Carol Costello and her two clerical guests slammed "climate change deniers" on Wednesday's CNN Newsroom. Costello pointed out a recent sarcastic Tweet by Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak on the climate change issue that "sparked a firestorm," and spotlighted how "religious leaders are more than concerned about statements like that. They're now battling climate change deniers on moral grounds."
The anchor turned to Reverend Mitchell Hescox of the Evangelical Environmental Network and CNN religion commentator Father Edward Beck as her one-sided panel on the topic, and accused the "deniers" of not only eschewing science, but also being unfaithful to Scripture: [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
An unsigned Tuesday article on Yahoo! News could have been mistaken as a press release for PBS's latest TV production attacking the Catholic Church. The unknown author hyped the Church's "horrible year" in 2012 "on many fronts, not just with mounting evidence of financial impropriety at the Vatican bank, but also with incidents of sexual abuse by clergy spreading to more than 20 countries and, further, exposure of church hypocrisy about homosexuality."
The public television channel's Frontline series turned to numerous journalists and activists who have axes to grind against the Catholic Church's moral teachings, and played up hearsay accusing unnamed Vatican clerics of conducting same-sex relationships in secret. The episode also falsely indicated that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI invented the Church's doctrine labeling homosexual inclinations as "objectively disordered."
The September 19, 2013 article “Pope Francis: Church cannot be 'obsessed' with gays, other bans” on The Chicago Tribune’s Web site notes:
In a remarkable change from his predecessor Benedict, who said homosexuality was an intrinsic disorder, Francis said that when homosexuals told him they were always condemned by the Church and felt "socially wounded", he told them "the Church does not want to do this".
Contrary to what a typical reader might conclude, Pope Benedict wasn’t expressing a personal opinion on homosexuality. What he said comes directly from the Catechism of the Catholic Church:
On Friday, Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press shamelessly construed Pope Francis' denunciation of abortion and euthanasia as an "olive branch of sorts to the doctrine-minded, conservative wing of the Catholic Church". Winfield ballyhooed how the pontiff "issued a strong anti-abortion message and cited Vatican teaching on the need to defend the unborn".
The Bishop of Rome advised a group of Italian gynecologists to "recognize, in the fragile human being, the face of the Lord...Each child that is unborn, but is unjustly condemned to be aborted, bears the face of Jesus Christ....And each old person, even if infirm or at the end of his days, bears the face of Christ. They cannot be discarded, as the 'culture of waste' proposes!"
Friday's CBS This Morning heralded how supposedly, "Pope Francis is already being described as one of the most progressive popes in modern times" after six months as Bishop of Rome. Charlie D'Agata asserted that the pontiff is "the friendly face of the Vatican, the people's pope", and played up how Francis' apparent "spirit of spontaneity, openness, and inclusion has courted controversy...It includes extending an olive branch to the gay community." [MP3 audio available here; video below the jump]
On Wednesday, NBC Nightly News also underlined how Pope Francis seemingly "has changed the tone in a church plagued by the sex abuse scandal, emphasizing Church teaching on helping the poor and social justice....it's not just what the new pope says that's a sign of a changing church – it's what he does – getting close to people...enjoying the crowds that flock to him."
Let’s look at the way the print media reacted to Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis after their first six months as pontiff.
We looked at the editorials in 15 of the nation’s largest newspapers to see what they said about the current pope, and his predecessor, after their first six months in office (Pope Francis will celebrate his first six months on September 13).
On Friday's CBS This Morning, Mark Phillips all but hinted that Pope Francis had "taken sides" with Russia's Vladimir Putin and against President Obama in the international debate over military strikes in Syria. Phillips proposed that the Pope's letter to Putin "must have been music to the Russian president's ears."
The journalist also turned to a "Vatican historian" who once publicly attacked Francis' predecessor, Benedict XVI, as a "dictator", and likened him to Islamists. He also labeled the Pope's upcoming prayer and fasting vigil for peace in Syria a "religious street protest." [audio available here; video below the jump]
"Pope Francis canonized more than 800 Catholics in Saint Peter’s Square Sunday – the largest number to be elevated to sainthood at once in the history of the Catholic Church," Lavanga noted. But alas, "The choice of some of the new saints was also striking, touching on the already-fragile relationship between Christianity and Islam" because the "new saints included hundreds of laymen from the southern Italian port town of Otranto who were slain in the 15th century by the invading Ottoman Turkish army after they refused to convert to Islam."
