The “Media” Still Loves Pope Francis: But Why?

This article from the Catholic Register had me filling in the rest of the story as I read it.  Why just leave that in my head?  I decided it would be more enlightening to share it here as an exercise in exposing what the article implies but never says.  And they call themselves “Catholic”!  So, for educational purposes in showing fluff journalism and published nincompoopness, and satire, I present the article, with the missing meat in red.

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19.

Pope Francis reacts to questions from Associated Press reporter Nicole Winfield about the September U.S. papal visit during a news conference aboard his flight from Manila, Philippines, to Rome Jan. 19.CNS photo/Paul Haring

Francis still a hit with adoring media


  • January 31, 2015

The news cycle is like a popularity contest — and Pope Francis is winning.  So long, that is, when the object of the news reflects what the reporters and editors would have their readers believe is the right view of things.

From when he first appeared on the global stage with his election to the papal office to his recent trip to the Philippines that drew six million people to an open-air Mass, Pope Francis has been selling newspapers, literally and metaphorically. The current leader of the Roman Catholic Church is so popular with the mainstream media he may be garnering the most attention ever for a pontiff, ahead of even Pope John Paul II.  Unlike his immediate predecessors, he does not express the Catholic Faith as absolute, objective Truth, which the mainstream media rejects completely.  Because of this deliberate hiding of the Faith, the mainstream media gives him lots of attention, recognizing that, like them, he does not give any indication that he really believes those dogmas to be Truth either.

“The media actually for the most part adores him. The conservative wing doesn’t so much. They worry that he’s a bit too liberal. But by and large, the media really likes this man,” said Eric Reguly, European bureau chief for The Globe and Mail. “He wants the Church to not be ostentatious but to be working with the poor people and that immediately bought him love and respect from the media.”  Like his cohorts in the mainstream media, Reguly believes, and believes his readers must also, that to show the Church in all its glory, to exhibit all of the signs of the dignity of the papacy, is ostentatious solemn nonsense in the enlightened modern age.  Moreover, the mainstream media is enamored of socialism and the “humbleness” of Pope Francis and his own political Catholic socialism fits neatly into their own worldview.  They really love him and respect him for talking up the poor at the expense of the rest of the Gospel and its fundamental message of repentence and salvation from eternal damnation in Hell through Jesus Christ, saving the uncomfortable and duly ignored “Truths” for his homilies with his own Catholics behind Church doors, where it belongs, and not out in the public. 

Reguly has been based in Rome for the past seven years, a prime seat to observe the Pope, the Vatican and any media frenzy surrounding it all, and regularly sees Francis on the front pages of Italian newspapers.

“The conclave in 2013 was a journalist mob scene,” he said. “I’ve never seen so many journalists in my life.”  The journalists could not stand Pope Benedict XVI and were thrilled that he abdicated, and were likely tipped off by what we have since learned to be “Team Bergoglio” that a modernist pope would be elected this time to save the “spirit of Vatican II” and renew the spirit of ’68.

Pope Francis has been different from the beginning. He was the first pontiff in hundreds of years to be elected after a pope — Benedict XVI — who retired from papal office. Once in office, everything from his choice of simple living quarters to his choice of modest transportation became news.  The mainstream media have been duly impressed by his refusal to live in the ostentatious papal apartments at the Vatican and instead reside at the Sancta Marta hotel, formerly run by the “rumored to be” homosexual priest and friend of the Pope, Monsignor Battista Ricca, who was appointed to run the Vatican Bank by Pope Francis.  The mainstream media appreciated the image of Pope Francis choosing to be chauffered about in a Ford Escort as symbolic of their own desire to see the Church reduced symbolically to similar size.   

“He decided he’s not going to live in the papal apartment. He drives a little car. He’s always patting children on the head… He does all these things that brought him closer to the people, and the media responds to that because they see things changing and one of the things the media does is cover change,” said Toronto Star feature writer Sandro Contenta, author of the eBook The Francis Effect: How the Pope is Changing the Catholic Church.  The mainstream media believes that they have correctly interpreted the statements and images of Pope Francis to be indicative of the changes to Catholic dogmas they have been demanding for decades, changes which will allow for formerly grave sins to be no longer sins but goods to be celebrated, the Catholic Church to be declared equal to every other sect and religions, abortion to be declared a sacrament, and to otherwise relegate the Catholic Faith to nothing more than the mythology they believe it is, and which they believe he believes it is.

