Monday 11 February 2013

Is the Pope a Catholic?

When you are sensitive to the question of BBC bias you can easily find yourself trying to anticipate the BBC's behaviour in light of your assumptions about them. 

Learning of Pope Benedict's decision to resign, I wondered who the BBC News website would select to write their beyond-the-BBC analysis for this breaking story. There's always such a piece on a big, breaking piece of news - and such there was today. 

As readers of this blog's work on Sunday might have guessed too, I assumed, based on past experience, that it would be a liberal Catholic, probably someone associated in some way with the liberal Catholic magazine The Tablet. I assumed it would not be a conservative Catholic, large numbers of whom welcomed Benedict's election and have felt rejoiced in his papacy.  

Coming in tonight and checking the BBC News website's coverage finds that, yes, they have indeed gone for someone outside of the BBC to provide an 'Analysis'. Have they, however, confounded my expectations of them?

No. They invited the gay activist and Catholic liberal Mark Dowd, regular contributor to the Guardian and (inevitably) The Tablet, to pen their piece on the Pope's legacy. Mark's 'analysis' is not wholly unsympathetic to a pope he's grown less hostile to as time has passed but it's still the perspective of a Catholic liberal. 

No counter-balancing appreciation of Pope Benedict from a Catholic conservative is offered. No hopes for the continuation of his traditionalist reforms are expressed. Much as I expected.

Of course, I should have expected such a counterbalancing point of view to be given, what with the BBC's commitment to impartiality and all that; but I think I know my BBC quite well by now and so I only expected someone from the perspective of Mark Dowd to be chosen by the BBC. And choose him, and nobody else, they assuredly did. 

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