Ed Peter’s takes L’Osservatore to the woodshed

Ed Peter’s of In The Light Of The Law has correctly understood a burning issue of our day.

L’OR and the Loss of Reason

For most of my life L’Osservatore Romano has been a sleepy Roman rag that arrived weeks after its publication date, printed in cheap ink that soiled the fingers of those who felt the need to read page after page of boilerplate remarks on the latest ambassador from anywhere shown in his tuxedo presenting diplomatic credentials. Aside, I suppose, from an occasionally interesting book review, L’OR has for decades carried nothing of serious interest that could not be found much more quickly in a half-dozen other venues, ones, moreover, that didn’t compel readers to wash their hands before handling anything beige or white.

But lately, [Behold!  A line to be quoted….] L’OR has decided to become relevant. God help us.

Having just emerged, battered, but, I thought, moderately chastened after its embarrassingly naive and harmful editorial in praise of Pres. Obama, L’OR treats the world to a high-schoolish tribute to the highly talented and utterly pathetic entertainer Michael Jackson.

Jackson might not be fully responsible for the swirling chaos that was his life and death, but for L’OR even to mention his death – – [get this…] without simultaneously urging Catholics to pray for his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed – – astounds me.

Worse, the L’OR report leaves Catholics little sense that much of Jackson’s work was sexually exploitative, at times quasi-obscene; it dismisses as insignificant the terrible example that Jackson’s chronic pursuit of superficial "beauty" gave to millions of young people; and, worst of all, it trivializes the serious, and in some cases unresolved, allegations of child sexual abuse made against him. L’OR need not assume the worst about Jackson’s conduct in these cases, but it should never have implied that such allegations, even if they are true, cannot tarnish the world-wide esteem in which he is held! Good grief. Has L’OR completely lost its reason?

If the Vatican wants a newspaper to provide a Catholic perspective on the world, fine. Item Number One on the to-do list, though, should be to find Catholics who can write and edit such a paper coherently. Anyone can lurch from gaff to gaff.

In the meantime, if you really want to get in on the Jackson Praise Train, check out M-TV, dude. Their graphics are like way better than L’OR.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rancher says:

    The writers/eidtors of the “revitalized” L’OR have made 2 mistakes. #1 they have modeled it after too many diocesan newspapers here in the USA and, #2 they are using the “Catholic News Service” here in the USA as the source of their articles and editorial perspective. We have cancelled our subscription to our diocesan rag for those reasons. Not being a subscriber to L’OR saves us the trouble of doing that.

  2. bryan says:

    Wondering whether or not l’O. R. has hired writers from Entertainment Tonight or any of the other MSM rags out there.

    I was talking with a fellow from my rosary group yesterday about the wall-to-wall canonization of MJ.

    Aside from the papering over of what are those ‘unresolved’ questions, one has to wonder about why a whole sordid (and that’s what it is…sordid) life that is being held up for public adulation.

    My own feelings? So many people are so lost in a wilderness, believing in nothing, that they’ll fall for anything.

    Pray for his soul? Of course. He was, after all, a child of God.

    Hold him up as some sort of exemplary role model? Uh…I don’t think so. Everyone serves some purpose. His may be to serve as an example of unchecked greed, being used by others, a life lived without purpose, and the result of terrible abuse suffered at the hands of those who where charged with protecting and nourishing him.

    That’s not going to stop the deification of MJ by the popular press and entertainment industries, though.

  3. MargaretMN says:

    Michael Jackson as Narcissus. Brilliant. Also good was First Things, First Thoughts blog that compared his cult to that of a medieval dog saint in Lyon. http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/firstthoughts/2009/06/29/michael-jackson-and-saint-guinefort/

  4. JBS says:

    They should get with the times and put the whole thing online, even by subscription. Perhaps a papal blog is what’s needed. Personally, I am more interested in the Notitiae, which should also be put online.

  5. Lauren says:

    Augh, father, the apostrophe… and right in the title of your post…

  6. Matt K says:

    Like Totally!

  7. paul says:

    I believe L’OR needs a new editor, why not copy the example of Catholic World Report- an excellent magazine which truly gives a Catholic perspective to current events??

  8. LCB says:

    Hey I have an idea!

