Green Room

A word on the quality of reporting on the Pope’s retirement

posted at 1:46 pm on February 12, 2013 by

That word comes from my great friend, mentor, and Steelers-Browns antagonist Hugh Hewitt, who knows how to spot quality reporting in everything except a Cleveland Browns prediction for a win.  The word in this case is discreditable:

But do beware of lefty, ill-informed, or simply outright anti-Catholic “journalists” dressing up their agendas as “reporting,” and attach zero importance to location of the byline being Rome.

Today’s lead piece on the succession in the New York Times is a perfect example. Authored by Rachel Donadio and Elisabetta Povoledo, and originating in Vatican City, it contains this whopper of a paragraph:

The resignation sets up a struggle between the staunchest conservatives, in Benedict’s mold, who advocate a smaller church of more fervent believers, and those who believe that the church can broaden its appeal in small but significant ways, like allowing divorced Catholics who remarry without an annulment to receive communion or loosening restrictions on condom use in an effort to prevent AIDS. There are no plausible candidates who would move on issues like ending celibacy for priests, or the ordination of women.

This is so silly a paragraph as to rank in some annual competition for naked bias somewhere.

Note these two reporters do not cite a single name of one of those staunch conservatives, nor of a cardinal or even an advisor to a cardinal who wants to allow divorced Catholics who remarry without annulment to receive communion.

They made up this “struggle” because they either do not know or do not want to report on the real issues facing the Church. If even one cardinal can be quoted saying he wants a smaller church of more fervent believers, I’ll send the reporters roses, but it is just absurdity with a byline, passed on by at best ignorant editors.

Some outlets have tried to get things right.  Matt Lauer, for instance, has actually asked Catholic clergy to come on Today the last two days to get an accurate perspective on Benedict XVI’s retirement.  I’ll have a post on that later on the main page.

Much of the reporting, however, is as nonsensical as Hugh describes, either out of ignorance or something worse.  Part of it, though, comes from the narrow contexts in which work and analyze the news, especially through the prism of American politics.  That produces “analysis” which in this case would have readers and viewers believe that the Church changes doctrine with each Pope, an absurdity that will end up backfiring when the next Pope is just as Catholic as Benedict XVI and every one of his predecessors.

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So the NYT reporters are offering the Catholic Church the same advice they offer the GOP to supposedly stay relevant?

It’s almost like they have an agenda (and see everything in life as a political issue).

gwelf on February 12, 2013 at 1:58 PM

These reporters seem to forget that over 90% of the Catholic church is not American. The cardinals choosing the pope couldn’t care less what Joy Behar, Soledad O’Brien, or Diane Sawyer will say about the new pope.

JimLennon on February 12, 2013 at 2:10 PM

The advice that Catholics ought to become “progressive” to attract new people is as tired and old as the people giving it. The simple fact is that the Churches and faiths that attract and retain the most people are the ones that believe in specific and strong values.

The post Vatican II era brought a lot of positive changes to the Church but it also brought in a lot of people who used the changes to erode or ignore the fundamental teachings of the Church. There was a whole generation of Catholics who weren’t taught their own catechism and instructed in the theological equivalent of relativism. “God is love” is about the extent of the theological knowledge of this lost generation.

And the truth is that those are the people who left the Church, often gravitating toward other faiths that articulated and defended their belief systems.

So no, changing Church doctrines will not attract new people; it will drive them away, especially those who have maintained their strong faith despite it being unpopular in modern society.

Benedict had gone a long way on reversing course on a lot of this, especially as he’s replaced the Vatican II era bishops and cardinals with the more devout. The impact on the ground has been transformative and well received by all but the die-hard hippy types.

Nessuno on February 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Alternative headline: Leftist Mainstream media reporting on papal succession exactly as expected.

ChristianRock on February 12, 2013 at 2:54 PM

These reporters seem to forget that over 90% of the Catholic church is not American. The cardinals choosing the pope couldn’t care less what Joy Behar, Soledad O’Brien, or Diane Sawyer will say about the new pope.

JimLennon on February 12, 2013 at 2:10 PM

You seem to assume that the American cardinals will care. I am pretty darn certain that Cardinal Dolan hasn’t the slightest bit of interest in Joy Behar’s opinion on the matter.

The advice that Catholics ought to become “progressive” to attract new people is as tired and old as the people giving it.

Amen. Look at all the Protestant churches that have moved so far in their attempts to attract new people by “softening” their approach that they are little more than places to go to play games and get free food. And their pews are empty.

Shump on February 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM

Let the College of Cardinals choose their own Pontiff… it is their church and their right…

The American Left and LSM should just STFU…

Khun Joe on February 12, 2013 at 3:08 PM

The NYT op-ed page made me want to puke today.

Not that it doesn’t on an average day, but plenty of writers took the opportunity to take a dump on the Pope. Can’t wait for the editorial tomorrow where they trash him AND whoever replaces him.

NYT is scum.

