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 congregationm" 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 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 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." 

The source of the quote is Francis's final speech to the synod, which warned of two temptations. The first one he cited was the one highlighted by the CBS report:

a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.

But then Francis immediately warned against the opposite extreme:

 - The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness [buonismo], that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.”

Got that? So Francis warns against the "deceptive mercy" that fails to acknowledge the reality of sin and the need for repentance.  (Incidentally, judging by the scare quotes, Francis is no more happy than I am with the press labeling Catholics "conservative" or "progressive.")

The CBS News piece completely ignores Francis's admonition against "progressive and liberals," instead entering into the perspective of "LGBTQ Catholics":

Back in the U.S., Catholics in one particular congregation were even more vocal.

"I think what we should do is to stop calling the American bishops 'bishops,' and start calling them homophobes," said the Rev. Joe Akus, a priest who ministers to a congregation called Dignity, a network of LGBTQ Catholics with dozens of branches and thousands of members across the country.

Note the curious reference to the "Rev. Joe Akus." He is described as "a priest who ministers to a congregation called Dignity, a network of LGBTQ Catholics." That looks like fancy footwork to me; it avoids calling Akus a Catholic priest (i.e. one who may licitly celebrate Mass) and it avoids calling Dignity a Catholic parish community (because, as we will see, it isn't; it is based at an Episcopal parish).

In fact, I seriously doubt Akus has priestly faculties at all. He may celebrate the sacraments licitly only if he has permission from the diocesan bishop, and it sure doesn't look like he does. The Archdiocese of New York banned Dignity from hosting liturgies in its churches all the way back in 1987 -- see this weepy postmortem from the Gray Lady -- and the CBS News report goes on to say that Dignity's "Mass" is in an Episcopal church:

For 33 years, Akus has been saying Mass at the Episcopal Church of St. John, which serves as the group's de facto parish and headquarters. Established in 1972 by Jesuit priest John MacNeill, Dignity New York is a leading chapter of Dignity USA, a nonprofit organization that supports LGBTQ people in accepting and expressing their sexuality as consistent with Catholic teachings. MacNeill's 1976 book "The Church and the Homosexual" is still considered by Dignity members to be 'the bible' on religion and sexuality.

Given the Archdiocese's ban, a "Catholic" Mass celebrated for Dignity NY at an Episcopal church would necessarily be illicit and, de facto, schismatic.

More error and fancy dancing: Not only does CBS News misspell McNeill's name, it fails to mention that McNeil was expelled from the Jesuit order in 1986 and lost his priestly faculties.

But wait -- CBS News finds another "gay priest" willing to speak on the record:

At last night's weekly meeting of the Dignity congregation, most people echoed Akus' view:
"If they really follow through and are consistent, that's good, but I don't see how the church has any business dictating people's behavior, the business of the church is to proclaim the Kingdom of God," said the Rev. Dan McCarthy, who also performs liturgies for the Dignity congregation. 

"I've been homosexual for 75 years and a priest for about 48 years, it's no longer a novelty to me."

Again, the story appears to be carefully worded to avoid stating that the Rev. Dan McCarthy is a "Catholic priest," for that would imply he had priestly faculties. 

There really is no dancing around the truth: We have here a shoddily sourced, misleadingly worded report on "LGBTQ Catholics" who in fact are not engaged in life within the Catholic Church but rather worship at a schismatic liturgy. If that's how the CBS Eye sees same-sex-attracted Catholics (many of whom are striving  to remain in the heart of the Church), I'd say it needs glasses.

Image via Shutterstock.

 

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