    Let’s be even more relevant and bring guitars to mass! Then mass attendance will sky rocket! Right? Right?

  9. Banjo Pickin' Girl says:

    A lot of MJ’s problems can be traced to his upbringing as a Jehovah’s Witness. There’s a whole lot of built-in dysfunction in that group.

  10. Kimberly says:

    I don’t need to go to Rome to get this kind of stuff – I can stay home and get it at my own parish. Sad. By the way, don’t turn on your TV for the next two weeks cause all your going to get is MJ, the saint. Time to catch up on my reading!

  11. Brother Ass says:

    And what will the fallout be?


    As usual.

    But that’s OK, because Michael is appearing to us now to give us messages: http://brotherass.blogspot.com/2009/06/michael-jackson-is-saint.html

  12. ckdexterhaven says:

    At first, I was infuriated that LOR paid tribute to Michael Jackson. But it’s a blessing in disguise people! By trivializing themselves over a has been celebrity, Michael Jackson, they ALSO trivialize themselves in regards to that awful Obama/Notre Dame article.

  13. Tzard says:

    I wonder if LOR is feeling financial pressures like most newspapers are – and are making these changes to draw more readership?

  14. John says:

    Looks like the editorial decisions regarding L’OR are being made by the editors
    of the [Occasionally] Catholic Telegraph in Cincinnati.

  15. A totally awesome critique! What a bummer that L’OR has become so spontaneously relevant and simultaneously lame…

    Dude! :-)

  16. Ray from MN says:

    I was ready to become a protestant after reading of the L’OR’s obituary.

    Thank God for Ed Peters, and Fr. Z, of course. They saved my faith.

    “highly talented and utterly pathetic!” That said it.

  17. Ray from MN says:

    I was ready to become a protestant after reading of the L\’OR\’s obituary.

    Thank God for Ed Peters, and Fr. Z, of course. They saved my faith.

    \”highly talented and utterly pathetic!\” That said it.

  18. Don says:

    Back in the 70’s Saturday Night Live used to feature commentaries by “Fr. Guido Sarducci”, who they always announced as the gossip columnist for L’OR. I guess they were ahead of their time.

  19. Lauren says:

    “much of Jackson’s work was sexually exploitative, at times quasi-obscene”

    Oh really? To say “much” is a great exaggeration.

    “dismisses as insignificant the terrible example that Jackson’s chronic pursuit of superficial “beauty” gave to millions of young people”

    Oh, wow. That’s why he had his nose done, because he was vain. Not because of the physical and emotion abuse he suffered as a child. Come on. I’m not saying there isn’t a point to be made from this article, but there’s no need to beat him up while doing it. Perhaps a bit more should be learned about Michael before commenting and not from the National Enquirer.

  20. jarhead462 says:

    Lauren- He was 50. Time to stop blaming Mom and Dad, as distasteful as they may be.

    “Nobody’s fault but mine”

    Semper Fi!

  21. Kirk Kramer says:

    I commend to your attention this interesting & useful website:


  22. Rob says:

    Didn’t Michael Jackson convert to Islam in the last few years of his life?

  23. TJM says:

    The LOR, the New York Slimes of Rome. What an appellation. I’m starting to think it is
    time to join the SSPX since Rome has surrendered to left-wing loons aka fake Catholics. Tom

  24. MAJ Tony says:

    Dude! Fr. Z, I’m having a hard time picturing you playing Spicoli a la Sean Penn. Deo Gratias! BTW, ’bout fell out of my office chair when I saw the “Dude!” comment at the end.

    To Marielena: I read the commentary and one thing of note, I recently picked up and read an excerpt of a book about Stalin. His Orthodox seminary was supposedly anything but Christian. More like “hellhole.” It’s no wonder all the evil things that happened in the former USSR.

  25. australicus says:

    L’Osservatore Romano is clearly an organ in dire need of an operation!

  26. Boko Fittleworth says:

    I thought I left a comment here earlier, but I can’t find it now. No matter. Diogenes at OTR makes precisely the same point I made.

  27. Rob,

    My understanding was that Michael Jackson did convert through the Nation of Islam. One of his brothers is very active in that movement.

    Theologically, it’s not too far removed from the Jehova Witnesses.

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