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Presented at CRESC annual conference September 2013

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  1. 1. Ruth A. Deller @ruthdeller Good news for the poor? British newspaper responses to the new Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury
  2. 2. Nexis searches (UK national newspapers) Nov 2012-Aug 2013 • Justin Welby and poverty: 131 / poor: 187 • Pope Francis and poverty: 140 / poor: 315 • Justin Welby and gay: 449 • Pope Francis and gay: 245 • Justin Welby and women: 506 • Pope Francis and women: 196 • Justin Welby and child abuse: 54 • Pope Francis and child abuse: 91
  3. 3. First day front pages
  4. 4. Pope without pomp... Francis begins his reign with a pledge to the poor and weak (Daily Telegraph, March 20) A plea for the poor from People's Pope (Daily Express, March 20) A humble man facing a mighty challenge; He loves tango, pays his own bills and promises a 'church for the poor'. Philip Sherwell on the outsider chosen to save the Church from scandal (Sunday Telegraph, March 20) 'I would like to see a church that is poor and is for the poor,' declares Pope Francis: Cracking jokes and ad- libbing, the new pontiff addresses the world's media and explains why he chose to name himself after St Francis of Assisi. (The Observer, March 17)
  5. 5. Daily Mirror editorial (Coleman 2013) CARDINAL Jorge Mario Bergoglio was last night hailed as a man of great humility who understands the suffering of ordinary people… The progressive Pontiff is likely to encourage the Church's 400,000 priests to hit the streets to interact with members of society and modernise the Church at a time when its reputation is at an all-time low. The son of an Italian railway worker, the warm-hearted Argentinian is known for his compassion and charity… he spoke out in defence of those less fortunate, contrasting "poor people persecuted for demanding work, and rich people who are applauded for fleeing from justice". The open-minded Pontiff also believes condoms "can be permissible" to prevent infection… Despite Pope Francis' great compassion and modernism, he is no pushover on the thorny issues that face the Catholic Church. In 2010 he lobbied publicly against the Italian government's decision to legalise same-sex marriage before claiming it was the work of the devil and a "destructive attack on God's plan". He also described adoption by homosexuals as a form of discrimination against children.
  6. 6. Daily Telegraph editorial (Thompson 2013) Pope Francis I, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, is a priest of tremendous holiness and modesty of manner - a man who, until now, has taken the bus to work… The new Pope's challenge is clear. He needs to learn from Benedict XVI's greatest success - and his greatest failure… Benedict's inability to reform the corrupt structures of the Roman curia, which should be recognised as the rotten core of the abuse crisis… In many parts of the world, Roman Catholicism has become almost synonymous with sexual abuse and its concealment… Pope Benedict was determined to "purify" the Church of its priestly abusers and their allies. But his civil servants in the Vatican dicasteries were lazy and secretive in their half-hearted pursuit of the truth…… To put it bluntly, a Church associated in the public mind with child abuse isn't likely to be good at any sort of evangelisation, new or otherwise. Nor can it face down its angry, condescending and well-informed enemies. It must be led by a man of gentle spirit who is utterly determined to cleanse the Church - as was St Francis of Assisi, renouncing a lavish lifestyle in order to follow a path of radical poverty that was intended as a reproach to worldly bishops.
