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April 14, 2005
Tim Scheiderer at (703) 683-5004, ext. 126

The Media Want to Tell the Pope How to
Run the Catholic Church

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ALEXANDRIA, Va. --- A new report, The Life of Pope John Paul II: Shepherd of Souls or Antiquated Authoritarian? released today by the Media Research Center (MRC) exposes the media’s two-handedness in reporting about the late Pope John Paul II. As the media covered his death and funeral, many noted his lifetime triumphs. Pope John Paul was praised for his help in ending the Cold War, his efforts to bring other faiths together, and his inspiring charisma that energized crowds, especially young people, during his travels.

However, when it came to the Church’s doctrines, the media were quick to criticize the Pope (and the papacy as an institution) for being out of touch with the modern world. They frequently criticized the Church for its traditional teachings on contraception, abortion, sexuality, marriage, and the all-male priesthood, among other issues.

“The major media constantly comment on which direction the world should take—in their view, the secular liberal path—and reporters are doing the same with the Catholic Church. They continually lobbied the Pope to invent a more convenient church that defines holiness down for its members,” said MRC President Brent Bozell.

Key findings from the study

The Communist Pope? Reporters and pundits alike acknowledged Pope John Paul’s political triumph in opposing Soviet communism. But over the years, several liberal media portrayed Pope John Paul as comparable to (or even inferior to) a communist dictator during his reign at the Vatican.

John Paul vs. Conservatism. The media protested the conservative influence of the Pope and the bishops on sexual issues. Sometimes, it was labeled a grievous invasion of the Church upon the State. Conversely, when the Pope sounded a note more pleasing to liberals, suddenly his influence was lauded as a voice of booming moral authority against conservatives.

Liberals vs. John Paul. Reporters who see themselves as advocates for democracy and modernity found Pope John Paul lacking in both. They insisted he stop his fuddy-duddy conservative opposition to the sexual revolution, look at the public opinion polls, and step into a 21st century world. This was the media’s formula to maintain and grow parishioner numbers, especially in the United States.

"Catholics" vs. Catholicism. When discussing the urge for potential "reform" of the church, the secular media demanded religion-by-ballot. In a modern world, there was no room for antiquated, sacred traditions. Awe for an "authoritarian" God was for the simple-minded. Reporters glorified and enlarged the influence of John Paul’s opponents. They constantly lobbied for what they called the "many Catholics" who wanted to destroy the traditions and infallible teachings of the faith.

The report concludes the media must present a fair and accurate picture of the selection of a new pope. Reporters should not place their thumb on the scale in an attempt to invent a Catholic Church more in tune with the social stands of secular journalists.

Related Items:
Executive Summary
Complete Study



To schedule an interview with Brent Bozell or another MRC spokesperson,
please contact Tim Scheiderer at 703.683.5004 x. 126.





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