Michael Gaynor
Hypocritical liberal media establishment promotes secular extremism and Obama and defames Pope Benedict XVI, especially for lent
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By Michael Gaynor
April 8, 2010

Does the scurrilous attack on Pope Benedict XVI remind you of the radical scheme to discredit Pope Pius XII beginning with "The Deputy"? It should. See "Exploding the "Hitler's Pope" Myth" (July 30, 2005) (www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/050730) and The Pius War: Responses to the critics of Pius XII, edited by Joseph Bottum and David G. Dalin.

In 1966 Time celebrated Holy Week with a cover asking "Is God dead?" (www.time.com/time/covers/0,16641,19660408,00.html).

Since President Obama was inaugurated in January 2009, the liberal media establishment has continued to be hostile to America's religious heritage in general and the Catholic Church in particular and eager to rewrite history to suit secular extremist wishes.

God bless Colleen Raezler, a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, for writing pointedly about anti-Christian media manipulation. Last year Ms. Raezler's powerful Holy Week piece was titled "For the media, it's un-Holy Week" (www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=483676). The media remained shamelessly, and Ms. Raezler's tour de force this year is titled "Media: Pope Benedict Guilty Until Proven Innocent: In Holy Week reports, broadcast networks ignore evidence in his defense" (www.cultureandmediainstitute.org/articles/2010/20100407112508.aspx).

Ms. Raezler's 2009 article began by identifying the culprits:

"Most regular church-goers have heard their less scrupulously observant fellows called 'Christmas and Easter Christians.' Well, they also have their counterparts in the mainstream media: 'Christmas and Easter Anti-Christians.' How else to explain the spate of skeptical, negative stories that inevitably accompany the two most important Christian holy days?

"This Holy Week has been typical. Newsweek proclaimed 'The Decline and Fall of Christian America' on its cover. The Washington Post/Newsweek 'On Faith' blog featured a post that belittled the significance of Jesus' death and resurrection. The Discovery Channel aired a documentary that painted Jesus as little more than an opportunistic politician who caught a bad break in a trial.

"These are just the most notable recent instances of secular media's disdain for traditional Christians and the tenets of their faith. Anti-Christianism is the last acceptable prejudice. The assault on Christian beliefs and morality is ongoing. Take for example the howls of outrage when the Pope reiterated Catholic teaching on abstinence.

"But because Easter is so central to understanding Jesus and His purpose, and to Christians' own understanding of the world, the secular attack escalates during Holy Week. It takes on more existential dimensions, questioning Christianity's relevance in the modern world, the meaning of Christ's lessons and ultimately, His divinity.

"Depending on your point of view, Jesus was either a charismatic populist crusader, a doctrinaire Marxist, or a 'do your own thing' feel-good guru. Anything but the Son of God...."

Ms. Raezler rightly focused on biased Newsweek, which promotes and praises once Senator and now President Obama as well as secularism and treats traditional Christianity as an impediment to its political agenda.

Ms. Raezler: "In Newsweek's April 14 cover story, 'The End of Christian America,' editor Jon Meacham argued that the falling numbers of self-identified Christians in America is a 'good thing' and 'the decline of and falls of the modern religious right's notion of a Christian America creates a calmer political environment...."

Does that bring to mind the recording at a private San Francisco fundraiser at which presidential hopeful Obama mocked Americans for "clinging" to "God and guns" for economic reasons?

Meacham: "...our politics and our culture are, in the main, less influenced by movements and arguments of an explicitly Christian character than they were even five years ago. I think this is a good thing good for our political culture, which as the American Founders saw, is complex and charged enough without attempting to compel or coerce religious belief or observance. It is good for Christianity, too, in that many Christians are rediscovering the virtues of a separation of church and state that protects what Roger Williams, who founded Rhode Island as a haven for religious dissenters, called 'the garden of the church,' from the 'wilderness of the world.'"

But the Founders provided for institutional separation of church and state, NOT exclusion of God and religious expression from the public square or public policy ignoring religious values. After all, that Declaration of Independence acknowledged not only God, but God as the source of our rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And the Constitution was dated in the year of our Lord, an undeniable reference to Jesus.