As I noted on Monday, the "On Faith" section at the Washington Post is hard at work attacking faithful Catholics by publishing, bit by bit, excerpts of a Sally Quinn interview with Garry Wills, a critic of the church. Well, on Tuesday -- the day of Pope Francis's installation Mass -- the attack continued with another excerpt in which Wills was given a platform to wish the papacy would become a mere figurehead position, much like the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
On Faith editor and religious agnostic Sally Quinn opened with the query, "What do you think should be done with the papacy? Do you think it should be abolished?" That softball over the plate allowed Wills to swing for the fences with his attack on thousands of years of church tradition. Wills went on to give his advice to recalcitrant Catholics, which was not to leave the church but rather to simply ignore the pastoral oversight of the bishops and the pope himself, whom the church teaches is the successor of St. Peter:
Disgusting. An artist has made a portrait of Ted Kennedy using liquor bottle caps, rusted Oldsmobile Delmont 88 ignition keys and those plugs that protect you from swimmer’s ear – and the Huffington Post is celebrating it.
Well, no. That would be newsworthy. Instead, HuffPo’s “Gay Voices” page is celebrating a portrait of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI made from condoms. According to HuffPo’s super-impressed Megan Griffo, Milwaukee artist Niki Johnson “hopes to take aim at the church's stance on using condoms, but also promote sexual diversity and a more open discussion about sexual health.” These young idealists, out to change the world with their condom art!
"Before we slice and dice every political statement this Pope has ever made during his entire life....breathe, take it in."
That was NBC News's Luke Russert at 3:36 p.m. Eastern on Twitter. But a mere 14 minutes later, on an MSNBC blog page, the cradle Catholic and son of the late Tim Russert set about to lecture the new pontiff on how to do his job. And, as is to be expected from a liberal journalist, it was chock full of the predictable liberal talking points about priestly celibacy, the role of women in the church, and lamenting that the Church is irrelevant to American Catholics because it is so insistent on social issues. Making his pontifications even more insufferable, Russert opened by bragging about his Catholic bona fides. (emphasis mine):
With thick, black smoke pouring out of the chimney of the Sistine Chapel indicating that the College of Cardinals had not elected a new pope on their first ballot, Fox News Channel's Shep Smith took to the air at 3:15 p.m. EDT to grill Catholic priest and Fox News contributor Fr. Jonathan Morris on the Catholic Church being out of touch with the modern world, particularly regarding how women cannot serve as priests.
While Morris defended Catholic orthodoxy and noted that there are some things -- such as the all-male priesthood -- which not even a pope could change, Smith objected that those notions grounded in 2,000-year-old Scripture were just, well, antiquated and irrelevant and that the Church should adapt to the ethos of the age (h/t @tomferrari on Twitter):
Talk about edgy comedy. A daring magazine has depicted Mohammed as a sexy, topless woman wearing a turban and holding Muslim prayer beads while staring inquisitively into the clouds. On the front cover.
Just kidding. It’s actually another boring attack on Catholicism. Lucy Pinder, a 29-year-old U.K. model who can’t seem to keep her clothes on, graced the April issue cover of Loaded, a young men’s magazine that boasts a 1.4 million monthly readership. She stood provocatively in the picture, baring her chest with white robes and a priest’s stole hugging her shoulders. She stared into the sky while wearing one cross around her neck and holding another in her hand.
On Friday's NBC Today, fill-in co-host Lester Holt hyped unfounded speculation surrounding the abdication of Pope Benedict XVI: "More than a week after his resignation became official, there are still a lot of controversial theories about why Pope Benedict XVI stepped down. NBC's chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel is looking into them at the Vatican." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Previewing a report for Rock Center, Engel proclaimed: "What we still don't know, not definitively anyway, is why Pope Benedict decided to retire....[Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi] exposed some of the Vatican's most guarded secrets. A scoop seen in Italy as big as Watergate. Italians call it 'Vatileaks.'"
Naomi O'Leary's Tuesday article for Reuters about a piece of "artwork" blasting Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI could have been mistaken for a press release, as the journalist merely gave a platform for the same-sex couple behind the display to voice their anti-Catholic views. Most of the quotes in O'Leary's write-up came from artists Antonio Garullo and Mario Ottocento, "the first Italian gay couple to be married when they wed in Holland in 2002."
The correspondent emulated a publicist as she spotlighted how the exhibition is supposedly a "life-size model of Benedict in a confessional box, his sumptuous red and cream-colored robes spread about him."
