Time magazine's Jeff "The pope's a Scrooge" Israely is at it again, lecturing Benedict XVI on his "inflammatory rhetoric."
Israely joins CNN's Jack Cafferty, Washington Post/Newsweek's "On Faith", and PBS's Bonnie Erbe in the bash-Benedict choir's latest oratorio. His March 19 article evaluated the pontiff's recent comments on condoms and HIV/AIDS as "candor over P.R.", lamenting Benedict's word choice and seeming lack of concern about how liberal secular media outlets parse his statements (emphases mine):
Amidst the outrage and consternation lies the question: Why? If we already know the basic tenets of church teaching — not to mention the extent of the AIDS epidemic and disproportionate ignorance about condom use in Africa — why did the Pope say what he said, when and where he said it? What do this and other recent episodes tell us about how the modern papacy operates at that unique nexus where philosophy meets public relations? And why, nearly four years into his reign, does this hyper articulate and well-versed Pope continue to see his attempts at mass communication blow up in his face?
Seemingly not satisfied with bashing the likes of former President Bush or Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, CNN commentator Jack Cafferty took aim at a more international target on Wednesday’s Situation Room -- Pope Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church. He joined PBS’s Bonnie Erbe and the Washington Post’s On Faith webpage in attacking the pontiff’s recent comment against the effectiveness of condoms in reducing the spread of HIV in Africa. Cafferty used the standard left-wing talking point that the Church is stuck in the Middle Ages: “It’s time -- it is past time for the Catholic Church to enter the 21st century, or at least try to drag itself out of the 13th century.”
After quoting the pope’s remark, Cafferty summarized the Church’s overall message of “encouraging sexual abstinence as the way to stop the disease from spreading.” He then actually blamed this message indirectly for the spread of the virus: “Obviously, the message has not delivered the desired results in Africa -- 22 million people in Africa infected with HIV. Not to mention right here in our nation’s capital -- a new report shows that three percent of Washington, DC’s residents have HIV or AIDS....One official says Washington rates are higher than parts of West Africa, and on par with Uganda and some parts of Kenya.”
Hell hath no fury like a feminist writer directing a hissy fit at the pope.
Bonnie Erbe -- the US News & World Report contributing editor and PBS "To the Contrary" host who argued that Bristol Palin is more "mature" than her abstinence education-advocating mother -- finds the pope "horrifically ignorant" when it comes to HIV/AIDS.
What exactly did the pontiff say that set Erbe off? Try, "AIDS cannot be overcome by the distribution of condoms," hardly a controversial, implausible statement, but one that, to Erbe, showed the pope has "no sympathy" for women in Africa.
CNN’s Zain Verjee couldn’t seem to find any health care “experts” who agreed with Pope Benedict XVI during a report on Tuesday’s Situation Room about the “political firestorm” the pontiff apparently set off during his first visit to Africa. Verjee not only cited unnamed “experts” who disagreed with the pope’s statement that the distribution of condoms on the continent “increases the problem” of HIV/AIDS instead of helping it, but also found “some priests and nuns working with AIDS victims in Africa question the church’s anti-condom policy.”
Anchor Wolf Blitzer introduced the correspondent’s report, hyping how “Pope Benedict XVI is facing a condom controversy right now. That may be last thing he needs on his first tour of Africa, [which is] struggling to cope with a massive AIDS epidemic.” Verjee continued in this vein: “Pope Benedict XVI set off another political firestorm, even before he landed in Africa, saying condoms could make the HIV/AIDS crisis worse. He told reporters, ‘It’s a tragedy, but you can’t resolve with it the distribution of condoms. On the contrary, it increases the problem.’
Terry Mattingly at Get Religion found a story by Terri Jo Ryan in the Waco Tribune-Herald that may be the just the first signal of another saddening, secularizing trend: the sensitivity police changing the name of Saint Patrick’s Day. It might be offensive to someone, somewhere to discuss saints or great Christian missionaries like Patrick:
Faith and begorrah, is nothing sacred?
Some folks are trying to transform the name of Tuesday’s holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to "Shamrock Day."
Card shops have banners proclaiming the occasion; the Disney Channel is using the term; and some places in this country have changed the name of their community celebrations of Celtic heritage to the "nonoffending" terminology.
As a social liberal, Frank Rich is feeling his oats. The New York Times columnist has declared the culture wars (one-sided affairs waged only by conservatives) to be over. But in his March 14 New York Times column, he couldn’t resist a last gloating shot at the “ayatollahs” and “family-values dinosaurs” that have the temerity to suggest there’s a place for traditional morality in the American public square.
