The Media And Religious Illiteracy

I always tell the candidates and catechumens in the RCIA to avoid getting         their theology or facts on the workings of the Catholic Church from the news media.

The MSM is usually ignorant of religion especially Catholicism. They don’t even try, it seems, to get it right anymore.

Journalist John Allen is the only bright light at the dissident National Catholic Reporter. He is dying breed of old school journalists. He actually digs for the facts in a news item, and then reports the, gasp, facts. He leaves his opinion out of it.

In a recent article, Allen tackles the dismal state of religion news. It is well worth the read.

Excerpt (H/T Get Religion):

On Tuesday a piece in the U.K.-based Telegraph carried the following headline: “Muslims will become majority in Europe, senior Vatican official warns.” An alarmist subhead added: “European Christians must have more children or face the prospect of the continent becoming Islamized, a senior Vatican official has said.”

Seeing that header, I wondered if the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, had delivered a speech somewhere I didn’t know about, or if the President of the Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue, French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, maybe had given an interview to Le Monde that was making the rounds.

In any event, I held my breath, because pugnacious statements from the Vatican about Islam have a history of kicking up dust.

Then I drilled down into the article, and discovered that the “senior Vatican official” is an 81-year-old Italian priest named Fr. Pierro Gheddo, who in reality holds no Vatican position whatsoever. (In the index to the Annuario, where the names of Vatican personnel appear, he’s not there.) Gheddo is a member of the Pontifical Institute of Foreign Missions, a religious order founded to support the overseas missions of the Milan archdiocese, but that no more makes him a Vatican official than being a Jesuit or Dominican makes one pope.

Gheddo is a veteran missionary and a prolific author and speaker. For the record, he serves as postulator for three sainthood causes, but that doesn’t make him a “Vatican official” either, and certainly not a “senior” one.

In other words, this is a bit like the Washington Post taking a comment from a retired analyst from the Brookings Institute, who has no job at the White House and who couldn’t even get into the building without permission, and trying to pass it off as coming from a “senior administration official.”

It’s hard to tell whether this was an honest mistake, or a deliberate act of “sexing up” a story. In any event, it was dangerous — whenever you stoke the clash of civilizations, you’re playing with fire.

Do read the whole article here.

About Susan Kehoe

I am the wife of a Catholic deacon living in Des Moines Iowa. My husband Larry was ordained in 2006. We have two children and five grandchildren.. Our daughter and her family live in Ireland, and our son and his family live in Franklin Massachusetts.
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1 Response to The Media And Religious Illiteracy

  1. LeAnn says:

    Wow! Very interesting article and I’m so glad that he took the time to explain the different offices in the Vatican and how the priest who was quoted was not a vatican official.


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