Truth Sifting to the Top 2: AP Retracts False Accusations Made in Babies Buried in Septic Tank Story

HOAX

I’m writing back to back truth-sifting-to-the-top posts today.

It happens that way sometimes. The truth, after a loud cacophony of untruths, will suddenly start sifting to the top all at once.

It seems that the story of Irish nuns having dumped 700 baby bodies into a septic tank is just that: A story. Or rather, a hoax. Or, to put it bluntly the invention of an anti-Catholic press looking for anything at all to be turned into another scandalizing story about the Church.

Father James Martin, SJ, who is an editor at large at America magazine, pinged the Associated Press in public about their inaccurate reporting of the Septic Tank Story. The AP responded by printing a retraction.

The one time I asked for a retraction from a publication because of a story about me, the story was serious lawsuit bait. They printed a left-foot-of-honesty retraction kind of like this one. Instead of just saying “we got it wrong folks,” they spent most of the ink saying that I hadn’t been available when they tried to contact me to verify.

I should have demanded at least one other retraction, for the same reason, (lawsuit bait) but didn’t. I kind of regret that now. However, I’m sure their retraction would have been as murky as the one I got the first time. After being attacked like this for years, I’m slower than most to believe these too-bad-to-be-true exposes.

Since it wouldn’t be possible for either the dead nuns or the dead babies to sue, my hat is off to the Associated Press for giving it up and doing a retraction. I am also grateful to Father Martin for pushing them to do it. America Magazine has the clout to force the issue, something that not everyone does.

I want to ask Public Catholic readers to stop and consider all this in light of themselves and their reactions. The babies buried in the septic tank story sounded bogus from day one. It was implausible on its face. I wrote about this and then commented on it in the com boxes. The response was that a few commenters chimed in with reality-stretching explanations as to why the story could have been true, despite the impracticality of stuffing 700 bodies into a septic tank.

I think those people wanted to believe the story, for their own reasons.

On the other hand, a lot of good people got drug off the road by this story. I imagine there were heartsick Catholics all over the world going, “not again,” when they read this thing. I’m guessing that a lot of them got down at heart over it, and maybe even a few of them wondered if they would still follow the Church.

That was the agenda behind this story. The reason for jumping on this odd assortment of random facts and stringing them together into accusations of 700 baby bodies thrown into a septic tank by nuns who operated a Catholic orphanage was … well … to damage the Church and to destroy your faith.

I had no hard proof the story was bogus.

But my knowledge gained from having lived in a household that used a septic tank,

plus my understanding of the space requirement for 700 bodies,

plus my knowledge of the Church’s teachings about respect for human remains,

plus my understanding of the kind of people I know nuns to be,

plus my understanding of how lousy the popular press is with anti-Catholicism

led me inexorably to the conclusion that the story, minus some real proof, was, to put it bluntly, almost certainly a dead, flat lie.

However, I didn’t jump out there and say this is a lie. What I did was counsel you to wait and see how it all turned out; to let the truth sift itself to the top.

I’m going back over this now to caution readers, once again, about the popular media. You can’t believe them. They deliberately use stories that get you worked up and hook you into obsessive viewing throughout their 24-hour news cycle.

More to the point, much of the popular media is rabidly anti-Catholic. I look at a lot of news stories about religion, and I can tell you that I see story after story, trashing the Catholic Church, Christians and Christianity. The rare balanced — not favorable, but balanced — story stands out like a flashing light.

Most of what the media is saying about the Church is carefully selected and edited to put the Church in the worst possible light. I think the reason for this is that the Church has taken courageous stands on social issues that go against the media zeitgeist.

In this atmosphere, my advice to let the truth sift itself to the top is doubly important. Do not allow yourself to be yanked around emotionally by these stories. Do not bite down on the the totally untrue implication that you have to decide who is right or wrong and what should happen to them.

There are plenty of things in your life that you need to decide, and plenty of things you need to be concerned about. But these endless cycles of outrageous and manufactured stories are not among them.

