Elsewhere: filtering Francis


Recently, I gave you my take on Pope Francis (Francis: style, substance, execution). Not that my opinion matters all that much, but I gave high marks on style and substance — not so much on execution. In that section I expressed my concern on how the pope’s message gets twisted by the media (and apparent lack of correction from the Vatican).

In the substance section however, I noted:

Pope Francis describes himself as a “loyal son of the Church.” Put another way, the pope is a faithful Catholic. Duh.

What I did not expound upon is what will happen when the media finally figures-out that he is not what they want him to be: a hard-left liberal reformer who will discard and/or disregard previous Church teaching. One popular theory is that they will viciously turn on him, probably attributing his “change of heart” to “Vatican hard-liners” prevailing (or some other such politically inspired nonsense). Such is the lens they see everything through.

George Weigel offers another possibility. He argues that the media has settled on their narrative and will not leave it. The pope will continue to teach faithfully, frequently, but the media will simply “filter” it. A sort of “if you don’t report it then it never happened and is therefore not real” approach.

At the end of last month, he gave these examples in a piece for the National Catholic Register:

Well, things like the Pope’s passionate defense of marriage as the stable union of a man and a woman, which he underscored in an address to the Schoenstatt movement right after the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family 2014 and in his keynote address to a November interreligious conference at the Vatican on the crisis of marriage in the 21st century.

And things like the Pope’s defense of the gospel of life, a persistent theme in Francis’ November address to the European Parliament. The press reports I read focused on Francis’ concerns for immigrants and the unemployed. Fair enough; that was certainly in the text. But what about the Holy Father’s defense of those whom indifference condemns to loneliness or death, “as in the case of the terminally ill, the elderly who are abandoned or uncared for and children who are killed in the womb?”

What about his insistence that Europe, past, present and future, makes no sense without Christianity? What about his condemnation of those who subject Christians “to barbaric acts of violence” and his plea for support for those Christians who are “evicted from their homes and native lands, sold as slaves, killed, beheaded, crucified or burned alive, under the shameful and complicit silence of so many”? You didn’t read much about that did you?

Nor did you read (unless you read the Pope’s text himself) that Francis, having made a plea for environmental stewardship, went on to “emphasize” (his word) that, “along with an environmental ecology, there is also need of a human ecology, which consists in respect for the person.”

Another aspect of Pope Francis’ preaching that has been too often filtered out of the coverage of his pontificate involves (if you’ll pardon the term) demonology. Before Pope Francis, no pope in decades so regularly referred to Satan.

Read the Weigel’s entire piece: Pope Francis, Filtered.

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