“This spinning of the Pope’s remarks by the secular media matters because it is presenting a very warped version of Catholic truth.”
“FAITH WILL HELP YOU SEE THROUGH THE SECULAR SPIN
One of the best typos I encountered recently was a description of Damian McBride as Labour’s former ‘sin’ doctor. Sin and spin, how closely they are linked; and how sad it is that we seem to accept that we will be told less than the whole truth. We read between the lines and speculate on what the real message is. If, later on, we discover that we have been told a pack of lies or find that the dirty tricks department has been working overtime, we register the fact and move on. What else should one expect?
The trouble with spin is not that it makes us cynical but that it makes us unwitting colluders with dishonesty. If we don’t know what is going on, we cannot challenge it. That is the argument used by Julian Assange to justify his Wikileaks exposure and Edward Snowden his whistleblowing.
We can say that what they did placed many lives at risk, but there is still a doubt. Were the actions they exposed justifiable or not? Does the State have immunity from the moral laws that operate in the rest of society?
These are big questions, but they have implications for our everyday lives.
We have probably all met situations where we have been troubled about something but not known what to do for the best. It is all very well being told to stand up for the truth, but what do we do when we are not entirely sure what the truth is?
With hindsight situations may become clearer. So, for example, there have been instances of abuse in the Church where individuals felt something was not quite right but hesitated to do anything because they were not sure and didn’t want to make a false accusation. There have been business practices that trod a shaky line between legal and illegal, but those who knew about them were not confident in their ability to obtain a hearing or explain why they thought them wrong. Much easier just to let things be and hope for the best. That is a kind of ‘negative spin’ in operation, where our silence is tinged with unease.
THE SECULAR MEDIA’S SINISTER ATTACKS ON THE TRUTH
The media’s current obsession with Pope Francis is not unconnected with journalistic spin. Thus, we have the Pope presented as someone who is reversing all the decisions of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, re-writing Christian doctrine and essentially saying that anything goes. Only he isn’t. If you read with care and in full the interview Pope Francis gave to Fr Antonio Spadaro, you will have been amazed at the way in which excerpts were quoted to mean the exact opposite of what the Pope said.
For instance, he did not say that abortion is acceptable; he said that if we spend so much time talking about abortion that we omit to talk about God’s love and forgiveness, we are not doing a very good job of proclaiming the Gospel.
A beautiful homily, a genuine sermon must begin with the first proclamation, with the proclamation of salvation.
There is nothing more solid, deep, and sure than this proclamation. Then you have to do catechesis. Then you can draw even a moral consequence. But the proclamation of the saving love of God comes before moral and religious imperatives.
When, a couple of days later, he exhorted Catholic doctors not to take part in abortions, he was accused of backtracking.
This spinning of the Pope’s remarks by the secular media matters because it is presenting a very warped version of Catholic truth.
Yes, Pope Francis says things in a different way from his predecessor; yes, he is emphasising different elements of the Church’s teaching in response to his reading of what we need to hear; but he is not rubbishing the Church’s rules or saying they are unimportant.
He is trying to make us understand why the rules exist and to what, or rather whom, they should lead us.
The Year of Faith is soon coming to a close. We have spent the past year trying to get to know our faith better, to explore what it means to be a Catholic, and to respond more generously to the invitation the Lord makes to us daily. Maybe what we have learned will put us in good stead when it comes to dealing with secular spin.”
– This article by Sr Catherine Wybourne entitled “Faith will help you see through the secular spin [sub-heading in capitals and title for this post added afterwards] was published in “The Catholic Universe” issue 6th October 2013. For subscriptions please visit http://www.thecatholicuniverse.com (external link).