Should we be surprised by anti-Catholicism in the media?
The clerical sex abuse scandals that have bedeviled us for the better part of a decade are revolting. But just as revolting is the impression given by the mainline media that priests are somehow more guilty than others. Anyone familiar with Jewish papers during the opening years of the millennium knows that rabbis left just as much to be desired as their opposite numbers in the Church of Rome, yet they were given a free pass by a press whose anti-Catholic bias has long been evident. One of the most egregious cases of media misrepresentation occurred this past January after an estimated five hundred thousand activists marched for life in Washington, D.C., most of them members of religious orders or students from schools like Christendom College and Franciscan University. In its paltry coverage of this event, the New York Times led its readers to believe that the demonstrators numbered a mere “tens of thousands.”
If the pundits were honest, they would not only report the news objectively, but would also place it in a historical context, pointing out, for example, what happened in Palestine before the birth of Christ. Though there were approximately forty kings and twice that number of chief priests over a stretch of roughly a thousand years, one would be hard put to name more than five or six in either category who were virtuous. Ruler after ruler goes down in the Book of Books as having “done evil.” As for the people, they “did not obey the voice of the Lord … did not accept discipline” (Jer. 7:28). Consequently, truth “perished; it was cut off from their lips” (ibid.). And yet, these very same people were God’s chosen! However lax in the practice of their faith, they still had the Commandments; however tarnished their reputation, it was from the ranks of these Israelites that the Messiah would come.
In the New Testament, Judas Iscariot, one of the privileged Twelve, steals from the common purse and turns traitor. One doesn’t have to be a mathematical genius to see that eight or nine percent of the apostolic band was rotten to the core (as compared with two or three percent of the Catholic clergy in recent years). And yet, Jesus, who is God, not only chose Judas but said it was “impossible” that scandals would not come (Luke 17:1).
Imagine a hypothetical Jerusalem Times the day after Christ’s Resurrection, trumpeting the fact that it was our Lord who had selected Judas and trained him, going so far as to call him “friend” in the Garden of Gethsemane. Had readers turned to page A23 of the same issue, they would undoubtedly have found an op-ed piece alleging that scandal in Christ’s inner circle proved, beyond doubt, the hollowness of Christian claims, especially in light of words spoken by Jesus himself: “you will know them by their fruits” (Mt. 7:20).
Today, one can read mainline papers like the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times year in and year out without ever learning that wrong doing is not necessarily indicative of wrong teaching. Jesus made this very point when he instructed his flock to disregard the example of the corrupt Jewish teachers of his time, but to obey their ordinances because they sat “on the chair of Moses” (Mt. 23:2-3).
I submit that the greatest media scandal of all time is the media itself, and for three basic reasons – gross “spinning” of the news, narrow focus and a morally corrupt agenda. An estimated fifty percent of teenage boys, along with a rising percentage of girls, consume internet porn on a regular basis, and what do the media czars do? They defend the right of sex peddlers to ply their trade. Similarly, one million out-of-wedlock pregnancies occur every year, and how do the literary lions react? By making a case for condoms on the basis of their supposed power to prevent unwanted pregnancy even though statistics continue to show that with every ounce of “prevention” comes a pound of promiscuity.