So, uh, have you heard that the Catholic Church is working up a "crackdown" on nuns? Of course you have, as time and again the media have been repeating the charge. Well, today Sally Quinn, the agnostic editor of the Washington Post's On Faith feature, joined in the fun with her April 24 screed about "A Catholic 'war on women.'"
From start to finish, Sister Sally poured forth bilious attacks on the Catholic Church. Here's how she opened her screed:
Liberal radio hosts were furious with the Catholic League for mocking Hillary Rosen after she attacked Ann Romney for not working. Their tweet said “Unlike Rosen, who had to adopt kids, Ann raised 5 of her own.” This was seen by liberals as signaling Rosen’s children adopted with former partner Elizabeth Birch were “less valid, less worthy of respect” and homophobic.
On Friday, Bill Press confused the Catholic League with the nation’s bishops (they are not connected), but on Thursday, rabid atheist Mike Malloy was nudged into erupting about "child-raping" Catholics and their scummy "Nazi pope":
As the broadcast network evening newscasts recounted Pope Benedict XVI's trip to Cuba, ABC's Christiane Amanpour on World News and NBC's Andrea Mitchell on the NBC Nightly News both noted reports that dissidents had been detained and prevented from meeting the Catholic leader, while the CBS Evening News failed to mention their plight.
The New York Times coverage of the Pope's trip to the dictatorship of Cuba has a strange, cheap-shot emphasis on how the Cuban people are coerced to attend such rallies, an authoritarian power play, but one the paper rarely if ever bothers to address during Cuban May Day rallies held in celebration of communism. A nytimes.com search suggests the Times has never previously used the words "orchestrated" or "intimidation" to describe the Cuban government coercing people to attend May Day parades.
So why use that explanation for the crowds surrounding the Pope, but leave that obvious explanation off when talking about crowds listening to dictator Fidel Castro's latest multi-hour-drone-a-thon of a speech?
Actress Susan Sarandon is notorious for espousing liberal causes and bashing conservatives. Now, she is attacking the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Benedict XVI.
In a public interview with Bob Balaban at the Hamptons Film Festival, Sarandon told an audience that she had sent a copy of a book to Pope John Paul II. She then said: “The last Pope, not this Nazi one we have now.”
NPR's Sylvia Poggioli filed a completely one-sided report on Wednesday's All Things Considered about a radical-left organization, along with a group purporting to represent victims of clergy sexual abuse, lobbying the International Criminal Court to investigate the top leadership of the Catholic Church, including Pope Benedict XVI, for "crimes against humanity." Poggioli played sound bites only from those involved with the effort, and none from anyone sympathetic with the Church.
Host Melissa Block stated in her introduction that "the International Criminal Court in The Hague has dealt with plenty of war criminals and warlords, but it may soon have a different target: the Catholic Church. The tribunal is being asked to investigate top Vatican officials over the global clerical sex abuse scandal....the argument is that the sex offenses meet the legal definition of crimes against humanity, and should be prosecuted."
I didn't go to the Catholic News Agency's web site tonight looking for a media bias column; I usually go there to find "positivity" posts for my home blog. When I clicked on an item with an intriguing title ("The Pope's Young Army"), I expected that the author, Father Robert Barron, would regale me with inspiring vignettes from the Pope's recently completed World Youth Day in Madrid.
Well, at first he did just that. But then Father Barron's fine column took an interesting turn. Check out his reactions to how the international press covered the event, and his remarkably insightful conclusions (bolds are mine; additional paragraph breaks added by me):
On Thursday's All Things Considered, NPR's Lauren Frayer emphasized the trend towards secularization in Spain during a report on Pope Benedict XVI's visit to the country for World Youth Day. Just as she did almost a week earlier, Frayer couldn't find any local supporters of the Pope, and completely misreported how the Catholic Church extended pastoral support to women who had abortions.
Host Robert Spiegel noted in his introduction for the correspondent's report that "Spain and its view of the Catholic Church have changed radically in recent decades." Unlike her report on August 12, Frayer did play two sound bites of Catholic youth who were happy to see the pontiff, but only from two Americans. But after playing her first clip, she highlighted how "thousands of angry protesters forced their way through police barricades...shouting, 'out, out.'"
