Saturday, 16 April 2011

Who Will Take the Easter Number One Spot? My bets are on Cardinal Keith O'Brien

Easter is a time when the media are innundated with press releases from the top brass of militant Christianity, got up as Sermons or Messages to the World.

It's a very competitive period. In the UK, all the top leaders except the Archbishop of Canterbury are trying to ensure that the Archbishop of Canterbury is not the lead religious news story.

He may be head of the Established Church in England, but that doesn't mean it's going to be a walkover for him. Indeed, at the BBC they clearly feel that the Work of God is best done by favouring the Pope over our local patriarch. And if not the Pope, then his Rottweiler, Cardinal Keith O'Brien up there in Glasgow.

In fact, my prediction is that the Number One spot will be taken by the Glasgow Cardinal. He knows how to market a message better than any of them, better even than Tony Blair, who may also pitch in to the contest.

Only a week to go and I will post the results below.

UPDATES

Sunday 17 April and they're off. Archbishop Vincent Nichols, (Head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales in case you didn't know) has made it onto the front page of this morning's BBC News website. The Sunday Telegraph interviewed him about the Big Society and, boy, is that News ... But don't read too much into this. Sunday morning at the Beeb, the Opus Dei desk always tries to find some Roman Catholic story to lead with and only a month ago, the Archbishop's Sermon for Lent (he suggested you should give something up) was also front page News. See my Blog of 6th March.

More developments ... The Independent on Sunday has also read this morning's newspapers (or the BBC website or my Blog) and they are now running Archbishop Nichols as a lead story. No sign yet of the Archbishop of Canterbury ....

Thursday 21 April and I don't even have to make this up. The BBC News website gives front page this morning to a man you have never heard of, the Rt Rev George Stack, "who is shortly to become the most senior Catholic bishop in Wales" (I guess that's a bit like "the most senior Zoroastrian in Wales).

Stack gets to comment on the News that "About 900 Anglicans are expected to convert to Catholicism this Easter ..." driven out of the C of E by its liberal and Protestant tendencies. Another Hit for the Opus Dei desk at the Beeb. The story is "illustrated" with a shot of the Pope in militant pose. No sign yet of the Archbishop of Canterbury at BBC News, even though (according to the Independent ) he was on Thought for The Day this morning talking about the obligations of the rich to the poor. Clearly not the kind of thing the BBC News website wants to hear about. Nor has the BBC picked up on the Archbishop's good wishes to William and Kate, leaving that also to be picked up by the Independent. Very odd when you think that the BBC has cast itself as the main cheer leader for the Royal Wedding.

Friday 22 April. The BBC News website, like several newspapers, makes a main story about the Church of England in retreat. The head of its Education Board, the Rt Rev John Pritchard, Bishop of Oxford, wants to reduce the percentage of places in its Voluntary Aided Schools reserved for practising Anglicans.The National Secular Society welcomes the proposal as "a step in the right direction". So if you want a Church Militant, forget the C of E.

Friday 22 April afternoon. Yes, he's back on the BBC New website this afternoon. You just can't get away from him. "Pope Benedict XVI has made history as the first pontiff to take part in a televised question-and-answer session". Yep, he was given 80 minutes on Italian TV to answer 7 pre-selected questions. The BBC reportage is breathless with the excitement of it all. The Pope has quite made their Opus Day.

Still no sign of the Archbishop of Canterbury

Sunday 24 April. WE HAVE A WINNER and, as predicted above,Cardinal Keith O'Brien takes the Number One religious spot. There he is again this morning, third lead story on the front of the BBC News website:

"The leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland, Cardinal Keith O'Brien will use his Easter message later to attack 'aggressive secularism' ".

Yep, the Press Release was on the desk, on message as far as the BBC is concerned, and the Cardinal's friends at the News desk have given him top spot - even before the Sermon has been delivered.

No sign of the Archbishop of Canterbury anywhere and no sign of the Cardinal anywhere else but the BBC.

Sunday afternoon 24 April. At last! The Archbishop of Canterbury's Easter sermon is on the front page at the BBC, at 13.30, but with Cardinal O'Brien still taking up the second half of the story and Cardinal Nichols now thrown in for good measure. I'm not quite sure this counts as Ecumenism.

Sunday afternoon 24 April, one hour later. I am afraid the Archbishop of Canterbury didn't last long. He's still there but down one position due to a new arrival - yes, you guessed - the Pope. Time for his Easter Message

This is now the end of these updates. But, just in case you've forgtotten, my prediction was fulfilled - and maybe even there is someone at the BBC News Online who now knows that they have been rumbled.

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