Posts from April 2, 2005

The pope has died

The pope has died

: Word came before 3p ET, said MSNBC.

: I’ll continue to add links in the posts below — the first general links, the second about media coverage.

Pope links

Pope links

: The Pope Blog, which had gone dormant, is back alive now as its bloggers are taking shifts to cover the news.

: started a pope news blog with news tidbits and a citizens’ journlist page with people emailing in their brushes with the papacy.

: The Learning Company puts up downloads of two free lectures on papal elections. [via Dave Taylor]

: We’re also seeing pope press releases: A music company is releasing free material for church services when the pope dies.

: And getaloada this press release: This one says that San Francisco singer Tricia Greenwood took her song “In Heaven,” which she previously rewrote as “In Heaven (911),” and now rededicates it to the death of the pope. I’m surprised there wasn’t a Schaivo version in the middle. To quote the flackery: “Tricia says, ‘God told me to write this song and I obeyed him.'” And then He told her to send out a press release, apparently.

: Cable news’ tone in this story is, of course, ever-reverent. On MSNBC just now, it was good to hear Jim Maseda at least list the controversies that have surrounded this pope. He had to then get back to reverence. But it’s good to keep some journalistic perspective in these stories.

On blogs, of course, that balance is achieved via different perspectives, some blunt in a way that reverent TV coverage can’t be. Most blogs mentioning the pope are also reverent but edstrong, a “radical left” blog, quotes at length from an indymedia blast at the pope:

A picture emerges of a man gripped with hatred for condoms but in practice equivocal about paedophilia. Homosexuality is to him “an objective disorder” and “intrinsically evil”, but the rape of kidnapped boys is no bar to Sainthood.

: Tempus Fugit says:

Now that Pope John Paul II has had a feeding tube inserted, the ìoh my gosh, itís just like Terri, Michael Schiavo is going to try to kill the pope!î people are coming out of the woodwork. Come onÖ thatís just not nice. No matter how brain-dead you think some of his positions are, you shouldnít compare the Pope to someone with no cerebral function.

Wednesdayís episode of South Park just might have the best summation of the Schiavo issue so far: one side is right for all the wrong reasons, and the other side is wrong for all the right reasons. Wow. Donít you hate it when foul-mouthed cartoon characters make you think?

: The other night, I got all confused — not being Catholic — about whether the networks were confused about whether the pope had received last rights. A library blog quotes Wikipedia to clear it up:

Currently on the home page: Pope John Paul II reportedly receives the Anointing of the Sick following a serious urinary tract infection.. And the anointing of the sick page explains The former name Extreme Unction was used in the Western (Roman) part of the Catholic Church from the end of the twelfth century until the Second Vatican Council, and was never popular in the Eastern (Orthodox) part. Last Rites is a common but misleading term.”

: Via a comment to the post below, Josh Marshall gives us a personal recollection and a political analysis of the pope.

: Rhiel World View does some research on papal succession in a very good post that brings it all together with this tidbit I never knew:

The camerlengo gently raps the pontiff’s forehead with a silver mallet and calls the pope by his birth name three times. With no answer after the third time, the Pope is officially pronounced dead in the eyes of the church; however, prior to this, the Pope’s personal physician has already pronounced him dead.

: SILVER HAMMER UPDATE: The Guardian has a correction saying that the silver hammer story is a myth. [via Snopes]

Nonetheless, I haven’t been able to get Maxwell’s Silver Hammer out of my head. Dan Herzlich helpfully gives us the lyrics in the comments on this post.

: Publius Pundit, who has quickly become the leading freedom blogger, gives a tribute to John Paul that seems universal:

Pope John Paul II has been to myself and countless others the spiritual revolutionary that gutted the Soviet Union in its Godless, empty soul. We all owe him a debt of gratitude for the unmatched contribution he made toward securing us a freer world than the one he was born to. Thomas Jefferson once said, ìRebellion to tyrants is obedience to God,î making Pope John Paul II one of His most humble servants.

: Catholic Pages has its explanation of the ritual of succession.

: The Polling Report quotes an ABC/Post poll showing a growing approval rating for the pope over the years.

: The Rev. Thomas Reece, editor of the Catholic weekly America, has a papal FAQ here.

: The Ignatius Press Insight Scoop blog has many good updates.

: Detroit Funk puts up pictures of yellow-and-white flags hoisted outside churchs to mark open prayer.

