VATICAN CITY, January 29, 2014 ( – In a statement today, Fr. Federico Lombardi, the head of the Vatican’s press office, has lambasted Rolling Stone magazine, a vanguard publication for the sexual revolution, for its “crudeness” in comparing Pope Benedict to a horror movie character, while praising Pope Francis.

Rolling Stone’s Mark Binelli wrote that Francis came to the throne of Peter after Benedict’s “disastrous” pontificate, and that the new papacy represents a clean break from the past.

During his tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and then throughout his pontificate, Benedict was a favourite target for liberal and secularist vitriol, with the nicknames “panzer cardinal” and “God’s Rottweiler” being among the milder epithets launched at him. But Binelli tips over the edge of journalistic hyperbole when he compares Pope Benedict with a satanic character in a US horror film franchise.


“After the disastrous papacy of Benedict, a staunch traditionalist who looked like he should be wearing a striped shirt with knife-fingered gloves and menacing teenagers in their nightmares, Francis’ basic mastery of skills like smiling in public seemed a small miracle to the average Catholic,” Binelli wrote.

Fr. Lombardi, who served as the Vatican’s press officer during Benedict’s pontificate, said, “Unfortunately, the article disqualifies itself, falling in the usual mistake of a superficial journalism, which in order to highlight the positive aspects of Pope Francis, thinks it should describe in a negative way the pontificate of Pope Benedict, and does so with a surprising crudeness.”

Binelli described Pope Francis in glowing terms, praising his “obvious humility, empathy and, above all, devotion to the economically disenfranchised” and for steering away from issues like homosexuality and abortion.

Compared to Francis’ “friendly” personal style, Binelli wrote, Pope Benedict is a “dour academic,” who kept the personal greetings at audiences “to a minimum”.

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“It’s hard to imagine a worse choice to meet the particular challenges facing the Catholic Church over the past decade than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger,” Binelli writes.

Titled, “Pope Francis: The Times They Are A-Changin’: Inside the Pope's gentle revolution,” the article says Francis’ “recognizable humanity comes off as positively revolutionary” against an “absurd, impossibly baroque backdrop of the Vatican, a world still run like a medieval court.”

The phenomenon of the secularist press and extreme liberals within the Church using Pope Francis’ ostensible change of direction to promote their favourite causes was noted by the editor of the UK’s Catholic Herald, Luke Coppen, writing last week in the UK’s Spectator magazine. “Since he took charge last year, Francis has been made into a superstar of the liberal left,” Coppen wrote.

The mainstream secular and liberal Catholic media, Coppen said, have constructed a “fantasy Francis” who will grant their every wish and have made a hobby of comparing him favourably with Benedict.

“In column after column they projected their deepest hopes onto Francis – he is, they think, the man who will finally bring enlightened liberal values to the Catholic church,” Coppen wrote.

The popular Catholic blogger, Fr. John Zuhlsdorf, wrote, however, that the journalistic enthusiasm is unlikely to last. “Eventually the different lefty factions will turn on each other over Francis,” he said. “Some on the Left will continue to coo over Pope Fluffy (who – as they imagine – doesn’t demand conversion from their various life-choices).”

“Others on the Left, will get angrier and angrier that Pope Francis isn’t conforming to their expectations.  They will start demanding that the other, supportive side of the Left, start criticizing the Pope with them.”


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