The Tablet’s unseemly haste to bury Pope Benedict XVI before he’s died

For the past six years The Tablet has made no effort to disguise their hostility towards Pope Benedict XVI and his ‘reform of the reform’. But their first issue for 2012 surpasses any previous discourtesy and disrespect towards the Holy Father. Under the banner headline on the front cover, ‘Coming up in 2012′ there is the sub-heading ‘The next Pope: Who could succeed to the throne of St Peter?’

Robert Mickens, The Tablet’s Rome correspondent, has written a two page article with twelve photographs of his selection of possible successors to Pope Benedict. Justifying his extremely premature fantasy conclave Mickens writes:

‘Although Pope Benedict’s general health appears to be good, he has begun to show signs of fatigue and increasing frailty. History and prudence would suggest that the car­dinals of the Church should seriously start thinking about suitable candidates to succeed him. Casting a vote for the Successor of Peter is the main and gravest purpose for which they are given a red hat. They must avoid being caught unprepared, as apparently they were at the last conclave, when a number of cardinals publicly confessed that they did not know their confrères very well.’

Protect the Pope comment: What a cheek! Pope Benedict XVI is planning two major apostolic journeys to Mexico and Cuba early in 2012, working on the final volume of his trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, writing the encyclical on Faith that completes his series on the Theological Virtues, on top of all the other daily public appearances, homilies, addresses and meetings. And Robert Mickens has the rudeness to write about a successor to the Holy Father. I’d like to see him do as much when he’s nearly 85.

What this impertinence is really about is the well known fact that Mr Mickens can’t stand Pope Benedict XVI.  The story goes that when Pope Benedict walked out on to the loggia of St Peter’s as the new pope, Mr Mickens burst into tears of frustration and rage.

So now Mr Mickens and the editor of The Tablet want to put the pontificate of Pope Benedict behind them as fast as possible, with their fantasies of a new pope.  A new low for The Tablet.


9 comments to The Tablet’s unseemly haste to bury Pope Benedict XVI before he’s died

  • Karla

    The Tablet is a mess, they should be ashamed of themselves. Pope Benedict probably visited more places this year than most people half his age.

  • Teresa

    Many parishes sell the Tablet. Our Parish Priest wisely does not. In fact when he once caught me reading a copy he told me off saying it was bad for my health

  • John-Paul

    Just more evidence to show that the tablet needs to be reformed itself or stop publishing altogether.

  • I would assume that neither your good self nor any of your regular readers would disagree with me that at one time The Tablet was rightly regarded as the journal of record for Anglophone Catholicism. Nor would I expect any objection to the further observation that in those now far off days The Tablet’s journalistic standards were exemplary.

    Today? Well, things are so different that I feel obliged to assure one and all that I intend to consider, and hence subject you to, no more than the opening paragraph of Robert Mickens article in the current edition, the subject of this Blog.

    The Tablet proudly describes Mickens as “Our Rome correspondent”. They also boast that he is in a position to present “an insider’s guide to those considered papabile”.

    An “insider” to what we are not told. But if he genuinely believes that “(o)ne of the talking points in Rome in recent months has been the growing frailty of Pope Benedict” then he is certainly not an insider to the Vatican Palace.

    Dr, indeed Professor, Patrizio Polisca, the Holy Father’s personal physician, has recently become concerned that not enough was being done to alleviate the pain, discomfort, stiffness and tiredness associated with the arthrosis from which the Holy Father suffers. As a result, Archbishop Michael Harvey ordered the moveable platform that had been used by Blessed Pope John Paul be brought out of storage, dusted down and brought back into papal service. End of story.

    But back to that opening paragraph. Mickens writes: “In just a few months from now, Pope Benedict XVI will officially surpass Blessed John Paul II and become the oldest man in more than 100 years to serve as Bishop of Rome.”

    As I write, today is January 1, 2012. So “more than 100 years ago” takes us back at the very earliest to December 31, 1901. And yet in the third and last sentence of his opening paragraph Mickens, correctly, states : “Only four other popes since the end of the thirteenth century have made it to 86 years of age, of which the most recent was Pope Leo XIII, who died aged 93 in 1903.”

    That is correct, 1903! LESS than 100 years ago. Shurely shome mishtake?

  • Bernard

    Isn’t part of the problem that The Tablet’s readership now includes a very large number of Anglicans? Certainly the Letters page not infrequently has as many Anglican as Catholic correspondents, and the Catholic letters allowed to appear are preponderantly from the liberal fringe. By making itself more and more acceptable across the ecumenical spectrum, The Tablet has actually become far less acceptable to convinced Catholics who believe in the Church’s teaching, and don’t want to read continuous griping and whinging which undermines the Faith.
    If we want to read attacks on and prejudice against Catholicism, we can read The Guardian or The independent or The Times any day. But we would actually expect Catholic publications to try to strengthen and underpin the Faith – in a sensible and enlightened way – but not to constantly undermine it.

  • Ioannes

    I remember punching the air when I heard that Joseph Ratzinger was Pope – I understand Mickens was less than ecstatic – and the best Schadenfreude moment of my life was the morning after, when the BBC trundled out the usual liberal Catholic pundits to give their reactions. One of them, a well-known ex-nun and would-be priestess had a note of desperation in her voice as she said words to the effect that “He’s got to show he’s prepared to listen to us”. Priceless.

    The Tabletistas have now had nearly seven years to wail and gnash their teeth. Pope Benedict is in fact a year younger than HM the Queen, and no-one is predicting her early demise. It is highly likely that the next pope will be from the Third World, and the outstanding figure is HE Malcolm, Cardinal Ranjith, only 64 years old at the time of writing. I can’t see his being on Mickens’s wish-list.

  • Frank

    Whoops, Hugh McLoughlin – you’re a decade out! December 31, 1901 was 110 years ago.

  • fd

    In Italy the Catholic press is in a very good shape fortunately.
    The daily Avvenire( which is published every day except on Mondays- so as to observe the Sunday rest) is very informative and well written. It deals with everything from politics to sports, from the economy to foreign affairs to local news. While it is owned by the Italian Bishop Conference , it is completely independent and the staff is entirely made up of lay journalists , most of whom have previously worked in secular centrist newsapers such as Milan’s Corriere della Sera, Milan’s Il Giorno, or Rome’s Il Messaggero, or center right newspapers such as Rome’s Il Tempo or Milan’s Il Giornale (before the latter was taken over by Berlusconi)
    Having worked with such publications gives Avvenire’s journalists a great expertise.
    While it is based in Milan it also has a minor headquartiers in Rome and his correspondents are all over Italy and the world, there’s one based in the UK too.
    Moreover Avvenire is the newspaper which covers most the real life of the real people and which gives a lot of coverage to the thirld world, not just when there are crisis or emergency, but regularly.
    And there is also a daily column by Gianni Gennari, who is one of the people who works on the new section of La Stampa’s website “Vatican insider”, which is called “Lupus in Pagina” and exposes every day misrepresantation and missreporting of the Church by the Italian media.
    Then there is Famiglia Cristiana, a weekly magazine, which is very attentive to social and family issues.
    And finally there are very many local Catholic publications , which are generally published by the dioceses.

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