One of the chief complaints that Donald Trump and his supporters have about the “Washington establishment” is the way in which the legacy media spin, twist or otherwise manipulate news stories to suit their group-think agenda. Trump calls this “fake news” and spends a good deal of time reading and responding to articles or reports he finds untruthful or unfair.
Truth be told, the President likely worries about this more than he probably should. But that’s not to say that he doesn’t have a point. The mainstream press does indeed treat him differently than it did previous presidents – Republican and Democrat. It does cite anonymous sources perpetually. It does have its own priorities which often conflict with the President’s, making them visibly and often overly adversarial. In short, President Trump is mostly right. The press is biased against him.
Unfortunately, this is hardly the limit of the legacy media’s meddling in the affairs of world leaders to advance their personal causes. Indeed, the press takes a very similar tack with Pope Francis, although for different reasons and under different pretenses. For the entirety of his papacy, the media have twisted and manipulated his words, often creating controversy where none exists. Part of this is pure maliciousness, open and outright hostility to faith and religion and a desire to sow discord. Part of it is ideologically driven hero worship; that is to say that many on the political Left want the Holy Father to be an advocate for their causes, and they interpret and analyze his words in a light that is most favorable to them. The biggest part of it, though, is probably, just plain ignorance. Our educated elites, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, are not always especially well versed in the Church’s teachings and therefore are easily confused in their own right, believing that papal statements or conversations represent new ideas or doctrinal positions when they do no such thing.
We saw an example of the latter just two weeks ago, after the Holy Father reportedly told a man who is gay (and a victim of clerical sexual abuse) that it’s OK to be gay. According to the man, Juan Carlos Cruz, “He [the Pope] told me, ‘Juan Carlos, that you are gay does not matter. God made you like this and loves you like this and I don’t care. The pope loves you like this. You have to be happy with who you are.’”
Naturally, this set off a firestorm, on both sides of the issue. London’s The Sun newspaper practically giggled as it declared that the comments “are the most striking acceptance of homosexuality by the Catholic Church to date” and that “the Pope’s words signal a much more open and inclusive approach by the often restrictive faith….”
Meanwhile on the other side of the question, Pat Buchanan, the political gadfly, erstwhile presidential speechwriter and presidential candidate, and Catholic conservative, saw the incident as further proof that this Pope is leading the flock astray. He wrote:
Asked five years ago about a “gay lobby” in the Vatican, Pope Francis responded, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?”
As judgment was thought to be part of the papal job description, traditional Catholics were startled at what the new pope had volunteered.
Now the Holy Father has apparently fleshed out what he meant….
What makes this remarkable is that the catechism of the Catholic Church, based on the Old and New Testament and tradition, has always taught that homosexuality is a moral disorder, a proclivity toward sexual relations that are unnatural and immoral.
As is often the case here, both sides are just flat wrong.
Let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Cruz’s recollection of Pope Francis’s words is 100% accurate. The question then becomes “so what?” The Pope’s comments matter on a personal level to Cruz, precisely as they were intended. But they don’t matter a great deal beyond that. Indeed, Pope Francis said nothing that should cause any sort of major reaction on either side.
Contrary to what the people at The Sun and throughout the media establishment believe, the Church is not and never has been especially “restrictive,” when it comes to sexual matters. The Church’s teachings can basically be boiled down to two: keep it inside of marriage and keep it open to the possibility of the miracle of procreation. That’s it. The rest of what people think of as “restrictive” is actually about life and human dignity, not about sex at all. Indeed, as countless others have noted, in both absolute and relative terms, the Catholic Church has been, throughout history, rather nonconformist and non-“restrictive.” Judging the Church exclusively by its necessary and understandable response to the wildly destructive sexual revolution is either intentionally deceptive or inexcusably ignorant.
As for Pat Buchanan’s complaint, we suspect that he needed column-material more than anything else, for even in the midst of his rant he concedes a critical point. “The catechism of the Catholic Church,” he writes, “has always taught that homosexuality is a moral disorder, a proclivity toward sexual relations that are unnatural and immoral.” Here, Buchanan reinforces a common misconception. The Church, in fact, states that “homosexual ACTS are intrinsically disordered,” not the homosexuals themselves. Indeed, the actual Catholic catechism (not the one Buchanan creates in his mind) continues, declaring that gay men and women “do not choose their homosexual condition” and “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity.” God loves us all, precisely as Pope Francis said.
On his radio show two weeks ago, New York’s Cardinal Dolan addressed the matter, reaffirming that what the Pope presumably said “is beautiful.” Loving the sinner and hating the sin is, Dolan said, “sort of conservative, traditional, Catholic, orthodox teaching.”
Most of the media didn’t pick up on that, though. And why would they? They have their story already. And they’ll be darned if they’re going to let reality distract them from it.