Red Cloud on February 12, 2013 at 3:12 PM

I have HughesNet as the only alternative for internet access. Yesterday the banner headline on the home page was “Pope’s resignation due to scandals”.

The banner didn’t last long.

teejk on February 12, 2013 at 3:28 PM

I was impressed that Fox News must have inquired as to who would make good guests to talk about the pope’s resignation, and so they had the Cardinal of Washington D.C. Someone who might know, and not misspeak.

It is not just the blatantly liberal themes that corrupt a lot of the reporting, it is the grammar and idiom, Obama “sending out prayers to the pope”…well, Catholics don’t pray to the pope…we pray to God; we pray FOR the pope – that kind of silly thing that seem so annoying. Often they get the verbs wrong, or miss the meaning. It just seems so hard for them.

Fleuries on February 12, 2013 at 3:31 PM

The cardinals choosing the pope couldn’t care less what Joy Behar, Soledad O’Brien, or Diane Sawyer will say about the new pope.

JimLennon on February 12, 2013 at 2:10 PM

You seem to assume that the American cardinals will care.

Um, no. You might want to reread that up there.

I am pretty darn certain that Cardinal Dolan hasn’t the slightest bit of interest in Joy Behar’s opinion on the matter.

Shump on February 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM

That was exactly my point.

The simple fact is that the Churches and faiths that attract and retain the most people are the ones that believe in specific and strong values.

Nessuno on February 12, 2013 at 2:28 PM

Agreed. Anyone doubting this should take note of how many Muslims are in this world. (Hint: Over a billion.)

It is not just the blatantly liberal themes that corrupt a lot of the reporting, it is the grammar and idiom, Obama “sending out prayers to the pope”…well, Catholics don’t pray to the pope…we pray to God; we pray FOR the pope – that kind of silly thing that seem so annoying. Often they get the verbs wrong, or miss the meaning. It just seems so hard for them.

Fleuries on February 12, 2013 at 3:31 PM

Agreed. The media has always had a strange fascination with Catholicism, and yet routinely gets the most basic facts about the faith wrong. Trying to find a reporter well-versed in Catholicism is about as hard as finding a reporter well-versed in space science (Yeah, CNN, I’m talking about you).

JimLennon on February 12, 2013 at 3:49 PM

Sounds like they took a “Republican Party Chaos” or “Tea Party Internal Battle” article and plugged in the Catholic Church.

Maybe they need to find a Pope favorite who “knows who Tupac is” so they can be cool and forget all that robe and big hat stuff, go with Jeans Fridays instead of fish. You know, lighten up a little!

This is great stuff, the new “sourceless” news phenomenon. Just write whatever you want. You could probably get some fool to say it so why waste all that time when you could spend it writing the article and hit the Hookah bar?

IndieDogg on February 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

This is great stuff, the new “sourceless” news phenomenon. Just write whatever you want. You could probably get some fool to say it so why waste all that time when you could spend it writing the article and hit the Hookah bar?

IndieDogg on February 12, 2013 at 4:02 PM

Why not, who checks themselves?

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

itsspideyman on February 12, 2013 at 4:15 PM

In other words, the journalists are writing much the same thing they did when John Paul II died and before Benedict XVI was elected…garbage that would appeal only to the beliefs of CINOs and others of their ilk.

Alia on February 12, 2013 at 6:06 PM

As a Catholic I hope they choose Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria or Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana because of the difficulty that liberal writers would have writing about them. They would both challenge their understanding of what they would expect a Pope and a black to be.

As for a Black Pope, that’s a question only non-Catholics would ask. Catholics are over a billion people of all races. The word Catholic means “universal”. I grew up in Mississippi and my Bishop was black, and his color meant nothing, he was our Bishop. We’ve moved a lot farther than the press wants us to be.

itsspideyman on February 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

So the NYT reporters are offering the Catholic Church the same advice they offer the GOP to supposedly stay relevant?

It’s almost like they have an agenda (and see everything in life as a political issue).

gwelf on February 12, 2013 at 1:58 PM

In the end, everything in life is political, and the Church has the answer it was given two millennia ago.

unclesmrgol on February 12, 2013 at 6:41 PM

As a Catholic I hope they choose Cardinal Francis Arinze of Nigeria or Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson of Ghana because of the difficulty that liberal writers would have writing about them. They would both challenge their understanding of what they would expect a Pope and a black to be.

itsspideyman on February 12, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Arinze’s age (80) will work against him, I think. Turkson would be an interesting choice. It would certainly let the “Petrus Romanus” end-of-the-world loonies have fun. They’ve been kind of drifting since Nibiru failed to show up last December 21.

JimLennon on February 12, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Amen. Look at all the Protestant churches that have moved so far in their attempts to attract new people by “softening” their approach that they are little more than places to go to play games and get free food. And their pews are empty.

Shump on February 12, 2013 at 3:00 PM

You forgot the stage lights and amps turned up to 11.

cptacek on February 13, 2013 at 10:00 AM