When it comes to negative reporting about our Church, get out your salt. Take every negative story published about the Church that does not have substantial objective facts that you can look at yourself to back it up with as much salt as you can load in your wagon and wheel in.

Here, courtesy of America, the National Catholic Review, is the left-footed retraction from the Associated Press. Notice it falls over itself with one thing that has been lacking in the reporting of this story: Specificity. The retracting is limited to specific facts the AP got so wrong there is no denying it. Even then, they toss in the idiot jibe that “that may have occurred” regarding refusal of baptism. No proof, no fact; just speculation to gloss their mistake.

Ireland-Children’s Mass Graves story

DUBLIN (AP) — In stories published June 3 and June 8 about young children buried in unmarked graves after dying at a former Irish orphanage for the children of unwed mothers, The Associated Press incorrectly reported that the children had not received Roman Catholic baptisms; documents show that many children at the orphanage were baptized. The AP also incorrectly reported that Catholic teaching at the time was to deny baptism and Christian burial to the children of unwed mothers; although that may have occurred in practice at times it was not church teaching. In addition, in the June 3 story, the AP quoted a researcher who said she believed that most of the remains of children who died there were interred in a disused septic tank; the researcher has since clarified that without excavation and forensic analysis it is impossible to know how many sets of remains the tank contains, if any. The June 3 story also contained an incorrect reference to the year that the orphanage opened; it was 1925, not 1926

For more details, check out Kathy Schiffer’s great post on this topic. 

Media Reports the Jesus Story

Buddy christ

 

What if our media had been around to cover the Jesus story? How would they have spun it? 

Here are a few ideas. 

 

Headline:

Jesus Favors Legalized Prostitution

The Actual Story:

The scribes and the Pharisees *brought a woman caught in adultery, and having set her in the center of the court, they *said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in adultery, in the very act. Now in the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women; what then do You say?” They were saying this, testing Him, so that they might have grounds for accusing Him. But Jesus stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground. But when they persisted in asking Him, He straightened up, and said to them, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” Again He stooped down and wrote on the ground.When they heard it, they began to go out one by one, beginning with the older ones, and He was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the center of the court. 10 Straightening up, Jesus said to her, “Woman, where are they? Did no one condemn you?” 11 She said, “No one, [a]Lord.” And Jesus said, “I do not condemn you, either. Go. From now onsin no more.”] John: 8

Headline:

Jesus Favors Divorce and Cohabitation

The actual Story:

16 He *said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman *said to Him, “[d]Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus *said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is [e]spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman *said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus *said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John: 4

Headline:

Jesus Favors Alcoholism and Drug Dealing

The Actual Story:

On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there; and both Jesus and Hisdisciples were invited to the wedding. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus *said to Him, “They have no wine.”And Jesus *said to her, “Woman, [a]what does that have to do with us? My hour has not yet come.” His mother *said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were six stone waterpots set there for the Jewish custom of purification, containing [b]twenty or thirty gallons each. Jesus *said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” So they filled them up to the brim. And He *said to them, “Draw some out now and take it to the [c]headwaiter.” So they took itto him. When the headwaiter tasted the water which had become wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the headwaiter *called the bridegroom, 10 and *said to him, “Every man serves the good wine first, and when the people have [d]drunk freely, then he serves the poorer wine; but you have kept the good wine until now.”  John: 2

Headline:

Marxist Jesus Opposes Capitalism, Favors Liberation Theology

The actual story:

13 The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. 15 And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables; 16 and to those who were selling the doves He said, “Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a [f]place of business.” John: 2

Headline:

Jesus Favors Banning Prayer at Public Events

The actual story:

“When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners [d]so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.

