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?"
Consider the top of the recent piece that ran under the lilting headline, "Cardinal Raymond Burke Takes Break From Vatican Synod To Say Ugly Things About Gay Relationships."
Vatican court head Cardinal Raymond Burke took his opposition to gay marriage to a new low in an interview with LifeSite News on Wednesday, calling same-sex relations "intrinsically disordered" and dangerous for children to be exposed to:
"We wouldn’t, if it were another kind of relationship -- something that was profoundly disordered and harmful -- we wouldn't expose our children to that relationship, to the direct experience of it. And neither should we do it in the context of a family member who not only suffers from same-sex attraction, but who has chosen to live out that attraction, to act upon it, committing acts which are always and everywhere wrong, evil."
The cardinal is currently engaged in the Vatican's Synod on the Family, at which a handful of couples and families were invited to present questions and arguments to the assembled bishops as they assess the Catholic Church's stance on various family-related issues.
Now, it's obvious that the "intrinsically disordered" language is highly offensive to many people and a balanced journalistic treatment of this issue would have no problem demonstrating that. That isn't what caught the eye of a former GetReligion scribe.
No, it was the bizarre idea that the oh-so-hated Burke had somehow sunk to a new personal low by using this language, as if this was merely his own opinion that he was airing.
Was this a Burke thing? Actually, the cardinal was quoting what is certainly the single most famous -- in journalistic circles at least -- passage in the easily-searchable Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is about as official a source as is possible in the world of religion news. One does not have to agree with the catechism, of course. But it displays a rather stunning ignorance of the facts to not take it into account.
That famous, and to many infamous, passage states:
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, 141 tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." 142 They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
2359 Homosexual persons are called to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
The Catholic church uses similar "disordered" language for many other sexual sins, as well.
Like I said, this is -- for many -- offensive language and journalistic coverage will accurately quote qualified voices on both sides to debate that issue. The point here is that the HuffPo piece is simply wrong to state that this was a personal stance taken by Burke.
Right. He sank to a new personal low by quoting one of the most frequently quoted, in this news day and age, passages in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Are there actual editors at HuffPo these days? If so, surely people editing religion-news coverage have heard of the Catechism?