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Saturday, April 26, 2014

Getting John Paul II Wrong:  Michael Brendan Dougherty and Rod Dreher are Misinformed and Foolish

Dougherty is a young journalist and self-described "Traditional Catholic" (whatever that means) who thinks that Irish pop singer Sinead O'Connor spoke truth to power when she ripped up a photo of John Paul II on national TV 22 years ago, declaring him "evil."  In Dougherty's telling--he's obviously too young to actually have seen the telecast, but I'm not!--Sinead was protesting child abuse. Dougherty implies by all this that JPII's allegedly ineffective response to the church's child abuse scandal disqualifies him for sainthood. 

JPII led a life of heroic virtue.  But obviously he still has his enemies, even to the right.  Alas, Dougherty's article is being widely read as some kind of courageous testimony.  Rod Dreher, his colleague at the American Conservative, called it powerful and suggested Sinead as some kind of witness to the truth. (Dreher is the self appointed Christian conscience on the priest scandal and at the time was apparently the only Catholic troubled by it.  He's since left the church, and we'll just have to get along without him, somehow.)

I remember the telecast and the fallout that followed.  The disapproval of  O'Connor action was widespread.  (See Joe Pesci's response.) Everyone thought it was an attack on the Pope, widely viewed in America as a good and just man.  No one interpreted it as some kind of protest on child abuse.  Supposedly O'Connor ad libbed that into the song she was performing, which had nothing to do with child abuse whatsoever. Anyhow, if that's what she was doing, it went over everyone's head. 

I couldn't find any articles interpreting O'Connor's picture-ripping in that way until 2002.  It looked like a clear case of ex post factor justification, because the priest scandal was peaking then.  However I did find this piece from the liberal and anti-Catholic Guardian, which  doesn't mention anything about her protesting child abuse as a motive.  What do you know?  It was a publicity stunt!   We see something of the real Sinead here: http://www.theguardian.com/music/2012/sep/21/sinead-o-connor-pope-photo

Dougherty,  recommend you refine your google searches.   We'll read your future "journalism" with a critical eye.

For a sane perspective, here's one you might like to read by Fr. Barron:

http://www.realclearreligion.org/articles/2014/04/26/how_two_popes_became_heroes.html
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