Headline:

Jesus Says Money is Outside Morality

The actual story:

 19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a [l]denarius. 20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew: 22

 Headline:

Jesus Says You Can Do Whatever You Want to Make a Profit

The actual story:

 19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a [l]denarius. 20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew: 22

Headline:

Jesus Favors Higher Taxes

The actual story:

 19 Show Me the coin used for the poll-tax.” And they brought Him a [l]denarius. 20 And He *said to them, “Whose likeness and inscription is this?” 21 They *said to Him, “Caesar’s.” Then He *said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to God the things that are God’s.” Matthew 22


Spin

See also Elizabeth Scalia’s hilarious report on media angst that our pro-life Pope is behaving like the Pope and not playing along with their script. These people evidently believe their own spin. Gotta love it. 

The Most Interesting Thing About Pope Francis’ Interview

Pope francis and dove

The most interesting thing about Pope Francis’ interview with America magazine is not the interview itself (although that is fascinating reading); it’s the fact that everyone in the press is talking/writing about it.

If you ever believed any of those claims that the Church is irrelevant, I offer you the CBS/NBC/ABC/NEWYORKTIMES/HUFFINGTONPOST/ETC/ETC/ETC reaction to every little word that comes out of Pope Francis’ mouth.

Make no mistake about it folks, the Catholic Church matters. Why?

Because, whether they will admit it or not, even those

who deny its power,

who try to re-write history to obliterate its influence,

who talk about how it is “dying” (in the face of all objective evidence to the contrary)

who flat-out hate the Church

– even those people –

know that the Catholic Church is the one great unified moral voice in the world today.

The Catholic Church is not dying. It is growing. The Catholic Church is not irrelevant.

In fact, it is so relevant that even its most dedicated opponents talk about it all the time.

Who else on this planet can give an interview and have it quoted and misquoted to “prove” this or that point in every major news venue? Who else’s interview would rise to the level that major news outlets will pull quotes out of context to “prove” that their position is supported, as if that proof constituted an essential moral underpinning for their viewpoint?

Who else, but the Pope?

The answer is no one.

There’s a reason newscasters wrote as if the Holy Father gave an interview about abortion and homosexuality, when he only mentioned these things in a few sentences. They — not the Pope — are obsessed with these things. They want his blessing for what they do. They want — they crave — the absolution of the Holy Father for their sins.

More to the point, they want a moral fiat telling them that their sins are not sins.

The problem with that is that no matter how much they take things out of context to try to make it seem so, that won’t happen. Pope Francis, when he was speaking in this interview about confessors, said that there are two ways a confessor can be wrong.

One is to be so harsh that the only thing the penitent gets from the confessor is a cold encounter with the commandments. I suppose that this would be similar to what St Paul was talking about when he referenced, “the law.” The other is to be so namby-pamby that the confessor tells the penitent that their sins are not sins. I think this latter way is what the many people who are making rash mis-interpretations of what the Pope said are after.

But the important thing for us to understand is that the Holy Father said quite clearly that both these approaches are wrong. The confessor, and through him the Church, is to show the mercy of Christ without lying to people and telling them that their sins are not sins.

We have a Pope who wants to remind people that the love of Christ is greater than their sins. He is a pastoral pope who has walked with the people enough to know how miserable and lost they are.

I don’t recall if I’ve written about it here, but I’ve often seen that much of the anger that people direct at the Church is not so much anger at God as it is their rage at feeling rejected by God. There are a lot of people who feel unloved by God, who think that God hates them.

How did they get this idea? They got it from Christians who told them that God hates them.

We tend to focus today on homosexuals in this regard. But I think that is a huge mistake. I represent thousands of people who love God but feel separated from the institutional Church because they don’t see a place for themselves inside it. I deal every day with people who are hungry for God, but feel alienated from Him because they are ignored by Christians.

I am not talking here about the politically active drivers of public opinion in various movements. I don’t mean the gay rights activists or the pro abortion people. I mean ordinary people who are impoverished and living on the margins of society and barely hanging on with their fingernails to life itself. These, and not homosexual activists and abortionists, are the forgotten ones.

I believe these are the people Pope Francis is wanting to reach.

In this interview, Pope Francis compared the Church to a hospital. In some ways, what he was describing sounded like an emergency room. When someone is drowning in their sins, when they are in despair and misery, it is a cruelty to hit them with a laundry list of their various wrong-doings and then top that off with condemnation.

