It's getting to the point where one is tempted to believe that many mainstream journalists simply have no interest in accurately reporting what the Roman Catholic Church, or many other traditional religious institutions, believe when it comes to doctrines linked to homosexual orientation and behavior.
Consider, for example, the top of this Associated Press report -- as posted at NBC News -- about that monsignor who staged a coming-out presser the other day. The headline: "Vatican Fires Gay Priest Who Came Out Before Global Meeting."
First of all, the Vatican doesn't "fire" a priest as a priest. He was fired from his position with the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. Now, might this priest eventually be "defrocked" for violating this vows? That's another issue altogether.
Anyway, here is the top of this warped little AP story:
VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican on Saturday fired a monsignor who came out as gay on the eve of a big meeting of the world's bishops to discuss church outreach to gays, divorcees and more traditional Catholic families.
The Vatican took action after Krzysztof Charamsa, a mid-level official in its doctrine office, came out in newspaper interviews in Italy and Poland saying he was happy and proud to be a gay priest, and that he was in love with a man whom he identified as his boyfriend.
Now, was Charamsa fired because he was gay?
The answer would be "no." The Catholic church does not discipline priests who -- from the church's doctrinal viewpoint -- carry the burden of being sexually attracted to those of the same gender. Temptation is not a sin. The questions in play are (a) has this priest honored his vows of celibacy, (b) does he support the Catholic doctrines and (c) has he taken public actions opposing church doctrines?
So, again, was Charamsa fired because he was gay? No. It's safe to assume that he was removed from his Vatican post because (a) he called a press conference to note his opposition to Catholic doctrines and (b) he also brought along his male companion to introduce to reporters. There's more, but we'll stop at this point.
As you would expect, some in the press were amazed that this happened. Why? Well, you know, because Pope Francis has provided that "Who am I to judge?" quote as the answer to all questions linked to LGBT issues.
Take it away, M.Z. "GetReligionista emeritus" Hemingway in another post at The Federalist in which she returns to territory she mapped so often at this website. The main task of her post was to show working journalists -- yet again -- the actual context of that famous, or infamous, Pope Francis quote. She starts, of course, by printing the actual transcript of that 2013 presser.
Please, folks, bookmark this URL!
At that point, M.Z. preaches the gospel of ordinary, accurate, in context journalism on this topic:
Most in the media Ryan Lizza’d this quote down to “Who am I to judge?” and said that the entirety of that phrase was about everything to do with being gay.
But if you read it with even a minor understanding of Christianity and its emphasis on forgiveness, you saw that the Pope was articulating one of the most basic and important aspects of Christianity. That is, he reminded the reporter that forgiveness of sins means we don’t dwell on them:
“When we go to confession and truly say: ‘I have sinned in this,’ the Lord forgets and we don’t have the right not to forget, because we run the risk that the Lord won’t forget our [sins].”
He’s saying that Ricca may have done everything he’s accused of and more and that if he repented of those sins, he’s forgiven by God, and we’re all to forget those sins.
Later he states his belief that there’s a difference between having a sinful tendency and advocating for the same.
The media, either too politically motivated or too ignorant to accurately convey Francis’ remarks, began claiming that Pope Francis was going to change church teaching on homosexuality.
This leads us back to the Charamsa case, and Twitter comments such as this one:
Check out the comments on that tweet and you'll see all kinds of educational -- I use that word lightly -- commentary on this rather basic point of Catholic faith and tradition.
At some point, noted M.Z., journalists simply must grasp what Pope Francis was talking about when he used the "Who am I to judge?" language. Otherwise, they are going to keep making factual errors and missing the actual content of debates linked to Catholicism and moral theology.
I mean, the goal is to be accurate. Right?
Who knows? It could happen. With that in mind, please check out the transcripts of these two recent NPR pieces in which it appears that -- wait for it -- someone has actually been paying some attention to the Catholic Catechism. For example, check this out in a piece -- host Renee Montagne talking to reporter Joshua McElwee -- about the meeting between Kim Davis and Pope Francis:
MONTAGNE: It would be good for people to actually know to some degree, though, what the pope might be thinking here. Marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament. Is that different from the fact that he is perceived as trying to soften the church's posture towards gays and others who've been marginalized in the past?
MCELWEE: Well, yeah, I mean, I don't think we're going to hear this pope at any point say that gay marriage or same-sex marriage is OK with Catholic teaching. As you said, marriage in the Catholic Church is a sacrament, so something -- a grace that two people express before God. I mean, at this point in time and -- for as far as we know, all points of time - the church has taught that marriage is between one man and one woman.
And then, in a related NPR interview with a Marianne Duddy-Burke, a Catholic activist who opposes the church's teachings there is this:
MONTAGNE: Although, let me ask you - when it comes to marriage, it is one of the sacraments of the Catholic Church, not something that would change quickly. What about that? Is there any understanding that redefining a sacrament is not the same as, say, moving in a more warm direction towards the LGBT community?
DUDDY-BURKE: Well, I think there are two separate issues here. We certainly hope that the sacramental marriage for same-sex couples will eventually be recognized for the church and are actually working towards that. But right now we're talking about the official church's response to civil marriage, you know, in our country and many other countries around the world, and what we're seeing is a lot of bishops and other right-wing religious leaders still trying to undermine the right of LGBT couples and particularly same-sex couples to obtain marriage licenses and to have their relationships recognized under civil law.
Small steps. Small steps.