  7. 7. First day front pages 22 March 2013 9 Nov 2012
  8. 8. Not long a bishop? Perfectly qualified then; Justin Welby has had success in non-churchy experience, so the real world is not alien to him (The Times, Nov 9) WAGERS OF SIN; MPs call for probe into 'scam' over bets on new Archbishop. Old Etonian, 56, is for ethics in City but against gay marriage (Daily Mirror, Nov 9) It's a miracle! Hacks bow heads as new man starts with a prayer (The Times, Nov 10) Can he keep everyone happy? (i, Nov 12) New Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby reaffirms his opposition to gay marriage as he takes office; Election comes at a time of huge divisions within the Anglican Church, Independent Feb 5
  9. 9. The Guardian leader (Nov 9) It was not through a puff of white smoke but through the suspension of booking at Ladbrokes that providence made itself known. For the identity of the new archbishop of Canterbury to emerge in this way is embarrassing, but then embarrassment is nothing new for the Church of England… The divisive preoccupation with gay clergy and gay marriage crowds out much other discussion, and at times prevents the church being heard on anything else at all. And, all the while, the relentless withering of the congregations continues. Easy as it is to deride the church, the country as a whole, and not just its believing elements, ought to wish the new man at Canterbury, Justin Welby, the very best. The networks that blossom out of the pews are a kind of bulwark for wider community life, bolstering civic engagement as well as good neighbourliness, as sociologists are documenting. In addition to filling a social gap, the church at its best fills an ideas gap too. These are times that cry out for searching moral questions, not least about our economy, and public intellectuals are not exactly thick on the ground…
  10. 10. The Guardian leader (Nov 9) He is instinctively pragmatic in temporal matters. Thus his reading of the scripture inclines him against gay marriage, and yet he allowed the bells of Liverpool Cathedral to ring out Lennon's atheistic Imagine after he grasped this would be a popular thing to do. He has a knack for persuading bickering elements to rub along, and without flinching from uncomfortable facts. Sometimes, as in relation to gay clergy, this might be a question of having the tact to change the subject; sometimes it is a question of being relaxed about the coexistence of incompatible points of view. Asked by the Guardian how he'd square the circle on women bishops, he said that the trick was to "look at the circle and say it's a circle with sharp bits on it… One promising place to pitch up is moral capitalism, an agenda that sits on the left side of the political aisle, but one which can unite spiritual liberals and "conservatives". Mr Welby has already damned top pay as "obscene". Also at the top of the inbox is a messy compromise over women bishops, which the church establishment needs to get through next week's general synod… If, and it is a big if, Mr Welby can call time on the church's insular rows, the next step will be facing the future.
  11. 11. Our zombie church has a new leader – so what? (Smith, Independent on Sunday, Nov 11) As events go, it's not exactly earth-shaking. A couple of days ago, a pressure group announced the name of its new boss, a white bloke in his 50s who used to work in the oil industry. Admittedly the job couldn't have gone to a woman - this particular pressure group isn't up to speed with equality - but did they have to pick an Old Etonian? Even more puzzling has been the reaction, with lots of people rushing around and using words like "daring" and "unexpected". I even heard a woman on Radio 4 saying she was "excited”…Whatever Welby's qualities, however, the truth is that he's taking charge of an organisation which doesn't matter to most of the population… It's hard to see why I should care what the new Archbishop thinks about gay marriage, and even harder to see why he should be able to vote on it if and when legislation comes before the second chamber.
  12. 12. Our zombie church has a new leader – so what? (Smith, Independent on Sunday, Nov 11) One of the reasons church leaders are so touchy, I suspect, is that they know that these are extraordinary and indefensible privileges… I'm perfectly happy for clerics to lobby on any subject, but they should get in line with all the other organisations that would like the Government to listen to them…When he was Dean of Liverpool, Welby once gave his blessing to a Halloween service entitled Night of the Living Dead, in which a man in Gothic costume leapt from a coffin. The zombie church? It's a great metaphor for an institution that steadfastly refuses to modernise.
  13. 13. Brave new papacy means same old story for women (McCarthy, Sunday Times, March 17) So far, Pope Francis is a popular choice, despite being chosen by a dodgy electorate that included shelterers of child sex abusers. So far, too, the assessment of him has been all about style and nothing about substance… Different he may be but, unless he is radically or even subversively different, his own successor will not be married or divorced or gay. Most certain of all, he will not be a she and yet more females will have drifted away from the church, along with many more men who respect women. The outstanding trademark of Pope Francis's track record is his work with the poor of Argentina. And yet everyone agrees he is doctrinely [sic] conservative. Those depicting him as a paragon of fairness who thirsts for social justice do not recognise the contradiction - for it is untenable to advocate social justice while, at the same time, espousing institutionalised discrimination against half the population of the world: women.
