By now a clear pattern is developing in how the liberal media cover Pope Francis. Step one: the pontiff makes frank, off-the-cuff comments in a speech or an interview which contains statements easy for the liberal media to misconstrue. Step two: the media do what they do best, misconstrue and spin the pope in order to hail him as a liberal who will reform the church in a leftward direction on the unholy trinity of concerns for the secular left: abortion, sexual ethics (particularly on homosexuality), and women in the priesthood. Step three, liberal activists within the church are given platforms in secular media outlets to caution that, no, Francis is not the liberal you hope he is, at least, not yet, but that with some gentle prodding maybe he can be won over.
The bishop of Rome's interview with La Civilta Cattolica -- accessible in English here at the Jesuit magazine America -- is the latest instance where we see this pattern playing out. Witness how Time magazine today gave a platform to liberal nun Sister Simone Campbell, who explained to readers "What Pope Francis Thinks About Women in the Church." Campbell began:
On Friday, I noted how ostensibly objective religion reporter David Gibson of Religion News Service has been tapped by Sister Simone Campbell to co-author her memoirs. Proceeds from the project will go into the coffers of NETWORK, Campbell's left-leaning "social justice" organization. Campbell, you may recall, addressed the Democratic National Convention last year and was a mini-celebrity on the Left for her attacks on Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan and his signature Ryan budget plan.
A review of Gibson's writing about Campbell's anti-Ryan budget "nuns on the bus" tour last year and this year's bus tour focused on immigration reform shows that Gibson's treatment of Campbell's politicking reads more like hagiography than objective journalism. Let's walk through a few samples. Here's Gibson from a September 6 item dutifully passing along highlights of Campbell's speech to the 2012 Democratic National Convention (emphasis mine):
Imagine the hand-wringing that would ensue among secular journalists were Franklin Graham or Bishop Harry Jackson to write a memoir with a mainstream media religion reporter on board as a credited co-author. Surely much ado would be made about an ostensibly objective journalist assisting a politically engaged, conservative clergyman to write a book the proceeds of which would go into his ministry's coffers. After all, how can you objectively cover such individuals after having helped them raise their public profile and financially benefited their pet cause(s)?
Now contrast that with the silence that's sure to greet Religion News Service reporter David Gibson's services as scribe to Sister Simone Campbell, the left-wing nun who was a convenient unofficial ally and surrogate for liberal Democrats last year as she savaged Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan. As a national reporter, Gibson has covered Campbell as part of his beat as a national reporter for RNS.
Stephen Colbert lent his Comedy Central television platform on Thursday to one of the left's favorite religious figures, Sister Simone Campbell, to promote her ongoing battle against Rep. Paul Ryan's fiscal ideas. Campbell slammed congressional conservatives to the extreme point of hinting that they would have treated the Holy Family worse than the innkeepers in Bethlehem [audio clips available here; video below the jump]:
All the liberals (especially liberal Catholics) who complained the church was entering partisan politics when Cardinal Timothy Dolan agreed to give a blessing to the Republican National Convention -- before he accepted the same assignment for the Democrats -- apparently had no complaint about Catholics entering partisan politics when Sister Simone Campbell drew standing ovations on Wednesday night in a convention address attacking Paul Ryan as a terrible Catholic.
A peek at the transcript suggests something amusing: at the same time Democrats scrapped the word "God" from the platform, and then hastily returned it despite heavy booing, Sister Simone never used the word "God" in her anti-Ryan lecture. She began:
Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan is a Catholic – but not a good enough Catholic in the eyes of the media. Writers, bloggers, and talking heads have hammered Ryan for his supposed “dissent” from Catholic teaching.
Journalists have falsely claimed that the bishops “rebuked” Ryan and called his budget “un-Christian.” Writers who usually scorn the Church and its hierarchy fretted that the bishops found Ryan’s budget “uncompassionate.”
Ever sweet on liberal Catholic nuns, CNN played up a group of nuns lambasting the Ryan budget and hosted one of the leaders, Sr. Simone Campbell, three times in three weeks for an interview. In contrast, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) appeared not once on the network to defend his budget during that time span.
