HOLD ON: Did the UK papal visit team really “embarrass” the Church?

The UK Daily Mail has published an article today which I fear does a disservice to the UK Papal Visit Team. Here is the Daily Mail’s headline and lead:

The Pope star, headlining at a gig near you: Catholic bishops under fire for ‘cringe-making’ guide to the Papal visit

Catholic bishops have likened the Pope to the headline act at a series of gigs in a ‘cringe-worthy’ guide to his visit this week which insiders fear exposes the Church to ridicule.
In a list of ‘useful terms’ in the official booklet, the three open-air Papal masses – the most solemn occasions of the historic trip – are referred to as ‘shows’ or ‘gigs’, terms normally associated with rock concerts.
The document also compares the clergy who organise services – known as liturgists – to ‘performers’ or ‘artists’.
Injecting even more showbusiness style, the leaflet translates weighty terms such as ‘sanctuary’ into ‘stage’ and the distribution of Holy Communion into ‘giving out’.
Religious words such as ‘spiritual’ and ‘uplifting’ become ‘enjoyable, fun, exciting’.
The Daily Mail goes on to claim: “The unusual glossary raises fresh questions over the handling of Pope Benedict XVI’s four-day visit, which starts on Thursday and has already been mired in controversy.” But let’s hold on a moment. The only proof the Daily Mail provides for its claims is this screen-capture of the glossary:

I read the glossary differently: I think the UK Visit Team is trying their best to educate media about what the proper terminology is to describe these things. For instance, reporters will often (mistakenly) describe the Eucharist as “Bread and Wine”, while the UK Visit Team is telling the media that it should actually be described as “Blessed Sacrament [or] Holy Communion.”

In other words, the right column is listing words and phrases that reporters might be tempted to use, but the left column is telling them what words and phrases they should use if they want to be accurate. Certainly, reporters often make basic mistakes when trying to describe what they are seeing at a Catholic Mass or event, and its understandable that the UK papal visit team is trying to avoid these mistakes if possible.

Granted, they could have done a better job at it. But I still think the Daily Mail hasn’t proven by any means that the UK papal visit team is suggesting that reporters use imprecise/misleading/silly terminology in their reporting.

I am currently attempting to obtain a copy of the full document so I can read this glossary in its proper context.

I am concerned because bloggers in the UK (and now, the US) are busy criticizing the UK Visit Team about this “embarrassment”, when they should actually be going after the Daily Mail for taking the glossary out of context… I hope.

The ironic thing here is that the Daily Mail may have unwittingly proven the papal visit team’s point that when it comes to reporting Catholic topics, the press is in dire need of some remedial education in basic reading and comprehension.



  • Giovanni A. Cattaneo

    I would say we are being naive on purpose here.

    The reality is that nobody wants to say it but the Bishops of England have done everything in their power to make this visit and embarrassment for his Holiness.

    Not only that but the Bishops of England and Wales are notorious for their open antagonism towards Catholic teaching, Benedict XVI and anything to do with reforming the Liturgy.

    They have truly acted as vipers against the Chair Peter. I hope that some kind of actions is taken to make these Bishops fall in line.

    I am of course not talking about the whole hierarchy but of those in the infamous “Magic Circle” of Ecclesion Square and those that follow the previous Archbishop of Westminster.

  • pilgrimclaz

    Totally agree with you.

    I understand where the CBCEW are coming from in their reasons for creating the terminology list in the first place. And yes, they could have done a much better job. There was room on that page to elaborate further.

    I don’t feel the terminology list is an ’embarrassment’ to the Church neither… but trust me… over here in the UK, everyone’s trying to pick a bone about everything to do with the Papal Visit – there’s an awful lot of hostility from the media too.

    But thanks for the post :)

    P.S not all us UK bloggers are bad. I’m new on the blogosphere, but my blog is there to share the pilgrim view – nothing anti-papal on it 😉

  • David

    Sorry, it is cringe worthy.



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