: Here’s a Podcasting priest at the Vatican. Roderick Vonhˆgen is a Catholic priest in Utrecht, The Netherlands. [via Baggas]

: Pirates wants the next pope to come from China: “Since right now China is the biggest threat to world freedom. No, theyíre not terrorists, which is what we are currently cleaning up around the world. They are the biggest totalitarian government.” Captain’s Quarters is writing about the persecution of Chinese Catholics.

: Outside the Beltway says the ppe gets too much credit for toppling communism in Europe.

: sends out a press release saying it’s giving free Bibles in honor of the pope. Except the site is already called FreeBible, no? And they charge you a handling fee of $5.99.


: Among the first links coming after the pope died are press releases — one from the Family Research Council and one from Domino’s founder Tom Monaghan:

I will always remember the first time I received communion from him in his private chapel. I’ll never forget when his blue eyes met mine just before receiving communion … In fact, within hours of this encounter, I received the inspiration to found Legatus, an organization for Catholic business leaders with the mission to study, live and spread the Faith.

But enough about the pope. What about me?

: The Pope Blog gives us the quotes of the moment:

Vere Papa mortuus est

In Latin, “The Pope has truly died,” are the words that the Cardinal Camerlengo Eduardo Martinez Somalo pronounces to verify the death of Pope John Paul II.

Psalm 130 is also recited by the Camerlengo: “Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD. …”

Any prelates present with the Pope when he dies join together in saying, “SubvÈnite, Sancti Dei; occ?rrite, Angeli Domini: Suscipientes animam eius. Offerentes eam in conspectu Altissimi.” (“Come to his aid, Saints of God; race to meet him, Angels of the Lord: Receive his soul and present it in the presence of the Most High.”) …

“The angels welcome you,” Vatican TV said after the announcement came from papal spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.

: The Vatican announced — and the AP learned about — the death of the pope via email!

: A sometimes-Catholic, Chris Gonyea, remembers a sports trip to Rome and St. Peters:

I will be the first to admit, Iím not exactly a model when it comes to being religious. I have attended only a few masses in the past decade. I rarely pray (single digits as well in the past decade probably). When I do attend mass, I often have no clue on what is going on outside of a hazy memory of going to church when I was growing up and in Sunday school….

I quickly worked my way through the crowd and while I never saw the Pope, I did see what I thought was the top of his head. I was maybe 50 feet away, but it seemed like I was touched personally by him being there. Later that day, I watched the Pope speak from his window overlooking St. Peterís square. In my pictures, all you could see is a white dot that was his hat. Just seeing something like that was extremely special and Iíll always remember it.

: Michelle Malkin is updating with lots of links.

: The Lone Star Times reminds us that al Qaeda also targeted John Paul II.

: A Lebanese blogger, Element, echoes what many say: They may not have agreed with him but they respected him:

Although I never agreed with many of the things that this man stood for in his life. I truly respect him and consider him a great and brave religious leader. He devoted his life to God and to his followers…. i did not agree with most of what this man stood for since i see myself as a progressive liberal catholic, but this man was truly a messenger of peace and love. Rest in peace John Paul II. We will always remember you.

: Similarly, Flaschenpost says:

An unexpected sadness about his imminent passing despite the fact that I don’t agree with his conservatism on birth control, women in the church, and homosexuality. I figure I must just like the man. He comes from Poland, not far from where I’m from, his history linked closely to what I think of my history (the history of my family, my region, my country). His vigour, studiousness, smile, gusto, and approachability impressed me. His stance against communism.

: And still in a similar vein, here is a very nice post from a Polish blogger, Kinuk:

There is a hush over the country. It’s as if everyone is walking a little softer and moving a little gentler. When I went to bed last night just around 2am, there were still a lot of lights on in the apartment blocks next to ours. We all held our vigils in some way. I didn’t want to talk to anybody, I didn’t really want to go to church, I just wanted to sit in front of the television and watch. Almost every single Polish channel carried films, news, recollections and photographs of the Pope. There were reporters in most large churches across the country, talking to bishops and archbishops and the faithful. Men got teary on national cameras and some women wept openly. We know he’s dying and that breaks our hearts….

I’m probably not the right person for this commentary. My opinions differ dramatically from those of the Catholic Church. I disagree with their stance on women’s rights, reproductive rights and homosexuality. I disagree strongly. But, when it comes to the Pope, the man who cements these views and beliefs in the Church, I cannot help myself.

I tell myself that it must be his Polishness and his incredible pull on my fellow Poles. I tell myself that I value him and his work because of his large role in bringing down the Communist regime. I tell myself that he has travelled so much around the world and brought happiness to so many. But I think my outpouring of emotions are rooted in a simpler reason: a good man is dying. It’s that simple.

