Thursday, August 30, 2018

Footnote to Previous Posting: On John Thavis' Testimony re: How Vatican Press Corps Cheered When Benedict Was Elected

A footnote to what I posted earlier today providing some recent commentary on the Viganò story: did you notice in the article by Michelle Boorstein John Thavis' report that there was a loud cheer in the press room of the Vatican press corps when Pope Benedict's election was announced? Thavis states that it has been revelatory for him to discover just how conservative many religion reporters covering Catholic matters and the Vatican really are, the grousing of these journalists about Pope Francis, their adulation of John Paul II and his successor Benedict.

This doesn't surprise me in the least. I've always known this is how large sectors of the Catholic media lean, though I'm far from an insider in any of those circles. 

What I'd propose needs further discussion is what all this implies for how the Catholic media have historically dealt with LGBTQ people, LGBTQ issues, with theological and pastoral questions regarding these matters. This is now an unavoidable discussion in light of Viganò's letter, which openly calls for an attack on gay priests and members of the hierarchy.

Conservative German Catholic journalist Oliver Maksan notes this in an article yesterday — that the question dividing Catholics today, which is at the heart of Viganò's attack on Francis, is how the church should deal with queer people. And yet he concludes, curiously, that the media are hamstrung to talk openly about any of this, due to the power of the "homosexual network" in the church. 

Yes, he echoes Viganò's own phrase. He states that if it had been Benedict and not Francis who were under attack regarding all of this, the media would have opened the gates of hell against Benedict. And he thinks they have not done this in the case of Francis, in response to Viganò's letter!

So, if middle-of-the-road Vatican journalist John Thavis is to be believed, the press corps covering the Vatican has long leaned in a very conservative direction, cheering when its beloved John Paul II was replaced with his surrogate Cardinal Ratzinger — but, according to Oliver Maksan, the media can't cover Francis and the "homosexual network" in the church with any openness due to the power of that network? And the media would be subjecting Benedict to much more critical scrutiny if Viganò had attacked him and not Francis? Something's not right here.

It seems to me that the media including the Catholic media continue to protect Benedict and John Paul II at the expense of Francis, and have not hesitated in the least to go after Francis — in contrast to how they treated his predecessors. And I'd propose once again, that if we conclude this is, in fact, the case, we need to look at how the Catholic media, in particular, have long dealt with LGBTQ people, LGBTQ issues, and questions about theological and pastoral approaches to this segment of the human community.

All of this is unavoidable, given Viganò's very direct attack on the LGBTQ community and his allegations that Francis has been soft on queer people.

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