Monday, February 5, 2018

Catholic News Agency Reports That Head of German Catholic Bishops' Conference Endorses Blessings for Same-Sex Couples: All Hell Breaks Loose — Story Within Story


In a report published yesterday entitled "Cardinal Marx endorses blessing ceremonies for same-sex couples," Catholic News Agency indicates that, on 3 February, the president of the German Catholic bishops' conference, Cardinal Marx of Munich, stated that, as Catholic pastors accompany LGBTQ people on their spiritual journeys, there might be occasions on which it is pastorally appropriate for those pastors to bless same-sex couples.

Then all hell broke loose. Within a matter of four hours after CNA published its report (you can determine that time span from the two CNA tweets above), CNA felt compelled to append the following editorial note to this article:

In response to questions and public commentary regarding this story, CNA has decided to publish our translation of an excerpt from Cardinal Marx's Feb. 3 radio interview, which is available below. 
Questions have been raised regarding CNA's characterization of the cardinal's remarks as an "endorsement." Our headline is intended to reflect that Cardinal Marx directly answered in the affirmative ("yes") to the question of "bless[ing] homosexual couples in the Church," saying that such a decision must be made by "the pastor on the ground," in each "particular, individual case." While CNA does not retract our headline, we appreciate the questions that have been asked, work to avoid sensationalism, and will continue to scrutinize our texts and headlines for fairness and accuracy.

The question this editorial note and the tweet announcing that CNA was appending this editorial note to the original article raises: who, precisely was raising "questions" about what CNA originally published? I suspect many of us have a pretty good idea of who these "question"-raising folks are. They're the same folks who watch Father James Martin's Twitter feed and announcements of his upcoming lectures with the voraious intent of controlling him and attacking what he says. I understand from folks who have been following the reaction to CNA's story about Cardinal Marx that the homophobic traditionalist wing of the Catholic church, the right-wing wing of the Catholic church, in particular, has its knickers in a knot over this CNA story. Some of the exercised reaction of that wing of the church is on full display in the comments following CNA's first tweet of the story at the top of this posting.

In many ways, this reaction and how it resulted almost immediately in an editorial statement added to the original story are as much the story here as are Cardinal Marx's statements — or so it seems to me. There are folks within the Catholic church, especially but not exclusively in the U.S., who watch like hawks to "correct" stories like this as swiftly as they can do so. And their "correction" often quite often takes the form of outright, ugly bullying.

Or so it seems to me.

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