NPR pretended that there wasn't a single supporter of Pope Benedict XVI in Spain on Friday's Morning Edition, choosing to devote an entire report on the "many people are grumbling at the cost" of the upcoming papal visit to the country. Correspondent Lauren Frayer not only failed to mention the 428,000 people from around the world who are registered for the World Youth Day event with the Pope, but also omitted the leftist bent of the protesters who are organizing a boycott.
Host Steve Inskeep, after delivering the "grumbling" line, highlighted how "local priests, though, have issued a rare complaint. The Pope's visit will cost Spain millions, at a time when the government is also slashing public salaries and public services." Frayer then explained at the beginning of her report that "more than 100 priests from Madrid's poorest barrios posted a letter online, saying they disagree with the cost and style of Pope Benedict's visit. Father Julio Saavedra says it's unfair how the Spanish government is giving tax breaks to companies like Coca-Cola and Santander Bank for sponsoring the visit."
It seems Rep. Michele Bachmann is under increased scrutiny for her religious views, even as she climbs ever higher in the presidential polls. With tea party support, she is now No. 2 in the Republican polls even though she has been in the race for only a short time. The numero uno, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, is himself the victim of gentler bigotry for his religious views. He is a Mormon. No, I did not say moron. I said Mormon.
What is Bachmann's transgression? She was, until recently, a member of a church that opposes homosexuality and gay marriage. It also takes issue with the Roman Catholic papacy. It is the Salem Lutheran Church of Stillwater, Minn. And by the way, it is no longer Bachmann's church. She now attends the evangelical church Eagle Brook, in another part of Stillwater, where she now lives. A close friend, JoAnne Hood, tells The New York Times that the Bachmanns "are absolutely not against the gays. They are just not for marriage" — presumably not for gay marriage. As for their position on the Catholic papacy, Hood is mum.
Reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's first-ever tweet yesterday, MSNBC producers showed viewers B-roll of a fake Pope Benedict Twitter account while anchor Chris Jansing read off her choice for the June 29 "tweet of the day."
The pontiff doesn't have an official Twitter account and has only tweeted once, on June 28, from the @news_va_en account (video posted after page break):
Liberal columnist Michael Kinsley made light of the Catholic Church's process of recognizing a saint in a Wednesday column for the Los Angeles Times, while simultaneously blasting the Church's opposition to embryonic stem cell research, claiming that the religion was a "main impediment" in developing a cure for Parkinson's disease.
On Tuesday evening, ABC and CBS furthered the mainstream media's largely inaccurate reporting on Pope Benedict XVI's recent remarks on the morality of condom use. While the pontiff stated that condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection," World News anchor Diane Sawyer stated that "the Pope shifts his rules on condom use." Evening News anchor Katie Couric labeled Benedict XVI's comment a "historic statement," and trumpeted how supposedly, "Pope Benedict says, for the first time, that condoms are okay to protect against HIV and other diseases."
Sawyer included her misleading "Pope shifts his rules on condom use" phrase as she teased the lead stories at the beginning of World News. Sixteen minutes into the half hour program, the ABC anchor introduced correspondent Dan Harris's report, who began by giving a false impression of Benedict's remarks during an interview published in book form given by German journalist Peter Seewald. An on-screen graphic proclaimed, "A Change in Policy:"
On Monday's Newsroom, CNN's Kyra Phillips gave a false impression of Pope Benedict XVI's recent comments about condoms. While the Pope stated that condom use "can be a first step...on the way toward recovering an awareness that not everything is allowed," Phillips stated that the pontiff "says condoms are okay sometimes." Refreshingly, Monday's Today show on NBC accurately covered Benedict's remarks.
