The New York Times is obsessed with the Catholic Church
I know that as a Catholic I'm supposed to be very glad that the the new pope is receiving such a hearty welcome, especially from the media. But I admit I grimace every time I see something like this recent headline from The New York Times: "Pope Says Church is 'Obsessed' With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control."
There are several issues at work here. First, he didn't say that. Second, the church isn't obsessed with gays, abortion, and birth control -- The New York Times is. They and their buddies in the mainstream media are the ones who return again and again to these issues, each time putting pressure on the church to change its stance.
Please read the interview. Francis said the church is forced by others to repeatedly address these issues. He said that's a distraction and is unhelpful. "The church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently."
The news media have an agenda. This is part of it.
As a result of the ongoing media-constructed "controversy," those who receive their information from the news media are justified in believing that the church is obsessed with these issues. But I would encourage you ask a church-going Catholic exactly how often these issues arise at Mass, and to describe the message that is delivered.
There is also the fact that Pope Francis hasn't said anything new. In his interview, he makes that very point. It's just news to the media, who also got John Paull II all wrong and did an even poorer job with Benedict.
To some degree, that's just the nature of the news business. Which sells more -- "Church obsessed with Gays" or "Francis repeats church stance on gays, abortion and birth control"?
I suppose I should be glad that the church's stance is actually getting out to the people. But at some point, the media herd will turn on Francis. That's what stampeding, mindless herds do. At that point they won't say, "Geez, maybe we shoulda listened to the guy," or "maybe that headline was really misleading."
Instead, they'll say that he has renounced his formerly liberal, enlightened views. And then people will believe that.
Theodore Dawes is a longtime reporter who now works as a media consultant. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.