"Here, at last, is one piece of good news in our global economic meltdown," wrote Rich. "Americans have less and less patience for the intrusive and divisive moral scolds who thrived in the bubbles of the Clinton and Bush years. Culture wars are a luxury the country — the G.O.P. included — can no longer afford."
In a respectful and compassionate manner, Nightline’s March 12 broadcast of the “Faith Matters” series brought to light a group of reformed prostitutes who have turned to religion and who are helping other women leave the destructive life of a Vegas prostitute.
Hookers for Jesus is a group started by former prostitute Annie Lobert who hit rock bottom with a cocaine overdose, and decided to leave the prostitute lifestyle when, as she put it, God changed her life. ABC reporter Neal Karlinsky graciously told her story and the story of other women who have found hope through Lobert’s ministry and the church of Pastor Benny Perez.
“Along with a pair of volunteers from a nearby church, [the women are] on the streets looking for prostitutes with one goal in mind: to save them,” Karlinsky said. “We keep our cameras at a distance as they hand out gift bags filled with bibles.” Karlinsky interviewed Lobert about her former life as a hooker. “But Annie Lobert isn't exactly your average missionary,” he said. “Before she was a so called ‘hooker for Jesus,’ Lobert was to put delicately, a hooker. Starting as a teenager, she sold her body through escort services, websites and on the streets of Las Vegas for 11 years.”
Family Guy – talk about a misnomer. The animated Fox television series crossed sexual, moral and religious boundaries on Sunday evening when it aired content inappropriate for its young target audience.
The controversial material was not limited to one subject, or isolated in a single scene. Images of gay men kissing, a baby eating semen, physical abuse, sexual touching and a half naked male were just a few of the disturbing images viewers were treated to in the March 8 episode.
The Parents Television Council has issued a press release regarding the indecent content. Tim Winter, President of the PTC has alerted the Federal Communications Commission to the controversial content aired at 8:00pm CT, during the so-called family hour.
Lent is a season of sacrifice and repentance. Most commonly, the discussion of Lenten commitments revolves around our obesity problem, sounding like a recommitment to already dissolved New Year's resolutions about a better diet or more exercise. Sometimes, we can sound like we're more focused on Jenny Craig than Jesus Christ.
Christians are supposed to concentrate on denying themselves in some smaller way that resembles the sacrifice of the Savior's death on the cross. This is a part of religion that can easily caricatured by the cultural elite. The search for self-loathing and mortification easily transforms into the psychosis of Silas the albino monk/murderer of "The DaVinci Code."
Just as pizza sales must soar during football season, they probably plummet during Lent. That and sweets and soda - these are the regular Lenten sacrifices at the Bozell household.
But the Catholic bishops of Italy asked their flock for a more contemporary challenge: give up text messaging, social networking websites, and computer games in the weeks before Easter. They're asking believer to put down the iPhones and iPods and give up the hours on Facebook, at least on Fridays. In effect, bishops want believers to come out of their electronic caves and interact in a simpler, more direct way.
The rage among some Italian dioceses is to call on Catholics to shut off the Internet connection, put down the I-pod and chill out on texting for the Lenten fast.
This may contradict the pope, who just recently extolled social networking to forge worldwide understanding and approved a Vatican channel on YouTube. (I wonder if they shut that down for Lent?)
Grossman apparently has trouble reconciling the Vatican's desire to engage social media outlets to reach out to young Catholics and evangelize potential converts with the pastoral counsel from priests and bishops that fasting from too much of a good thing -- such as text messaging -- may help sharpen one's spiritual devotion during the Lenten season:
The Oklahoma senator gave a lengthy floor speech and mentioned that Sen. Jim DeMint's effort to force an up-or-down vote on the Fairness Doctrine issue, which passed 87-11 in the Senate, was a good beginning.
"Last week's vote was the first nail in the coffin of the Fairness Doctrine, but it was not the end of the attempt on the part of some people to regulate the airwaves," Inhofe said. "Now, I have long been outspoken on this issue, and it gives me great satisfaction that so many of my colleagues voted in favor of free speech over government regulation last week, but the debate has changed."
He warned that an amendment offered by Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., which passed 57-41, was equally as threatening.
Liberal blogger and Media Matters employee* Oliver Willis channeled his inner Ted Turner last Wednesday, while writing for his eponymous Web site.
You see Willis took to his keyboard at 5:20 p.m. on February 25, Ash Wednesday, to hack out this 41-word snark about the liturgical ritual (h/t Damian G.):
As I write this, millions of people around the world have a charcoal cross scratched across their foreheads, and everybody who doesn’t have one on will walk past these people and act as if everything is normal.
