Reading The Pictures is dedicated to the analysis of news photos and media images.
April 27, 2010

Papal Exposure

AP/Andrew Medichini

We are accustomed to seeing news photos of the Pope in the midst of adoring throngs of the faithful. Remember John Paul II and his Popemobile? In light of ongoing revelations about what the current pope knew about child sex abuse by priests, however, this recent shot of Benedict in Malta reads quite differently. Photographer Andrew Medichini has constructed a marvelous visualization of the current crisis in the Catholic Church.

Does Benedict here represent fatherly stability, a godlike calm in the swirl of the raging storm? Or is he rather a highly visible and vulnerable target for attack and criticism? The camera on the right – the only other object besides Benedict that’s in focus – suggests to me the latter.

This is an image that says, “You’ve been exposed.”

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