Eight years ago, the elevation of the German cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger, to the papacy was met with derision by both serious and frivolous British papers. “God’s Rottweiler,” blared the front page of the Daily Telegraph. It’s not often that the liberal Guardian falls into line with the sassy but conservative Sun, but on Pope Benedict they agreed: “From Hitler youth to the Vatican,” said The Guardian. “From Hitler Youth to… Papa Ratzi,” screamed The Sun.
Newspaper editors reflect their environment and know their readers. In 2005, the blitzed British had a knee-jerk — i.e., a Basil-Fawlty-like goose-step — reaction to a German pope.
Maybe it’s impossible to make fun of Francis, the Argentine Jesuit who passed on the perks that came with being a cardinal — the chauffeur-driven car, the palace, the chef. Continue reading