“There was this sense that there was a change happening. And so a sense of excitement that he sort of instilled in Catholics and everybody was looking at him for all sorts of reasons,” he said.  Lukewarm cultural Catholics, Catholics in name only, and “Catholycs”, that is.

When Contenta was based in Jerusalem, he covered Pope John Paul II’s visit to the Holy Land. And when he was London bureau chief, he would fly to Rome to report on the Vatican.

“I think John Paul II got at least as much coverage as Pope Francis. John Paul II was very charismatic. Remember he used to do big spectacles. He would travel a lot… and that got a lot of attention,” he said. “Pope Francis might be covered more than Pope Benedict… (A) lot of Catholics feel more in tune with Pope Francis.”  A lot of Catholics do not attend Mass regularly, do not know their Faith, believe that all religions are equal, and therefore feel more in tune with Francis because he does not insist that they must adhere to the Faith to be Catholic.  They appreciate also that Pope Francis tells them that God is so merciful, loving and understanding that they cannot possibly go to Hell, which a lot of Catholics always thought was mean to insist otherwise.

Perception is linked with personality.  Perception is also linked with words they longed to hear and are hearing now, and which are so different from what the Church always taught, which wasn’t nice and made so many feel bad.

“Pope Benedict was very much the scholarly Pope and so just on the level of personality, he was less charismatic than Pope Francis and therefore there was less excitement about him in the media,” said Contenta.  Pope Benedict acted like he really believed that he was the Vicar of Christ and that the Church was really a divinely founded institution in the world, which led to a lack of perceived charisma for the worldly.

“(Francis is) a street Pope. He’s a man of the people. He likes to get out with the crowd,” said Reguly.

“He comes across as a man who has confidence. He’s not cautious,” said Rob Robertson, senior producer of news at The National Post. “He doesn’t seem to be filtering what he’s saying. He seems to know what he believes. He seems comfortable to share it with the media and the world and those kinds of figures are always pretty compelling figures, especially when they have something to say.  The other popes had nothing to say because they would speak about Jesus Christ and His offer of salvation by redeeming mankind through his sacrifice on the Cross, whereas Pope Francis utters faddish shibboleths that undermine the True Faith and appeal to the desires of the world today, convincing the people that there is no sin, God loves them, and salvation is assured just for being good.  The mainstream media loves it that he can talk at length and say nothing comprehensible which can then be turned into a sound bite or quote that articulates what they wanted him to say, which is never in agreement with what the Church used to insist was True.

“Pope John Paul II, who was equally warm and popular beyond the Catholic Church, he was still seen as a somewhat distant figure” and “he didn’t come across like a guy you’d see walking down the street. Whereas you can see Francis, the way he speaks and the allusions he makes, the way he handles himself, he seems more like a parish priest than a Pope in his manner, a warm, welcoming, well-liked parish priest.”  They could even imagine him sleeping it off on a curb or peeing in the corner of a darkened doorway, or carousing at an off-limits-for-priests nightclub dressed up in a costume.

Robertson sees the Pope’s style as part of the attraction.

“This Pope is such an agent of change and I think the Catholic Church has had some bad years publicity-wise because of the sexual abuse scandal… And issues around the role of women and things of that nature that a lot of Catholics I think struggled with and Francis makes it easier for casual Catholics and non-Catholics to like and be interested in the Pope. He’s just such an agent of change, at least in style. Substance, I guess we’ll figure out over the long term,” said Robertson.  Robertson is convinced that Pope Francis will deliver on his indicated changes to the dogmas of the Faith, and is all but certain that he will be able to celebrate the changes that make homosexual love praised as a good and even welcome women into the priesthood.  He remains unconcerned even though Pope Francis has said somethings recently indicating that he could not make these changes, because Robertson knows he can wake one day and announce the changes in an airplane interview and make these things so since he’s the Pope.  Robertson and the mainstream media believe also that all Catholics are really casual Catholics, meaning not really Catholic at all, and want these things too.

