Great moments in journalism: the Philadelphia story and bias

 

I was struck by these two competing headlines this morning. They offer quite a study in contrasts.

From Voice of America:

Catholic Church to Welcome Homosexuals at Philadelphia Meeting.

A U.S. bishop says homosexuals will be able to attend a global meeting of Catholic families in Philadelphia during a visit by Pope Francis.  About 15,000 people are expected to attend lectures and take part in workshops during that five-day event in September, aimed at strengthening sacred family bonds.  The pontiff will visit during the last two days of the meeting. 

Same-sex parents are becoming a reality despite religious and civil laws. The Catholic Church has firmly opposed same-sex marriages, but Pope Francis has expressed more tolerance for homosexuality than his predecessors.

On Thursday, a U.S. bishop visiting the Vatican announced that homosexual groups and families can have official representation at the congress in Philadelphia. At an event dedicated to gay issues, Ron Belgau, a well-known celibate gay Catholic will share his experience, said Philadelphia Bishop John McIntyre.

“He will talk about his own coming to terms with his sexual orientation and the manner in which he embraced the teaching of Christ and the Church in that process.  And his mother will also speak about her own acceptance of her son’s sexual orientation and shed light on that whole experience in terms of, from her perspective as a mother within that reality within the family,” said McIntyre.

But Philadelphia church leaders made it clear that meeting attendees will not be allowed to speak against the teachings of the church.

Then there was this, from Huffington Post/Reuters:

Gay Catholics Will Be Silenced During Pope Francis’ Philadelphia Visit: Archbishop

Homosexuals can attend a Catholic family congress in Philadelphia during Pope Francis’ U.S. visit this year but won’t be allowed to use it to attack Church teachings, the city’s archbishop said on Thursday.

“We don’t want to provide a platform at the meeting for people to lobby for positions contrary to the life of our Church,” said Archbishop Charles Chaput. The Catholic Church teaches homosexuality is not sinful but homosexual acts are.

“We are not providing that kind of lobbying opportunity,” he told a news conference presenting the September 22-27 congress known as the World Meeting of Families.

Gay Catholic groups and families headed by gay Catholics had asked for an official presence at the gathering to present their view that homosexuals should be fully welcomed in the Church.

This could be an interesting dissection for a journalism class—showing two strikingly different takes on essentially the same story. One highlights the faith-affirming “welcoming” aspect; the other splashes into the headline the loaded word “silenced.”

Bias, anyone?


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