From the Annals of Crassness.

A brief break from my self-imposed hiatus to flag a remarkable line in Ruth Gledhill’s analysis (£) of Pope Benedict’s speech against Syria over the weekend. She talks about Rowan Williams and Sentamu as well, and concludes:

It is not too late for a Church newly militant once more to help bring about a fairer, kinder world at a time of terrible international conflict and growing divisions between rich and poor. The signs are that these three great Church leaders, however long or short their time left in office, intend to do just that.

So one speech condemning the inhumanity of al-Assad suffices to overturn and redeem a papacy devoted to vicious homophobia and a general, pathetic obsession with sexual ethics. Not to mention, of course, the repugnant man’s role in the systematic cover-up of child abuse in the name of the ‘good of the church’. I took her up on this and got the following response:

So The Times‘ longstanding Religious Correspondent not only redefines what you need to do and what can be forgotten in order for you to be deemed a ‘great leader’. She also deems the moral virtue of Benedict’s legacy to be ‘complex’. She clarifies, of course, that it was with the Syria speech in mind that she wrote that line. But she won’t concede that she should have talked of a single act of great leadership, rather than him being a great leader as such.

I know, I know. It’s one line that changes nothing. But sometimes the casual delivery of such narratives feel like the most dangerous. Statements like this should not be thrown around on the pages of The Times of London. Let’s hope the man’s title doesn’t rule out the publishing of the scathing obituaries that will be due – hopefully, and surely, sooner rather than later.


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