The nastiest corners of popular culture in Hollywood and Manhattan usually love nothing better than denying their filthiness by hectoring orthodox Christians for the sex scandals lurking behind their "judgmental" ways. But the last few weeks have shown that the current aura around Pope Francis, and the false hope that he'll "go native" with the permissive crowd, is exploited in a different way.
Rolling Stone put Pope Francis on the cover, which hardly puts a practicing Catholic's mind at ease. But perhaps it was only natural that this weed-and-leftist-screed magazine would try to absolve itself for its horrendous James Dean-like cover of Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
Comedian Bill Maher compared Bridget Kelly, the former Christie aide connected to "Bridge-gate," to the Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI on Tuesday's Hardball.
Both persons carried out the shady business ordered by a higher authority, Maher explained: "Remember when Benedict was the 'god's rottweiler' or the 'pope's rottweiler' they called him before he got the pope job? Well, she [Kelly] is blob's rottweiler, okay? She knows to do this without actually having to be told." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
The Washington Post offered a balance of experts in their story on the new apostolic exhortation published by Pope Francis -- including Ed Morrissey of Hot Air -- even as they were impressed at how Francis used “trickle-down” like a liberal Democrat. The “direct reference to 'trickle-down' economics in the English translation of his statement is striking,” confessed reporters Zachary Goldfarb and Michelle Boorstein.
But demonstrating the liberal media’s dual tendency to praise Francis and slam his predecessor Pope Benedict, Goldfarb and Boorstein uncorked a sentence that is factually false:
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!
I haven't heard Ed Schultz this apologetic since he maligned Laura Ingraham as a slut and was booted off MSNBC for a week.
On his radio show yesterday, Schultz was talking with Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State and a deeply spiritual man indeed, about Pope Benedict's resignation as the sex abuse scandal continues to roil the church. (audio clip after page break)
Editor’s Note: This story includes language some may deem offensive.
Dan Savage is at it again. The foul-mouthed, bigoted host of MTV’s sex advice show “Savage U” and internationally syndicated columnist of “Savage Love” wrote this headline last Monday concerning the pope’s retirement:
“That Motherfucking Power-Hungry, Self-Aggrandized Bigot In the Stupid Fucking Hat Announces His Retirement.” No major media outlet reported that comment, including MSNBC and CNN where Savage has often appeared.
Ian Buruma is not exactly a household name, but he is a hero to readers of The New York Review of Books. His fan base will obviously warm to his latest piece in the Beirut newspaper, The Daily Star ["Pope Benedict's dangerous sex appeal"].
Buruma begins by recounting the brutal rape of a young woman by six men on a New Delhi bus last month. His quick segue to Pope Benedict XVI’s speech on gay marriage, which was given a few days before Christmas, was not only awkward, it was a dead give-away: the pope was responsible for the gang rape.
Possibly in response to NewsBusters readers who passed on our item on the string of Pope Benedict-mocking jokes on NPR's game show "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!" NPR ombudsman Edward Schumacher-Matos tells NewsBusters and other critics: lighten up, or be compared to radical Muslims. Isn't the ombudsman supposed to advocate for the listeners, not denounce them?
"If we keep jokes about the pope off-limits, we create a silencing effect that is far more damaging than the jokes themselves. We threaten to become like the intolerant extremists now most notoriously bedeviling the Muslim world, though other religions suffer from strains of fanaticism as well." Say what?
NPR's weekend game show "Wait! Wait! Don't Tell Me!" usually saves most of its topical humor for supposed White House drunk George W. Bush or Dick Cheney the Grim Reaper for all the usual smug-liberal laugh lines. On Saturday, host Peter Sagal went on an extended comedy routine with five jokes mocking Pope Benedict XVI, beginning with the notion that he's "another famous gay icon."
By contrast, a review of the last four shows finds there have been zero Barack Obama jokes. However, on March 10, they made fun of Rick Santorum saying if elected, he would not recite the names of former presidents to make excuses for himself. This prompted a "caliphate" joke at the Catholic candidate's expense.
On Tuesday's edition of The View on ABC, the ladies once again held a completely unanimous liberal discussion on gay marriage, with the alleged conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck leading the denunciation of social conservatives, including Pope Benedict. On Monday, Pope Benedict spoke up for the family, based on the marriage of a man and a woman, but nowhere in the address did he actually discuss the concept of gay marriage. It was more of a pro-life message.
But no one at The View reads original transcripts. "Someone wasn't invited to Elton John's wedding," Joy Behar joked. “Someone’s ticked off.” Hasselbeck chimed in. "I think a big mistake that people make, in saying that something works against humanity to me seems quite inhumane. I was raised Catholic, I consider myself Christian now, but I’ll probably get some letters after today," Hasselbeck said. [Video follows]
CNN's legal contributor, and former legal analyst, Sunny Hostin stated Tuesday that the sex abuse cases involving the Catholic clergy could be considered war crimes by the International Criminal Court (ICC).
"I mean this is a war crimes tribunal and that is not to say that perhaps these crimes don't qualify as war crimes because we know that sex crimes and sexual violence do qualify," she maintained. However, she added that most cases seen by the ICC stem from genocide or violence in war-torn countries.
