10 Issues With The Media’s Narrative About Catholicism & The Synod on Marriage & Family

  • The media frames all the synod’s discussions in terms of politics. The usual narrative is progressive vs conservative and too often Catholics get caught in this game as well. We have to learn that these are political terms and don’t really apply to The Church.
  • The media only sees the human element of the Church, not the divine element. There is more to the Catholic Church than just humans who have agendas, play political games, and are trying to get their way. But, since all the media sees are these human elements, the divine elements are not part of the story.
  • A discussion on issues doesn’t mean the Church is adopting every aspect of the discussion. Pope Francis has asked the Bishops in attendance to be honest and open. In other words, he is hoping that all options are thrown on the table. That doesn’t mean the Catholic Church will be adopting every idea thrown into the mix. I have a feeling a lot of media will be disappointed at the end of it all.
  • The Church is in the process of getting back to her primary mission (evangelization) and is examining everything she does in light of this mission, including marriage and family. Too often the Church has merely proclaimed the teachings of Jesus, rather than learning how to communicate them with charity and love of the those who she is speaking to. In understanding how we communicate is important, just as what we teach, there might be a change in tone but not content. Francis is particularly concerned with how Catholicism is perceived.
  • The media is currently more about selling a product than fairness / truth in reporting. When most reporters write articles today, they are thinking in terms of making money for their employer, getting name recognition, and having readers pay attention. News media is rarely about accuracy, nuance, complexity, and getting the story straight. Remember all the major news outlets are now owned by mega-corporations who have investors that expect to make money.
  • The Church is still terrible about managing the media and working with the issues discussed above. Almost every major organization now has internal experts that help manage marketing, communications, and advertising. The Catholic Church does not and it shows. From the outdated design on the Vatican’s website to the way they hold press conferences to the press releases they put out, most understand we are woefully deficient in this area. We don’t manage media, marketing, and the press well, which means we don’t get to set the story lines they print.
  • Some folks in the media do not like the Catholic Church and will use every opportunity they can to put us in a bad light. Sometimes the “we are persecuted” line gets rolled out too much. But, the truth is there are still a good number of decision-makers in the media who have no love for Catholicism. Knowing this and doing something about it are two different things however.
  • The Church has been discussing these issues for a while, but they didn’t hit the press until Pope Francis started to change the perception of the Papal office. The problem with waging a “culture war” is someone seems to be an “enemy” and not very amenable to hearing the other side. Yet, look at the quote below. It appears very similar to what Francis is saying, but Francis is the one who is credited with shaking things up. Well, not necessarily: “It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the church’s pastors wherever it occurs.” -Benedict XVI
  • The issue is confused because of the failure to separate the action with the person, in regards to persons with same-sex attraction. Many people identify themselves as “gay” or “homosexual”. This is unique, because they are identifying themselves with an action or desire. The issue is the Church separates each person from the things they do or desire. We are ALL children of God and precious. But, sometimes we do things that aren’t good for us and sometimes we all do things that are wrong. This separation of act and person is a fundamental split between Catholicism and the media which reflects our wider modern culture.
  • The Catholic Church doesn’t have the power to change her doctrines, but how she communicates them is something else. Both these statements are true: (a) stealing is wrong and can have eternal consequences. (b) God’s mercy can forgive anything we do wrong, if we are truly sorry. Which is more attractive? Most would say (b) is the more attractive option. The same goes for all the issues above. We can’t change the teaching of Jesus, but how we communicate the truth is another thing.

Note: this is a part of a bigger post, to read it entirely please visit Aggie Catholics


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