Vatican blasts media coverage of pope’s latest book

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday (Nov. 29) blasted the press for focusing too narrowly on whether animals were … Continued

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican on Thursday (Nov. 29) blasted the press for focusing too narrowly on whether animals were present when Jesus was born, saying media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s new book on Jesus’ childhood missed the book’s key message.

Writing on the front page of L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican’s semiofficial newspaper, Spanish theologian Jose Maria Gil Tamayo labeled the “media confusion” as another “symptom” of the “widespread and silent marginalization of God” in contemporary society.

Benedict’s third book on the life of Jesus, “Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives,” hit bookstores worldwide on Nov. 21 with an initial print run of 1 million copies in nine languages.

While the pontiff’s book is a scholarly analysis of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ childhood and of their spiritual meaning, media coverage mostly focused on some passages in which Benedict seems to challenge cherished Christmas traditions.

In the book, the pontiff recalls that in the Gospels there is “no reference” to animals in the Bethlehem stable where Jesus was born, but adds that “no representation of the crib is complete without the ox and the ass.”

Benedict also writes that the angels who announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds probably didn’t actually sing, and that the three wise men could have been inspired by a “theological idea” rather than by a “historical event.”

Such remarks got widely repeated online and in TV shows, with some commentators even accusing the pope of waging a war against Christmas. Even Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert weighed in, comparing Benedict to the Grinch.

According to the L’Osservatore Romano article, media focus on the presence of animals at Jesus’ birth “diverted attention from the book’s central message.”

Such “media confusion,” Tamayo writes, is a “sign of the secularization and spiritual desertification” of today’s world, an issue that Benedict singled out as the church’s “biggest challenge” in our time.

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Religion News Service LLC.

More on:
  • AKDinVa

    Colbert also pointed out there is no pope in the bible either…

  • [email protected]

    Is This moral midget a Canon Lawyer or Theologam? Or even a Christian. I am Catholic and proud. Papa Ben does a lot of good besides writing, feeding the hungry, helping the hurting, and also dealing with some mean spirited secular humanists. I love our Papa Ben and sure wouldn’t go to a crabby 7 jaded journalist for spiritual direction!

  • Katski

    Yes, there is. St Peter

Read More Articles

SONY DSC
Dear Evangelicals, Please Reconsider Your Fight Against Gay Rights

A journalist and longtime observer of American religious culture offers some advice to his evangelical friends.

shutterstock_186090179
How Passover Makes the Impossible Possible

When we place ourselves within the story, we can imagine new realities.

This Passover, We’re Standing at an Unparted Red Sea

We need to ask ourselves: What will be the future of the State of Israel — and what will it require of us?

pews
Just As I Am

My childhood conversion to Christianity was only the first of many.

shutterstock_186364295
This God’s For You: Jesus and the Good News of Beer

How Jesus partied with a purpose.

egg.jpg
Jesus, Bunnies, and Colored Eggs: An Explanation of Holy Week and Easter

So, Easter is a one-day celebration of Jesus rising from the dead and turning into a bunny, right? Not exactly.

shutterstock_186566975
Hey Bart Ehrman, I’m Obsessed with Jesus, Too — But You’ve Got Him All Wrong

Why the debate over Jesus’ divinity matters.

shutterstock_127731035 (1)
Are Single People the Lepers of Today’s Church?

In an age of rising singlehood, many churches are still focused on being family ministry centers.

2337221655_c1671d2e5e_b
Mysterious Tremors

People like me who have mystical experiences may be encountering some unknown Other. What can we learn about what that Other is?

bible
Five Bible Verses You Need to Stop Misusing

That verse you keep quoting? It may not mean what you think it means.

csl_wall_paper
What C.S. Lewis’ Marriage Can Tell Us About the Gay Marriage Controversy

Why “welcome and wanted” is a biblical response to gay and lesbian couples in evangelical churches.

Antonio_Molinari_David_y_Abigail
How to Resolve Conflict: A Bible Lesson for Foreign Policy Leaders

The biblical story of Abigail shows how visible vulnerability can create a path toward peace.