Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

Apologizing to gays: Pope Francis' latest quotes send news media into a frenzy

So you thought Pope Francis began a storm of news 'n' views three years ago, when he said, "Who am I to judge" gays? Well, brace yourself for the summertime blizzard of news and commentary with his latest remark -- that the church should apologize to gays, women, children, the poor and, apparently, anyone who likes weapons.

It was on another of those in-flight press conferences, like the one in 2013 when he dropped his non-judgmental bomb. Mainstream media love to pounce on Francis' off-the-cuff remarks, but few of them recognize the conversations flowing just under the surface -- even when they occasionally break into the open.

Yesterday, Cindy Wooden of Catholic News Service asked Francis if the church should apologize to gays in the wake of Omar Mateen's shooting spree, killing 49 people in a gay nightclub in Orlando. She was asking because Cardinal Reinhard Marx had said the church had marginalized gays.

The pope answered with, well, an apology spree. Says the Associated Press:

Francis responded with a variation of his famous "Who am I to judge?" comment and a repetition of church teaching that gays must not be discriminated against but treated with respect.
He said some politicized behaviors of the homosexual community can be condemned for being "a bit offensive for others." But he said: "Someone who has this condition, who has good will and is searching for God, who are we to judge?"
"We must accompany them," Francis said.
"I think the church must not only apologize ... to a gay person it offended, but we must apologize to the poor, to women who have been exploited, to children forced into labor, apologize for having blessed so many weapons" and for having failed to accompany families who faced divorces or experienced other problems.

Does this signal the dawn of a "progressive" era in the church? Not according to a particular Dawn -- Catholic scholar and GR alumna Dawn Eden:

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The key to understanding the Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion restrictions

The key to understanding the Supreme Court decision on Texas abortion restrictions

Big news today out of the U.S. Supreme Court: As the Washington Post reports, the court — in a 5-3 decision — struck down Texas abortion restrictions that had caused more than half the state's abortion clinics to close.

As always, abortion is one of those topics that mix politics and religion, no matter how hard people try to keep the topics separate. 

The New York Times notes:

The decision concerned two parts of a Texas law that imposes strict requirements on abortion providers. It was passed by the Republican-dominated Texas Legislature and signed into law in July 2013 by Rick Perry, the governor at the time.
One part of the law requires all clinics in the state to meet the standards for ambulatory surgical centers, including regulations concerning buildings, equipment and staffing. The other requires doctors performing abortions to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital.

How important is this decision? The Daily Beast is pretty excited, calling it "the biggest victory for abortion rights since Roe V. Wade."

Meanwhile, Rod "Friend of this Blog" Dreher of the American Conservative is less enthused (see his new post "Abortion Forever"), but he, too, attaches great significance to the ruling:

The bottom line, it seems to me, is that the Supreme Court will never let any state restriction stand meaningfully in the way of the Sexual Revolution. Ever. No federalism, no democracy, not when it comes to defending the Sexual Revolution.

So what should news consumers look for in the media coverage of this decision?

 

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The state of Donald Trump's soul: Lots of chortles and, so far, few factual questions

The state of Donald Trump's soul: Lots of chortles and, so far, few factual questions

At least once a month, I receive some kind of angry email (or perhaps see comments on Facebook) from someone who is upset about mainstream press coverage of President Barack Obama that identifies him as a Christian.

Very few of these notes come from people who think Obama is a closet Muslim. Mostly, they come from doctrinally conservative Christians whose churches clash with the Obama White House on moral and cultural issues, most of them having to do with the Sexual Revolution. What they are saying, of course, is, "Obama isn't one of us." His actions show that.

Of course he isn't one of them. But it's perfectly accurate for journalists to note that the president has made a profession of faith (numerous times) as a liberal mainline Protestant. He walked the aisle and joined a congregation in the United Church of Christ, the bleeding edge of the liberal Protestant world, and has, functionally, been an Episcopalian while in the White House. Before becoming president he was quite candid about the details of his faith (the essential interview here). Obama has a liberal Christian voice.

This, of course, brings us to the God-and-politics story de jour right now -- the online interview in which Dr. James Dobson, once the creator of the Focus on the Family operation, says that he knows the person who recently led Donald Trump to born-again faith.