: Here is the Religion News Service obituary.

: Here is the official Vatican bulletin…


: Arthur Chrenkoff writes his tribute.

: Tom Watson writes a very neat post about John Paul II as the blogging pope — or at least the networked pope:

Poet, author, diarist, commentator, reader, writer. Karol Wojtyla of Poland was a blogger at heart. And his Papacy earned early adopter status amidst the cobwebs and Latin scrolls of the Church. Hidebound to tradition in many ways, progressive in many others, Pope John Paul II embraced new technology to the fullest, and used the Internet as a tool for evangelism from its earliest days of consumer adoption. Not only was he the most traveled Pope, he was the most wired Pope, and he understood the power of the worldwide network of digital information and opinion.

Very early on, the Church became a strong Internet player under John Paul II. It understood the intrinsic value of its vast collections of art and texts, and gradually made much of it available online – thereby drawing in Catholics and non-Catholics. Almost immediately, the Holy See created versions of its Website in many languages and was among the first major worldwide institutions to use database-and-object technology online to publish, moving quickly away from the flat html pages of the mid-90s.

Moreover, the Pope understood the power of networked communication, especially for the young. He pushed the Church to adopt technology, to open communications. Here’s a quote from one official statement on World Communications Day (2002):

For the Church the new world of cyberspace is a summons to the great adventure of using its potential to proclaim the gospel message…I dare to summon the whole Church bravely to cross this new threshold, to put out deeply into the Net….

Note the humor in the pun. The Blogging Friar Jack calls John Paul “the most media-savvy pope ever.” As late as last year, in failing health, he continued to urge the Church to invest in – and embrace – the Internet….

Modern technology has created the kind of death watch we all witnessed over the past few days. In most ways, it is useless and crude. But the spread of information – the more open Church – that John Paul II encouraged will not be reversed easily. Visit the Vatican online today and you’ll find a vast and nearly complete database of his thoughts: homilies, speeches, letters, messages – a record of his Papacy online.

And that instinct toward transparency, remarkable for this Church, should be considered a major portion of the legacy of this blogging Pope.

: Joe Gandelman has one of his patented roundups, but over at Dean’s blog.



: The last pope died two years before CNN was born. So then, there couldn’t be the dawn-to-dawn multichannel video deathwatch we have now. And, of course, there wasn’t the internet.

Is the coverage overdone at this stage with no real news to report except the anticipation of news (and the chance that this could go on for days)? Of course, it is. But as I said during Schiavovision deathwatch, the four cable news channels each fear not having the big story the other one has on as you pass by, and so they all have the big story all the time. Before we had competitive cable news networks, nine years ago, we got wall-to-wall coverage on broadcast news only for the really, really big news — assassinations, moonwalks — for such news was an expensive exception to their business model while, of course, it is the business model of cable news. So now it appears as if all America, all the world has stopped to watch the deathwatch. But this only shows how news has changed, how we no longer wait for it but it waits for us, how we demand news on demand. The cable networks have the big story all the time so that we can get it anytime.

What we need, perhaps, is one cable news channel that covers the big story all the time and another cable news channel that covers the rest of the news. Then we’d get what we can’t get now: choice.

: Dawn-to-dawn coverage of the Big Story sure messes up everybody else’s PR strategy. Marc Cooper is covering the Minuteman media stunt at Tombstone and he says:

Initial impressions of this event are underwhelming. Turn-out seems a lot less than that projected by the organizers. And as this is mostly a media-inflated story and with the Pope sucking up all the media oxygen, so to speak, this whole Minuteman show might be headed for premature collapse.

: My daughter just woke up and caught me on the couch blogging with the TV on. She looked at the TV and sighed: “They’re always talking about Pope John Paul II.” But she has something I didn’t have when I was a kid and subjected to the Big Story: Nickelodeon.

: Via PubSub, I found this astute media commentary at Constant State:

no doubt, the pope is news worthy, just like some of the coverage of terri schiavo and her case… but most of this has been a new level of unseemly. its like waiting for death just to finalize a story.

terri schiavo’s death wrapped up with helicopters following the white van that carried her body away through the streets and onto a freeway… to her “autopsy”. last night, most of the news channels had a camera view directly outside the pope’s apartment to check if the lights would go out. seriously.

i’d blame o.j. but after the e! entertainment channel’s reenactment of the michael jackson case… a 24 hour death channel is probably next. every sick celebrity better get those new living wills to include a DNTD (do not televise death) order.