"You go, girls," CNN's Carol Costello cheered the "Nuns on the Bus" tour. The tour received eight different mentions from CNN from June 13 through July 3, including a report from the trail that aired twice, and three interviews of Sr. Campbell.
Interviewing Sister Simone Campbell, executive director of the liberal Catholic group NETWORK, on her Thursday MSNBC show host Andrea Mitchell touted the organization's effort "to rally opposition to Paul Ryan's proposed health care cuts" with a nationwide "Nuns on the Bus" tour. In part, Campbell ranted that they wanted to make sure "our nation's soul is not corrupted further by the House Ryan budget."
Campbell began by touting Catholic bishops "who also say that the House-passed Ryan budget is actually immoral," and proclaimed that she and her left-wing colleagues, "know how terribly important it is that the American public understand the problems, the huge problems in the House-passed budget and that we need to educate the American people."
A day after asking if the Catholic church is waging a "war on women," CNN teed up liberal Sister Simone Campbell by asking if Rome is being "dictatorial" in its recent dealings with American nuns. After a group of U.S. nuns has been targeted by the Vatican for reform, CNN has shamelessly been promoting the nuns' side of the story with no guest to represent the church's side.
Starting Point anchor Soledad O'Brien mentioned her colleague's absurd "war on women" question from the previous day and asked Sister Campbell if she agreed that "Rome is essentially remaining dictatorial, non-collaborative, but the American Catholic Church is not." [Video below the break. Audio here.]
On Thursday’s All Things Considered, National Public Radio offered leftist Sister Simone Campbell a megaphone to disagree with (and lecture) the Pope and the Catholic bishops for being clueless. “It was like a sock in the stomach,” she said about the Vatican’s attempt to hold women’s Catholic religious orders to Catholic orthodoxy. Just on human terms, this is odd – not just to suggest the bishops are bullying, but that a process that’s been going on for four years is suddenly shocking.
Campbell told anchor Melissa Block that the religious sisters had the superiority of “experience” of faith all over the Vatican and the bishops, and then was starkly sexist: “Women get it first and then try to explain it to the guys who -- I mean, as the women did to the Apostles.”
The Washington Post has an opinion blog entitled "All Opinions Are Local." Print edition editors regularly pick from the blog to excerpt a post to the editorial page under the heading "Local Opinions."
Today's entry, "Stop the torrent of hate after a deadly drunk-driving crash," was filed by one Simone Campbell of Washington, whom the Post noted "is executive director of Network, a Catholic social justice advocacy group." The online edition bears a much blander headline, "A proper tribute to Sister Denise," referring to Denise Mosier, the nun who was killed in a Sunday car crash by repeat DUI offender and illegal immigrant Carlos Martinelly-Montano.
In her 3-paragraph piece, Campbell essentially lumped xenophobes and racists in with conservative critics of law immigration enforcement, slamming "hate speech" on "The Post's online comments section" and insisting that Martinelly-Montano's immigration status did not cause "this tragedy." Campbell then promptly proceeded to politicize Mosier's death by arguing that "comprehensive immigration reform" would "be a proper tribute to Sister Denise's memory."
The Post did not note that Campbell's group Network supports a "Realistic path to earned legalization for people in the U.S. without status," in other words, amnesty to immigrants in the United States illegally.
"Hot on the heels of Kucinich's declaration of support for health-care reform, the Associated Press is reporting that Catholic nuns are urging Democratic lawmakers to support health-care reform," Newsweek's Katie Connolly informed readers of the magazine's The Gaggle blog this morning.
"This is a major break with the church's bishops, who have strongly opposed the legislation on the grounds that some federal subsidies may end up funding abortions," Connolly gushed, later closing her blog post with the conclusion that "[a]t the very least, the letter damages the validity of [pro-life Democrat Rep. Bart] Stupak's argument."
Both Connolly's post and the underlying AP story failed to delve into this, but the letter in question was not simply cobbled together by apolitical nuns. It was pushed out to the media by a group with a left-wing agenda, reports CatholicCulture.org: