That Pope Francis is certainly a headline maker.
Consider, for example, the current news mini-explosion about his proclamation that the death penalty is "contrary to the Gospel."
That's news and there's no doubt about it. In this case, a few -- but not all -- journalists covering the story quickly grasped that this statement had something to do with a highly troubling religious word, as in "doctrine." After all, there is this passage in the current edition of the Catholic Catechism:
Assuming that the guilty party's identity and responsibility have been fully determined, the traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude recourse to the death penalty, if this is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor.
Now, this is not the normal kind of controversy that surrounds Pope Francis, when it comes to news coverage.
Most of the time, as your GetReligionistas have noted many times, what is interesting is to notice the degree to which some of the pope's comments make major news and some do not. You know, like the fact that there are, at the moment, almost a half million Google hits when you search for the phrase "Who am I to judge?"
With that in mind, let's play a little news game linked to the papacy. No, we're not going to play "Name that Pope," comparing quotations from Pope Francis with similar statements from Pope Benedict XVI.
No, this time we are going to play, "Name that Newsroom."
The goal is to figure out which of the following recent headlines and overtures is from a mainstream news magazine and which is from one of the top publications serving the niche-news needs of the LGBTQ community. The hook for these reports is the latest Pope Francis statement defending church teachings on gender.
Ready. Let's start with this headline:
Pope Blasts Gender-Confirmation Surgery
The overture that follows notes:
Pope Francis’s remarks ... opposing “the biologic and psychological manipulation of sexual difference” show that he doesn’t understand the situation of transgender people, say LGBT Catholic groups.
The pope made the comments while addressing the Pontifical Academy for Life’s general assembly in Rome.
“The biological and psychical manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology allows us to perceive as completely available to free choice -- which it is not! -- thus risks dismantling the source of energy that nurtures the alliance between man and woman and which renders it creative and fruitful,” he told members of the academy, which was created by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to deal with bioethical concerns.
“By referring to transgender people’s desires to transition as ‘manipulation’ and a ‘free choice’ Pope Francis shows that he does not understand that for transgender people, a transition is a discovery and affirmation of who God created them to be,” said a statement issued by Francis DeBernardo, executive director of New Ways Ministry, which works for LGBT equality within Catholicism. “Gender is more than a biological reality. It also includes psychological, emotional, cultural, and spiritual dimensions. When some people seek surgery to confirm their gender identity, they are celebrating their God-given identities. A decision to transition is often made after many years of confusion and turmoil, as well as many forms of discernment with medical, psychological, and spiritual authorities.”
OK. Round 2.
The second headline proclaims (yes, the capital letters are in the original):
POPE SLAMS GENDER SURGERY, SAYS DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MEN AND WOMEN ARE RELEVANT FOR 'HUMAN DEVELOPMENT'
This time around, the overture proclaims:
Pope Francis has hit out at technology that allows people to transition from one gender to another, claiming such practices “render them irrelevant for human development.”
Although the pontiff has been praised for bringing a more holistic view on issues such as abortion and LGBT rights to the Catholic Church, the pope made it clear his lenient views did not extend to technology that made gender confirmation surgery possible.
Speaking to the Vatican’s bioethics board ..., Francis said that “rather than contrast negative interpretations of sexual differences... they want to cancel these differences out altogether, proposing techniques and practices that render them irrelevant for human development and relations,” Newsday reported.
He added that these practices “risk dismantling the source of energy that fuels the alliance between men and women and renders them fertile.”
Which is which?
Now, click on the links and read the full articles. How would you describe the editorial differences between the two "news" pieces?
Hey, who says today's press is lacking, when it comes to diverse voices and viewpoints?