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OPINION

Covering the Conclave

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

How are American newspapers and networks covering the Conclave? Poorly, if at all. Most of the stories are breathless horserace-style speculations about men they don't know. When American journalists venture into the issues facing the Roman Catholic Church they rightly mention the abuse scandals and then most stop, except for a few who go on about celibacy --which is not going to change no matter who emerges as the new pope. When you next spot an article talking about the slaughter of Christians in the world or the suppression of the Church in China, send me a link. The next pope has enormous issues to confront that most American journalists can't even begin to conceive of much less cover in depth.

I am trying to find and use the best experts on my radio show, and even if you are not a regular listener, if you do care about the Conclave and its result, I suggest you get the app or listen online at one of my stations such as 1260 AM in Washington D.C., Conservative Talk 94.5 in South Carolina, or 98.9 The Answer in Columbus, Ohio.

Not everyone welcomes in-depth coverage of the Roman Catholic Church's huge moment. One listener emails regularly to complain when I cover a story with any Catholic connection. The country is full of anti-religious people, many of them especially anti-Catholic, and the once-or-twice-a-generation story of a Conclave not only doesn’t interest them, they despise the process and the people involved.

He is going to suffer a lot through the next two weeks. Yesterday’s conversation with George Weigel (the transcript is here) was only the beginning. Today I will speak with the Archbishop of Philadelphia Charles Chaput at the beginning of the show, and will continue to keep a close eye on the proceedings and of course the man who emerges as the new pope. My column yesterday in the Washington Examiner discussed the Conclave as does this one, and as will many future columns in both places.

And for this reason. As Weigel explains in his new book Evangelical Catholicism, the spirit of the age is profoundly, even shockingly anti-God.

Anyone who has listened to the series of debates I have hosted over the years –collected now in Talking with Pagans—knows this, and anyone who practices their faith feels it. To believe in the traditional faith, Catholic or Protestant, is to risk far more than the sneers of the elite political class, but genuine discrimination in many ways.

My friend John Schroeder talked about this in his post this morning at Article VI Blog as he reflected on the dilemmas the Romneys faced while running, and many of the same dilemmas will confront Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal, or Marco Rubio, all men of deep Roman Catholic faith, if they run for the presidency and are true to the Gospel on the issues of life and marriage to name just two.

Christianity faces a two-sided assault, from anti-religious secular absolutists on one side and from radical Islamists on the other. There are domestic political battles underway that impact both battles –the neutering of our military is profoundly dangerous vis-à-vis radical Islam and the Supreme Court must decide whether or not to jam down the secularist view of marriage despite votes in 31 states—but all across the world Christianity is under assault, assaults which are often deadly, and the result of the deliberations in Rome will produce a leader (or not) who will greatly impact the course of these struggles in America and abroad.

Weigel joked with me that there is a club of two lay Americans who can speak intelligently on the goings-on, himself and John L. Allen, Jr. All of Weigel’s writings appear at www.eppc.org and Allen’s are at the National Catholic Reporter. The transcript of my interview with Archbishop Chaput will be published later today as well, and I will keep finding the clergy equipped to talk about the issues swirling around this Conclave even as I keep pestering Weigel and Allen to appear often on the show.

My pal Ed Morrissey is decamping to Rome for Townhall.com soon and will provide color commentary as well from the pages of HotAir.com.

Seriously, journalists, you need to read Weigel’s book, and Archbishop Chaput’s as well as well or you are committing malpractice. Too much hangs in the balance in too many places of the world not just now but for decades to come to treat this like another election or confirmation contest.

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