NPR did a pretty even-handed job yesterday of discussing the complaints that Pope Francis, when he was Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, was somehow involved in atrocities during the Dirty War, or that he didn't do enough. Host Audie Cornish says (emphasis mine):
Some human rights activists argue that his silence hurt investigations in the Dirty War's aftermath, while other accounts reveal that the Pope took major risks to save the persecuted.
A few things that NPR didn't mention: One activist who has "argued" (not proven) that his silence hurt investigation is one Horacio Verbitsky, author of the book El Silencio. Verbistky was a leftist guerrilla commander who shot people, so, yeah, he should know about atrocities.
They also didn't mention that other accounts that "reveal" that he took major risks include Amnesty International, who, according to a source in this CNN report, cleared Bergoglio of any wrongdoing. NPR did interview Michael Warren, Buenos Aires bureau chief for the Associated Press, who said that
Adolfo Perez Esquivel ... won the Nobel Peace Prize for his Argentine human rights work. And he said Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship.
So, a B-minus job, NPR. You had to listen closely to hear how shaky are the accusations against Bergoglio, but it was a reassuring story in general.
But then there was the follow-up piece, where they dredged up some affable Franciscan and asked him some of the lamest questions I've ever heard, such as, "When we see images of St. Francis, he's often surrounded by animals. Are there legends associated with that?" If I had been on the Franciscan, I would have said, "Oh, yes! There's a wonderful story of how St. Francis persuaded a swarm of angry butterflies to carry off Miss Viola swamp when she was terrorizing the second grade. But that was no legend, it's true!" (Why? Because I'm still clinging to Tuesday's joke.) And then the interviewer asked something like, "So, do you think that people will start buying more St. Francis stuff now?" (The Franciscan thought that they would.)
Well, it's not the dumbest thing I've ever heard. (The dumbest thing was a commenter on a different station who repeatedly made reference to how difficult it would be for Francis to follow the act of Pope Benjamin. I have to admit, I wouldn't even know where to start.) But it got me thinking, if people are going to go ga ga over St. Francis merchandise in a manner most un-Franciscan, why not branch out? Listen up, Catholic entrepreneurs! Get in on the ground floor. For ten percent of gross receipts, I'll sell you the intellectual rights to . . .
Pope Francis Cookbook. Features 52 new and exciting ways to open a can of beans! (h/t for this joke to Lloyd from Dover in the combox yesterday) ¡Salud!
Honest Raj's Election Certification Service, for when you're pretty darn sure those results just can't be right (One vote for Mrs. Mahony's baby? Just one?)
Conclave 2013 Commemorative Seagull Decoy, a portable prop for any time you feel like dropping all your duties and responsibilities for several hours. 'Cause, see, you can say, "I'm not wasting time! I'm looking at this SEAGULL!" Or maybe that would only work once.
Frugal Frankie's Foot Bath! Because . . . he . . . always . . . oh, never mind.
Well, who wouldn't want the Bergoglio Folio, a handy little case for your bus pass.
On second thought, maybe I'm still a little punch drunk from the excitement of it all. And I am okay with that. I feel a little bit like Ebeneezer Scrooge on Christmas morning. I don't deserve to be so happy. But I can't help it!