Vatican

CBS News looks for 'LGBTQ Catholics,' finds schismatics instead

CBS News looks for 'LGBTQ Catholics,' finds schismatics instead

In the wake of the Vatican family synod, as mainstream news outlets go searching for people angry over the failure of the bishops' meeting to produce hope 'n' change, CBS News joins the fray with a bizarre piece that attempts to represent the views of disgruntled "LGBTQ Catholics."

Just how disgruntled are these LGBTQ Catholics? So disgruntled that they attend a schismatic "Mass" at an Episcopalian church.

Although the story appears under the headline "We don't need Vatican affirmation, says gay Catholic congregation" its URL reveals that it was originally headlined, "We don't need Vatican affirmation, says gay Catholic priests." That suggests that the story's original angle was to highlight the discontent of "gay Catholic priests" with the synod's conclusion, and its sourcing bears this out. Two out of its three sources are alleged Catholic priests, and the lone layman's quote comes last.

The lede betrays astonishing bias, presenting the pope seething with "frustration" against his hard, unyielding bishops:

NEW YORK -- After Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican failed to agree on the issue of homosexuality in the church, Pope Francis appeared barely able to contain his frustration, cautioning the bishops Saturday not to cling to doctrine with "hostile rigidity" and saying the next day that "God is not afraid of new things."

Now, you may well ask, how can it be biased for the reporter to quote Francis speaking against "hostile rigidity" if those were the actual words he used? It is biased if the pope is being selectively quoted in a manner that excludes his overall message, which was more akin to "a pox on both your houses." 

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And in the end, some Vatican synod news reports hint that 'sin' exists after all

And in the end, some Vatican synod news reports hint that 'sin' exists after all

I promise -- honest -- that the following post is not a covert Sunday school lesson. You see, I have a journalistic reason for taking us into the Gospel of St. John, chapter 8.

As you read the following passage, journalists, try to figure out who might be who, in terms of interpreting the Vatican synod that has dominated the Godbeat this week. The story begins with Jesus arriving at the Jewish Temple in the morning:

... (All) the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such. What do you say about her?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. 
Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the eldest, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 
Jesus looked up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and do not sin again.”

Now, the reason I brought this up was because a reference to this passage showed up -- imagine that -- in the New York Times story about the end of the synod.

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As the Vatican turns: Dramatic talks about faith and family get soapy

As the Vatican turns: Dramatic talks about faith and family get soapy

Trust me, I am well aware that there are plenty of Catholic GetReligion readers who do not understand my consistent appreciation for the work of reporter and columnist John L. Allen, Jr., formerly of the liberal National Catholic Reporter and now the ringmaster at the new Crux site at The Boston Globe. It's really quite simple: He constantly reports tons of on-the-record information, even when he is writing prose that is clearly labeled "analysis."

Now, let me end this crazy day in Catholic news land -- click here for Dawn's earlier piece -- by pointing readers toward the sources and URLs contained in two rather dispassionate pieces of Allen analysis. It's hard to get more blunt than this:

ROME -- Every day, the 2014 Synod of Bishops on the family, a summit of 260 bishops and other participants convened by Pope Francis, seems more and more like a daytime soap opera. Today brought more surprising turns on multiple fronts.
For one thing, the bishops made the unprecedented decision to release internal reports of small group discussions about a working document released Monday that became a sensation due to its positive language about same-sex unions, couples who live together outside of marriage, and others in “irregular” situations.
The reports photograph a vigorous debate within a divided synod, with one camp seemingly embracing a more positive vision of situations that fall outside the boundaries of official Catholic doctrine, and another clearly alarmed about going soft.

And the perfect, killer quote for a synod on family issues?

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Kasper, the friendly religion ghost? Progressive cardinal's dismissive words on Africans go unreported (updated)

Kasper, the friendly religion ghost? Progressive cardinal's dismissive words on Africans go unreported (updated)

Editor's note: Dawn is away from her keyboard today and I have been on the move, as well. Yes, we know that all holy heck has broken loose on this story. For updates, check out this timely note from Deacon Greg Kandra, formerly of CBS News, and this commentary from Elizabeth Scalia at The Anchoress. (tmatt)

******

When German Cardinal Walter Kasper speaks in favor of communion for the divorced and remarried, the Associated Press calls him "a pre-eminent theologian." But when he speaks about how African bishops participating in the Vatican's Extraordinary Synod on the Family "should not tell us too much what we have to do," the AP, and U.S. mainstream media outlets at large, respond with ... crickets.

Kasper's comments to veteran Vatican reporter Edward Pentin, published in ZENIT (since taken down), have set the Catholic blog world aflame. But although they were noted in Italy by the AP affiliate ASCA, and in the U.K. by Damian Thompson at the Spectator, as of last night there was not a peep from Stateside mainstream-media outlets, which until now have seemed to hang on the "progressive" cardinal's every word regarding the Synod. In other words, so long as liberal journalists see Kasper as a "friendly," Pentin's interview is going to disappear into the ether like the proverbial "religion ghost."

The cardinal raised the topic of African bishops to Pentin after the reporter asked him about the five bishops Francis chose to join Cardinal Peter Erdo in composing the Synod's much-discussed midterm report, none of whom were from Africa. The omission is significant since, as the AP's Nicole Winfield notes, African bishops tend to be more "conservative" (i.e. doctrinally faithful) on family issues. Here is the relevant part of Pentin's interview: 

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For those paying close attention: 'Tone' of this Vatican rough draft may sound familiar

For those paying close attention: 'Tone' of this Vatican rough draft may sound familiar

Let's pause for a second and think of the many different Catholic camps -- we will leave the secular world out of this for a moment -- that exist when discussing a subject as complex as the moral status of sexual activity outside of marriage. I hope that this will help us dissect the celebratory coverage of the current Vatican talks on family issues.

