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7 Things the Secular Media Should Know about the Pope and the Church

I admit I broke from my little “t” tradition of watching reliable news sources such as EWTN when the white smoke appeared. My family dutifully watched it through the lens of EWTN for quite a bit and then eventually rolled over to the secular news stations. Curiosity got the better of me. I wanted to see their camera angles, how their reporters interacted with the faithful; the laity, the religious and the clergy. Most of all I wanted to see what their idea of factual reporting looked like. Though I missed some stations that friends reported were snark-filled, I was pleasantly surprised that the stations I watched attempted to restrain their grimaces when they interviewed knowledgeable Catholics in the Square.

I continued to watch the secular news through the day and well into the evening – glutton for punishment that I am. It occurred to me that Catholics should engage in full court press on the media when it comes to the Church. We should encourage, insist and at times outright demand that the Church be represented fairly if not more positively. After all, we ARE 1.2 billion of the world’s population. The secular media being the tail should not wag the dog any longer. And with that, I want to share some things I noticed yesterday that the secular media should take note:

  1. It’s Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I – this one is way easy – you can fix this one in a snap!
  2. Please capitalize Mass and capitalize Church when referring to the universal Church. We aren’t talking about scientific units of measurement – we are talking about an event and a very important one, the Mass. Also, when referring to the universal Catholic Church, capitalize both. When you are talking about a Catholic church building, there is no need to capitalize church.
  3. We are Spirit led, not human led – this one is a bit harder, so I don’t blame you entirely, secular media. But you can still commit to learn the difference. And even if you disagree, please know that you are comparing infallible apples to fallible oranges. When you refer to the cardinals or the conclave making a decision, be sure to back up that statement with the essential foundation. The Holy Spirit guides our Church. It is a promise that Christ made to Peter, our first pope. When you reference men making decisions, it sounds as though they all put their own personal agendas ahead of the Church. And while this may have some historical truth to it, it misses the mark when it comes to the infallibility of the Church. She has survived some terrible leadership over the years by some who, if the Church was not protected by the Holy Spirit, would have been successful in destroying the Church from the inside. Wanna know why we’re still here and why Dogma and Doctrine are still in tact just as Jesus left it? Because we are led by the Holy Spirit, plain and simple.
  4. Interview knowledgeable and on fire Catholics – this one seems pretty obvious, but you have this tendency/knack/love? of interviewing many who simply aren’t properly catechized, or worse, who have an ax to grind with Mother Church. Some will even share their Catholic resume {I attended Catholic schools, I was raised in a devout Catholic home, etc.} to gain a kind of credibility with the audience or reporter before they launch into dissent. Please understand at the basic level that if we want to get marriage advice, we would not turn to a bitter divorced person and expect to gain reasonable perspective. The same follows with representing the Church. Find people who either understand the Faith and love it or at least have enough respect to represent it accurately. Anything else is bad reporting. People of good will can disagree on matters of discipline, of course, but when it comes to Dogma and Doctrine*, these are the non-negotiables of the Faith, which leads me to my next point.
  5. Teachings on same sex “marriage,” artificial means of conception, contraception, abortion, euthanasia, women’s ordination will never be changed. When you ask the faithful whether the next pope will be a proponent of said issues, or if he will be open to discussion, you expose your lack of knowledge of what the Church teaches. It would be better for you to focus on the things the Church can change.
  6. Your use of the word reform and ours are vastly different. When you ask the faithful whether this new pope is going to reform the Church, we can say YES! but not for the reasons you think. Reform in the Church usually means a return to our basic proclamation of the Gospel. Secular media tends to confuse the word reform with the word progressive or change things it doesn’t have the power to change – reread #4.
  7. The Church and therefore, the faithful, are not progressive or conservative. We are first followers of Christ’s Church, the faithful, not followers of political parties. We uphold God’s Truth revealed to us through His Church, so saying some Catholics are progressive while others are conservative is like saying some follow what the Church teaches and others don’t. Either we agree the Church knows better than our flawed human brokenness or we don’t. There is no middle ground.