The anchor previewed CNN correspondent Atika Schubert's report on the pontiff's comments 10 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour with her inaccurate description: "Well, the Catholic Church and condoms: two things that have never really gone together until now. The Pope, quoted in a new book, says condoms are okay sometimes. Now, that's a talker!" After a commercial break, Phillips continued with another misleading statement:
PHILLIPS: Pope Benedict is bending a bit when it comes to condoms. A new book actually quotes him as saying that they are okay to use in certain circumstances, like to prevent disease, not birth control. It's the first time the Church has ever talked about exceptions to the condom rule....Here's a part of what the Pope says in the book. See if your eyebrows raise a little bit. It says- quote, 'There could be single cases that can be justified. For instance, when a prostitute uses a condom.' Say what? (laughs) Doesn't it kind of sound like the Pope is justifying prostitution, too? Surely not, but what a bizarre analogy.
The media is practically falling over themselves with a report, propagated in part by the flimsy Nicole Winfield of the Associated Press, that Pope Benedict XVI has "justified" the use of condoms. (See this enormous (and misleading) headline at HuffPo, for example.) But is it true? In a word, no. Nowhere in his remarks does the Pope talk about "justifying" anything.
Rev. Joseph Fessio is the editor-in-chief of Ignatius Press, which is publishing the interview book Light of the World, from which the Pope's notable remarks are gleaned. Fr. Fessio is quoted in the New York Times, "It would be wrong to say, 'Pope Approves Condoms.' He's saying it's immoral, but in an individual case the use of a condom could be an awakening to someone that he's got to be more conscious of his actions."
Dr. Janet E. Smith at Catholic World Report has an excellent explanation of the Pope's remarks. She also provides the actual interview exchange from the upcoming book.
CNN played an excerpt of its upcoming documentary "What the Pope Knew" on Thursday's Newsroom (see CNN's commercial promoting the documentary at right), and if this preview and its past coverage of the Church abuse scandal is any indication, the documentary left out key information in order to paint Benedict XVI in the worst possible light. Correspondent Gary Tuchman failed to explain how then-Cardinal Ratzinger's handled a specific case from Wisconsin.
Anchor Kyra Phillips introduced the excerpt from the documentary 24 minutes into the 9 am Eastern hour. The segment focused on the case of Father Lawrence Murphy, who was the priest and headmaster for St. John's School for the Deaf in Milwaukee. Phillips noted that as many as 200 boys at the school were raped or sexually abused by Murphy and stated it was "one of the most notorious cases of sex abuse in the Catholic Church."
Tuchman interviewed Terry Kohut, one of Murphy's victims. The correspondent stated that "fifty years ago, when he was just 10 years old, Terry, who is deaf, was sent to the St. John's School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. What happened there to Terry and up to 200 other deaf boys is now central to the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, and to the question of what Pope Benedict, then Cardinal Ratzinger, knew about it all." This introduction gives the false impression that Ratzinger was a cardinal five decades ago, when he actually was a priest and college professor in Germany during the 1960s.
Imagine six Israelis had been arrested in the US and charged with possibly plotting against a visiting ayatollah. Rhetorical question: would Today have mentioned their nationality and/or religion?
But when reportedly six Algerian Muslims were arrested in the UK and charged with possibly plotting against visiting Pope Benedict XVI, Today breathed not a word of their identity. Reporter Nina Dos Santos spoke only of "the specter of terror" having reared its head in London, and of "yesterday's arrests." But Dos Santos never said what form that specter took . . . or who was arrested.
On Friday's American Morning, CNN's Carol Costello followed up on her biased report from the previous day, which promoted Catholic women posing as priests, with a second report on dissenting Catholics, focusing on heterodox nuns inside the U.S. Costello promoted the claim of the nuns, who accuse the Vatican of conducting an "inquisition," or wanting to "silence nuns when they disagree with the Pope."
Substitute anchor Drew Griffin gave a brief on Pope Benedict XVI's second day in the U.K. 25 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour, just before his colleague Kiran Chetry introduced the correspondent's report. Chetry proclaimed how the Vatican is apparently "squarely at odds with American nuns," and that many of these nuns "feel they're under siege from the Church, which is questioning the quality of their religious life." Costello picked up where the anchor left off: "[T]he Vatican is now conducting two sweeping investigations of American nuns...the Vatican hopes to have a better understanding of how nuns live their lives in the United States. Nuns don't see it that way, though. Many think these investigations are nothing short of interrogations, designed to take away all they've gained."
