Monday, April 28, 2014

One of Newsround's main stories yesterday was about the canonisation of two popes. It was reported like this at 9.04am

Jenny: Hundreds of thousands of people are gathering in Rome this morning to witness history being made. It's the very first time two popes will be made saints at the same time. Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII will be honoured in an open-air ceremony in Vatican City. Up to a million people are expected at the event, with hundreds of millions more watching on TV around the world.

Alan Johnston: Well the Catholic Church has simply never seen a day quite like this in all its 2000 years of history: Two much-loved popes being recognised as saints in the same ceremony, and extraordinarily two living popes presiding over that ceremony. But this is a really huge religious event.

Fairly positive reporting, then, with not even a hint that the canonisation was controversial because of the young people who suffered abuse whilst John Paul II was still in charge, and the fact that he did not act strongly enough to stamp it out.

The two other Newsround reports yesterday were no better -

Alan Johnson explained the ceremony like this - We've just witnessed a hugely important religious event here at the Vatican: Two former popes being made saints. Now to become a saint the Church has to believe not only that you're in heaven, it has to believe also that you're so important there that you can actually persuade God to deliver miracles. In the case of one of these popes - the former Polish pope John Paul II - the Church believes that two women, who were very very ill, prayed to him and were miraculously cured. The Church believes John Paul II cured two women miraculously, and that qualifies him to be a saint ........

Johnston went into quite a lot of detail on the religious beliefs surrounding canonisation, but he failed to tell Newsround viewers that, only days beforehand, a young man named Marco Gusmini was killed when a giant crucifix collapsed on top of him. The really spooky thing about Marco's death is that the crucifix which killed him had been dedicated to John Paul II. So wasn't the Catholic Church worried that Marco dying in those circumstances might cancel out the other miracles? I suspect that neither Alan Johnston, nor any other BBC journalist made enquiries to the Vatican on that score.

Newsround stressed the bit about history being made yesterday. Unfortunately it was nowhere near as positive about another historical event last month - the first same-sex marriages ever to take place in Britain. People might wonder whether the BBC holds its LGBT viewers in lower esteem than those of faith.

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