AP, Phila. Inquirer Label Fired Gay Professor as Member of 'Branch of Catholicism Not Associated with the Vatican'

The secular mainstream media often do a shoddy job of accurately reporting on religious news, but this takes the cake.

Writing about how the Rev. James St. George was terminated earlier this month from his post as part-time professor at Chestnut Hill College, the Associated Press insisted the openly gay man "belong[s] to a branch of Catholicism not associated with the Vatican that has different views on gay issues."

The church where St. George is a pastor is "affiliated with the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America, which vows no discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and performs commitment ceremonies for gays and lesbians," the Associated Press reported.

Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Bonnie Cook similarly noted that St. George "belonged to a branch of Catholicism that is not associated with the Vatican and allows priests to be actively gay."

But is the Old Catholic Apostolic Church of America (OCACA) really a "branch" of Catholicism, despite its lack of communion with Rome. In a word no, and the OCACA website is pretty clear on that matter in its FAQ section:

Are you in communion with the Roman Catholic Church?

No. The Old Catholic Churches separated from the Roman Catholic Church in the late 19th century over the refusal to accept the dogma of Papal Infallibility.

OCACA is no more a "branch" of Catholicism than are Lutheran or Reformed churches or Orthodox churches.

It may have many of the same smells and bells, aesthetically calling to mind the Catholic tradition, but OCACA is not a Catholic church and it notes as much on its website.

Is it too much to ask of MSM reporters to do a little bit of homework before publishing a story such as this?

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters