Several prominent media outlets and journalist punctuated the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with knocks to his career and legacy, criticizing his “cartoonish” and “troubled legacy” of promoting “rigid” conservatism in the Roman Catholic Church.
On Saturday morning, just after Benedict XVI passed due to health complications from old age, outlets including NBC, CBS, ABC, Newsweek, The Washington Post and liberal journalists criticized the late former pontiff for the traditional and anti-liberal perspective from which he led the Roman Catholic Church.
Benedict XVI reigned over the Church following the death of Pope St. John Paul II in 2005 until his historical and controversial resignation from the seat of St. Peter in 2013, after which Pope Francis I assumed the throne.
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The three major U.S. news networks wasted no time in knocking Benedict’s career. As noted by NewsBusters, ABC News correspondent Terry Moran on “Good Morning America” claimed the late pontiff “championed a fierce conservative and traditionalist view of the church” and reminded viewers of how liberals used to call him “God’s Rottweiler” to reinforce the notion.
Moran added that “Benedict took a hard line reaffirming the Church’s traditional teachings regarding contraception, abortion and the celibate all-male priesthood.”
During “CBS Saturday Morning,” correspondent Chris Livesay mentioned how Benedict was “forced join the Hitler Youth at age 14” and fought for the German army in World War II. The reporter also reiterated his nickname, stating he “earned the nickname ‘God’s Rottweiler’ as a rigid enforcer of church policy.”
NBC News reporter Anne Thompson tore into the late pope during her coverage of his passing on NBC’s “Today.” Thompson claimed that Benedict “came with a cartoonish reputation” and mentioned his “God’s Rottweiler” nickname as well.
She further described him as “a strict conservative theologian” who was committed to “Defending the Catholic faith against relativism; opposing women priests and homosexuality; speaking out against climate change and putting solar panels on the Vatican.”
In a Washington Post piece following Benedict’s death, the outlet fixated on the former pontiff’s “controversial” statements it claimed “shaped” his legacy.
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It mentioned statements Benedict made in opposition to revising and updating Church for the modern era, those he made decrying the Church’s sexual abuse scandal, and reminded readers of how Benedict once “sparked an uproar” for claiming, “You can’t resolve [HIV/AIDS] with the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.”
Newsweek’s obituary of the Pope Benedict XVI also slammed his conservative legacy, describing it as “troubled.” The piece featured several quotes from University of New Hampshire sociology professor Michele Dillon, a so-called “expert in Catholicism” who argued that “Benedict’s legacy will be overshadowed by some of his socially conservative views.”
Dillon stated, “I think Benedict’s legacy will always be overshadowed in public opinion by his long tenure as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, his role as the moral enforcer of the Church’s re-stated opposition to gay rights, women’s ordination, contraception and abortion.”
Dillon added that Benedict gave off the impression to many that he was “aloof in regard to the everyday realities of Catholics, including sex abuse victims.”
Newsweek also cited University of Southern California associate professor of religion and gender studies Sheila Briggs, who claimed that Benedict’s “single-minded pursuit of his theological vision blinded him to the serious pastoral problems that beset the Church.”
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Liberal-leaning journalist Alejandra Caraballo opted for blunt commentary on Benedict’s death, declaring “Good riddance” in response to the loss and justifying the sentiment by accusing the late Pope of contributing to the Catholic sex abuse scandal.
She tweeted, “Pope Benedict helped cover up the biggest systematic sexual abuse of children in history. Good riddance.”