  14. 14. POPE FRANCIS: TRADITIONAL TO HIS CORE - BUT HE DEFENDS DIVORCEES AND SINGLE MOTHERS (Daily Mail; 13 Mar 2013) Pope's strongman blasts old guard aside; Francis is to give more women top jobs and break the grip of Italian cardinals (Sunday Times, April 21) Washing a girl's feet... what next? Pope's gesture raises fear of women's ordination... The Pope's decision to wash the feet of female offenders has shocked some traditionalists, who fear that it could open the door to the ordination of women. Francis washed and kissed the feet of a group that included two young women, one of them a Muslim, at a juvenile detention centre in Rome on Maundy Thursday, provoking criticism from conservative theologians. (Gledhill, The Times, 2013: 4)
  15. 15. It is hard to estimate the scale of the disaster of Tuesday's decision against female bishops in the Church of England… For thousands of churchgoers and their priests, many of them women, it is a bewildering catastrophe. For the outgoing archbishop it is a personal humiliation, a devastating summation of a troubled tenure. For his successor, Justin Welby, it means the long negotiations with the diehards that have dogged the past 10 years have gone back to the start. (The Guardian, Nov 22) Welby faces up to defeat on women bishops (Daily Telegraph, July 9) Twitter ban at women bishop talk (Daily Mirror, July 7) The first big test for the archbishop; Women bishops, (Independent, July 5)
  16. 16. Archbishop hails 'stunning quality' of gay relationships (The Times, March 22) Gay marriage will weaken and confuse society, says Archbishop (The Times, June 4) ACCEPT GAY RIGHTS, WELBY TELLS SYNOD, (Daily Mail, July 6) Archbishop: Repent over treatment of gays (The Express, Aug 29) Archbishop: young people see Church as 'wicked’ (i, Aug 29) Welby: my gay marriage view can be seen as 'akin to racism‘ (The Independent, Aug 29) Young people see us as wicked over gays, says Welby (The Times, Aug 29) Justin Welby gets real on homophobia (The Guardian, Aug 29)
  17. 17. A LOUDMOUTH priest has been blasted for calling the Archbishop of Canterbury a "w***er". The Rev Marcus Ramshaw was angered by Archbishop Justin Welby’s comment about gay marriage and took to Facebook. But the priest was forced to delete his comments after being confronted by the Church of England's communications director. Mr Welby told the House of Lords that gay weddings would "diminish" Christian marriage and damage the fabric of society. Mr Ramshaw was so upset by the comments he wrote on the social networking site: "What really upsets me is nasty people such as Justin Welby robbing me of my faith in the church. "He does not speak in my name and I think he is a w***er, but im not going to stop being a christian or a priest.” (Daily Star, June 8)
  18. 18. The Church’s grey men are out of touch (Street- Porter, Independent on Sunday, Sep 1) The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby (below), is a verbose fellow who likes to air his thoughts on a daily basis. He's not a neat and tidy spiritual leader, more an unfocused work in progress. Should a beleaguered church with a declining membership in the UK be led by a chap who publicly says he's thinking through divisive issues like same-sex marriage? Or should he man up, be brave, and offer unequivocal spiritual guidance even though it risks losing traditional members? Last week, Dr Welby (who belonged to the evangelical wing of the Church) told an audience of born-again Christians that they must "repent" over the way the church has treated gay people….
  19. 19. The Church’s grey men are out of touch (Street- Porter, Independent on Sunday, Sep 1) Welby voted against same-sex marriage in the Lords, and when younger, opposed homosexuals being allowed to adopt children. He says his mind is "not yet clear" on the issue of gay marriage, and he struggles with conflicting thoughts… The Church is run by a bunch of grey men in fancy costumes: look at any picture of the Synod and weep. They fail to represent modern Britain in any meaningful way. Welby says he wants Christians to focus less on what they are against, but sometimes in life I find that really useful. I am profoundly against inequality in any shape or form - so I find a Christian leader's refusal to accept gay marriage repugnant. The Church must adapt to a changing society. This is not a sign of weakness, but of strength, otherwise it is shrinking its horizons, focusing on a literal interpretation of the Bible and refusing access to men and women because of their sexual orientation. Jesus would have been appalled.
  20. 20. Tue 30 July
  21. 21. Il Papa: Don't preach; POPE SAYS HE WON'T JUDGE GAYS AND WORLD SHOULD ACCEPT THEM (Daily Mirror, July 30, p19) Elton John Believes in Pope Francis; (Daily Mirror, July 13) POPE FRANCIS: GAYS ARE OKAY; But Pontiff still against women priests. POPE Francis gave gays the thumbs-up yesterday - but backed the Church's ban on women priests. (The Sun, July 30)
  22. 22. Don't be fooled. Pope by name, pope by nature (Cohen, The Observer, August 11) The relief when the latest pope said that he did not want to judge gays was as palpable as it was pitiable. Conventional liberals do not want to overthrow or even reform oppressive institutions. They want to "respect" religion while blocking out the darkness within. I often think religious leaders can treat them as PR men treat gullible consumers. All they need to do is look cuddly and speak in soft voices. Or, in the case of the pope, mouth contemporary pieties about avoiding "judgmental" prejudices. We once assumed that being judgmental was what popes did. Not this one, apparently…. Meanwhile, the behaviour of the church under his leadership has remained as disgraceful as ever. Buried by the praise for the pope's humility was the news that Irish Catholic orders were refusing to compensate "fallen" women, who toiled in their Magdalene laundries….
