Bashing Catholicism is an All-American pastime; it has been for centuries. Just ask anyone who remembers the 1960 Presidential Election when JFK was running and was [oh, the horror!] Catholic. There was hysteria about the Pope running the White House if JFK won, etc. There was a very little bit of this in the last general election where Romney was an active Mormon, but oddly it was largely swept under the rug by both the Republican base and the Democrats once Romney had sewn up the primaries.
You heard rumors of it in back rooms in much the same way the press would secretly talk about some affair a President was having on the side back in the 1930's era onward. (FDR had an ongoing affair for decades, and JFK was a notorious womanizer. So much for the Pope running the White House...), but little active attention was given to those things at the time, at least in the American press. Interestingly, the British press discussed Romney's Mormonism much more openly during the American election because they were largely convinced Mormons are nutters. In fact, I remember reading something in I think was either the Guardian or the Telegraph that basically had a headline of "Mormons believe X, do you want someone who believes X to have his fingers on the nuclear bomb button?"
Americans come by Catholic Bashing honestly. Britain is even worse, and is worse to this day. To an increasingly secular culture that is hostile to Religion outright, why the Brits still have this latent Anti-Catholic bias is an interesting phenomenon. If fact, if you have been watching the latest season of Downton Abbey, that has been an interesting sub-theme with the Lord of the Manor's first grandchild being the daughter of an Irish Catholic and actually being baptized Catholic. There was even a great scene a few episodes back where the downstairs servants were getting into an argument about how Catholics couldn't be trusted. Carson, the Butler, even makes a crack about Transubstantiation. This latent bias against Catholics is well rooted in Anglicanism going all the way back to Henry VIII. I think most Americans probably missed that thread in Downton Abbey, which was really well done for a period soap opera.
I assumed before I lived in England that that sort of latent public sentiment against Catholics would have died down due to the rise in blatant and oftentimes militant secularism, but I was shocked to see how much that was still a cultural issue in Britain. I happened to be in Canterbury the weekend of Guy Fawkes Day, which is a bizarre little holiday that I can only describe as a sort of a cross between Halloween and the 4th of July for Americans who don't know anything about it. I have to say I was appalled (I seldom get appalled at anything) at watching hoards of English people having "a bit o' fun" burning effigies of Guy Fawkes and chanting "Kill the Pope!" I know it was supposed to be all in good fun, but I was shocked at how viscerally enthusiastic the crowd got at that.
So, I suppose it should come as no surprise as to the way both the American and British press has been covering the Pope's retirement. Most members of the Associated Press tend to be either anti-religion or else see religion stories as nothing more than a means to an end (hysteria and sensationalism makes for good ratings).The British press in particular has had it in for Pope Benedict XVI for years. As I said, Catholic bashing is a good all-American and all-English pastime.
In fact, about the only quasi-intelligent analysis of the Pope's retirement from across the pond, or more precisely, what to expect in the next papal election is this little opinion piece here. I don't know if I would agree with all of his assertions there, but it is a good piece on the need for objective journalism. There have also been some good articles on the Get Religion blog (you have to scroll down and read some of them).
My point is for all my Facebook friends and others, we need to be charitable to our brothers and sisters in the Catholic church. Whether we agree or not with what the Pope or any other denomination does, we still need to act out of Christian charity and pray for them. We don't need to badmouth them or be biased against them. We are all workers in the Vineyard in the end.
This news just in: the next Pope will be Catholic.
This news just in as well: We are still called to pray for and love our Christian brothers and sisters, whether Catholic or Protestant.
Film at 11.