The Campaign Spot

The U.S. Media Just Can’t Understand the Vatican

From the Thursday edition of the Morning Jolt:

When It Comes to the U.S. Media, the Vatican Might as Well Be Speaking in Latin

Dear mainstream media: No, you were never going to get a liberal Pope.

You don’t have to be the sharpest knife in the drawer to figure out what the U.S. media thinks are most important issues before the Pope:

Francis’ ascension, however, will not be without its controversies. Francis firmly opposes abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception, the last being a particularly significant position as the Church continues to expand in Africa, where contraception is seen as a vital tool to limit the spread of sexually transmitted diseases.

Was there any Cardinal in the mix who, upon assuming the Papacy, would step out onto the balcony, and declare, “Oh, hey, abortion, homosexuality and contraception are cool now”?

A couple times a year, Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne writes a column that says basically, “the Vatican has a big problem, because lots of American Catholics don’t agree with the Pope.” It never seems to cross his mind that each Pope and the Vatican collectively don’t really care that lots of American Catholics don’t agree with them. Or, more specifically, they would like American Catholics to agree with them, but they’re not willing to change what they teach as right and wrong based upon what the Gallup organization says American Catholics think. They think they get that material from the Man Upstairs. You may or may not agree with that assessment of Divine leadership, but the point is that the Pope and the Cardinals believe it, and they’re not going to be talked out of it by some pundit.

This is an institution that weathered the storms of the schism with the Orthodox and the Protestant Reformation. They’re not going to suddenly abandon their positions in the face of criticism from Chris Matthews or Andrew Sullivan.

Dave Weigel: “Just a hunch here, but based on headlines it seems like members of the media are more liberal than Catholic church leaders.”

Peggy Noonan calls it like it is:

Right now every idiot in town feels free to tell the church to get hopping, and they do it in a new way, with a baldness that occasionally borders on the insulting. Whatever their faith or lack of it they feel free to critique loudly and in depth, to the degree they are capable of depth. I have been critical of the church over the sex scandals for longer than a decade. Here’s one column—but I write of it because I love it and seek to see it healthy, growing and vital as it brings Christ into the world. Some of the church’s critics don’t seem to be operating from affection and respect but something else, or some things else.

When critics mean to be constructive, they bring an air of due esteem and occasional sadness to their criticisms, and offer informed and thoughtful suggestions as to ways the old church might right itself. They might even note, with an air of gratitude free of crowd-pleasing sanctimony, that critics must, in fairness, speak of those parts of the church that most famously work—the schools that teach America’s immigrants, the charities, the long embrace of the most vulnerable—and outweigh a whole world of immediate criticisms.

But when they just prattle on with their indignant words—gender, celibacy, irrelevant—well, they’re probably not trying to be constructive. One might say they’re being vulgar, ignorant and destructive, spoiled too. They think they’re brave, or outspoken, or something. They don’t have enough insight into themselves to notice they’d never presume to instruct other great faiths. It doesn’t cross their minds that if they were as dismissive about some of those faiths they’d have to hire private security guards.

If your beef with the Catholic Church is the role it gives women, well . . . there’s another big global faith with about a billion adherents that you may want to examine, too. I mean, whatever you think of the role of nuns, they are allowed to drive themselves, you know.

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