The Church, Same Sex Marriage and Biased Reporting

Archbishop Myers in a photo from Archdiocese web page.

Archbishop John J Meyers, of the Archdiocese of Newark, went out on a limb and made a statement Tuesday supporting the Church’s 2,000 year-old teaching on marriage. The resulting news article by NorthJersey.com is one of the finest examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion I’ve seen today.

Not, notice, that I’ve seen in my lifetime, or even this week. Examples of biased reporting and deliberate manipulation of public opinion aimed at discrediting the Church’s stand in favor of traditional Christian morality are so commonplace that I can only say that this article is the most egregious I’ve seen today. So far. I reserve the right to come back later today with something worse.

The article leads with a few paragraphs describing the Archbishop’s statement, including the fact the he dropped the c bomb (“Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should ‘refrain from receiving Holy Communion.’”) Then it moves on to all sorts of saber rattling quotes from various secularists expressing their concern about the evils of Catholics Who Preach Politics From the Pulpit.

As usual for journalism of this type, the article tries to imply that a Bishop of the Catholic Church who issues a pastoral letter that explains Church teaching is violating the law. It creates this implication by quoting carefully selected people who can be counted on to say the right things.

When the reporter asks the head of an organization that is well known for opposing Church teaching if the bishop “crossed the line” with his letter, they can be sure they’ll get a quote that verges on condemnation to use in the story. That’s what happened here. Everyone the article quotes allows as how Bishop Myers did not, in fact, “cross the line” but they qualify this with ponderous statements implying that he’s awwwwfulllllyyyyy close to doing it.

The dubious reporting is topped off with an unflattering photo of Bishop Myers; one of those mouth-open, eyes-half-closed snaps that happens to everyone. After my years in public office, I’ve got some ghastly photos of me floating around out there. Not that I’m any beauty. But I can tell you from experience that a skilled news photographer can make you look any way they want.

This tactic of eliciting attack quotes by interviewing people you know will give them to you and then illustrating the story with a photo that makes your prey look daffy or drunk is pretty standard stuff. That’s why I’m going to reproduce part of this article here and link to it. This post is a lesson in spotting anti-Catholic propaganda. The comments section of the article demonstrates the effect this kind of propaganda has on people.

If you agree with Bishop Myers, you might drop him a line at the Archdiocese of Newark, 171 Clifton Ave, Newark, NJ 07104. I’m sure he’s getting plenty of the other kind of letter.

Here, for your edification, is the article. It says in part:

Newark archbishop urges voters to defend marriage, life

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2012 LAST UPDATED: TUESDAY SEPTEMBER 25, 2012, 6:41 AM
BY ABBOTT KOLOFF
STAFF WRITER
THE RECORD
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In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote “in defense of marriage and life,” and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.

CHRIS PEDOTA / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER
Archbishop John Myers of the Diocese of Newark
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the statement on gay marriage was not timed to coincide with the November election, now little more than a month away, and that he was not calling on Catholics to vote for a particular candidate. But he said they should examine the “full spectrum” of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and “a proper backing of marriage.”

He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should “refrain from receiving Holy Communion.” He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops.

“It’s not 100 percent for either party,” Myers said in an interview Monday at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark. “The basic point is that we must defend what we believe to be the truth. That includes voting, speaking out, contacting officials.”

The statement is being issued amid a politically charged atmosphere at a time when some other Catholic leaders have been criticized for talking politics from the pulpit. President Obama declared his support for same-sex marriage in May. His Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, opposes it. (Read more here.)


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