acceptable if they involve him embracing the poor and the disfigured, yet makes no allowance for his heartfelt message on behalf of his flock at a time of very real trial for many of them now facing that which he spoke of – extinction?
Silence on Christians targeted in Egypt, silence on Christian flight from Iraq, silence on Christians massacred in Syria.
The old adage that if it bleeds it leads is only true if the victims are not Christians.