I know. I was once Ms Pro Abortion for Oklahoma. I was denounced and attacked and reviled by Christians.

None of this — none of it — moved me to change. Not one name I was called, not one lie that was told about me, not one ugly thing that was done to me in the name of Christ by misguided Christians made me want to change my ways. In fact, it hardened me in them.

It took a direct, personal, encounter with God Himself to get through to me. And then I was so overwhelmed by the love He poured down on me that even today I have no words for it. The interesting thing is that God did not address abortion with me until almost a year and a half after I had turned to Him. He showed me my sins, but at first, it was the little stuff. Even when the Holy Spirit finally began to teach me about my sins with abortion, it was gentle.

This was not because God favored abortion. It was because He loved me.

Protestants sing an old hymn called “Just as I am.” The title says the message of that hymn.

I think that this is the message that Pope Francis is trying to give to lost and hurting people all over the world: God loves you, just as you are. You don’t have to get righteous to come to God. All you have to do is trust Him and let Him love you from death into life.

If that message is not true, then I am not a Christian. Because it is how God dealt with me. The person I am today is the grace and the miracle of that divine love.

YouTube Preview Image

Read the interview for yourself here.

Pope Francis Gives an Interview. New York Times Re-Writes It.

Catechism

Pope Francis gave an extensive interview to America Magazine, which you can find here

The New York Times did an extensive re-write of this interview, which you can find here

Just for the record, the Holy Father did not say what the New York Times is claiming. The Times took quotes out of context, and re-interpreted them along the lines of the secular gospel. What the Pope said is simple, clear and obvious Christian teaching that the Church has proclaimed for 2,000 years. 

Here’s what the Holy Father said, and what, in Sunday School parlance, it means. 

What the Pope said:

“We need to proclaim the Gospel on every street corner,” the pope says, “preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing, even with our preaching, every kind of disease and wound. In Buenos Aires I used to receive letters from homosexual persons who are ‘socially wounded’ because they tell me that they feel like the church has always condemned them. But the church does not want to do this. During the return flight from Rio de Janeiro I said that if a homosexual person is of good will and is in search of God, I am no one to judge. By saying this, I said what the catechism says. Religion has the right to express its opinion in the service of the people, but God in creation has set us free: it is not possible to interfere spiritually in the life of a person.“A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.

What it means in Sunday School:

Love the sinner. Hate the sin. 

What the Pope said:

“This is also the great benefit of confession as a sacrament: evaluating case by case and discerning what is the best thing to do for a person who seeks God and grace. The confessional is not a torture chamber, but the place in which the Lord’s mercy motivates us to do better. I also consider the situation of a woman with a failed marriage in her past and who also had an abortion. Then this woman remarries, and she is now happy and has five children. That abortion in her past weighs heavily on her conscience and she sincerely regrets it. She would like to move forward in her Christian life. What is the confessor to do?“We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.

What it means in Sunday School:

God’s mercy is greater than any sin you can commit and it is available in confession. Abortion and birth control are not the only sins. God has mercy for post abortive men and women. I am a shepherd of souls, including those who commit sins other than abortion and contraception. 

What the Pope said:

The dogmatic and moral teachings of the church are not all equivalent. The church’s pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed insistently. Proclamation in a missionary style focuses on the essentials, on the necessary things: this is also what fascinates and attracts more, what makes the heart burn, as it did for the disciples at Emmaus. We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel. The proposal of the Gospel must be more simple, profound, radiant. It is from this proposition that the moral consequences then flow.

What it means in Sunday School:

We can not earn salvation by picking out one or two sins and condemning them. That only makes us bitter and self-righteous. We must focus first on loving Jesus. Then, Jesus will change us and we will want to follow Him with our lives. The Church must preach Christ. 

 

There is a lot more to this interview. It is long and, as always with Pope Francis, completely candid. I suggest you go to the link I gave you and read it for yourself. 

For more information, check Frank WeathersSam Rocha and Elizabeth Scalia


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