The media’s love affair is aided by Francis’ accessibility. He is known for lengthy news conferences on plane trips, and these often provide front-page stories.  The media’s love affair really heated up when Pope Francis told them and the world that buggery is not a sin for him or any Catholic to discern anymore if the homosexual is seeking God in good faith, making no mention of a properly formed conscience or the need for abstinence from acting on this behavior.  They also were enamored of this because he was speaking at the time of homosexual priests and that he gave them a great quote to splash on their front pages.  Since then, he just keeps on giving, and they love that he gives the words to affirm their world views. 

Popes are also often defined in the media by the times in which they serve as pontiff. Pope Benedict XVI, said Reguly, “had a rough time with the media because he inherited the sexual abuse scandals (and) took a lot of criticism… Pope Benedict was very much a man under siege. He also had the Vatican bank scandals.”  It was particularly rough with the inherited sexual abuse scandals because Pope Benedict recognized that the problem arose from the admittance into seminaries and to the priesthood of active homosexuals for the previous two decades and instituted strict rules to prevent homosexuals from now entering the priesthood, which caused a lot of blowback from even within the Church.  He also took a lot of criticism because he challenged islam to use reason instead of barbarism to discuss matters of faith and respect for the other, but not so much really from the bank scandals, which almost nobody recalls or cares about today.

On the other hand, “John Paul was a superstar. Again, it was a different era. He’s given a lot of credit for tearing down the Iron Curtain,” he said.  As far as his extensive teachings on the Faith, most people including casual Catholics paid him little heed, so he was no real threat to the world furthering its goals.

Now, in Francis’ time, he is “an old man in a hurry and wants to get a lot of things done. And he’s quite happy to talk about (how) he’s cleaning up the bank finances, how he’s being much more open about discussions, homosexuals and sex… basically unimaginable under (Benedict),” said Reguly.  People know and believe that he will have no qualms about undermining the deposit of the Faith held by the Church for the last 2000 years, based upon what they think he might have been saying since he became pope.

“What Pope Francis did was change the tone of the media coverage,” said Contenta. “It was highly positive during what you called his ‘honeymoon period,’ and I would argue it continues to be generally positive because Francis is showing he is serious about making changes at the Vatican bank, the Curia and in how Church decisions are made, to name only three areas.”  Indeed, the secular and Catholic world have been clamoring for him to make changes at the Vatican Bank, being one of the main concerns for both for some time now.  The changes at the Curia will be welcomed so long as he continues to berate the men he keeps, neuters their ability to preach and advance the Faith, and gets rid of those who actually believe the Faith to be the Truth and insist publicly on that Truth.  They also look forward to Church decisions being handed over to committees of nuns recognizable only by their sensible shoes and the mazes at their headquarters, as well as lay men and women who do not practice the Faith through outward devotions such as attending Mass regularly, doing penance, receiving the sacraments and all other signs of ecclesial elitism, and which might even include non-Catholics for a better bang to Church governance.

Mainstream media coverage on Pope Francis has changed since early 2013. It is less about his personality and more about how he’s managing the Church.  The mainstream media recognizes that many concerned Catholics have begun to perceive him as a buffoon and even dim-witted, and they realize they must shift the focus to his management of the Church to change the dogmas they insist upon being changed.

“Now people are very much waiting to see what the real change will be. We now have a very good measure of the man as a person, as a Pope who is willing to pick up the phone and actually call people, a Pope who’s very down to earth. All of that still feels like a breath of fresh air to a lot of people and to the media,” said Contenta.  People recognize his true lack of belief in the Truth of the Catholic Faith and look forward to him completely undermining it according to what they believe he has been saying.  They now expect that he will put it all down in writing and bring it all crashing down to earth.

“But there is an understanding that real change, as far as doctrinal change in the Church, is still very much an open question and is still very much being debated. That kind of result takes a very long time in the Church and people are waiting to see in fact how much of that will happen under his papacy.”  Even though the discussions being had today about the dogmas of the Faith have been decided decisively and definitively by the Church long ago, some of them from the mouth of Jesus, they expect Pope Francis to stand firm and show whose Church this is – – – his.

Posted in Faith, Life, Pope Francis the Muddle-Headed?, The Point of The Blog

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