This typology is my own (reminder: I am Eastern Orthodox, not Catholic) based on my observations of Catholic debates and media coverage of them.

* First of all, there are Catholics who believe that the church has been far too quiet in defense of its own teachings on sexuality. They note that, at the crucial level of local pulpits, Catholics hardly ever hear controversial teachings discussed, let alone defended. People need to hear the bad news before it becomes the Good News, in other words.

* Then there are Catholics who truly believe that, when viewed as a whole, the church's teachings are fine, but that the hierarchy has done a terrible job of presenting them in public. Bishops have talked only about sin, with little to say about confession, repentance, grace, mercy, forgiveness, healing and salvation (in other words, the entire world of the Sacraments).

Let's pause for a second and look at what the Catechism of the Catholic Church says in its specific language about homosexuality (and read it all, not just the "intrinsically disordered" part).

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Wha' happened? NYTimes, RNS report on 'real or implied' 'earthquake' at Vatican that 'may or may not' have an effect

Wha' happened? NYTimes, RNS report on 'real or implied' 'earthquake' at Vatican that 'may or may not' have an effect

What exactly happened at the Vatican's Extraordinary Synod on the Family yesterday? NewsBusters' Ken Shepherd observes that, if you look to "many liberal media reporters" for the answer, you will find them "giddy as schoolchildren" at the  synod's midterm report on its discussions about gays and divorced Catholics. A check of Twitter bears this out:

From @CNN:

The Catholic church should welcome and appreciate gays, a new Vatican report says http://cnn.it/1qk9xwt

From @CNNbelief:

An 'earthquake.' [Revolutionary.' 'Stunning.' What people are saying about the Vatican's new report on #LGBT people http://cnn.it/1vXFC1Q

From @JosephineMcK:

#Catholic conservatives furious as bishops propose 'welcoming' gays

Did the earth really move? It did for Josephine McKenna of Religion News Service (author of that last tweet), whose own story on the synod's report breathlessly describes "the real or implied changes that may or may not materialize" in the Church. 

Say what?

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What is this? HuffPo displays basic ignorance of Catholic Catechism

What is this? HuffPo displays basic ignorance of Catholic Catechism

At several points, in recent years, your GetReligionistas have discussed this basic question: What is The Huffington Post?

Obviously, this online giant is many things -- primarily a monument to how much material an Internet-era company can publish without paying writers a working wage for their work. But, from our perspective, the key is whether HuffPo is a news publication or strictly an advocacy journalism site.

Well, it does republish quite a bit of legitimate news-wire copy and we are thankful for that. It also publishes, of course, kazillions of aggregated posts that point toward news stories, advocacy-news pieces, interesting blogs, etc., etc., etc. Aggregation is to HuffPo what water is to fish.

Here at GetReligion, our primary goal is look at the good and the bad in mainstream coverage of religion in mainstream news publications. Thus, some of what runs in HuffPo -- think Associated Press, Religion News Service, etc. -- fits the bill. But what about everything else? What do we do with advocacy journalism pieces that present themselves as news, yet make unusually obvious gaffes when it comes to journalism basics?

You ask, "Like what?" 

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WaPo does a thumbs-up (maybe) report on the Vatican family summit

WaPo does a thumbs-up (maybe) report on the Vatican family summit

As Pope Francis holds his two-week Vatican summit on family issues, Michelle Boorstein of the Washington Post zeroes in on one of its topics -- marriage, divorce and annulment -- in a story that is non-sensational but personal and intelligent.

Her 1,400-plus-word story focuses on Catholics who continue to attend Mass and consider themselves close to the church, although they haven't gotten their divorces and/or remarriages legitimized in church eyes.

Boorstein's piece starts out on a familiar tack -- a sympathy anecdote a woman who "kept close to her Catholicism," even though she has married twice outside the church, following in her divorced parents' footsteps. She and others in the article talk out their feelings of ostracism.  And they vent frustration at what they see as rigid, outmoded rules of marriage.

Many stories would make that into a One-Note Samba, then close with a judgment on how hidebound the church remains. Boorstein's piece doesn't. With typical thoroughness, she helps grasp complexities as well as basics.

For one, she shows churchmen themselves as humans who, like the laity, wrestle with dilemmas of keeping faithful to the church while trying to adapt to changing times. Here's a quote from a veteran churchman -- a comment that is at once informed, intelligent and heartfelt:

“This synod will be very important. All of the issues regarding the family, the ones that trouble people the most [about the church] will be on the table. All the neuralgic issues — the ones that cause you pain,” said Monsignor Fred Easton, who led the Indianapolis Archdiocese’s tribunal for 31 years. “And it’s not just rehashing for rehashing’s sake. It’s: When we put them all together, do we need to make any sort of course correction?”

Another plus: Monsignor Easton is from the Midwest, not reporters' favorite source pools on the east and west coasts.

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Your weekend think piece: The roots of those omnipresent Catholic political 'frames'

Your weekend think piece: The roots of those omnipresent Catholic political 'frames'

There was an interesting exchange in our comments pages this week linked to a subject that is frequently discussed here at GetReligion, which is the nasty tendency among journalists to use political labels to frame believers who are involved in debates over doctrine. The hook for this discussion was Dawn's post that ran with the headline, "What is this? Seeing red over RNS piece on 'conservative' cardinals."

I feel rather torn on this issue, because everyone knows that there are doctrinal conservatives (some call this the camp of the orthodox) and there are doctrinal liberals (some prefer the camp of the progressives). What really frosts my oleanders is when journalists use the term "reformer" in discussions of doctrine (as opposed to, let's say, matters of bureaucracy, worship and tradition.

Perhaps readers may recall those dictionary definitions of "reform," as a verb:

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