Department of Corrections: the Pope’s blessing

John Gooding critiques the SMH’s occasionally bizarre efforts at journalism

Despite questionable levels of influence, it is common practice these days for newspapers to proclaim their opinion on topical debates and current affairs. For example, observe The Australian’s official declaration that the Greens are “bad for the nation … [and] they should be destroyed at the ballot box.” Rarely is it the case, however, that newspapers affirm or deny the truth of religious beliefs. Such territory is obviously fraught with danger and few papers are willing to risk the loss of readers which would follow such a move.

Not so the Sydney Morning Herald, which braved a new editorial frontier on the 13th of February by revealing the existence of God and scooping cross-city rivals the Daily Telegraph in the process. The paper started a front-page story about a girl who had been blessed by the Pope and then survived being run over by a bus with the following sentence: “When Claire Hill was given the Pope’s blessing, her family didn’t realise she would need it.”

If the Sydney Morning Herald believes Ms. Hill needed the Pope’s blessing to survive the aforementioned bus, the paper must also surely believe blessings by the Pope have some tangible affect and therefore that the holy authority to which he directs his prayers whilst doing his blessing must exist. Speculation abounds as to whether the paper endorses papal supremacy and thus Catholic doctrine in particular or just the general notion of a theistic God who responds to prayer.

Either way, the revelation that there is indeed some greater and more noble power in the universe comes in a time of need at Fairfax and will no doubt bolster subscription numbers significantly.

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