No, I’m not anti-Catholic. I’m not anti any religion. I have immense respect for those that commit themselves to any faith, and who practice the teachings of their faiths in terms of decency towards others, protection of the land and of nature, and celebration of the beauty of life. I don’t like everything I hear from religious doctrine, and that’s why I’m not committed to any particular religion myself. But I’m not so arrogant or intolerant as to ridicule others for their faith.
Nevertheless I have every right to question news coverage of state or political visits, whether these be from American Presidents, European royalty or the Pope. I thought the BBC coverage of the Obama visit was revoltingly obsequious, and I find the coverage of the Pope’s visit absurdly long and unnecessarily proscriptive of all other news events. State visits occur on average a few times a year, and do not normally attract this level of coverage. The last was for the visit of the President of South Africa, in March of this year. I don’t recall the blanket coverage of that state visit to the UK when compared with this visit. Some may argue that more UK residents have an interest in the Pope than those affected by the visit of the President of South Africa, and I acknowledge that, but I still feel that wall-to-wall coverage given today on BBC media has been excessive and inappropriate. In the meantime, news of North Korea’s proposition on talks with South Korea on military action, Israel’s rejection of an extension to the building freeze on the West Bank of Palestine and news of a roadside bomb in Turkey, which has killed eight people is all apparently less important than the gifts that have been exchanged between the Queen and the Pope.
For me, this is an abrogation of responsibility of the BBC as a news reporting agency. There’s no problem with sustaining coverage of the Pope’s visit on a secondary channel. But having dual broadcast on BBC1 and BBC News channel is unquestionably disproportionate and inappropriate.
Yes, I personally find the whole thing boring. I find the trooping of the colour tedious too. But whilst respect for religious diversity is a positive feature of BBC coverage, I think this wall-to-wall coverage of the Papal visit is far from respectful of those individuals that do not practice Christianity. And frankly, there are more important things happening in the world that are not being covered today, and that’s not just disrespectful, it’s blinkered.