Lent and Easter bring out the usual rash of news stories about Christianity, and especially about the Catholic Church. If it’s not the promotion of the latest Gnostic gospel or secret about Mary Magdalene, it can be, like this year, the alleged discovery of Jesus’ ossuary or of some other dubious archaeological curiosity. More serious assessments of religious questions are also standard fare. Although the theologically informed often find the limitations of newspaper or magazine journalism exasperating, even articles that betray a certain animosity or religious illiteracy are not without their value. It is always instructive, and usually humbling, to learn how others see us, and that is as true for a church as it is for a person.

Of particular note in this regard were two lengthy articles that appeared this Easter Season. On Easter Sunday, the New York Times Magazine’s cover story, written by Russell Shorto, was titled, “The Anti-Secularist: Can Pope Benedict XVI Re-Christianize Europe?” Not long before in the New Yorker, Jane Kramer opined on “The Pope and Islam: Is There Anything That Benedict XVI Would Like To Discuss?” (April 2). Of the two, Shorto’s article, while hardly revelatory, was the more careful and fair-minded. Kramer’s supercilious tone, combined with a number of gaffes, left the impression that she had only a passing familiarity with, and little but suspicion for, her subject. Kramer turns John...

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