Monday, November 3, 2014

Beckoning Their Foes to the Exit? The Curious Case of the Media and Slanted Reporting on the Church

Article: US cardinal slams Pope Francis over softer approach to homosexuality | Daily Mail Online

I have been writing about the conservative grumbling about the synod and some of the rhetoric about the faithful opposing Pope Francis. Of course I think it is a dangerous thing to make oneself a judge over whether the Pope is faithful or not. But the drumbeat of the media is interesting as well. It seems that they are not content to report on disgruntled Catholics, but want to stir up their discontent as well.

There have been several news reports about “conservative” cardinals “opposing” the Pope because of his “changing" the teaching of the Church. But the headlines don’t match what the cardinals actually say. There are no rebukes of Pope Francis. There are no changes to the teaching of the Church. What is being said is that some members of the laity are confused about the reports about the synod.

So, what we have seems to be a three step attack:

  1. Media misreports words of Pope or synod to give impression of changing Church teaching.
  2. Media misreports words of bishops to give impression of rebellion.
  3. Media encourages thoughts of conservative Catholics wanting to leave the Church.

Basically, it looks as if they’re making the Church to look bad enough (from a conservative perspective) that the faithful won’t trust the magisterium, and perhaps want to leave—encouraging an exodus from the Church (whether physical or mental), leaving it to those with a liberal perspective. It’s a media participation in the devil’s plans to encourage the orthodox Catholics to doubt God’s role in the Church.

It seems to be working. I have seen certain Catholic news sites turn from accurately reporting the facts to assuming that the media reports are true, reacting in horror, doubting the Pope, thinking the Church will change her teaching. I have seen Catholic bloggers turn from defending the faith to assuming that the Pope is changing it. I have seen some apologists go from defending the Church from misrepresentation to complaining that they have to defend the Church from misrepresentation—blaming the Pope for the media irresponsibility.

When that happens, it becomes easy for the average Catholic to become demoralized, thinking the teaching authority of the Church is being overwhelmed with error.

To prevent this, faithful Catholics need to be informed so they can recognize the difference between the actual teachings and interviews with the Magisterium. It’s time to stop taking media reports (whether mainstream media or political commentary from either faction) as if they were accurately reporting the news. None of these have shown themselves to be reliable in assessing what is going on. Once a source has shown itself unreliable in accuracy, we need to investigate what they claim, rather than taking it at face value.

Otherwise, we give the devil the opportunity to try to separate us from our faith.

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