Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Bertone Slams Media

Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone recently expressed frustration with the media's obsession with Church sexual teaching, at the expense of everything else. He noted:
"We face an extremely grave problem. The church's messages are subject to a type of manipulation and falsification by some western media...I see a fixation by some journalists on moral topics, such as abortion and homosexual unions, which are certainly important issues but absolutely do not constitute the thinking and work of the church...Why this deafening silence? We have to say the press does not write much about the social and charity work of thousands of Catholic organisations around the world."
Of course, it's not just gays and sex. To be fair, the media is quite capable of bringing up a diverse range of topics, such as the Inquisition, Galileo, sex abuse, and the Crusades. Oh, and how women are ill-treated in Catholicism, but apparently not at all (judging from media attention) in Islam or orthodox Judaism. Fair and balanced indeed!


Antonio Manetti said...

I'd like to see objective data supporting claims about unfair press coverage.

That aside, your assertions about the lack of media coverage of the mistreatment of women by Islam are totally without substance.

For one thing, Hirsi Ali has gotten a lot of press attention over her criticisms in this area(try googling on her name to see how extensive the publicity has been). What's more, there's been plenty of coverage regarding the practice of clitorectomy, as well as gang rape and stoning to death as legal penalties for women accused of sexual transgressions. Then there's the extensive and continuing coverage of the subordination of women in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

With regard to organized religion in general, expecting the media to act as a cheerleader or write the parish bulletin is unreasonable. Also, keep in mind that the the media is in the business of reporting the news. So, while the Church performs many laudable acts of charity, such activity is about as newsworthy as reporting that the Church is against sin.

Besides, compared to other institutions, organized religion generally gets treated with kid gloves by the media.

For the most part, unless an issue spills over into the public domain and ignites controversy, the media does little or nothing in the way of aggressive investigative reporting.

One noteworthy exception was the sexual abuse scandal, where the problems became so flagrant that they could no longer be swept under the rug.

Morning's Minion said...

There is indeed, as you note, some media attention focused on Islam and women, but it mostly relates to the extremes (genital mutilation, honor killings etc). Here's a thought experiment for you: the pope wakes up tomorrow and says that from now on, women have to cover their heards in church, and have to sit down the back, completely seperate from men. How do you think the media would react? And why does it not react the same way to the treatment of women in mosques and orthodox Jewish synagogues?

Antonio Manetti said...

Although I question the utility of a comparing a hypothetical with reality, I'd venture to guess that there would be plenty of adverse media attention if the pope decided to impose new strictures on Catholic women. Juxtaposing that with long-standing restrictions in Islam or orthodox Judaism however is comparing apples to oranges.

I believe it's worth noting that the Southern Baptist's Convention's recent reassertion of the husband's biblical primacy received practically no coverage by the mainstream media.

Anonymous said...

I see a fixation by some journalists on moral topics, such as abortion and homosexual unions

As we all know too well, there is an total obsession in the secular media with anything sexual. But it's not limited to the secular media. Voices who represent (or claim to represent) Catholics in the American media are almost exclusively from the far rightwing of the Church and appear to have no major concerns other than abortion, gay marriage (and nudging Catholics into the Republican party based on those 2 issues). The bishop's specific complaint about a fixation on abortion and gays could easily apply to EWTN and other Catholic outlets I've heard who harp on these issues 24/7. Perhaps he was subtly trying to make that point???