The final count is in. From the day of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation announcement to the day of his retirement, the networks unabashedly attacked the pope and the Catholic Church, adding to a pope resignation coverage tally of referencing the church as troubled 157 times and using the world “scandal” 105 times in 118 reports.
A previous Culture and Media Institute tally noted the frequency ABC, CBS, and NBC referred to the church as troubled, aired the word “scandal,” and ran late night comedy show clips cracking pope jokes. Pressing for church modernization and calling for a change in regards to women and gays also made the list.
Pope Benedict XVI served his final day as pontiff on Thursday, and the New York Times' Rome bureau chief Rachel Donadio sent him on his way from Vatican City under a dark cloud: "As Pope Departs, Discord Remains at Vatican."
As the sun set on Rome and on his turbulent eight-year papacy, Pope Benedict XVI, a shy theologian who never seemed entirely at home in the limelight, was whisked by helicopter into retirement on Thursday.
But while Benedict, 85, retires to a life of prayer, study, walks in the garden and piano practice, he leaves in his wake a Vatican hierarchy facing scandals and intrigue that are casting a shadow over the cardinals entrusted with electing his successor in a conclave this month.
I don't know about you, but when I think about a person who has the moral standing to call out the Catholic Church for a lack of moral conviction, I think of abortion-on-demand advocate Karen Finney. Okay, not really, but apparently MSNBC does.
On the February 28 edition of The Cycle, the former DNC communications director and current NARAL Pro-Choice America board member explained her thoughts as a "Berkeley Catholic" who wants to see the Church do more for the poor and downtrodden, while piping down when it comes to teaching biblical sexual ethics and opposing abortion (emphasis mine):
Although the first pope to resign in 600 years, Pope Benedict XVI might as well be dead to the media as cardinals elect a new pope. On the day of the Roman Catholic pope’s resignation, February 28, ABC’s “Good Morning America” offered repulsive input and likened the monumental event to Pope Benedict XVI participating in his own funeral.
A voiceover described how Pope Benedict XVI bade farewell to cardinals in the very room popes lie after death, the Clementine Hall at the Apostolic Palace, before reporting: “Unlike all the past popes whose reigns have ended in this room since the palace was built and the walls covered in frescos, Benedict is the first to leave office still breathing – like a king, attending his own funeral.” [Video below.]
Former Time and Newsweek blogger Andrew Sullivan accuses the pope of being a homosexual. His evidence? The pope’s “handsome male companion [Archbishop Georg Ganswein] will continue to live with him, while working for the other Pope during the day.” Sullivan asks, “Are we supposed to think that’s, well, a normal arrangement?”
Speaking about what is normal is hardly normal for Sullivan. To be specific, in 2001 he solicited anal sex with anonymous men by posting a picture of his torso on the Internet. He explicitly requested to have sex with men who did not wear condoms, begging for orgies. Unfortunately for him, he was outed by his boyfriends after they recognized it was his body.
A frail, ailing 85-year-old man announces he doesn’t have the strength to continue as the spiritual leader of 1.2 billion people. With the humility of one whose entire life has been in service to God and his Church, he says he will retire to quietly live out his remaining years.
Cue the laugh track and gin up the scandal rumors. It was three weeks full of journalistic contempt for the Pope and the Catholic Church.
Keeping up NBC's barrage of attacks against the Catholic Church in the days leading up to Pope Benedict XVI's abdication, on Wednesday's Today, correspondent Anne Thompson made this nasty declaration: "...as one observer said, the stiletto knives came out as the battle for control of this institution begins, that some say is a holy mess....reports of infighting, back stabbing, and political jockeying that could make corporate America or Capitol Hill blush." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Thompson never bothered to identify the "observer" she mentioned nor the origin of the "reports" she cited. Wrapping up the piece, Thompson asked Italian novelist Alessandra Borghese: "Could you make up the drama that's going on inside the Vatican?...You couldn't make this stuff up?"
Washington Post staff writer Jason Horowitz marred an otherwise decent Style section feature item on Pope Benedict's resignation in his lead paragraph, which made a crack about the pontiff's retirement by hoping it goes off better than that of Pope Celestine V, whom Dante supposedly envisioned in Hell:
VATICAN CITY — On an April 2009 visit to the Italian mountain town of Sulmona, Pope Benedict XVI solemnly placed his pallium, the vestment symbolizing his papal authority, on the tomb of Celestine V. The medieval pontiff’s abdication in 1294 had resulted in imprisonment by his successor and banishment to hell by Dante for “the great refusal.” Benedict is no doubt hoping for a better retirement plan.