I was at People when it discovered the newsstand value of death, previously a verboten cover topic on newsmagazines, thanks to Elvis. Then every celebrity who wanted the cover in life got it in death (it got to be so obnoxoiusly exploitive that when I started EW, I tried to ban death but my staff argumed me out of it). I used to joke that we should have changed the name of People to Dead People. And then I realized that there was, in fact, a successful magazine idea lurking there. I thought of proposing something called Tribute. But I had the good taste not to.

: There’s a lot of comment on the media coverage. American Idle says:

I hope I’m not the only one who finds the 24 hour news media’s uberobsession with the slow death march of his Excellency morbid. Do we really need papal kidney failure updates on the hour? His passing will hopefully put an end to death week here in America. I hope the pope passes soon and that his suffering is minimized.

I do feel for this pope and his many followers around the world. I might be anti-religionist and an atheist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t respect this man. Quite the contrary. Pope John Paul II was a man of great charisma and while I don’t agree with many his decisions, most notably his hard line on birth control which is especially disturbing considering so many of his constituents live in over populated AIDS ravaged countries, I respect him as person who brought great solace to many people in this world. He’s also been an incredible traveler and his facility with languages is simply remarkable.

Like many people of my generation, he’s the only pope we’ve ever really known. The images I have of him in my mind most center around him traveling around the US in the pope-mobile or being “reported” on by Father Guido Sarducci….

Oh, no are we going to see Father Guido again?

: Martin Stabe translates a Spiegel piece about international media spreading pope rumors.

: Fatmixx says:

Seriously, though, this deathwatch is killing me. It seems like the media has nothing better to do than speculate on when the Pope is going to die. It is wholely undignified how they all want to be the first to report his passing. One radio station here promises updates every few minutes. They are breaking in to network TV to report that he is still alive. I know that a billion Catholics want to know, but this is getting ridiculous.

And it was almost this bad with Terri SchiavoÖand she wasnít the spiritual leader for a billion people.

F@$k the media. I hate almost all the comercial outlets (and NPR counts in that too). Have some respect for the dying.

: Rogers Cadenhead posts on the oops-reports yesterday that the pope was dead and links to this on the Drudge Retort:

This just in. The pope is not dead.

We will be reporting that the pope is not dead until he dead, then of course, we will remove the “not” so that we will say the “pope is dead.”

Then we will inundate you with slick already produced stories about his life, retrospectives, montages, just as soon as we can say he is dead. There will be lots of shots St. Peter’s basilica, church bells, with background music of gregorian chants. We have interns working the thesauri around the clock looking for synomons for: somber. And we will be up all night practicing that serious, thoughful, slightly saddened look.

hold on. hold on.

No, still not dead.

Actually, my wife saw one channel put up the “flash news” that the pope is alive.

: Cathy Resmer complains about newspaper coverage of the pope:

Why the saturation coverage? I mean, I care about the pope, but frankly, his death won’t have much of an impact on my life. Could it be that covering the pope is easier than devoting the energy and effort to understanding the state’s Medicaid crisis, or the new pension bill? Anybody can Google the papal election process, or provide an overview of the challenges the next pope will face (two of the inside stories in today’s paper). But it takes a really dedicated reporter to get in-depth coverage of government bureaucracies. Of course, of the 7 stories, 5 came from either the A.P or the L.A. Times.

No, it’s not a conspiracy theory. Neither is it journalistic laziness. It’s the assumption of the need to herd, the need for everyone to have the big news. And it’s a good assumption: What would you say if your paper had nothing about the pope?

Still, this is an indication of a new attitude among younger readers about commodity news: As she says, if you can just Google it, why print it? That’s a good question, an important question for the news business. We do need to concentrate on what makes us valued and not on commodity news.

: James Wolcott notices this on the TV coverage:

I’ve been hopping from cable channel to channel for hours while working–keeping the TV sound low–and it’s been a procession of priest, priest, priest, priest, priest, priest–wall-to-wall white collars. Not a nun in sight, and barely a prominent Catholic laywoman. Some of the conversation touches on the ordination of women, the role of women in the church, the Pope’s stand on abortion, but the conversation has been conducted almost exclusively among men.

He’s right. I have not seen one women.

: Wolcott also asks what everyone will say on TV now that he has died; they said it all while he was dying.

How long will the TV OD go on? The mourning period…. the funeral… the conclave… the smokewatch…. the investiture….

Meanwhile, in other news

Meanwhile, in other news

: Chickenman Frank Perdue is dead.

Frightening new products

Frightening new products

: Just saw an airbrush dispenser to paint a tan on your body: Body by Earl Scheib.