One has to wonder about the thought process of some people. Dan Gilgoff, Faith reporter with U.S. News and World Report and Huffington Post writer, is a perfect example of what I am talking about. After a February 23 posting on Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal's Catholic faith, Gilgoff followed up the next day with a post claiming that Sarah Palin fans were smearing Jindal over his supposedly "secret Muslim" faith. Where did Gilgoff get such a ridiculous idea? Why, from just two commenters that posted on his entry of the 23rd, that's where.
That's right, just two people claiming in the comments section of his U.S. News post that Jindal was a secret Muslim was enough for Dan Gilgoff to decide that Sarah Palin's entire support base is smearing Bobby Jindal as a secret Muslim. Just two people. Two nuts is enough for U.S. News and World Report to slander Sarah Palin and all her followers as crazy, racist, hatemongers.
Over at TimesWatch, Clay Waters wrote of the front-page New York Times story Tuesday on newly appointed Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York, the "obedient soldier of Rome." One line stuck out: "On matters of doctrine, the archbishop 59, adheres to the line laid down by Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict, including firm opposition to abortion, birth control, divorce, gay marriage and any crack in the wall of priestly celibacy."
Brent Bozell e-mailed and was appalled at reporter Michael Powell's construction, that the Archbishop would be enforcing a line "laid down by" the last two pontiffs: "This is absolute and fundamental ignorance. This reporter knows nothing about the Catholic Church if he believes John Paul II and Benedict lay down the laws on gays, abortion, et cetera."
The dictionary defines prejudice as premature judgment: making a decision before becoming aware of the relevant facts of a case or event. Some forms of prejudice are fading, racism being the primary and obvious example. The backlash against prejudice is so intense it has spurred its opposite, the call toward tolerance.
But for one sector, the prejudice remains intact. It is perfectly acceptable to spew intolerance against Christians in general and Catholics in particular. But the bonanza of prejudice is reserved for Catholic priests.
In our sex-drenched society, the idea of a single man taking an oath of lifelong celibacy sounds sacrificial to the point of freakish. The world says abstinence is impossible, and pledging abstinence is ridiculous. So when the crisis over child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church erupted, it didn’t matter that a tiny minority of unfaithful priests (and their supervisors) had betrayed the faithful. Hollywood and other champions of unbridled lust broke out the prejudice, smearing all Catholic priests as stunted at best, and predatory at worst.
It’s not a cartoon of a turban-shaped bomb, and probably nobody will threaten violence over it, but members of a religion are outraged over a depiction, and the networks aren’t interested. Only Fox News covered the story about a blasphemous condom advertisement.
Catholics and Protestants alike are furious over a flier that appeared on the University of Georgia campus displaying the famous Michelangelo painting of God reaching out to touch Adam’s hand. The fliers included a condom between God and Adams’ fingers, accompanied by the text, “Condom Tip #5: Carefully open condom wrappers with your fingers- don’t use a sharp object.” The fliers were posted around campus as a promotion for the university’s Sexual Responsibility Week.
Amy Sullivan’s article on Time.com on Thursday, “The Catholic Crusade Against a Mythical Abortion Bill,” tried to downplay President Obama’s past and current support for abortion, and tried to use a technicality to “prove” that there is no chance of passage for the staunchly pro-abortion Freedom of Choice Act (FOCA): “...FOCA has also provided ammunition for those on the right who want to paint Obama as ‘the most pro-abortion president ever.’ It’s been less than a month since he took office, but so far the President has given social conservatives little evidence to back up that charge. He did repeal the Mexico City policy banning federal funds to foreign family planning organizations that provide abortion referrals or services — but so did Bill Clinton.” In reality, the Obama adminstration’s record on the issue consists of much more than merely support for legislative proposals and signing executive orders.
Does the media show religious discrimination in their news judgment? The founder of a TV network devoted to improve the image of Muslims being charged in the beheading of his wife is not a story the major media have leaped on. On Friday, news broke that Muzzammil Hassan, founder and CEO of Bridges TV, was charged with murdering his wife Aasiya after she filed for divorce. After some Nexis research, here’s a listing of major media outlets that have yet to report it: ABC, NBC, NPR, the NewsHour on PBS, USA Today, and The Washington Post.
