Don’t Trust MSM for Anything but Distortion about Pope Francis

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.


10 thoughts on “Don’t Trust MSM for Anything but Distortion about Pope Francis

  1. Pingback: Some Excerpts from the most recent Pope Francis Interview | Quartermaster of the Barque

  2. Pingback: Pope Francis the Evangelical Catholic -

  3. OK, i followed your advise: “skip the CNN junk food drive-through garbage”, and went to Catholic News Service, the US Bishops’ information agency. Surprise!, what i found?:

    “Pope, in interview, suggests church could tolerate some civil unions”

    Says the headline. An the lead says:

    VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Pope Francis suggested the Catholic Church could tolerate some types of nonmarital civil unions as a practical measure to guarantee property rights and health care. He also said the church would not change its teaching against artificial birth control but should take care to apply it with “much mercy.”

    Pope Francis’ words appeared in an interview published March 5 in the Italian daily Corriere della Sera.


    So You must change the line: “skip the CNS junk food drive-through garbage”

      • In the same way that different words actually mean different things. The Church has, over the ages, “put up with” a lot of things it does not “accept”. From Webster’s New World College Dictionary:

        Tolerate: 1. to not interfere with; allow; permit [to tolerate heresy] 2 to recognize and respect (others’ briefs, practices, etc. without sharing them) 3 to bear, or put up with (someone or something not especially liked)

        Support: 1 a) to carry or bear the weight of; to keep from falling, slipping or sinking; hold up;….. 3 to give approval to or be in favor of; subscribe to; uphold….. 5 to show or tend to show to be true; help prove, vindicate or corroborate…..

        Accept: 1 to take (what is offered or given); receive esp. willingly 2 to receive favorably; approve 3 to submit to; be resigned to…. 4 to believe in…… 6 to respond to in the affirmative

  4. Nope, but when I go to the venues Francis himself has chosen and wind up seeing substantial support for what is in the MSM, I have to wonder what is going on. Also, if all the problem was due to mistranslations, then the easy and responsible solution would be for people at the Vatican to hire their own translators. Oh, guess what, they did!

    • This isn’t about translation. Neither the word “support” nor “accept” nor “tolerate” is anywhere to be found in the Holy Father’s comments about same-sex unions. It’s as if — in addition to the MSM — certain Catholics also wish to make their own opinions as though coming from Pope Francis. I wonder why that could be…..

  5. If I have one of those days or weeks when everything that goes awry appears to be everyone else’s fault, then I have to take a look at myself and see that the common variable in all those events is me, and stop seeing things outside myself as the primary causes of my bad day or week. When it is the MSM, or the translators, or some people in the Vatican, or whatever that we keep looking to for explanations for the whirlwind of confusion which seems to center upon Francis; then I believe it is time to look at the common factor in all these confusions: Francis himself. Francis may be shaking up an old network, but I don’t know that this is going to be an improvement. And it is just as much an injustice and contrary to charity to hold everyone else responsible for all the confusion (a portion is likely, just not all), as it would be to look for the cause in the likliest place, the place we do not want to look because we are Catholics and have difficulty accepting what I believe is becoming more obvious all the time.

    • Well, I guess the difference then (between you and me) is that you think everything is going awry and I do not. Just as Jesus was misunderstood, belittled, and ultimately condemned to death for His teachings, I see no reason why the MSM would treat his vicar on earth any differently. Was it Jesus’ fault when He said what he said about eating His Flesh and drinking His Blood and a bunch of people ran off accusing Him of teaching cannibalism? Every time that tired claim is lodged against Catholics, do we go around blaming Jesus for the all the “whirlwind of confusion” that the teaching caused? “If He had just been more clear, more precise, in His teaching,” we all say, right?

      No. We all take up our cross, and patiently, lovingly, charitably say (for the umpteenth time), “Sorry, that’s not correct, and here’s why.” Or at least we should, because it’s the Truth.

      If you want to make the claim that Pope Francis actually said the things that CNN attributed to him, then we can discuss that. But to blame Francis for the MSM injecting its own spin into his words with a “he should know better” is not charitable either. After all, he — not us is the one with the Church on *his* shoulders, and as he says, he’s just a normal person.

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