Why Did the Mainstream Catholic Media Get the Commie Crucifix Story So Wrong?

Commie Crucifix


Pat Archbold at OnePeter5 asks a very interesting question:  Why did the Catholic Mainstream Media get the Commie Crucifix story so wrong?


It is immensely troubling, therefore, that many of the primary sources of Catholic journalism completely misreported the events surrounding the gift of the hammer and sickle crucifix of Bolivian President Evo Morales to Pope Francis on Thursday July 9, 2015.  Worse, even as facts about the events themselves were clarified, and subsequent to additional clarifications from the Holy See spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, some of Catholic media outlets refused to correct what was shown to be a false narrative, leaving stories with erroneous reporting on their websites without correction for days after updated information was available.

In any situation like this, it’s important to understand the timeline of events:

Following the publication of video of Pope Francis smiling while holding the gift of the troubling crucifix early on Thursday morning, initial reactions from Catholics could largely be characterized as confused and negative. Criticism began mounting, with many suggesting that the Pope should have rejected the blasphemous object.

On the video, when the gift is first presented to him, Pope Francis appears to register some slight surprise at the crucifix. He quietly says something, shaking his head slightly, but because of the poor audio quality, it is unclear what the Pope said.  Later that same morning, some suggested after examining the video that what the Pope might have said was “No está bien eso,” or “that’s not right.” Soon after, an article at Romereports.com suggested the same comment by the Pope. Catholic social media fired back at those criticizing the pope’s response, wielding this new development. Critics were accused of jumping the gun.

But as we moved later into the day on Thursday, better quality audio of the incident became available and it quickly became clear that instead of saying “No está bien eso,” that the Pope actually said, “No sabía eso,” or, “I didn’t know that.”  It became clear that the Pope was not rejecting the item, but rather reacting to something President Evo Morales had said to him. Coupled with his subsequent reactions – all smiles – it was obvious that the Pope had indeed accepted the gift without rebuke or concern.

This sequence of events was largely confirmed later on that same Thursday, July 9, when Holy See spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said the Pope had expressed “I didn’t know” in reaction to the gift because he was unaware the crucifix was a replica of the one carved by Jesuit Father Luis Espinal Camps.

All of this occurred on that Thursday. By the end of the day, a clear and verifiable sequence of events of events had emerged, a sequence of events that made clear the Pope happily received the gift, and in no way rejected or expressed any concern about it.  These facts, confirmed by the Holy See, were widely known and discussed across Catholic social media by Thursday afternoon.

So it came as quite a shock to me when on Friday, reports began to emerge on prominent Catholic media outlets reiterating the erroneous reports that the Pope expressed dissatisfaction at the blasphemous object saying, “That’s not right.”

Go here to read the rest.  Why do they do it?  Good hearted, wishful thinkers for some, always hoping that their eyes are lying to them.  Paychecks is a sufficient explanation for a lot of them, as those paychecks would cease if they appear to be critical of the Pope and thus they will twist reality so that they do not have to be critical.  Others are simply yes men and yes gals:  whatever the Pope does is perfect and thus no criticism is possible.  Sloppiness for a few and simply not researching before they ran with an exploded story.

Of course all this adds to the deep sense of unreality and mendacity that has descended on Catholic media in this pontificate.  If a Catholic is going to report on the Church, self-respect requires a strict adherence to the facts.  One may differ in interpretation of the facts, but one must strive always to present the facts, be they good, bad or indifferent.

When I was a boy I watched a movie, No Man is an Island (1962), on the exploits of George Ray Tweed, a Navy radio man, who helped lead resistance on Guam during the Japanese occupation.  Among his other activities he published The Guam Eagle, an underground paper to help keep up the spirits of the Guam people.  In his first issue he said they would publish news about the War based on what he got on his short wave radio.  He wrote that the news he published might be good or might be bad, but he would do his very best to make sure it was always the truth.  That is a creed I adhere to.

Commenter Murray on Archbold’s post explains the mode of operation for much of the Catholic media during this pontificate:

1. Treat each incident as absolutely sui generis. Never acknowledge the sheer volume and frequency of troubling, dismaying, or confusing actions or statements emanating from this papacy. Instead, each incident must be considered as if it was an isolated one-of-a-kind deviation from an otherwise completely unproblematic pope, much like Benedict’s ill-worded musings on condoms that one time.

2. Ignore all immediate context. To take a hypothetical example, imagine the pope accepted a gift of a blasphemous Marxist object from a friendly Marxist dictator in the middle of a visit in which he made a series of speeches, gestures, and statements expressing considerable sympathy for Marxist movements. It is in no way acceptable to make any linkages whatsoever between his acceptance of the gift and his contemporaneous statements.

3. Smear anyone who expresses even mild concern. Accuse them of taking the pope out of context (with luck, they will fail to appreciate the irony). Tell them to calm down and/or stop panicking (this never fails to rile them). Ask them why they hate the Holy Father. Call them cranks and misfits. Force them onto the defensive. Change the topic, at all costs.

4. Never, ever give ground. Out of arguments? Make something up. Anything will do, no matter how implausible it may seem. Remember: We’ve got your back, and to reinforce the point we’ve made object lessons of a few prominent Catholics who went off the reservation.

I have made few promises on this blog.  This I do promise you.  You will never see The American Catholic engage in that type of propaganda.




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  1. Because liar and liberal are synonymous?
    In charity, they are not lies. They are propagandists.
    For them truth is that which advances the devolution. Ideology trumps truth.

  2. That tremendous whooshing sound you’re hearing is the sound of the spin that folks like Armstrong, Shea, Madrid, Akin, Keating, and Voris are making to explain away this latest Papal action!

  3. “That tremendous whooshing sound you’re hearing is the sound of the spin that folks like Armstrong, Shea, Madrid, Akin, Keating, and Voris are making to explain away this latest Papal action!”

    You can put crap on a baguette. In the end, its still a s–t sandwich no matter how good the bread. No matter how good the spinning, they’re not going to get me to swallow it.

  4. From the in-flight PF interview now posted at Catholic Online:

    Aura Vistas Miguel, (Radio Renascenca): Well, there’s no group. It’s just me from Portugal. (laughing) Holiness, what did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with Christ on it? And where did this object end up? What did you think when you saw the hammer and sickle with the Christ on it, given to you by Evo Morales? And where did this object end up?

    Pope Francis: Ah, yes, truly. I heard ‘mantello’ (editor’s note: mantle, cloak: ‘mantello’ is similar to ‘martello,’ the Italian for hammer, that’s why the Pope needed the question repeated), and I didn’t understand. It’s curious, I didn’t know this, nor did I know that Fr. Espinal was a sculptor and also a poet. I learned this in these days. I saw it and for me it was a surprise. Secondly, you can qualify it in the genre of “protest art” – for example in Buenos Aires, some years ago, there was an exhibit of a good sculptor, creative, Argentine, who is now dead. It was protest art, and I recall one, it was a crucified Christ on a bomber that was falling down, no? It’s Christianity, but a criticism that, let’s say, Christianity allied with imperialism, which is the bomber. The genre that first I didn’t know, and secondly, I would qualify it as protest art, which in some cases can be offensive, in some cases. Thirdly, in this concrete case, Fr Espinal was killed in 1980. It was a time when liberation theology had many different branches. One of the branches was with Marxist analysis of reality. Fr Espinal belonged to this, this. Yes, I knew because I was in those years rector of the theology faculty and we talked a lot about it, about the different branches and who were the representatives, no? In the same year, the general of the Society (of Jesus), Fr. Arrupe, wrote a letter to the whole Society on the Marxist analysis of reality in theology. Stopping on this point saying, “it’s no good, these are different things, it’s not right, it’s not correct.” And, four years later in 1984, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the first small volume, the first declaration on liberation theology that criticizes this. Then comes the second, which opens to a more Christian perspective. I’m simplifying, no? Let’s do the hermeneutic of that time: Espinal was an enthusiast of this Marxist analysis of the reality, but also of theology using Marxism. From this, he came up with this work. Also the poetry of Espinal was of this kind of protest. But, it was his life, it was his thought. He was a special man, with so much human geniality, who fought in good faith, no? Making a hermeneutic like this, I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense, but I had to do this hermeneutic, and I say it to you so that there aren’t any wrong opinions.

    Vistas: Did you leave it there?

    Pope Francis: No, it’s traveling with me. Maybe you heard that President Morales wished to give me two honors, the most important of Bolivia (editor’s note: the Condor of Andes) and the other of the Order of Fr. Espinal, a new order (editor’s note: the Senate of Bolivia approved it June 30). If I … first, I’ve never accepted honors. I don’t do it. But, he did it with so much good will and with so much pleasure to please me. And, I thought that this comes from the people of Bolivia. So I prayed about it, what I should do. (I thought,) If I bring it to the Vatican it’ll go to the museum and end up there and no one … I thought about leaving it with Our Lady of Copacabana, the Mother of Bolivia, which will go to the sanctuary. The two honors will be in the Shrine of Our Lady of Copacabana, the Madonna, while the Christ is coming with me. Thanks.

    The whole shootin’ match:


  5. “Making a hermeneutic like this, I understand this work. For me it wasn’t an offense, but I had to do this hermeneutic, and I say it to you so that there aren’t any wrong opinions.”
    Simple as that. Like the pope, the Catholic media have used a faulty and false hermeneutic. That is why they got it so wrong.

  6. It’s a sad thing to see the Catholic press willing to abandon the reporting of objective
    fact in order to further some predetermined narrative. Of course, the moment the press
    starts to do that, they’ve stopping doing journalism and started to manufacture propaganda.
    How much of their eagerness to provide the Pope with journalistic cover is due to his
    ‘receptivity’ to so much that is leftist? Secularist leftists, and not just dissidents within the
    Church, are enthusiastic about this Pope — is that why so much of the Catholic media are
    looking the other way for him?
    Would all of these Catholic media that are currently avoiding objective facts that might
    put this Pope in a bad light behave the same way if we had another Alexander VI as Pope?
    Recall, that Pope was a fornicator, openly kept concubines and fathered children by them,
    poisoned political enemies, looted the papal treasury to enrich his family, and sold offices
    in the Church. Would today’s Catholic press also cover for him? If not, why Alexander but
    not Francis?

  7. I was disheartened to hear Catholic Answers taking a little from 1-4 in regards to Pope Francis. Their position is PF has not been disagreeable but that his quotes are constantly taken out of context by a media that wants to shape his pontiff to their image. He’s not confusing in what he says, just in how others report what he says.

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