  23. 23. Don't be fooled. Pope by name, pope by nature (Cohen, The Observer, August 11) They kept women working for nothing behind locked doors in sweltering laundries … The people the religious fool do not depress me. All of us can be tricked. It is the people who want to be fooled I can't abide. If you forget what liberal Catholics and the liberal media think the pope said on the papal plane last month, and take the trouble to read what he actually said, the happy story of a reforming, tolerant pontiff disintegrates before your eyes… Before the gormless acclaim him as a liberal, they should expect him to meet minimum standards. His church opposes civil gay marriage and maintains that homosexual sex is a sin. If he were serious about stopping discrimination, he would reverse both those dogmas. He might also welcome the use of condoms because they emancipate women and protect against Aids, and co-operate with police investigations into the rape of children by clerics and compensate their victims. To date, there is no sign of him doing any of the above. For despite all you have read, the pope remains what he has always been: a Catholic.
  24. 24. ABUSE GIRLS TO SUE NEW ARCHBISHOP (The People, Nov 11) Sex abuse victims reject Church's apology; Man arrested after disruption at Synod service (The Times, July 8) CHURCH INTRUDER'S PUNCH-UP IN FRONT OF WELBY (Daily Mail, July 8) THE Church of England's official apology for child abuse by its clerics doesn't make everything all right for the many victims. But at least they've admitted publicly that "for far too long the Church either disbelieved the stories, believed them but tried to hide the truth away or hoped that by removing an offender the problem would go away". Now, we wait for other faiths to follow suit, hopefully with Pope Francis I leading the way. Too many innocents have suffered to let the excuses continue. (Leckie, The Sun, July 7)
  25. 25. Pope tightens laws on child sex abuse (The Times, July 12) UN inquiry to question Vatican on child abuse: Catholic church told to show internal documents. Committee to ask officials about extent of cover-up (The Guardian, July 10) POPE: GET TOUGH ON PERVERTS; Victims want 'actions‘ (Daily Mirror, April 6) Pope hit by paedo 'ill' storm (Daily Star Sunday, March 7)
  26. 26. Welby criticises Tories for calling poor 'scroungers' (i, July 10) Archbishop promotes payday loan alternatives (The Guardian, July 1) Welby: bankers need to live in fear of hell (Daily Telegraph, June 15) Archbishop joins stars tackling world hunger (Sunday Sun, June 9) Using inflation to reduce debt would hit poor, Welby warns (The Times, July 11)
  27. 27. POPE BACKS WELBY ON GAY MARRIAGE (Daily Mail) Pope supports archbishop over stance on gay marriage (Daily Telegraph) Pope and Welby 'share common goals‘ (i) Leaders united in support of poor (Independent) Pope and Welby tell of their shared hopes for social justice (Yorkshire Post) Church leaders bond over prayers followed by five-course lunch (The Times) Welby and the Pope are cut from the same (frayed) cloth (The Times) In unity we trust: when Francis met Justin: Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope stress importance of co-operation for churches (The Guardian) D'ya fancy watching my 1986 World Cup DVD? (The Sun) [all June 15]
  28. 28. In unity we trust: when Francis met Justin: Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope stress importance of co-operation for churches (Davies, The Guardian) On the menu - a five-course affair, surprisingly plentiful perhaps for the era of the "poor church" - were sliced swordfish, pasta with prawns, tuna steak, semifreddo, fresh fruit and coffee. But, as the pope met the archbishop of Canterbury for the first time yesterday - a meeting of two pragmatists creaking under the weight of centuries of fraught history - the real order of the day, at least in theory, was unity… On gay marriage, Welby declared he and Francis had proved to be "absolutely at one on the issues". In a press briefing at the Venerable English College of Rome, Welby added that the pair were "equally at one on our condemnation of homophobic behaviour". The pope said in an address that he wanted to co-operate on the "importance of the institution of the family built on marriage".
  29. 29. In unity we trust: when Francis met Justin: Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope stress importance of co-operation for churches (Davies, The Guardian) On ethical reforms of the financial system, too, the men were onside. Welby, a former oil executive citing the influences of Catholic social teaching and the need for the banking system to find "new values", said the church's leaders had "got to find a way to make that happen". Francis, earlier, had spoken of efforts to achieve social justice, "to build an economic system that . . . promotes the common good“… The ordination of women was mentioned "in passing" but not dwelled on, said the archbishop, an ardent advocate for female bishops.
