Thursday, April 5, 2012

Way to Spin It, Secular Media!

Given that I don't like the "us/them" culture wars model of Catholic identity, I usually I try to keep my critiques "within the fold," because we need to take the log out of our institutional eye first.

But sometimes the media's ignorance of Catholicism is annoying, and sometimes their spin in headlines in order to be sensationalistic is just egregious.

Consider these two headlines today: "Pope denounces priests seeking to abolish celibacy" and "Pope denounces dissident priests on celibacy." There were a lot of others in this vein.

Of course, this is an incredibly skewed take on what actually happened, and one designed to tap into an image of the Pope as this big bad authoritarian seeking to crack down on the legitimate aspirations of those seeking a married secular priesthood, something that even many totally orthodox and faithful Catholics (including myself) support.

In reality, of course, the Pope was responding to a group that called not only for an end to mandatory celibacy (which I don't think the Vatican could do anything about if they kept things civil and otherwise orthodox) but also for woman priests and who have explicitly called for disobedience in the form of "celebrating Mass" without priests. And of course, they aren't even seeking to "abolish celibacy" (whatever that would mean), they're just seeking to not have it be mandatory for diocesan priests.

This isn't about denouncing those who would seek to allow married men to be priests by legitimate discussion and obedient advocacy for change. It's about calling out disobedient dissident heretic agitators. But the headlines are bound to leave the public utterly confused about this extremely valid distinction. And that does get on my nerves.

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