There’s real honor for TV news in certain parts of the world, some of the highest order: A Vatican cardinal just blessed an Italian prime-time evening news program.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the vicar general of the Diocese of Rome and one of the most powerful figures in the Vatican, has blessed the Mediaset network’s TG5 news program. He even declared himself a fan, noting he was a "very faithful viewer of TG5's evening program.”
Supposedly, this is unusual for a man of the cloth -- or at least one of his station. In the past, the Pope blessed the entire media industry, which would seemingly cover everything from Fox News Channel to FX’s “The Shield” to “Jerry Springer.” But few holy men of the Vatican go out of the way to single out a specific TV show.
Good for the Vatican, having positive words for all those TV shows that struggle with the good, the bad, and the rating-challenged. The cardinal explains his endorsement: “The challenge is to value what is positive and good in man." All this should lead to a new wave in spiritually -- not just revering high-rated shows, but shows worthy of a higher authority.
Surely, in TV news, of all places, there is lot of negative in man as well. Perhaps after all this said and done, the newscast stories end with a sign of hope. Even Jerry Springer does a devout recap at the end of his show, offering up positive lessons for the future.
Still, any public endorsement would seem to carry weight for viewers. Will Catholics feel now good watching this show? Jews? Muslims?
Even Hollywood Reporter speculates that “some media observers interpreted the move as an endorsement of TG5 over rival program TG1 carried by state broadcaster RAI.”
It is common for TV pressure groups in this country -- some with religious affiliations -- to politely praise TV shows. But, of course, the real fun comes when TV shows are headed in the wrong moral direction. All religious leaders can be found to speak up then.
One hopes TG5 won’t go the next step and use the Cardinal’s remarks in a TV promotional campaign. Competing programs, such as TG1, would then look, with religious zeal, to find other pious backing.