Religion in Society

Vatican Newspaper's Michael Jackson Tribute "Embarassing"

| by The American Papist

What the heck is going on with L'Osservatore Romano these days? Who is commissioning these embarrassing articles, and who is allowing them to go to print?!

Zenit reports on the latest debacle:

Michael Jackson will never die "in the imagination of [his] fans," the Vatican's semi-official newspaper said after news spread of the pop star's death.

Marcello Filotei wrote this Friday in L'Osservatore Romano, comparing the death of the 50-year-old "King of Pop" to that of Elvis Presley.

Jackson died Friday of cardiac arrest at a Los Angelus hospital.

Noting how Jackson was a "child prodigy" with an "extraordinary soul voice," Filotei acknowledged the pop star's many successes, such as his megahit 1982 album "Thriller," "known even by those unfamiliar with this genre of music." The album continues to rank as the best-selling album of all time.

The writer acknowledged elements of the singer's life that drew wide criticism, such as his many plastic surgeries that changed his appearance radically, his increasingly pale complexion, and the allegations of pedophilia in 1993 and 2005. Jackson settled out of court in 1993, and was found not guilty of all charges in 2005.

"But no accusation, however serious or shameful, is enough to tarnish his myth among his millions of fans throughout the entire world," wrote Filotei.

Imagine how strange it would be to see such an editorial in your parish newspaper. Well, the above piece is appearing in the "parish newspaper" of the universal Church. That last line of Filotei's, in particular, sends the wrong message by falling into the current hysterical, cult-of-personality ethos that Jackson's death has inspired among many.

Jackson, it should be noted, from all outside accounts, lived a tortured existence and the circumstances of his death should prompt an outpouring of fervent prayers for his soul, not these gushing, Hollywood-esque bon mots about how his "myth" will survive "serious and shameful" accusations. All the artistic success in the world, we must realize, is a basket of straw if your personal life was a spiritual, human wreck.

I really dig Michael Jackson's music, but as a Catholic, I don't have to buy into the myth that great art makes a great man. Michael Jackson's best chance to "never die" is the mercy of Christ, not his best-selling record.