  30. 30. Churches bank on getting job done (McKeown, Daily Mirror, Aug 5) THE Blessed Richard Dawkins - he of The God Delusion - must be twisting and turning in his scientifically designed bed. For years, instead of concentrating on his "vocation" as a populist pioneer in genetics, he has been railing against religion… But all of a sudden he has been upstaged by two of the most unlikely characters - Pope Francis and the Archbishop of Canterbury. Firstly, the pontiff - and not just because his is the largest ecclesiastical constituency in the world - takes on the Vatican bureaucrats and cancels all their bonuses… Next Francis announces an inquiry into the Vatican Bank and includes among his open-ended options the possibility of closing the thing down… Not to be outdone, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby declares war on the loan-shark companies and vows to expand the Church's credit union involvement. Within hours it transpires to his huge embarrassment that the Church's bean-counters have been quietly investing in Wonga, a company notoriously involved in the exploitative pay-day loan business… Like his Rome counterpart, the Archbishop immediately demanded to know exactly where the Church's money was and why. So two of the world's most prominent clergymen take on what politicians seem impotent to do.
  31. 31. Churches bank on getting job done (McKeown, Daily Mirror, Aug 5) As if taking on the banks were not enough on his papal honeymoon, so to speak, Pope Francis radically altered the Church's solidly homophobic attitude to gays. Mind you, in the same breath, he appeared to reiterate the Vatican's horrible tradition of regarding women as less human than men. I use the word "appeared" because I detected a wide chink in the papal armour of this very smart man. On the plane home from his indisputably triumphant Latin American trip, he not only blew away his predecessors' attitude to homosexuality, but he used the phrase, "Who am I to judge?". That is even more explosive than simply repositioning the Vatican on gays. As I've exclaimed elsewhere, "Frankie, sweetheart, you're the Pope for heaven's sake: if you can't judge, who can?" Suddenly, the myth of papal infallibility is no more. First defined as dogma in 1870, it has been dying quietly for a long time. Pope Francis buried it from 37,000ft over the Atlantic. In the next breath, questioned about women's role in the Church, he opened the door a little more widely and then put up the papal hand on a question about women priests saying the Church closed that door some years ago. Doors. I remember when the door was closed on meat on Friday, on the Mass being in anything other than Latin, on painkillers for the dying... not to mention anything but excoriation for gays. I have a feeling this Pope is going to open more doors than any in my longish lifetime.
  32. 32. Trendy vicars, your time has come at last (Jones, The Independent, 30 July) In case you haven't read the fashion pull-out in the latest parish newsletter, let me be the first to pass on the good news: Trendy vicars are bang on trend. The energetic young clergyman in a colourful woolly jumper was once a BBC sit-com trope or a bogeyman for conservative churchgoers. Now, apparently, he's running the show. True, Justin Welby is yet to deliver a sermon in rap form, but in the months since he was installed as Archbishop, he's rarely been off the ball. He's offered opinions on every hot topic, from welfare reform to City culture, and now he's taken a stand on payday lenders. This week Pope Francis, leader of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide, took his own baby-steps into the 21st century when he told an informal press conference: "You should not discriminate against or marginalise [gay] people, and the Catechism says this as well.“ To many, Pope Francis's words will be a maddeningly overdue statement of the obvious. Is it bad to discriminate against gay people? Is the Pope a Catholic? Gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell was unimpressed. He dismissed the statement as "a change of tone but not a change in substance.“ It's to be hoped a change in tone might signal a change in substance, but still, Tatchell's cynicism is not unfounded. Most religious organisations keep time with an internal clock about four centuries behind GMT.
  33. 33. Trendy vicars, your time has come at last (Jones, The Independent, 30 July) This slow pace of modernisation goes a long way to explaining why 64 per cent of British 18 to 24-year-olds are not affiliated to any religion. It also suggests why it would be unfair to dismiss the views of church leaders as a merely superficial attempt to seem 'with it'. Any decent comms manager would consider this too little, too late. And, anyway, they didn't have comms managers in the Middle Ages. Politicians may consider a Church that comments on the welfare of the poor or City culture an unwelcome interference, but that's not because the comments themselves are radical. Jesus's thoughts on rich men, camels and needles are well-known… The trendy vicar might fancy himself down with the kids, but his strength isn't radicalism; it's a determination to connect the Church, and all its members, with the outside world… Why should Britain's non-churchgoers care what religious leaders say on social and political matters? Because when no mainstream political party is willing to stick up for the poor and disenfranchised, here are a few major organisations that can step into the breach.