There’s nothing the media enjoy more than trashing observant Catholics. Pope Francis has escaped most of this because journalists believe he will liberalize the church. But the media show their true colors with their attacks on Pope John Paul II on the verge of his canonization for sainthood.
By any measure Pope John Paul II was an amazing man and the world is much better off for his countless contributions. He helped break the communist hold on his native Poland. He, along with Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, worked to defeat the Soviet Union. Even The Washington Post gave him credit, saying, “Karol Wojtyla helped inspire a workers' rebellion in his native Poland that became a model for anti-communist upheavals in the rest of Eastern Europe.”
His pontificate was marked by outreach to Jews, Muslims and Anglicans. He didn’t just want to make the Catholic Church stronger. He tried to make faith stronger. And his success is a tribute to the man and his beliefs.
In the eyes of the media, none of that is good enough.
The New York Times liberal columnist Maureen Dowd bashed the pope in her April 22 piece, “A Saint, He Ain’t.” Well, that settles it. As all the world knows, if the Times disapproves of you, you can’t be saintly. Dowd concluded, “given that he presided over the Catholic Church during nearly three decades of a gruesome pedophilia scandal and grotesque cover-up, he ain’t no saint.”
That’s what it comes down to. The Catholic Church and the pope must be condemned because a small number of priests were using the doctrines and secrecy of the Church to horribly abuse children.
Dowd, who found Bill Clinton’s lies “poignant and endearing,” demands perfection of the pope and a contemporary knowledge of the horrors of pedophilia that no person alive in that era possessed.
Of course Dowd wasn’t alone in decrying the canonization of John Paul II. The Daily Beast referred to it as the “The Seedy Side of Sainthood.”
The UK Daily Telegraph said flat out the pope “should not be made a saint.”
This is standard operating procedure for media that despise the Catholic faith’s belief in life and traditional marriage.
The holy trinity for journalists includes gay marriage, abortion and sex outside marriage. Any religious faith that opposes those idols must be a target – especially Catholicism.
That view in commonplace in journalism, especially at the Times. In 2011, former Times Executive Editor Bill Keller compared faith to believing that “that space aliens dwell among us.” He also said he grew up Catholic believing the “bizarre” idea “that a priest could turn a bread wafer into the actual flesh of Christ.”
Network news shows are just as bad, perhaps because they appear to be staffed by those who think the church would be great if it just gave up everything it believes. When Francis was made pope, ABC, CBS and NBC didn’t waste any time telling him what they thought he should change.
ABC’s “Nightline” co-anchor Terry Moran said the Church can “revive” its original mission of aiding the poor. NBC’s Luke Russert lectured the new pope in an MSNBC blog post, calling for “an acknowledgement that the many of the Church’s recent problems stem from the unnatural requirement of celibacy.”
All three networks marked the first anniversary of Francis’ pontificate by urging him to abandon the church’s principles. On CBS “This Morning,” host Gayle King asked New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, “Can the Church doctrine be changed? That's a question many people are wondering." Dolan patiently explained, “No, doctrine itself can't be, Gayle. By definition.” That’s not the answer many liberal journalists want to hear.
Meanwhile, the networks never met a Catholic dissident they didn’t love. A study of ABC, NBC and CBS found the networks favored anti-traditional feminists over orthodox female religious by 5-to-1. Left-wing guests bemoaned the Church’s so-called “stained-glass ceiling” and lionized the politically radical “Nuns on the Bus.”
Far-left outlets are even worse. HBO’s “Real Time” host Bill Maher has repeatedly attacked Catholic faith with his TV show and movie “Religulous.” He smeared Pope Benedict as a former Nazi and called the church a “child-abusing religious cult.”
Pope John Paul II was bigger than all of them. He was a mighty enough of a Christian that he even forgave his would-be assassin. He’s an icon of faith. And that angers his critics most of all.
Dan Gainor is the Media Research Center's Vice President for Business and Culture. He writes frequently about media for Fox News Opinion. He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.