How the EARS dashboard reported on Pope Benedict’s death

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How the EARS dashboard reported on Pope Benedict’s death

After emeritus Pope Benedict passed away, many media outlets wrote about his legacy, his death, and the possibility of declaring him a saint.

The EARS dashboard is a collection of summaries from European media articles on religion and society. It enables you to monitor the role religion plays across Europe and beyond. Through a variety of tools and graphs, you are able to analyse the news summaries added to the dashboard.

Focusing on Pope Benedict

On December 31st, 2022, Benedict XVI passed away at the age of 95. Between 2005 and 2013, he was the Catholic Church’s pope. After his resignation, he chose to be known as ‘pope emeritus’.[1] [2] [3]

By using Google Trends, we can follow the search traffic for Pope Benedict. Only his appointment as pope in 2005 and his resignation in 2013 led to more search traffic than right after his death. In this article, we will see how the EARS dashboard has closely followed this development.

Source: Google Trends

Using the EARS dashboard

On the EARS dashboard, our team of analysts adds summaries from European news articles covering religion and society. Therefore, the content of the dashboard reflects current European news. On top of that, the summaries can be easily analysed with various tools and graphs.

The dashboard allows us to make a selection based on topics, developments, countries, or entities of interest. For example, in this article, we select Pope Benedict as our focus entity. As a result, the graphs in the dashboard will adjust to reflect only those summaries containing the tag Pope Benedict.

Increasing occurrence

The dashboard offers timelines that visualise developments over time. We can see that the number of summaries about Pope Benedict rapidly increased in the period around his death. Whereas 0 to 4% of summaries on the dashboard considered him from January to November 2022, this rose to 7% in December and to 19% in January 2023.

Reporting on Pope Benedict’s death

It is not a surprise that starting in December, a greater share of articles considered Pope Benedict. To illustrate, at the end of that month, the current Pope Francis called the world to pray for the pope emeritus, as his health was getting increasingly worse because of his age.[4] On the same day, Pope Francis visited the Mater Ecclesiae monastery at the Vatican, where Pope Benedict was under medical surveillance.[5]

On December 31st, several media outlets reported on Pope Benedict’s death after an announcement by the Vatican. Several of these articles, including some from Germany,[6] Belgium,[7] Albania,[8] and Finland,[9] were summarised and added to the EARS dashboard.

A saint right away?

In the first days of January, news outlets quickly moved on to report on Pope Benedict’s funeral. The funeral took place on January 5th, with a mass led by Pope Francis. In Belgium, Bishop Bonny of Antwerp provided commentary on the broadcast mass.[10]

On the day of his funeral, the debate in Italy and Germany already focused on the question of whether or not Pope Benedict could be declared a saint or Doctor of the Church. For example, during the funeral, signs with the slogan Santo subito (‘A saint right away’) were seen. However, some have criticised such proposals. The declaration of Pope Benedict as saint would not align with the current pope’s attempts to empathise with abuse victims.[11] Pope Benedict has been accused of protecting priests who had committed misconduct and abuse. He apologised to victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church in 2008.[12]

Pope Benedict’s legacy

Pope Benedict wrote church history with his resignation. In fact, he was the first pope to resign from office, stating his advancing age as the reason. Earlier EARS articles have described how he is leaving a legacy of vulnerability, and how his resignation changed the future of the Catholic Church.

Learn more on the EARS dashboard

The EARS dashboard allows you to gain insight into a large number of topics. It is a free tool that allows you to make connections like those described above, and to find out about relationships between interesting subjects across Europe. Please visit the dashboard to learn more.

Anne Kamsteeg-Clerx

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[1] Former Pope Benedict XVI dies at 95 – BBC News

[2] Pope Benedict XVI | USCCB

[3] Benedict XVI, Pope Emeritus, “Has Returned To The Father’s House” – KT PRESS

[4] Bisschoppen roepen op te bidden voor emeritus paus Benedictus XVI | Kerknet

[5] Paus Franciscus bezoekt zieke emeritus paus Benedictus XVI | Kerknet

[6] Benedikt XVI. ist tot

[7] Paus emeritus Benedictus XVI (95) overleden: een briljant theoloog en de “Rottweiler van God” | VRT NWS

[8] Shuhet Papa Benedikti, arritjet dhe skandalet | Gazeta Koha Jone

[9] “Jumalan rottweiler” on poissa – paavi Benedictus nousi taustalta valokeilaan ja poistui sieltä historiallisesti omasta tahdostaan

[10] Live-uitzending uitvaart van emeritus paus Benedictus XVI | Kerknet

[11] Joseph Ratzinger/Benedictus XVI: kerkleraar of heilige? | Kerknet

[12] “Jumalan rottweiler” on poissa – paavi Benedictus nousi taustalta valokeilaan ja poistui sieltä historiallisesti omasta tahdostaan