Keep saying this: Politics is all that matters, even when covering Pope Francis


I'm sorry, but it's "Kellerism" time again.

So soon? I am afraid so. This time, the virus hit The Politico in a rare news-feature venture by that politics-equals-life journal into the world of religion news.

The subject, of course, is the political impact of Pope Francis and why he will be good for the Democrats or, at the very least, why he will not have a positive impact on the work of conservative Catholics who in recent decades have pretty much been forced to vote for Republicans.

The double-decker headline says analysis piece from the get-go, even though the piece is not marked as analysis or advocacy journalism: 

How Will the Pope Play in 2016?
Francis’s softer brand of Catholicism kept his bishops out of the midterms -- and they’re likely to tone down their message next time too.

First, if you need some background info on retired New York Times editor Bill Keller and the statements in which he promulgated the "Kellerism" doctrines,  click here.  The key is that "Kellerism" journalism argues that there is no need to be balanced and fair in coverage of news about religion and culture, since urban, sophisticated journalists already know who is in the right on those kinds of issues.

So, as I have said many times before, politics is a subject that is worthy of balanced journalism, but there is no need for that kind of thing when professionals deal with subjects like sex, salvation, gay rights, abortion, euthanasia, cloning and a few other non-political issues. Yes, we're talking about Roe v. Wade and Romer v. Evans. As we all know, religion and culture have not played a major role in American politics in the past few decades. Right?

So what's up with this piece in The Politico? Let's check off some of the basics.

* Catholic bishops who publicly attempted to defend Catholic doctrines when dealing with Catholics in public life are "culture warriors"? Check.

* This was the key reason for firing Cardinal Raymond Burke? Check.

* The inclusion of a highly editorial thesis statement that the goal of the pope is to "put compassion before dogma"? Check.

As always, the article includes one of the many now standard Francis quotes:

Yet the real trigger for the muting of the U.S. bishops, and the consequent knock-on effect on U.S. politics, was not the synod or even any papal encyclical, but an interview Francis gave last September in which he warned: “We cannot insist only on [talking about] issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible.” If the Church remained “obsessed” with its line-up of hot button issues, it would “fall like a house of cards,” he added.

Did this story mention that, a day or so after that quote hit the media, the pope spoke at a meeting of pro-life doctors and condemned abortion in fierce language that would have turned New York Times editors into pillars of salt? No way. If U.S. bishops want to take on issues like abortion and the defense of marriage, all they have to do is quote Pope Francis.

So are these the issues that led to my "Kellerism" claim? 

No, almost everything in this article touches on valid topics for debate, in terms of this papacy and contemporary Catholic life in postmodern America. So what's the problem? 

If the goal was to talk about the impact of this pope -- negative of course -- in Catholic conservatives in public life, where are the quotes from, you know, Catholic conservatives who are active in public life? Where are the Catholic scholars, activists, bloggers, elected officials, etc., on that side of the debate? Read the article. Find any?

Just saying. It's "Kellerism" again. Why not talk to people on both sides of these valid debates?

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