AP's Vatican Reporter Cheers Pope Opposing 'Poisonously Homophobic Culture' of Catholics

The media is imagining a whole new Pope that it can hug and squeeze and calls its own. In its narrative, Pope Francis is a liberal modernizer, and everything he does sweeps that caveman Pope Benedict under the rug. See AP's Vatican reporter Nicole Winfield at the end of the pope's trip to Brazil: "The Francis Revolution is underway. Not everyone is pleased."

Catholics see the two popes as very similar in doctrine, if not in personality. But Winfield is going looking for traditionalist Catholics who are wailing and gnashing their teeth in defeat, for Francis is supposedly driving out the "poisonously homophobic culture" that surrounded the "dusty, doctrinaire" realm of Benedict. So much for AP's policy discouraging the use of "homophobia" in news stories!

Four months into his papacy, Francis has called on young Catholics in the trenches to take up spiritual arms to shake up a dusty, doctrinaire church that is losing faithful and relevance. [That sounds like a grammatical error, even if it isn't.]

He has said women must have a greater role - not as priests, but a place in the church that recognizes that Mary is more important than any of the apostles. And he has turned the Vatican upside down, quite possibly knocking the wind out of a poisonously homophobic culture by merely uttering the word "gay" and saying: so what?

Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, had coddled traditionalist Catholics attached to the old Latin Mass and opposed to the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council. That group greeted Francis' election with concern — and now is watching its worst fears come true. Francis has spoken out both publicly and privately against such "restoratist groups," which he accuses of being navel-gazing retrogrades out of touch with the evangelizing mission of the church in the 21st century.

The Pope is hoping to evangelize the secular modern world, but AP thinks he's just trying to slap Catholics in the face to force the modern world into the church. Winfield's piece certainly proves AP has swept away any "retrograde" notion of a just-the-facts wire service. This purple prose reads just like a column for their client The Huffington Post.

The new pope did make waves by insisting the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate should not use the traditional Latin Mass. But that move could be interpreted in other ways than as a campaign against "navel-gazing retrogrades." For example, as a Jesuit, he could be trying to shake up this religious order without trying to crush the previous pope's welcoming of the old Latin rite in every church.

Winfield argues Pope Francis is crusading against "restoratist groups," but wherever you search for that term, it only turns up Winfield's article. It seems impossible to find a quote where the Pope (or anyone else outside AP) uses that term. It must just be that imaginary Pope the media adore.

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