*Great places to learn the basics of the Faith

And there you have it. I’d like to turn it over to our readers and ask their input as well. Comment below things you’d like to see the secular media do or other ways they’re goofing up. I’ll be honest – I don’t really see this post landing on the desk of the secular media, so for the sake of chuckles, let’s help them improve their ability to report on the Church and the faithful. 😉

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About Martina Kreitzer

Martina is a cradle Catholic, wife to Neil, and mother to seven kiddos here {and three in heaven}– 4/96-1/17. She decided to homeschool the kiddos in 2010 after many years in public schools and is currently transitioning out of homeschooling. She is the creator of Catholic Sistas which focuses on a feminine perspective of the Catholic Faith. The website was the result of an existing camaraderie by the contributors in a Catholic women’s group she created. She is also a Seal of Approval evaluator for the Catholic Writers Guild. Lest you think she spends all her time online, Martina has enjoyed getting out into the community by serving on the Pastoral Council from 2010-2013. She is constantly on the lookout to make her parish as welcoming as the small town she grew up in East Texas. This task is not easy given that St. William is the largest parish in the Austin diocese, serving well over twenty thousand parishioners. She loves Jesus, coffee, bacon, chocolate, photography, more bacon, evangelizing, and the company of those unafraid to use their sense of humor.

  • BirgitJ - Sadly, I have personally encountered another one:

    #8 Pope Francis did *not* spend his entire day, today, praying *to* Mary! Sigh, I’ve just made someone very uncomfortable by sharing the truth…why is this fallacy held onto so very tightly?March 14, 2013 – 5:26 pmReplyCancel

  • Donnie - Pardon me… but au contraire to # 3, Catholic Sistas! Neither you nor anyone else is “Spirit lead” or “human lead,” unless you’re referring to a soft metal which guides you. You’re probably trying to say you’re “Spirit led.” Past tense of the verb lead is always led; and this rule applies to secular and non-secular. 🙂March 14, 2013 – 7:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Christina Karnes - So true, great post!March 14, 2013 – 8:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Friday Morning Update on Pope Francis I | Big Pulpit - […] Catholic Pope: If We Don’t Confess Christ We Become Just a Compassionate NGO – NCRg Seven Things the Secular Media Should Know about the Pope & the Church – Catholic Sistas The (Possible) Motto & Heradldy of Pope Francis – Wolfsbane, […]March 15, 2013 – 1:44 amReplyCancel

  • AStevens - Thank you for these very valid and correct points. If only…if only the media would listen and not chase that next sensatioanlized sound bite.March 15, 2013 – 5:49 amReplyCancel

  • Mary - Great post. Until recently, The Associated Press style book capitalized Mass. I have no idea why it changed or when. :-/March 15, 2013 – 5:57 amReplyCancel

  • Robyn - “Pope Francis did *not* spend his entire day, today, praying *to* Mary” – not to sound totally dumb, but what is the correct way to say that? Praying in front of Mary? Sometimes I pray to Mary, I hope that’s not wrong.March 15, 2013 – 11:17 amReplyCancel

  • Martina - I’ve not encountered people who tried to split hairs on how or who I am praying to. As I understand it, it’s perfectly fine to pray to or with anyone. This is what we are taught. I tend to think the objection comes when people confuse “praying to” with “worship” – the same when people view veneration of Mary as the same thing as worship.

    I do think this post could be a springboard for a second post – I’m sure you all know I could have added quite a few more to to this list. 😉March 15, 2013 – 12:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Cindy - Great post. I love the teaching moments that this week has brought to me and to all of the Catholic masses (no I don’t mean Masses… 🙂 but large groups of Catholics). I will definitely pass this along to others – who knows maybe the secular media will see if one day! The links at the end of the post are stellar! God bless, Pope Francis!March 15, 2013 – 4:02 pmReplyCancel

  • Cheryl - Well said! It has indeed been frustrating to hear all the misconceptions being issued by the mainstream media (and coworkers & friends) who have closed their eyes to the truth of the Church. We can only hope to change their hearts one by one.

    You might get a chuckle out of this spoof video if you’ve not already seen it? The Pope joking with the cardinals… 16, 2013 – 11:08 pmReplyCancel

  • Natalia - Don’t let it get to you. I’m not a Catholic, but I respect people of faith and have always liked the Jesuits. My own church has had to deal with plenty of misleading TV specials where they only interview people that have left the church (or don’t belong at all) rather than those who are still faithful.

    The media will never do the religious any favors, but we’ll still believe in spite of their bigotry and spread the good word where we can.

    =)March 18, 2013 – 12:14 pmReplyCancel

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