Monday, May 23, 2011

Pope misquoted by UK Telegraph

I recently came across an April 23, 2011 article in the UK Telegraph. The article reports how the Pope was televised last month answering questions sent in by lay Catholics. The headline from the Telegraph reads: "Pope admits 'no answer to suffering' in TV interview".

A video of the pertinent segment of the show accompanied the article. A seven-year-old girl from Japan asked why children had to suffer in natural disasters. The Pope, speaking Italian, said, "Non abbiamo le risposte, ma sappiamo che Gesù ha sofferto come voi, innocente, che il Dio vero che si mostra in Gesù sta dalla vostra parte." (quoted at Italian version)

The body of the Telegraph article translates the line fairly close: "We don't have the answers, but we know that Jesus suffered as innocent children suffer." The key portion of the translation that they got correct was "We don't have the answers." The Pope's words "Non abbiamo le risposte" means quite literally "We don't have the answers." And following that he explained that we do know that Jesus suffered like children like her, and if we don't have the answers, we can draw comfort in knowing that. He continued, saying, "One day you will even understand why this is so."

The headline of the article is factually wrong. Saying "We don't have the day you will understand" is a very different thought than what the Telegraph's headline says: "Pope admits 'no answer to suffering.'" It is very different to say there "is no answer" and "we don't have the answer at this time."

As well, by saying the Pope "admits," the headline makes it sound like he is granting some kind of reluctant confession. But worse, he absolutely did not say that there is "no answer to suffering" as the headline reads––with quotes around it no less. That is factually inaccurate and begs the question whether or not the Telegraph editor has an ulterior motive for readers to think the Pope believes no answer to suffering exists.

So what could be the motive? Shoddy editing? Shoddy journalism? An attempt to make the Church appear weak or unreliable? An attempt to discredit the notion of the "good God" the Pope represents by making it appear as if he's conceding that human suffering is pointless?

Whether the Telegraph is given the benefit of the doubt on an ulterior motive or not, the headline is unarguably wrong.

Related Catholic Voyager article: Should earthquakes shake faith in God?

No comments:

Post a Comment