I’m convinced that since the advent of journalism, there have always been “journalists” who are more interested in making news than reporting it. To “make news” is to report on things in a certain way so that it is the journalist’s own points being made, rather than taking care to report on what the actual subject of the news really said. It’s lazy, it infects public discourse, and it prevents the free exchange of information.
On March 5, the Italian daily Corriere della Sera published an interview with the Holy Father. A full transcript of the interview translated into English is already available here. Rather than simply summarizing what Pope Francis said (or better yet, reprinting the entire interview [it's not very long] so readers can draw their own conclusions), within hours of publication of the interview, the Religion Blog at CNN was already misrepresenting what Francis said, beginning with the erroneous headline, “Pope Francis: Church could support civil unions“.
Daniel Burke, CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor, does far more than fairly “read between the lines”; rather, he concocts opinion and conclusion that simply is not present in the interview. The distortion of the Pope’s words continues from the headline into the first two paragraphs of the article:
Pope Francis reaffirmed the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage on Wednesday, but suggested in a newspaper interview that it could support some types of civil unions. [Really? I must have missed that part. Where did he say that?]
The Pope reiterated the church’s longstanding teaching that “marriage is between a man and a woman.” However, he said, “We have to look at different cases and evaluate them in their variety.”
I’d like to ask, how does the Pope saying that by looking at different cases and evaluating them it means that the Church could support “some types of civil unions”? That’s like saying that by a jury examining the evidence in connection with an armed burglary, and possibly even finding the accused defendant “not guilty”, it therefore means that the jury supports certain types of theft. It’s an utterly ridiculous proposition.
Mr. Burke goes on to cite two other top-tier primary sources — the National Catholic Reporter and the New York Times – to bolster the absurd claim that Pope Francis as Archbishop of Buenos Aires supported same-sex civil unions in 2010.
Let’s be clear. Pope Francis, both as Pope and Archbishop of Buenos Aires, never ”supported civil unions for same-sex couples“, and he never will do so. The NCR article (by John Allen, Jr.) indicates that Bergoglio considered “recognizing” civil unions for the purpose of giving certain legal protections to same-sex couples, “as a compromise” to a government imposing a legal requirement for same-sex marriages.
Such a compromise would avoid the Church being placed into even greater conflict with the civil law. Recognizing the legal rights of individuals is different than supporting the union that purportedly affords the legal rights at issue. And, though he is arguably “left-leaning”, Mr. Allen does not fail to attribute to Bergoglio the following statement from 2010, regarding the context of our Pope’s previous approach to the subject of same-sex marriage:
“This is not simply a political struggle, but an attempt to destroy God’s plan. It is not just a bill but a move of the Father of Lies, who seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”
So, another question for Mr. Burke would be how he manages to posit that Pope Francis can on the one hand hold the view that same-sex marriage is “an attempt to destroy God’s plan” and a “move of the Father of Lies” but that same-sex civil unions would somehow be supportable by the Church? Again, Mr. Burke’s representations are utterly ridiculous, and without basis.
Mr. Burke (taking his turn as representative of the MSM) seems incapable of grasping that Pope Francis and other faithful Catholics opposed to same-sex marriage are not homophobic bigots. This fact simply doesn’t fit the narrative, and acknowledgment of it would command a different approach to reporting what the Church actually teaches.
Everyone deserves equal treatment under the law, but it may be news to Mr. Burke that the Church already teaches precisely that:
Political authorities are obliged to respect the fundamental rights of the human person. They will dispense justice humanely by respecting the rights of everyone, especially of families and the disadvantaged. (CCC 2377).
Civil governments should not withhold social services, or legal protections, based upon sexual orientation or any other personal classification. This does not mean that there is an acceptable label to place on a sexual relationship between two unmarried people so that the Church can somehow assent and approve of it. What matters to Mr. Burke and the MSM (apparently) is the label, and not the substance.
Please, please, please, skip the CNN junk food drive-through garbage and just read the transcript. Make up your own mind about what the Holy Father is saying.