Costello led her report by featuring Sister Maureen Fiedler, a liberal public radio host who attended the "ordination" of seven women on the Danube River in 2002. Fiedler stated during her first sound bite, "Some of my friends asked me why the Vatican officials suffer from a deep seed hatred of women." The correspondent continued by describing how "the Vatican ordered two sweeping investigations into the religious views and lifestyles of American nuns- investigations that have alarmed many sisters like Marlene Weisenbeck, whose organization represents thousands of American nuns across the country." Sister Weisenbeck was president of the Leadership Council of Women Religious until August 2010. She led the organization when it endorsed ObamaCare, contrary to the stance of the U.S. bishops' conference. Costello played two sound bites from the nun during her report.
Reporting on Pope Benedict's visit to the UK on Friday's CBS Early Show, correspondent Mark Phillips noted how 65,000 people attended a Thursday outdoor mass in Scotland, but observed: "...it was only about a quarter of the size of the crowd Pope John Paul drew to the same park on his visit 28 years ago. And this crowd had a much better warm-up act...TV talent show star...Susan Boyle."
On Thursday, correspondent Richard Roth touted low turnout predictions during the Papal visit: "Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events."
Phillips described the trip as "A test of whether Pope Benedict can get his message across over the background noise of the Church's child abuse scandal. And that test gets harder as time goes on." He went on to observe "This Pope finds himself with an ironic challenge, he bemoans the weakening role of religion in everyday life, yet it is the Church's very own public struggle with its child-molesting priests that is helping to drive people away."
At the top of Thursday's CBS Early Show, fill-in co-host Erica Hill teased a report on Pope Benedict's visit to Scotland: "...it's a rather controversial visit for a number of reasons." Later, correspondent Richard Roth proclaimed the state visit "has more pomp and potentially more problems" and would "bound to be shadowed by controversy along with ceremony."
Roth went on to tout a gaffe made by a Papal aide prior to the trip and noted how the Pope "courts criticism on a range of issues, from the visit's cost – figured at around $20 million – to the cover-up of sex abuse among Catholic clergyman." He also highlighted predictions of low turnouts at Papal events during the visit: "[Benedict's] welcome will be measured, in part, by the size of his crowds. Some Church officials this morning were already lowering expectations, saying seats were still unsold for several outdoor events." In fact, about 125,00 people lined the streets of Edinburgh to see the Pope's motorcade, with 65,000 attending a later outdoor mass.
The only positive comment about the Papal visit was a sound bite of Queen Elizabeth welcoming the Pontiff: "On behalf of the people of the United Kingdom, I wish you a most fruitful and memorable visit." Roth concluded his report this way: "This is a country with a strong anti-clerical streak and a critical press. But, one leading paper's comment here that Benedict's 'entering the lion's den,' may also reflect a flare for dramatic overstatement."
Predictably, Thursday's American Morning on CNN marked the Pope Benedict XVI's first day in the UK with a report on dissenting Catholic women who claimed they are ordained priests, contrary to the teachings of the Church. Correspondent Carol Costello took a misinterpretation of a recent Church document on ordination as fact, and ran only one sound bite from a Vatican official.
Substitute anchor Drew Griffin introduced Costello's report 24 minutes into the 6 am Eastern hour with the misinterpretation of the Catholic document, forwarded by the mainstream media outlets such as Time magazine, that it condemns the simulated ordination of women as "a crime similar to pedophilia." However, a July 16 Reuters story quoted Monsignor Charles Scicluna's clarification: "Scicluna, an official in the Vatican's doctrinal department, said there was no attempt to make women's ordination and pedophilia comparable crimes under canon...law....While sexual abuse was a 'crime against morality,' the attempt to ordain a woman was a 'crime against a sacrament.'"
The CNN correspondent began by highlighting the apparent negative response the Pope is receiving in the UK due to his visit: "You heard Kiran mention that Pope Benedict is now in Britain. He's there to appeal to the millions of Catholics in that country. But his visit is not without controversy. Many tickets remain unsold, which suggest many of Britain's Catholics are indifferent to his presence." She continued by introducing the subject of her report: "You could argue many American Catholics feel the same way, because of the way the Vatican handled the sex abuse scandal. Some say it's time for a change in leadership- a big change, that includes women."
On Tuesday's Situation Room, CNN's Jack Cafferty revisited one of his favorite subjects of ire, the Catholic Church, and this time called for the ordination of women. Cafferty highlighted the advertising campaign of a British organization which demands that Pope Benedict XVI allow for such simulations of ordination, and mocked a Catholic priest's defense of the all-male priesthood.
The commentator devoted his 6 pm Eastern hour Cafferty File segment to the issue of women's ordination: "'Pope Benedict: ordain women now'- that's the message that will be plastered on London buses when the pontiff heads to England's capital in a couple of weeks. A group called Catholic Women's Ordination is spending $15,000 for 15 buses to carry posters with that message around London for a month."
Cafferty then moved to the opposing viewpoint, and wasted little time before bashing it and one of its defenders: "Father Stephen Wang says women are not barred from the priesthood because of sexism....Wang says that Jesus chose 12 men, and no women, to be his apostles, and he adds that men and women are equal in Christianity, but that gender still matters. Wang compares the role of a priest to an actor, saying no one would be surprised if he wanted a male actor to play King Arthur. He then admits the analogy is weak. That's the most startling and profound thing he said in the message so far- terrible!"
Time magazine's Tim Padgett, who claims to be a Catholic, used the rose-colored glasses of his leftism to mercilessly bash his own church in an article on Monday where he compared Catholic bishops to "white Southern preachers [who] weren't ashamed to degrade African-Americans," labeled the Church "misogynous," and accused the institution of an "increasingly spiteful bigotry" against homosexuals.
Padgett, who wrote back in January 2009 that the communist Cuban revolution "deserves its due," launched a full-bore attack on the Church in the Time.com article, "The Vatican and Women: Casting the First Stone." Padgett wasted little time in unleashing his rage against the Church, labeling a recent Vatican document, which listed "grave crimes" according to canon law, "Rome's misogynous declaration," since, in his view, was an "avowal, as obtuse as it was malicious, that ordaining women into the priesthood was a sin on par with pedophilia."
The document in question, which revised the Catholic Church's concerning "exceptionally serious" crimes against faith and morals, does no such thing. Philip Pullella of Reuters reported on July 16 that "Monsignor Charles Scicluna, an official in the Vatican's doctrinal department, said there was no attempt to make women's ordination and pedophilia comparable crimes under canon...law....While sexual abuse was a 'crime against morality,' the attempt to ordain a woman was a 'crime against a sacrament,' he said, referring to Holy Orders (the priesthood)."
The Time writer used his mistaken premise to further attack the Church's hierarchy:
AOL News contributor Paul Wachter launched an inflammatory attack on Pope Benedict XVI in a Thursday post where he also defended recently-fired CNN editor Octavia Nasr for her eulogy of Hezbollah's spiritual leader. After hinting that the network "overreacted," Wachter suggested that CNN should also fire "anyone who speaks highly of the pope, who...has contributed to the deaths of millions from AIDS."
Wachter began his commentary, "Octavia Nasr Firing: Should CNN Also Ax Anyone Who Praises the Pope?," by recounting the former Middle Eastern affairs editor's Tweet where she expressed how she was "sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah.. One of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot." He then echoed Nasr's own synopsis of the Hezbollah spiritual leader: "Fadlallah left a complex legacy. He was staunchly anti-Zionist, a defender of suicide bombings and approved of the suicide attacks on American barracks in Beirut during the United States' ill-fated intervention in Lebanon during the country's civil war. But he also championed women's rights under Islam and spoke out against honor killings."