After CNN's initial report on Pope Benedict's final papal audience, the first guest to appear on CNN Newsroom on Wednesday was a radical leftist nun who believes the upcoming papal election is "invalid" because no women are involved.
Sister Donna Quinn lashed out: "We women are calling this papal election invalid. It has to be declared fraudulent because it has no women included in the process. By that I mean there are no women on the ballot in the conclave, there are no women voters, there are no women in the whole process, so we're very distressed." No church representative appeared to challenge Quinn's views; only CNN's Vatican analyst John Allen was on the air with Quinn. [Video below the break. Audio here.]
At the top of Monday's NBC Nightly News, anchor Brian Williams made this hyperbolic declaration: "A moment of crisis for the Catholic Church hit by a wave of scandals, just as the leaders must gather to select a new pope." Introducing the lead story moments later, Williams further hyped: "The problem for the Catholic Church is the drumbeat of scandal is now growing so loud and so vast, it's taking a lot of attention from this process." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
In the report that followed, correspondent Anne Thompson ominously declared: "... the world is seeing the darker side of the Church, the in-fighting and scandals....It's all revealing the sometimes nasty politics behind the pageantry."
In a 41-paragraph front-pager today, the Washington Post's William Wan looks at how the "New pope will be challenged by strained ties with China." "A reset is possible as both sides introduce new leadership," added a subheadline. The website version had a wildly different headline, "For China's Catholics, new pope brings hope."
Throughout his article, Wan used language that suggested that the Vatican and the Communist Chinese dictatorship were on the same moral plane (emphases mine):
In an effort to hype controversy days before Pope Benedict XVI steps down as the leader of the Catholic Church, on Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Anne Thompson proclaimed: "Even in his final days as pope, scandal continues to dog Benedict's papacy and the Church." The chyron on screen throughout the segment declared: "Vatican Intrigue." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Beyond reporting on an actual controversy surrounding the resignation of Scottish Cardinal Keith O'Brien, Thompson decided to also promote completely unfounded claims from the Italian press that "headline rumors of blackmail and conspiracy that the Vatican vehemently denies." NBC went through the effort of displaying and translating one such salacious headline on screen: "Sex and ambition, the blackmailing behind the resignation of Benedict XVI."
According to Good Morning America's David Wright on Monday, the upcoming "papal election campaign is getting ugly." The ABC correspondent then declared that Pope Benedict an "absolute monarch."
In a report live from Rome, Wright explained, "Pope Benedict is expected to issue new rules about the timing and procedures of the conclave [the meeting of cardinals to elect a new pope.]" He added, "[Benedict] can do that by degree. The Pope is an absolute monarch." [See video below. MP3 audio here.] Of course, Wright's experience in judging any kind of election is questionable. Back in 2002, he reported from Iraq and insisted, "Seven years ago, when the last referendum took place, Saddam Hussein won 99.96 percent of the vote. Of course, it is impossible to say whether that’s a true measure of the Iraqi people’s feelings."
Not wanting to leave conservative Protestants out of the fun, today's On Faith page in the Washington Post featured not only the requisite Sally Quinn pontification against the Catholic Church but a Methodist minister's essay on how he hopes that one day all Christians will view as irrelevant and unbinding the Bible's teachings on homosexuality.
Change it must "or else the Catholic Church may end up like Colonial Williamsburg, with the pageantry, the regalia, red shoes and all, a relic of what was once a vibrant, living institution," Quinn scolded in the concluding paragraph of "Will the Catholic Church become its own relic?" Below the fold on the same page, editors published Methodist minister Adam Hamilton's 9-paragraph item "Citing the Bible for the wrong side of history." The digital version's headline reads "On homosexuality, many Christians get the Bible wrong."
On Friday, the now all-digital Newsweek marked Benedict XVI's impending departure from the papacy by turning to British writer Tim Parks, who took the opportunity to air his grievances against the current pontiff's predecessor, John Paul II. Parks bemoaned "how reactionary and old-fashioned" the Polish-born bishop of Rome was for daring to believe in Catholic devotions and in divine providence.
The Cambridge and Harvard-educated novelist later indicted John Paul for daring to speak out against a whole host of left-wing causes: