…or so you’d think if you got all your information about Catholicism from blog comboxes.
Not surprisingly, Pope Francis has been in the news lately. The media jumped on his offhand comments about homosexuals, breathlessly reported on a letter he wrote to an atheist, and made much hay over an interview given by the Vatican’s new Secretary of State (the media was apparently under the impression that Pope Francis is a very clever ventriloquist, and he was the one talking while the new Secretary’s mouth was moving – at least, that’s what they reported).
A common refrain I’m observing in the comboxes of various Catholic bloggers lately, when said blogger discusses one of these media reports, goes something like this:
“The Pope needs to stop making remarks like this! They’re too easily misunderstood! No one should have to write an article after the fact explaining what the Pope actually said/meant. The Pope needs to deliberate for hours on end before so much as opening his mouth! Every word must be crafted with the utmost perfection so that the media doesn’t get the wrong idea!” etc., etc.
And, my favorite:
“This kind of thing never happened when Benedict XVI/John Paul II was Pope!”
To these people, I respond:
Really? That’s some pretty amazing selective memory you have going on there. Granted, I’ve only been Catholic for the last ten years, but I remember:
The Condom Kerfuffle, in which the MSM proclaimed that Pope Benedict said condoms were perfectly okay for everyone to use (when he actually said that in certain situations, the use of a condom could indicate that someone was trying to act in a moral fashion by not spreading disease, and that trying to act morally could be a good first step on the road to repentance).
Pope Benedict’s speech at the University of Regensburg, in which (according to the media) the Pope said that Mohammed was evil incarnate and all Muslims were going to hell. (The Pope later explained that his words had been misunderstood by Muslims.)
The publication of Benedict’s encyclical Caritas in Veritate, in which the MSM announced that the Pope attacked capitalism as always evil in any circumstance and wholeheartedly supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The motu proprio Summorum Pontificum was, according to the media, Pope Benedict’s last ditch attempt to revive a dying church by resurrecting a dead language.
John Paul II’s release of Dominus Iesus in 2000 spawned dozens of newspaper headlines (one of which I remember seeing in my college newspaper) proclaiming that “the Pope says non-Catholics aren’t really Christians!”
In Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, John Paul II stated unequivocally, “Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren […] I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful” (emphasis mine). Seems pretty straightforward, but the MSM headlines in response? “Pope’s words about women’s ordination spark debate” or similar.
I’m sure I could list hundreds of examples dating back decades, if not centuries, about how the media flagrantly and deliberately misrepresents a pope’s statements, leading to a need for the Vatican et al to issue a clarification. This is not a new phenomenon. The media does not exist to tell the truth – it exists to make people rich.