You can imagine the Twitter-verse reaction to this news, coming so soon after that closed-door New York City meeting between Trump and about 1,000 selected evangelical leaders. Here is the crucial material from The New York Times, which, as you can imagine, opened with a question lede. Then:

In an interview recorded ... by a Pennsylvania pastor, the Rev. Michael Anthony, Dr. Dobson said he knew the person who had led Mr. Trump to Christ, though he did not name him.

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Weekend think piece: Pope John Paul II and his fight to save Polish culture and even Europe

Weekend think piece: Pope John Paul II and his fight to save Polish culture and even Europe

Let's make this a Polish think piece weekend, shall we?

How many more lives lived in the darkness of the 20th Century were more amazing than that of the late St. Pope John Paul II? How many other names go at the very top of the list, especially if you are looking for women and men who were warriors for peace, dignity and true tolerance?

When looking at the fall of the materialistic world of Communist Eastern Europe and, even, the Soviet Union, the question I have always asked has been this: What did John Paul II and when did he do it?

Obviously, we know quite a bit about the dramas that took place out in the open, in front of -- literally -- millions of people. But do we really know what took place behind the scenes? If Poland started the dominos falling, what role did this great son of Poland play behind the scenes? Every few years, if seems, we learn more amazing details.

Another question: How did John Paul II fail to win the Nobel Peace Prize at some point during that era? Can you think -- in this weekend after Brexit -- of better symbol of the values of the post-Christian Europe than that strange fact?

So that brings me to this weekend think piece, via The Catholic Exchange. The headline: "Pope John Paul II & the Secret History of Europe." This short piece focuses on the contents of a new film, "Liberating a Continent: John Paul II and the Fall of Communism." Here is the trailer for that documentary:

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Polexit? Looking for news about tensions between EU and Poland's Catholic culture

Polexit? Looking for news about tensions between EU and Poland's Catholic culture

There is a circle of GetReligion readers who have, from time to time, been known to lose it at the sight of a URL pointing toward material from LifeNews.com, an advocacy journalism site that focuses, as the name implies, on issues linked to abortion, euthanasia, etc.

As I just stated, LifeNews.com is an advocacy site that, basically, covers one side of hot-button stories on these topics. If you are looking for fair coverage of liberal views on this topic, this is not the site for you.

However, if you are looking for clues and information about stories that are not receiving coverage in the mainstream press, this is a place to find tips about documents, events and sources that could lead to balanced mainstream coverage. In other words, LifeNews.com has the same approach to journalism as, let's say, Rolling Stone or, on moral and religious issues, the Kellerism-era New York Times. You go there to read about one side of an argument.

Some culturally liberal readers believe, in a strange echo of conservatives who write off the Times, that this means that all events or information reported at LifeNews.com should be ignored. I don't believe that about the Times and I don't believe that about the much smaller and less important LifeNews.com. I take what I see in advocacy publications with a grain of salt and look for links to valid information about views on the right and left.

That brings me, in this post-Brexit world, to this new LifeNews.com report, which ran with the headline, "Poland Defends Its Pro-Life Laws, Blasts EU Leaders Telling It to Legalize Abortion."

(CFAM) -- The Polish government snapped back at European bureaucrats in a scathing response to a report published last week by the Council of Europe that criticized Poland’s restrictive abortion law and its treatment of women.

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Must we keep talking about Citizen Trump and evangelicals? We must, we must ...

Must we keep talking about Citizen Trump and evangelicals? We must, we must ...

First things first: Why the nod to the classic farce "Blazing Saddles" at the end of the headline for this post?

Well, why not? Don't you sense the hand of comedy genius Mel Brooks behind the scenes in this election year? Believe me when I say, "I do, I do."

Thus, People keep asking me things like, "Why are we still talking about Donald Trump and the evangelicals?" Of course, the word "evangelicals" in this case has little or nothing to do with theology. It is a reference to one camp -- stress, one camp -- of mostly white evangelicals who at this point in time are either supporting Trump or who have not made up their minds on the issue.

We are still talking about them because no Republican has a chance to reach the White House in the era after Roe v. Wade without a massive turn out by these highly motivated voters. Republican winners also need strong support from conservative (think daily Mass) and middle-of-the-road (think Sunday Mass, most of the time) Catholics, but that's an issue very few people seem to be talking about. Has anyone heard a word from a U.S. Catholic bishop about anything for about six months?