Ms. Raezler reported that Michael Medved had appeared on the April 6 "Fox and Friends" and commented on the timing of the story's release as follows: "Isn't it perfectly timed for Holy Week? Here we are coming up in the Jewish community, we're going to be celebrating Passover, Christians are going to be celebrating Good Friday and Easter Sunday so Newsweek tries to get a little bit of attention by insulting that overwhelming majority of Americans that describe themselves as Christians.

Ms. Raezler: "Medved also noted that Newsweek's 'End of Christian America' claim was particularly ironic, since the magazine had run 'a big cover story on the faith of Barack Obama ... because the overwhelming majority of Americans say they won't even vote for an atheist for president in Christian America.'"

RIGHT! Obama's father was a Marxist and his mother was an atheist, but Rev. Jeremiah A. (God damn America) Wright, Jr. brought a young Obama to Christ when he was figuring out what religious association would best help him politically.

Ms. Raezler also pegged the Discovery Channel's original three-part documentary called "Who Was Jesus?" that premiered on Palm Sunday.

Ms. Raezler: "Focused on Jesus' 'Childhood,' 'The Mission' and 'The Last Days,' scholars tried to paint a human portrait of Jesus, using archeological evidence to ponder what life must have been like for Jesus. The portrait that emerged might have written for the World Workers Party (or the Obama Campaign.)"

EXACTLY!

Obviously Ms. Raezler was not pleased with the attempt to portray Jesus as an Obama of two millenia ago.

Ms. Raezler:

"Narrator Hasani Issa's final words of the series summed up the picture it painted, 'The young man with a mission, the charismatic leader who sacrificed everything in the hope of a better world.'

"Viewers could not be faulted for thinking they were watching a biography on any populist politician, rather than a documentary about the Son of God.

"Part 1, 'Childhood,' laid the groundwork for the argument that Jesus' later teachings came as a direct result of his socio-economic status as a child....

"Issa began 'The Mission' by saying, 'Jesus, a people's crusader on a lethal collision course with the Roman Empire.'

"Havrelock carried that theme, noting, 'We can imagine Jesus as a young man, unhappy with the situation in his time and hungry for change and wanting to leave home and become part of some movement advocating for change.'

"Baptist minister and theologian Allen Callahan charged that Jesus, in His preaching, miracles and encouraging people to follow Him, has 'got an agenda free food, free medical care, free education. And with that agenda, he's not just transforming individuals there's something bigger going on here.' Havrelock asserted, 'He also gains a kind of political power by amassing these followers here.'

"Again, by painting Jesus as an ACORN activist, they all missed the point that Jesus' actions and words had no purpose but to glorify God...."

Issa described the biblical account of what happened in Gethsemane as "an early example of spin-doctoring," but he was doing the spinning.

About a year later, Ms. Raezler focused on the attack on the Catholic Church and Pope Benedict by The New York Times, added and abetted by its liberal media establishment allies.

Ms. Raezler:

"The broadcast networks couldn't ignore Holy Week, the pinnacle of the Christian calendar, so instead they used it this year to smear the Catholic Church as a harbor for abusive priests.

"ABC, CBS and NBC featured 26 stories during Holy Week about Pope Benedict's perceived role in the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now facing. Only one story focused on the measures the church has adopted in recent years to prevent abuse. In 69 percent of the stories (18 out of 26) reporters used language that presumed the pope's guilt. Only one made specific mention of the recent drop in the incidence of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.

"The network reporting has largely appeared to be driven by a series of New York Times articles that have portrayed Benedict as seeking to protect the church at the expense of children's safety in various incidents of abuse in Germany, Ireland and here in the United States. The Times reported that as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Benedict oversaw the transfer of a priest accused of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s to another parish where he again worked with children after he began therapy for his problems. A March 24 article, since heavily questioned, about a Wisconsin priest allowed to remain in the priesthood even after he abused 200 deaf boys from the 1950s through the 1970s placed the blame squarely on Benedict.

"'The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal,' wrote Laurie Goodstein.

"These stories failed to paint the whole picture of what occurred, of Benedict's role in the decision-making process about these priests and allowed the media to depict sex abuse in the Catholic Church as a growing problem when all evidence indicates that the reverse is true. Between 2008 and 2009, allegations of sex abuse by clergy members declined by 36 percent....only six allegations of abuse involving minors were brought forward against the church in 2009, according to a study by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

"Really, it's not the problem of abuse that's 'growing,' as all three networks described it on Easter Sunday, but rather the media interest in the story conveniently giving broadcast networks the opportunity to disparage the Catholic Church during its most holy time of the year.

