WashPost Misleads on Catholics, Jokes Pope Francis Is An 'Infallible Man'

Secular reporters can easily show a lack of expertise when they crack wise that the pope is “infallible” in everything he does, as if he never sins or makes mistakes -- as if he's the man to fill our your March Madness bracket, because he cannot fail. In fact, the definition of church teaching is much narrower, only that the pope cannot err when he speaks for the church on matters of faith or morals.

This happened in Tuesday’s Washington Post, when reporter Jason Horowitz lightly wrote the pope’s clothes make the “infallible man,” which should require a correction:

In his first week as pope, Francis’s inclination toward simple cassocks has led the Vatican, cardinals and church watchers to see substance in his pared-down style and insist that the clothes really do make the infallible man.

Horowitz is having fun with church leaders in general in this piece, picking up stray pieces of gossip from other reporters.

The emeritus pope, as Benedict is now known, is not the church’s only fashion plate. Cardinal Raymond Burke is perhaps best known for arguing, as archbishop of St. Louis, that Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights should be denied Communion. In Rome, where he is now prefect of the church’s tribunal, he has also earned a reputation for operatic regalia. He is one of the few cardinals who dons cappa -magnas, the long trains of watered silk that can look like scarlet lava flowing down from his throne. His velvet gloves and extravagant brocades prompted Vatican officials to ask him to “tone it down a bit,” according to noted religion reporter David Gibson.

He also borrowed from the BBC an implausible-sounding guess that the new pope slammed the old pope as dressing like it’s “carnival time”:

Vatican reporters buzzed during Francis’s first Mass as pope when he was caught on video seeming to have cross words for Monsignor Guido Marini, the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations, as they proceeded into the Sistine Chapel. According to the BBC, in the minutes after his election, Pope Francis rejected a red cape with ermine trim presented to him by Marini, who is famously more fastidious about liturgical details than his predecessor. “No, thank you, Monsignore,” Francis, 76, is reported to have said. “You put it on instead. Carnival time is over!” The Vatican, which has made simplicity its new watchword, said they could not confirm or deny the report.

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