The Tablet, a British Catholic weekly, has suspended its Rome correspondent Robert Mickens after he publicly referred to Benedict XVI as “the Rat” and anticipated his death.
In a March 2 Facebook post about Cardinal Loris Francesco Capovilla, who was Pope John XXIII's secretary and was elevated to the red Feb. 22, Mickens wrote: “This should have happened a LONG time ago. Do you think he'll make it to the Rat's funeral?”
The comment about Joseph Ratzinger was noticed by Damian Thompson, a writer at The Telegraph, who wrote about it March 24.
Two days later, The Tablet announced Mickens’ suspension “following remarks made by him on the Facebook website about the Pope Emeritus. An inquiry is now being carried out.”
Robert Mickens is suspended as The Tablet’s Rome correspondent following a comment on Facebook. An enquiry is underway— The Tablet (@The_Tablet) March 25, 2014
“The Tablet's editor, staff, directors and trustees all disassociate ourselves from these remarks.”
The Tablet describes itself as having “a special emphasis on Roman Catholicism while remaining ecumenical," and points out specifically that “it is committed to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.”
Its editor, Catherine Pepinster, has written that the journal is a place of “progressive, but responsible Catholic thinking, a place where orthodoxy is at home but ideas are welcome.”
In the past, Thompson has described The Tablet as "a magazine read by Left-wing Catholics whose 'Masses' involve circle-dancing around a justice ’n’ peace co-coordinator in a poncho. The Tabletistas can’t bear the reforms of Pope Benedict XVI."
In the March 2 Facebook exchange, a Chris Grady replied to Mickens’ comment, adding that “I’m hoping he’ll be well enough to concelebrate the canonisation Mass for Saint John XXIII plus one other on 27 April.”
“The Rat’s funeral the next day would be a bonus,” Grady continued, demonstrating contempt for both Benedict XVI and Bl. John Paul II.
Following Mickens’ suspension, Thompson wrote: “The truth is that Robert Mickens has never been able to hide his contempt for Benedict XVI."
"He should have been replaced by a more dispassionate correspondent years ago.”