We are also talking about Trump and this one camp of old-guard, white evangelicals (many can accurately be defined as "fundamentalists") because other evangelicals are talking about them, from the other side of a bitter and painful divide in pulpits and many pews. At this stage, even Trump's evangelical advisory team is packed with people who have not endorsed him.

So, once again, "Crossroads" host Todd Wilken and I, during this week's podcast, talked about the slow-motion train wreck that is Trump's campaign to get right with the God voters. Click right here to tune that in.

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Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who's not with the program? White evangelicals, according to RNS

Who is out of step with the country? Oh, you know. It's the white evangelicals.

That’s the apparent upshot of a story by the Religion News Service on a new survey.  The study, by the Public Religion Research Institute, highlights anxieties among Americans about immigration, terrorism, discrimination and cultural change.

But for RNS, it seems to come down to a single social-racial-religious class: white evangelical Protestants.

Americans also are split on whether American culture and the country’s way of life have mostly changed for the better (49 percent) or worse (50 percent) since the 1950s.
And, the PRRI/Brookings report said, "no group of Americans is more nostalgic about the 1950s than white evangelical Protestants," with 70 percent saying the country has changed for the worse. Americans also split politically on the question: 68 percent of Republicans agree things have gotten worse, while nearly the same share of Democrats (66 percent) say times are better.

This despite the next paragraph, which says that overall, 72 percent of Americans agree that "the country is moving in the wrong direction" -- up from 65 percent in 2011. "And most (57 percent) believe they should fight for their values, even if they are at odds with the law and changing culture," the article adds.

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Is there a religion ghost in Brexit victory for angry old Brits who keep clinging to the past?

Is there a religion ghost in Brexit victory for angry old Brits who keep clinging to the past?

Is there a religion ghost in the shocking, to many, Brexit vote?

Of course there is. Any issue this, well, HUGE is going to have links to religious beliefs and institutions, on both sides of the debate. However, it will take a while for that shoe to drop, methinks, as secular journalists begin their work -- of course -- with waves of news about the political and economic fallout.

That is to be expected. However, we can begin our search for the religion ghost in this story by asking two rather basic questions: In terms of media and cultural elites, who is upset about the Brexit victory? And these grieving people in the mainstream media (looking at you, Christiane Amanpour), who are they blaming for this defeat for rational thought and the world's glowing future?

For example, I have no idea who this young journalist is -- Rebecca Pinnington -- but I would imagine that there were plenty of professionals in major newsrooms thinking this exact same thought in the wee hours of this morning. What does it say that CNN has this quote on its front page, as I write this?

"When Donald Trump congratulates you on a political decision, that’s how you know you’ve made a mistake #EUref"

So who is to blame for this attack on the European Union and its supporters? It would appear, based on my early reading, that the chattering classes see this as a victory for old people who yearn for the values of the past and fear the wide open, evolving future. The word of the day appears to be "xenophobia."

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Omar Mateen's interesting trips to Saudi Arabia: The details are 'conservative' news?

Omar Mateen's interesting trips to Saudi Arabia: The details are 'conservative' news?

Journalists and all you careful consumers of foreign-news coverage, I have a question for you. At this stage, after the horrors of the massacre inside The Pulse gay bar in Orlando, what elements of the case do you think are drawing the most attention from investigators at the local, national and global levels?

Everyone (well almost everyone) is really interested, of course, in learning more about the motive for the crime.

That could be a local question or it could be a national question. That could be a global question. I can imagine a scenario in which it is all three and, for national-security experts, that is the nightmare scenario. What if the lone wolf wasn't really a lone wolf?

If that is the case, then it is fair to ask when Omar Mateen met radical jihadists with ties to ISIS or, at the very least, ties to radicalized forms of Islam that might lead a young man to sympathy for the Islamic State. Yes, the internet is a likely channel But the World Wide Web alone?

This brings me to the question that I have been asking for a week or so now. I would imagine that investigators are rather interested in what did or did not happen during Mateen's two relatively recent trips to Saudi Arabia, as in 2011 and 2012.

What? You have not read much about those rather expensive and flexible trips? Well, that's because, when it comes to follow-up work among journalists, these trips appear to be (wait for it) "conservative news."

Here is a typical New York Times reference, from early reporting:

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