When it comes to the pope, the press is a one-note band

Mollie Ziegler at GetReligion fisked through some of the mainstream press accounts of the pope’s homily at the Sagrada Familia, and noticed that none of them actually seemed to have… uh… listened to it.

At least, that’s what you’d conclude from their coverage. In a homily that is almost entirely about the theology and architecture of Gaudi’s magnificent creation, he had one paragraph explaining the contemporary significance of a church dedicated to the Holy Family:

Life has changed greatly and with it enormous progress has been made in the technical, social and cultural spheres… Alongside them, there also need to be moral advances, such as in care, protection and assistance to families, inasmuch as the generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman is the effective context and foundation of human life in its gestation, birth, growth and natural end. Only where love and faithfulness are present can true freedom come to birth and endure. For this reason the Church advocates adequate economic and social means so that women may find in the home and at work their full development, that men and women who contract marriage and form a family receive decisive support from the state, that life of children may be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception, that the reality of birth be given due respect and receive juridical, social and legislative support. For this reason the Church resists every form of denial of human life and gives its support to everything that would promote the natural order in the sphere of the institution of the family.

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A nice reflection on the centrality of family, right? Wrong. Here are a few headlines from the mainstream press about the same event:

Ziegler quotes a revealing section from the LA Times report (story by AP)…

As he inaugurated the church’s main altar, he railed against same-sex marriage and divorce, saying families are built on the “indissoluble love of a man and a woman” who should be provided with financial and social benefits from governments. The pontiff also consecrated the building for use as a church in a colorful ceremony seldom seen performed by a pope.

He criticized policies allowing for abortions, saying “the life of children (must) be defended as sacred and inviolable from the moment of their conception.”

…and responds beautifully:

Well, a few things. Those quotes aren’t from an “altar dedication” but the “homily.” And not once does he mention same-sex marriage or divorce. Sure, in his dedication of a temple NAMED AFTER THE HOLY FAMILY, he does talk about how we need to support the family and about the importance of the “generous and indissoluble love of a man and a woman” and that bit about children. If these quotes — pretty standard Christian fare for, oh, the last 2,000 years — are interpreted as “railing against same-sex marriage and divorce,” that might say something about how the reporter interpreted them, but it’s not an accurate description of the homily.

Well stated. I don’t want to quote too much from her post, and encourage you to read it in its entirety. 


  • Brian Saint-Paul

    Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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