But on November 12, 1993, all these networks (including NPR) reported within hours on the charges made against Chicago's Catholic cardinal at the time, liberal-leaning Joseph Bernardin, by a 34-year-old AIDS patient, who had just "remembered" he was sexually abused 18 years after the alleged event, and wanted $10 million for his anguish. It led newscasts on CNN and NBC. Connie Chung's sensational introduction on the CBS Evening News typified media reaction: "The Roman Catholic Church in America was rocked today by charges of scandal against one of its most prominent leaders and reformers." (The accuser, Steven Cook, recanted the lawsuit in March of 1994.)
Updated: while the Nexis search showed no CBS story on the beheading, MRC's Kyle Drennen found a news report on Wednesday's Early Show.
A discussion on The View on Wednesday about sin quickly devolved as the hosts reiterated common media myths about the Catholic Church and its teachings. Elisabeth Hasselbeck read a bogus list of seven “new” sins that the Vatican supposedly came up with, while Joy Behar misrepresented the Catholic Church’s teachings on papal infallibility. When Barbara Walters later asked what the “biggest sin” was, in their opinion, Behar and Whoopi Goldberg agreed that it was “intolerance.”
Goldberg began the discussion by bringing up how a “new study by the Vatican says that men and women sin differently. They said men are more likely to commit sins of lust and gluttony and sloth, and for women, it’s pride, envy, and anger.” She then prompted her co-hosts for their take on this. Barbara Walters joked, “Yeah. I mean, with men, it’s much more the sexual and the lust, and the women are angry that it’s much more the sexual and the lust....They cheat more.” It’s funny that the ABC veteran put it that way, since she admitted to having an affair with former Massachusetts Senator Edward Brooke.
Pope Rebukes Pelosi, Tells Her Catholic Legislators Obligated to Protect Life
The Vatican Press Office released a note this morning detailing part of the conversation which Pope Benedict XVI had with Nancy Pelosi, the Speaker of the House of Representatives. Vatican insiders inform LifeSiteNews.com that such releases are always phrased in diplomatic language and thus the correction of the Speaker who fancies herself a faithful Catholic despite her abortion advocacy can be taken as a rebuke.
The text of the note reads: "His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church's consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life at all stages of its development."
Those interested in learning how the press will minimize the Pope's rebuke have an early example to peruse at Agence France-Presse (AFP). It contains the expected watering-down of the rebuke, and more (AFP link is dynamic; its report as it appeared when this post was drafted is here):
ABC World News Sunday gave face time to supporters of divisive spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, but brushed over those “Christians” who say Tolle is ‘dangerous.’”
The Feb. 15th broadcast of ABC’s Sunday evening news featured Eckhart Tolle, a widely touted spiritual leader to stars such as Cher and Paris Hilton. While his books have, with Oprah’s help, sold more than 10 million copies, many Christians believe his teaching on “spiritual awakenings” is dangerous.
“Paris Hilton took his book with her to prison,” reporter Dan Harris quipped. “Cher swears by him… so does Meg Ryan. Oprah Winfrey even hosted an unprecedented ten-part online series with him.” Viewers were treated to videos of Tolle’s superstar supporters and crowds of people listening intently with Harris saying, “His many fans say he has changed their lives.” But when Tolle’s Christian opposition is briefly mentioned, the segment literally takes a dark turn.
Update (13 Feb. | Ken Shepherd): Tomaso responds here, dismissing the notion that he exhibited any liberal bias. Commenters to his blog post are divided.
Condescending secular elitism isn’t just for the coasts anymore. It can even come from red state Texas.
On The Dallas Morning News’s Religion blog Feb. 12, Bruce Tomaso wrote a post called “Alabama and Iran Have Something in Common.” It stemmed from a recent Gallup poll that asked people around the world, “How important is religion in your daily life?” The poll found, among many other things, that nearly the same percentage of the population of Iran (83 percent) and Alabama (82 percent) said that religion was important to them.
Tomaso thought this was a riot: “Since I've never been to Iran and haven't spent enough time in Alabama to have a well-formed opinion, I refrain from cleverly drawing further comparisons,” he wrote. “But that doesn't mean you wiseakers can't!”
That's how Chicago Tribune religion blogger Manya Brachear began her Feb. 11 The Seeker blog post, practically considering the Pope to be another politician who must watch out for how his PR blunders affect his poll numbers (emphasis mine):
Shortly after Pope Benedict XVI quelled concerns last week regarding the excommunication of a Holocaust denier, he caused another stir closer to home. He reportedly tapped a bishop who once described Hurricane Katrina as God’s punishment for sin and debauchery in New Orleans.
According to the Times of London, Father Gerhard Maria Wagner, an ultraconservative parish priest at Windischgarsten in Austria, published his theory of divine retribution in his parish newsletter four years ago.
