Newsweek vs. Catholic Church's 'Whiff of Freakishness'

Newsweek knows who they hate. Its section "The Take" in the March 29 edition begins with a full-page picture of Pope Benedict with this nasty sentence imposed above his head: "I would argue that the pope is already sufficiently tainted to trade his Prada shoes for a hair shirt for the rest of his life." Turn to page 24, and Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller’s hate-filled column is titled "Save the Children: Benedict & Co. need to do penance." The "hair shirt" quote is not in the article.

This is the same activist/journalist Lisa Miller who wrote the incendiary (and ridiculous) cover story on how the Bible supports gay marriage. This is not the first time Miller has bashed the Catholic Church in a column in 2010. Just two weeks ago, she was raging against the American Catholic bishops standing in the way of ObamaCare. There, she also declared the Catholic leadership was incapable of standing as a moral example:

It goes without saying that the Catholic hierarchy has always been pro-life. Nevertheless, the new prominence of this ancient fraternity is somewhat surprising. For one thing, the American public hardly regards the institutional Catholic Church as sacrosanct. Thanks to continuing sex scandals, many Americans - even American Catholics - roll their eyes on the subject of the Catholic hierarchy's ability to stand as a moral example....

They don't care if the disenchanted laity disagrees with them, and they're less interested than previous generations in working on policy through proper bureaucratic channels.

She was horrified the bishops were "counting votes." She wouldn’t feel that way if they weren’t standing in the way of her secular liberal political heroes.

Now that Bart Stupak and other Catholic Democrats folded, Miller’s pulling out all the stops. The text box quoted an e-mail reply Miller received from leftist author Garry Wills, who’s been bashing the Catholic Church at least since the book Bare Ruined Choirs in 1972, not to mention Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit in 2000.

'I pay no attention to popes anymore – they have nothing to do with the Gospel,' writes the historian Garry Wills.

The fuller context: Miller begins by noting her furious Catholic friend "K," considering moving to the Episcopalians, and brings her back in at the end.

But how can I continue to send my kid to church? insists K. To that, the most heart-wrenching of questions, there is no answer. Stay, and - as the catechism teaches - embrace the church as the people and the good priests and sisters in it: their prayers, their songs, their service. "I pay no attention to popes anymore-they have nothing to do with the Gospel," writes the historian Garry Wills in an e-mail. Or walk away, and teach your child an independent justice. For an institution that protects itself above its children may not, after all, offer the best Sunday lesson.

Miller doesn’t believe in allegations of abuse; according to her math, every allegation is a mathematical fact, verdict first, sentence afterward. Even so, where is she getting the number 10,000 in Europe? There’s no footnotes in a "news" magazine. Even tough articles on the "crisis" are suggesting 700 cases, but Miller asserted:

More than 10,000 children in Europe smacked, tortured, and raped by priests who were supposed to protect them. Bishops and spokesmen denying or minimizing their role-appearing, for all the world, like old men who seem not to understand the seriousness of what they've done. When universal clerical celibacy was established in 1139, it was intended, as Diarmaid MacCulloch puts it in his new book Christianity: The First Three Thousand Years, to "set up a barrier between the clergy and laity, becoming the badge of clerical status." The barrier's still there, but in these cases the status carries a strong whiff of freakishness.

That’s Lisa Miller’s theology: homosexuals are refreshingly normal, while clerical celibates are freakish.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis