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.