Hostin's statement came during CNN's coverage of the efforts of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) to have the pope prosecuted by the ICC for "crimes against humanity."
The New York Times is not known for delicate restraint in its treatment of the Catholic Church. Executive editor Bill Keller (despite somehow marrying his second wife in the Church) trashed Pope John Paul the Great in 2002: "One paradox of the Polish pope is that while he is rightly revered for helping bring down the godless Communists, he has replicated something very like the old Communist Party in his church."
The memory of that fusillade was rekindled in a New York Times story on Thursday about the sex scandals of prime minister Silvio Berlusconi and how they're outraging women in Italy. Times reporters Elisabetta Povoledo and Rachel Donadio include this loaded sentence: "By some lights, Italian women have come far in a country whose most entrenched power structures — the Roman Catholic Church and organized crime — remain male and secretive."
This is a little like saying the NAACP and the Ku Klux Klan are both fraternal organizations based on race. But that wasn't the only example on this day. Kathryn Lopez of National Review found the Catholic Church was also compared to the terrorism-endorsing Muslim Brotherhood by reporter Scott Shane:
Our secular liberal media elites are never more poisonously insincere than when they recommend that conservatives should move closer to liberals, for their own good. Witnessing the relentless media attacks on the Catholic Church, no member of the flock should assume that the agitators at Newsweek or the New York Times know best how to steer the faithful – or even believe they want to help the faithful. Much like Ted Turner, who called Catholics “losers,” his media colleagues see Catholics – and particularly Pope Benedict XVI – as loathsome political obstacles.
One can conclude from all the coverage of sexual-abuse charges that those charges aren’t really the primary point for the “truth” seekers. These leftist media elites have hijacked those heinous actions for a much broader goal. Theirs is a very political crusade, with the goal of sacking Pope Benedict and “reforming” the ancient church in their hipster image, one that celebrates gay bishop Eugene Robinson’s Episcopalian gospel of “tolerance” and “inclusion” and “pluralism.” That kind of church would pose zero threat to the global goals of the left. In that kind of church, there is no stained-glass ceiling to untrammeled abortion and unlimited “marriage” of everyone to everyone.
Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller has two big articles in this week's issue. "The Bad Shepherd" is another piece trashing Pope Benedict over the sex-abuse charges emerging in Europe. But Miller even trashed Jesus Christ as a "typically cranky" religious figure. This came in an excerpt from Miller's new book on Heaven, as she explained how implausible the religious concept of resurrection is:
Resurrection presented credibility problems from the outset. Who, the Sadducees taunted Jesus, does the man who married seven wives in succession reside with in heaven? The subtext of their teasing is obvious: if the resurrection is true, as Jesus promised, then in heaven you must have your wife, and all the things that go along with wives: sex, arguments, dinner. Jesus responds in a typically cranky way: "You just don't get it," he says (my paraphrase). "You are wrong," he said in Matthew's Gospel, "because you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God."
It's easier to pitch Jesus as "typically cranky" when one paraphrases the Bible in contemporary lingo. Miller concluded that she doesn't buy this tall Easter tale:
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:
Saturday’s Washington Post is topped by a photo of Barack and Michelle Obama with Pope Benedict, but the image might be misleading, if you think there’s an actual story on the Vatican visit in the Post. Instead, the visit is buried in the last two paragraphs in an article praising Obama’s personal and racial charisma in Italy. Post reporter Michael Fletcher found great import in the color of the president’s skin and his father’s history:
White House aides said that during the discussions on hunger this week, Obama personalized the appeal for more aid, pointing out to other world leaders in the room that he still has relatives in Kenya who live in villages mired in poverty.
"You could have heard a pin drop," said a U.S. official who briefed reporters about the meeting.
Obama said after the summit that he had talked about his father's journey from Kenya to the United States in search of better educational opportunities. At that time, he said, the per-capita incomes in Kenya and South Korea were comparable. South Korea has since become highly industrialized and prosperous, he said; Kenya and many other developing nations still struggle.
Pope Benedict XVI may be touring Israel, but the New York Times is barely paying attention to anything he’s saying in favor of sounding doom-filled notes about the fate of Christianity in its own birthplace.
On Wednesday’s front page, Ethan Bronner reported a story headlined "Mideast’s Christians Losing Numbers and Sway." Bronner says the number of Christians is rapidly falling due to "political violence," among other reasons. A word he doesn’t use: "persecution." The idea that Muslims are intolerant and unwilling to embrace any notion of religious liberty is present, but more accepted than scorned. Bronner quoted the pontiff only to underscore the doom:
The pope, in a Mass on Tuesday at the foot of the Mount of Olives, addressed "the tragic reality" of the "departure of so many members of the Christian community in recent years."
He said: "While understandable reasons lead many, especially the young, to emigrate, this decision brings in its wake a great cultural and spiritual impoverishment to the city. Today I wish to repeat what I have said on other occasions: in the Holy Land there is room for everyone!"
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.
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."