Ok. Time to set some things straight.
Anyone else notice what’s going on with Pope Francis?
From the moment he was introduced to the world as the 267th pope of the Catholic Church, it quickly became clear that our dear Pope Francis does things a little differently. He’s unconventional. He thinks outside the box. He breaks stereotypes. And just by being his unconventional, outside-the-box, un-stereotypical self, Pope Francis has captivated the secular media.
On one hand, this phenomenon is awesome! Our pope has the ability to simply state what the Catholic Church has always taught on certain topics and it instantly becomes a breaking news headline:
BREAKING: Pope Francis on gays: “Who am I to judge them?”
BREAKING: Pope Francis says atheists who do good are redeemed
BREAKING: Pope Francis: Priest celibacy up for discussion
BREAKING: Pope: Church should not obsess about abortion, gays and contraception
All headlines that were published.
On the other hand, it makes me want to squash an empty plastic bottle against my forehead. Our pope’s comments are processed through the secular media and the end result is some nifty headline that misrepresents and mangles what he said.
This is bad. Why? People read headlines. And oftentimes, that’s it. Just headlines. So if I’m not engaged in the Catholic faith (and already hold negative views of Catholic teachings on issues like homosexuality, priestly celibacy, etc.,)…
- I learned absolutely nothing from the headline I just read about what the Church actually teaches.
- I now have an unnecessary, false hope that something might dramatically change in the near future regarding these Catholic teachings. (It’s unnecessary because I didn’t have a good understanding as to why Catholics believe such crazy things in the first place).
Suddenly, my interaction with the Catholic Church consists of a headline I read on huffingtonpost.com. If I’m lucky, I heard Hoda and Kathie Lee talking about it, too. No wonder one of my non-Catholic Facebook friends recently posted, “Remember that time when the joke “Is the pope Catholic?” was a joke and not an honest question?”
We need to be on our toes. The misinformation floating around is destructive and confusing. Here are some tips to guard yourself from falling into the trap of sensationalized and misleading Catholic headlines:
1. The Huffington Post is probably the least reputable news source for issues related to the Catholic Church. (Hoda and Kathie Lee might be second on that list…)
2. For that matter,
secular media report on something related to Catholicism should be read with skepticism (regardless of which direction that entity “leans” on the political spectrum).
3. Content from
National Catholic Reporter
(often cited as a source in secular stories on Catholicism) should be read with caution.
Well that’s depressing. Especially since it’s actually very important for us to be informed about those “hot-button” issues…so that the next time Nancy stops by my cubicle because she knows I’m Catholic and says, “Did you hear that the pope is letting priests be married now?” I don’t stutter my way through a conversation that ends with me agreeing or conceding that I have no idea what the pope actually said or meant.
For the record,
National Catholic Register
(eerily similar in name to National Catholic Reporter),
Catholic News Service
Catholic News Agency
and your local Catholic radio programming should be excellent sources for quality news on Catholicism and religion. The
has also greatly improved its offerings in this area. And hopefully you view
this newspaper you’re holding
as a valuable resource as well.
The most effective, fool-proof method for combating the slop being flung in the papers and on the news? Educate yourself.* Ask a priest. Pick up the
. Take responsibility for your faith. Know what you believe. Find out
you believe it. Don’t just go through the motions one day a week.
Not only will your own soul benefit by understanding why Catholics don’t approve of homosexual marriage…why priests aren’t married…why Catholics can’t use condoms. You’ll suddenly notice countless other souls thirsting for direction and clarity. It only takes one simple, thoughtful explanation. Will you be able to answer?