The writer, who also contributes to left-leaning publication such as New York Time Magazine, The Atlantic, and The Nation, then launched his attack on the Pope, and lumped in Jerry Fallwell, for good measure, at the end:
MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie thinks the Vatican has “minimized” the clergy abuse scandals for months, before Pope Benedict’s Friday apology. And MSNBC seemed to do their level best to “minimize” that, during the 9a.m. EDT news hour.
Guthrie reported that the Vatican publicly apologized for the sex abuse scandals within the Catholic clergy Friday, “after months of minimizing” the scandals.
“I have to ask,” Guthrie said to NBC correspondent Jim Maceda, “what prompted this apology?”
CNN's Kyra Phillips completely got it wrong on Friday's Newsroom as she reported on Pope Benedict XVI's latest apology for the priestly sex abuse scandal. Even after she reported that Pope was "begging for forgiveness," Phillips repeatedly claimed that "there are two simple words we haven't heard: I'm sorry." The Pope has actually used those words and has made multiple apologies.
The CNN anchor led the 9 am Eastern hour with the pontiff's request for forgiveness, which he made at a Mass in St. Peter's Square to close out the Catholic Church's Year for Priests, which began on June 19, 2009 and ends June 19 this year: "Here's what we're working on right now. Sex abuse in the Catholic Church- the Holy Father begs forgiveness, promises never again. But why is it that being Pope means never having to say, I'm sorry." Despite the continuing the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico and other top stories, Phillips highlighted the Pope's comments, along with the teenager stranded at sea and the opening of the World Cup in South Africa.
The June 7 Time magazine cover blared, “Why Being Pope Means Never Having To Say You’re Sorry,” and the article explored the sexual abuse that has occurred in the Catholic Church and how the church might overcome the scandal. But the authors, Jeff Israely and Howard Chua-Eoan, left little doubt that they viewed Pope Benedict XVI as already guilty in the sexual abuse scandal.
The article tried to build that case. The pair wrote, “Over the past two months, the Pope has led the Holy See's shift from silence and denial to calls to face the enemies from within the church. What is still missing, however, is any mention of the Holy Father's alleged role in the scandal.” The story was very one-sided – filled with abuse victims and critics of the church, but included virtually no experts defending the pope or the Catholicism.
Israely and Chua-Eoan presumably based their article in part on a New York Times report alleging that as archbishop, Benedict protected the church over children by transferring priests when abuse occurred in the United States, Germany, and Ireland. Another Times article accused Pope Benedict XVI of allowing priests to remain in Wisconsin after they abused deaf boys, although this is report has been strongly questioned.
[Update, 6:06 pm Eastern: CNN ran a slanted commercial promoting Tuchman's report on Anderson Cooper 360 on Monday afternoon, touting how then-Cardinal Ratzinger apparently "resisted" Bishop Cummins's requests to expel the abuser from the priesthood. (see video at right).]
CNN's Gary Tuchman revisited a three-week-old story on a priest abuse case in California during a segment on Monday's AC360, and did his best to cast Pope Benedict XVI's handling of the priest's removal from priestly life (laicization), when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, in the worst light possible. Tuchman omitted key details about the case which clarify the then-cardinal's conduct in handling it.
Anchor Anderson Cooper gave a slanted introduction to the correspondent's report, which aired 46 minutes into the 10 pm Eastern hour: "Protecting predator priests instead of their prey- that is at the center of the growing sex scandal rocking the Catholic Church. And as we've been reporting, questions surrounded Pope Benedict XVI...Well, tonight, an accusation from survivors of abuse in California, that the future pope delayed the removal of a pedophile priest, and as you'll see if in our '360' investigation, the most damaging evidence may have been put in writing."
Newsweek continued its campaign against the Catholic Church on Friday by letting one of the leading atheist (not to leave out anti-Catholic) voices internationally, Christopher Hitchens, spout half-truths and smears about Pope Benedict XVI and the Church. Most egregiously, Hitchens inaccurately stated that Vatican City "was created by Benito Mussolini," thus trying to tie Catholicism to fascism.