How the media got it wrong on Pope Francis

At Aleteia, Tom Hoopes has an interesting article listing all the ways the media got it wrong in reporting on  Pope Francis.

It is interesting to review them.   I remember how valiantly  I tried initially to combat media reports by encouraging people to read the transcript of the whole interview on the plane or the whole article in a Jesuit Magazine etc. to get the context.

I have kind of given up.  There is too much. The Pope speaks too much and he speaks spontaneously and incautiously.  I like the former—the spontaneity and the life in his homilies is a wonderful contrast to the dry reading of a text by men who seldom know how to lift it off the page.  It is refreshing.  I do not like the latter because it leaves Pope Francis open to misinterpretation and for the creation of this Media Pope Francis that may have nothing to do at all with the real man and what he’s trying to do as Holy Father.

I was thinking though, about the so-called public relations disasters of say Pope Benedict.  Take the Regensburg address.  It was so clear from the beginning that the reaction to the text had nothing to do with this prophetic document and the Pope was completely innocent in regard to the bizarre response that ended up killing more than 100 people in rioting and the setting of fire of embassies and barbaric stuff like that.

There was a clarity and precision in Benedict even when he was speaking off the cuff that was like a drink of living water in the desert.  Yes, there was a lot of negative reaction to him, but one could clearly see he was a sign of contradiction to the world for speaking the truth.  No, he did not deliver a text well.  He was not like John Paul II with his actor’s training and ability to project.  He was not photogenic either.

In thinking about Pope Francis and the headlines that came out of the recent synod regarding the midterm relatio, then later when there seemed to be a revolt of the synod fathers against it, there is not that kind of clarity that shows the clear light of truth being “comprehended not” by the world.  As one journalist who was in Rome for the synod told me, the mainstream media basically reported accurately on the mid term relatio and there probably aren’t many journalists who would not believe Pope Francis at least tacitly approved the midterm report.

It’s sad that the final synod report and the Pope’s closing address to the synod did not get more coverage and in the world’s eyes through the msm he is deemed to have a gay agenda and to be for changing the discipline on marriage regarding divorced and remarried Catholics.    While Benedict did not give reason for the highly negative media campaign against him; Pope Francis’ incautious remarks and actions do make it easier to believe the mainstream media’s interpretations.   Thus, it is good to read this analysis at Aleteia. An excerpt:


All heck broke loose in the media when a report mid-way through the Synod on the Family was released. The English language version contained this fateful phrase about same-sex-attracted persons: “Are our communities capable of providing that, accepting and valuing their sexual orientation, without compromising Catholic doctrine on the family and matrimony?”

That “valuing their sexual orientation” phrase was what caused the problem. The Church has long taught that we value homosexual persons. But to value the orientation itself? That is inconsistent with the other Catechism teachings about homosexuality.

It was not long before the mistranslation at the heart of the problem was revealed: In every other language the document recommended we “evaluate” their sexual orientation, not “value” it. Pope Francis a month later prayed for “all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, communities, and whole societies.”


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11 Responses to How the media got it wrong on Pope Francis

  1. Matthew Markovich says:

    Sorry, I still don’t trust this Pope. He is a Protestant in Catholic clothing.

  2. EPMS says:

    My idea of a Protestant in Catholic clothing is someone who is very supportive of the idea of ecclesiastical authority as long as it is supporting positions he already agrees with, but not so much when it isn’t.

  3. TACit no more says:

    Those are some odd remarks about Pope Benedict XVI. I personally was not so moved by JPII precisely because he was an actor, and as well the Maciel business lurked in the background and gave me great unease when he didn’t address it. Pope Benedict on the other hand didn’t hesitate to take on enormous problems like that because he knew how important it was to do. He often seemed to me so visibly eager to meet God’s and believers’ expectations, including in televised appearances, that he manifested superhuman grace in doing so, allowing the Holy Spirit to speak through him though an earthen vessel. And it was precisely that which makes him a very telegenic presence, and frequently photogenic. Perhaps these things are in the eye of the beholder. As for not delivering a text well, perhaps one also needs to know how to receive a text, or perhaps it is easier if one understands German or Italian, or Spanish. Yet even in accented English the remarks he delivered on his visit to the UK in September 2010 were spell-binding to an interested listener. I could watch clips of these and many other talks by B16 over and over without tiring, in particular such extemporizing as he gave in his final address to the priests of Rome summarizing his experience of Vatican II. It was teaching for the ages, as he is a consummate teacher the like of which is not often among us.
    Pope Francis seems to affect a different aspect of the human soul. I do miss Benedict greatly.

  4. Michael says:

    No, he did not deliver a text well. He was not like John Paul II with his actor’s training and ability to project. He was not photogenic either.

    May I comment that this is purely a subjective opinion? And furthermore, to remark that Pope Benedict was “not photogenic” smacks of superficial assessment.

    I have always found Pope Benedict a grandfatherly figure, which I regard more highly than whether he is or is not photogenic.

  5. Father Gerard says:

    Calling the Pope a “Protestant in Catholic c,othing” is an oxymoron of the most silly kind.

    • Matthew Markovich says:

      That’s your opinion. I have stated mine. Like it or lump it. I’m not the only one who feels this way. Also, just because he speaks doesn’t mean he is correct or should be listened too when he makes stupid statements like ‘evolution is true’ no further discussion needed. I’m sure GOD the ALL HOLY TRINITY found that one hilarious.

      • Rev22:17 says:


        You said: That’s your opinion. I have stated mine. Like it or lump it. I’m not the only one who feels this way.

        Rather, I have to agree with EPMS on this. To be fully Catholic is to be in full communion with the successor of St. Peter, the Bishop of Rome, who defines what it is to be Catholic.

        However, there may be many Protestants who are more Catholic than the members of the Catholic Church who think themselves to be more Catholic than the Pope, or who accuse the Pope of abandoning essential truth. The normative presumption in the external forum is that those baptized or received into full communion are in good standing in the church until competent ecclesial authority determines otherwise, but that presumption does not extend to the internal forum, where automatic canonical penalties — including excommunication — may well apply.


      • Stephen K says:

        Actually, Matthew Markovich, it isn’t sufficient to simply protest that what you said was your opinion and what Father Gerard said was his; you are indeed (a) entitled to express an opinion and (b) entitled to dislike Pope Francis. But what you said was indeed a silly oxymoron (Do you know what an oxymoron is?).

        There is no way you can meaningfully repudiate Father Gerard as it stands. He is not saying you cannot express an opinion, only that you expressed an opinion in the shape of a very silly oxymoron. It would be clear even to blind Freddy that you and Father Gerard will disagree on quite a number of things, even about evolution (perhaps), but the answer to Father Gerard’s comment cannot simply be that you can say whatever you like (which you can) but must be that what you said was not an oxymoron of the silliest kind….and prove it.

  6. EPMS says:

    In 1996 John Paul II reaffirmed the 1950 statement of Pope Pius XII (Humani Generis) that there was no conflict between evolution and the Catholic faith, within certain conditions. In fact Pope John Paul stated that since 1950 evolution has become more than a hypothesis, as more evidence from more disciplines has accumulated.

  7. Father Gerard says:

    I am aware that your low opinon of the Pope is shared by others, but it doesn’t make it any more true to refer to the Pope as a Protestant.

    • William Tighe says:

      Rather, such a remark only boomerangs upon the person making it, as it demonstrates that he has fully internalized the post-Enlightenment Protestant notion of “private judgment.”

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