"NBC's Anne Thompson began her March 28 'Today' report by saying, 'The Catholic Church begins this Holy Week under a cloud of suspicion, with more claims of sexual abuse by its priests and more accusations that its leaders ignored those claims, accusations that go all the way to Pope Benedict.'

"This framing of the story was typical for all three broadcast networks during Holy Week."

Of course, that's what the secular extremists do.

Ms. Raezler: "... just like The New York Times did during the month of March, the broadcast networks failed to provide much background information and instead went forward with the line that the Pope is guilty of covering up heinous abuse claims, despite evidence that does not back up their claims."

Of course, that's what the secular extremists do.

Mr. Raezler provided what the networks did not.

Ms. Raezler:

"The networks could have reminded viewers, as did George Weigel, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, in a March 29 First Things article, of 'recent hard news developments that underscore Pope Benedict's determination to root out what he once described as "filth" in the Church.'

"Weigel continued on to explain that the pope 'mandated an Apostolic Visitation of Irish dioceses, seminaries, and religious congregations' after allegations of abuse against Irish priests made news. Weigel also noted that it 'was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger who, as prefect CDF, was determined to discover the truth about [Father Marcial] Maciel,' the founder of the Legionaries of Christ, who violated his priestly vows by, among other things, committing sexual abuse and fathering several children."

"Brundage set the record straight about the Murphy case in a March 29 column for The Catholic Anchor, and explained, 'the competency to hear cases of sexual abuse of minors shifted from the Roman Rota to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith headed by Cardinal Ratzinger in 2001.' He continued:

'Until that time, most appeal cases went to the Rota and it was our experience that cases could languish for years in this court. When the competency was changed to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, in my observation as well as many of my canonical colleagues, sexual abuse cases were handled expeditiously, fairly and with due regard to the rights of all the parties involved. I have no doubt that this was the work of then Cardinal Ratzinger.'

"Brundage also noted the particulars of Benedict's response to and efforts to rid the Church of abusive priests:

'Pope Benedict has repeatedly apologized for the shame of the sexual abuse of children in various venues and to a worldwide audience. This has never happened before. He has met with victims. He has reigned in entire conferences of bishops on this matter, the Catholic Bishops of Ireland being the most recent. He has been most reactive and proactive of any international church official in history with regard to the scourge of clergy sexual abuse of minors. Instead of blaming him for inaction on these matters, he has truly been a strong and effective leader on these issues.

'In the case of the pope's alleged cover up in Germany, the networks failed to report that the then-Cardinal Ratzinger followed the dominating theory behind rehabilitation of sex offenders. No psychologists or psychiatrists were featured to discuss the treatment given to offending priests.

'As recently as 2004, treatment was offered as a reasonable course of action for abusive priests. Dr. Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University and adjunct clinical associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, co-authored a study that listed 'Treat offending clergy' as direction for the Catholic Church to follow in the future.

'Promising treatments have been developed for offending clergy and should be utitilized,' wrote Plante. 'Specialized programs at treatment facilities such as the St. Luke Institute in Maryland, Southdown Hospital in Toronto, and the Institute of Living/Hartford Hospital in Connecticut have developed impressive programs with encouraging treatment outcome results as of this date. Treatment programs that have developed successful approaches should share their experiences with others.'"

Does the scurrilous attack on Pope Benedict XVI remind you of the radical scheme to discredit Pope Pius XII beginning with "The Deputy"? It should. See "Exploding the "Hitler's Pope" Myth" (July 30, 2005) (www.renewamerica.com/columns/gaynor/050730) and The Pius War: Responses to the critics of Pius XII, edited by Joseph Bottum and David G. Dalin.

© Michael Gaynor

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)

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Michael Gaynor

Michael J. Gaynor has been practicing law in New York since 1973. A former partner at Fulton, Duncombe & Rowe and Gaynor & Bass, he is a solo practitioner admitted to practice in New York state and federal courts and an Association of the Bar of the City of New York member... (more)

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