President Barack Obama's pick to head his faith-based initiative is a 26-year old former Pentecostal pastor by the name of Joshua DuBois. The media have largely noted DuBois's religious affiliation in a matter-of-fact manner.
In a Newsweek Web exclusive, Lisa Miller and Amanda Coyne set out to find something juicy about Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's house of worship, Wasilla Bible Church. But finding a "staid" worship environment that "steer[s] clear of politics" and whose main attraction is Biblical preaching, they opted to focus on where the governor used to worship regularly years ago, an Assemblies of God church:
Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing branches of Christianity in the world, and the Assemblies of God is one of the largest Pentecostal denominations in the country, claiming 1.6 million members. Pentecostals are generally characterized by a strict adherence to moral codes--no tobacco, no alcohol, no social dancing, no sex outside of marriage--and by their belief that the Holy Spirit bestows upon some the gift of "speaking in tongues," a reference to Acts 2: "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost and began to speak with other tongues." A spokeswoman for the McCain-Palin campaign has said that Palin attends many churches and does not consider herself to be Pentecostal.
Maddow explained how this provision had been in the bill for over 40 years, then played a portion of DeMint's speech on her Feb. 6 MSNBC show.
"Student's can't meet together in their dorms, if that dorm has been repaired with this federal money and have a prayer group or a Bible study," DeMint said in the clip Maddow played. "[S]omeone is so hostile to religion that they're willing to stand in the schoolhouse door like the infamous George Wallace to deny people of faith from entering any campus building renovated by this bill. This cannot stand."
As we've stated before, no one can challenge the awful harm wrecked upon youth at the hands of Catholic clergy. The harm is real, incredibly sad, and unspeakably damaging. But that is no excuse for the Los Angeles Times to continue its dishonest practice of false and misleading presentations on the narrative of Cardinal Roger Mahony and the Los Angeles Catholic Church abuse scandal.
The Washington Post's Susan Kinzie whipped up a 12-paragraph Metro section article for the February 3 paper on an apology by George Washington University College Democrats for the action of an unnamed member who defaced crosses used by the campus Young America's Foundation chapter for a recent pro-life demonstration.
Kinzie then noted that student "admitted responsibility and had been expelled" from the College Dems but that the "alleged offender" was not named by the campus group and will "face action through the code of student conduct" according to GWU officials.
While it's laudable that Kinzie has reported this story, it's unlikely that the Post will milk the incident for outrage, as it did with the display of a small noose at the University of Maryland in September 2007. A Nexis search shows a total of nine stories or news briefs that mention that incident during that month alone.
What's more, while a September 10, 2007 article on the UMd. noose included an Associated Press video on the Web site edition, neither Kinzie's February 3 print or Web articles included photos of the desecrated crosses, even though there are some available online.
Blogger Pat Dollard has the photos on his eponymous site, and I've included one of them below. You can judge for yourself, but to this writer, Kinzie's description doesn't do justice to just how sacrilegious the vandalism was:
Does anyone think that a major newspaper like the Los Angeles Times would ever allow a hateful and patently false anti-Semitic or anti-Muslim personal attack to be published in its letters to the editor? Of course not. But check out this whopper of anti-Catholic vitriol that is in the pages of the Times today (Mon. 2/2/09):
The Jesuits have a saying, "Give me the boy until he is 7, and I will give you the man." You can now add, "Give Adolf Hitler the boy until he is 7, and he will give you the pope."
ABC has apparently never heard that phrase, "There are two sides to every story." On Feb. 1, "World News Sunday" helped shamed former-pastor Ted Haggard take shots at the Christian conservatives who he says "shunned him."
Reporter Dan Harris introduced the piece by qualifying Haggard as a former "insider, a powerful pastor at the highest levels of the Christian conservative movement."
Haggard, who made headlines two years ago for getting caught in a gay sex scandal, is now offering advice to the Christian conservative movement; and ABC gave him the megaphone. Here is a portion of Harris' interview with Haggard:
As we've noted severaltimesbefore, Los Angeles Times Opinion Editor Tim Rutten hardly misses an opportunity to bash the Catholic Church. So imagine my shock and amazement when I picked up his Saturday column (1/30/09). Rutten rips a reported federal grand jury investigation of L.A. Cardinal Roger Mahony's handling of the abuse scandal as "frivolous" and "overreaching." (For the record, the archdiocese's attorney has said that he was told that Mahony is not a target of an inquiry.)
Did a wave of clarity and sanity suddenly overcome Rutten? Rather than bellowing the hysterical falsehoods that have often been aired in the Times and in the media in recent years, Rutten's must-read piece wipes away a number of myths.