Media Analysis Pope John Paul Ii Return to Poland

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Media Analysis Pope John Paul Ii Return to Poland

By | October 2012
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The inaugural papal visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979 to his native Poland is regarded by many as the basis for the upsurge in nationalist movements in Poland during the 1980s. In particular, that of Lech Walesa and the Solidarity trade union that would go on to be elected in 1989 and would subsequently end the 30 years Soviet occupation within Poland. The significance of John Paul II returning to Poland was greatly emphasised by Western media outlets, it was not only the first time a communist country had been visited by a reigning Pontiff, but it was also the return of a Polish pope, the first non-Italian pope in 455 years. The Western media coverage of the papal visit was based around its highly nationalist nature, and the ensuing implications that it would have not only in Poland but also across the rest of the Soviet controlled block of Eastern Europe. Whilst some coverage can be considered sincere, it must be noted that the majority of Western media coverage expresses an anti-communist bias. The 1979 papal visit, took place at the height of the Cold War conflict, which ultimately dominated nearly all media from its beginning at the end of the Second World War to its end in 1989 with the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the best examples of Western media coverage of the papal visit can be found in the Australian daily broadsheet newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald. The prejudice against communism is evident, like most coverage on any Soviet controlled country at the time. Any stories that would shed a favourable light towards communism have been excluded, and stories that represent the negative impacts upon citizens and country were exaggerated to a certain degree. The Sydney Morning Herald represents the Pope as a saviour to Poland, and mostly glorifies him throughout the coverage, which overall exemplifies the religious backbone of Poland and their relationship with the Vatican, as one with immense consequences for the leaders of communist Poland as well...

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