In the December 20 'Sunday' programme, the presenter, 'Ed' Stourton, a Catholic who 'remarried' after divorce, invited 'Michael Walsh, a papal historian', to explain Indulgences.
He did not mention that Walsh is an ex-Jesuit with a history of attacking the Vatican and the previous pontificate; a Tablet contributor. 'A papal historian' sounds so much grander than 'a failed Jesuit who has attacked the Vatican in the Tablet.'
By the way ... I'm sure you don't need me to tell you this ... Stourton, inevitably, is a Trustee of the Tablet.
The first conspicuous feature of the episode was the laughter. The pair kept giggling together: I counted six pieces of mirth.
I wonder if either of this spiteful and malevolent pair would ever dare to deal with any other religion ... Islam, say ... by continually laughing as they talked about it. Or, if they did, how fast the Beeb would sack them.
And there were two major pieces of misrepresentation. (1) The 'papal historian' appeared unaware that, as long ago as 1967, the practice of attaching periods of time to partial indulgences was abolished. He described this practice using the present tense.
And, (2), either out of ignorance or mendacity, 'papal historian' Walsh went on to claim that Pope Francis "has never mentioned [indulgences]"; and "that's not where we are at the moment". The implication of the interview appeared to be that Indulgences are a load of old rubbish which Sensible Pope Francis is burying by very studiously not mentioning. So what is the truth of the matter?
"This practice [gaining indulgences] will acquire an even more important meaning [magnum pondus] in the Holy Year of Mercy." This is from a paragraph in the Bull of Indiction, in which the Roman Pontiff goes on to commend the practice. Furthermore, in a Letter dated 1 September 2015, our Holy Father set out at length the methods of securing Indulgences during the Jubilee Year of Mercy. And, in his Bull, he carefully explained their purpose: that Absolution remits sin, but "the sin leaves a negative effect [contradictionem]". An indulgence "frees us from even the residue [vestigia] left by the consequences of sin".
I fail to see why this weekly BBC programme, its 'flagship' religious slot, should be left in the hands of Stourton, a lapsed Catholic who, like so many of his type, seems to me to be very far from being neutral with regard to the religion which he once professed. And why, if it must give space to someone like Walsh, the Beeb doesn't balance him with somebody who will defend the Church, even if only by giving accurate information about her.
I thought 'balance' was supposed to be one of the BBC rules.