With Papa F trending on Twitter, and the flurry of press around World Youth Day and the Pope’s comments on homosexuality making the internet explode recently, I thought it would be a good chance to talk about Catholicism in the media.
First of all, if you haven’t read the Pope’s comments on homosexuality, go here: linkity link.
Now, this is how I imagine this interview with the pope actually happening.
When in reality, nothing has changed, and nothing will ever change about the Church’s teaching. If you would like to read more about this, I don’t have a link readily available but google for a bit and you’ll find plenty o’Catholic bloggers out there reminding everyone that what the Pope said was already Catholic Doctrine and always will be. [The CCC is also helpful, but I don’t have my copy with me right now…so you’ll have to do some of your own digging. Sorry for this paragraph telling you I basically can’t help you at all.]
What’s important, however, is why the media is so misinformed, and what we as Catholics can do to change this.
First of all, the media is misinformed because we let it be misinformed. This doesn’t happen just with Catholic issues – on a relatively large scale, the media often gets things wrong. It’s not necessarily their fault anymore, to be quite honest. Major media outlets went from producing quality newscasts 1 or 2 times a day on regular TV channels (and before that, two newspapers a day if you were lucky), to owning their own channels and being required to fill empty space between significant news 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
This is no easy job. I’m not a reporter myself, but I can imagine that that load of responsibility to constantly come up with something new and exciting and refreshing and new and new hour after hour must be nearly impossible. Viewers aren’t going to stick around if it’s the same 3 stories repeated every 15 minutes in this age of Facebook news feed immediacy and tweets and live stream everything.
So, when a group that’s not usually in mainstream media (aka the Catholic Church) has an open press conference like Papa Francis did on the plane back from Brazil, they’re going to cover it (because they need new information) and they’re going to put it out there quickly. This is not an insult to journalists, because we rely so very heavily on them, and owe them all (as a collective group) a huge debt of gratitude for the work they do to keep the public informed.
But, when they hear something like what the Pope said about homosexuality, which goes against the stereotype and assumption about Catholics and Catholicism, they’re going to report it as completely new information and as if it’s a drastic change from before. Most in secular media outlets aren’t going to know to check the Catechism to see if this has been taught before, nor even know that they maybe should check before reporting it as new [aka, Catholic teaching doesn’t change very often, and definitely not very easily]. No, they’re going to go with their gut and report it as new information, because let’s be honest – to them, it probably is. They maybe haven’t heard a Catholic ever say to them that we find no place in our religion to judge others, that we love each and every person no matter what. “If a gay person is in eager search of God, who am I to judge them? The Catholic Church teaches that gay people should not be discriminated against; they should be made to feel welcome,” said Pope Francis. Is it not a little sad that people were surprised he said this?
In their situation, I’d probably be shocked too. From everything I myself see in mainstream media and culture about Catholics, I wouldn’t believe that was Catholic teaching unless I heard it from the Pope himself [haha…].
If I wasn’t Catholic, how much more shocking would that be?
That’s a shame, but that’s where you and I come in.
We are the only ones who can change the misinformation that abounds about Catholicism in this world. We can’t sit the media down and tell them to check the Catechism before reporting something – that’s irrational [and sounds like a lot of work, to be honest].
We need to build ourselves up as people who speak out in our belief – our belief in Jesus Christ, our belief in His word, and in the Truth that makes us who we are.
We must become writers, bloggers, tweeters [twitterers?], posters, askers, tumblr-ers, videographers, directors, actors, novelists, artists, students, teachers, planners, professionals, stay-at-home-moms, stay-at-home-dads, accountants, parishioners, leaders, speakers, listeners, citizens, people that speak out about our beliefs. That aren’t willing to let misinformation abound. That are willing to answer the hard questions, and are willing to go the extra mile to correct someone [gently, of course] if they pass on misinformation.
We need people who are willing to stand up for ourselves and our Church.
We need people who are willing to spread the Love that fuels our faith.
Will you join me?