Newsmax TV & Webwww.newsmax.comFREE - In Google Play
Newsmax TV & Webwww.newsmax.comFREE - On the App Store
Skip to main content
Tags: Pope Francis | The Vatican

Vatican Criticized Over Spinning Contentious Debates

Edward Pentin By Thursday, 09 October 2014 08:48 AM Current | Bio | Archive

As the Vatican Synod on the Family completed its third day of discussions Wednesday, concerns were growing that a few key officials in Holy See are controlling what comes out of the debates, ensuring the meeting is spun with a liberal bias.

The two week synod, which was called by Pope Francis and runs until Oct. 19, is made up of 250 prelates and experts who are debating a wide variety of contentious topics regarding marriage, the family and relationships.

Although assurances have been made by various church officials that doctrine won’t be changed, there is widespread unease that innovations in pastoral practice will make it seem that the church’s teachings have been weakened on such issues as artificial contraception, same-sex rights and crucial teachings held for two millennia.

The way the Vatican is handling the media during the synod has not reassured observers, with accusations that the synod administrators are muzzling and spinning the debate.

For example, they point out that unlike previous synods, full texts of the discourses will not be published. The reason, according to the synod organizers, is to “promote a more open dialogue” and speak freely.

“No one really believes this,” one Vatican commentator told me. “It’s a way of controlling the outcome, and goes completely against Pope Francis’ wish for greater transparency and openness in the Church.”

Supporters of the new reporting process, however, say it’s very much consistent with Pope Francis’ approach to debate. “He wants the synod participants to undergo a process of calm discernment, hearing proposals without factions developing that could hijack the debate,” another church commentator told me.

But the restrictions mean that the media only has access to a generalized summary, and it’s unclear who is saying what and whether one or more participants might be sharing any particular view.

More seriously, it makes disclosure of the synod's discussions susceptible to the whims of the few reporting press secretaries and the Vatican press office, many of whom are known to have liberal leanings.

There’s no knowing what is being filtered out, nor what is being given undue attention.

“It seems bizarre conservative voices aren’t being presented, at least on an equal basis with others,” said John Smeaton, chief executive of the UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children. “One has to ask the question: is it because the truth has a force and power which means they’re afraid of addressing it?”

So far, the press have been fed much on how participants all seem to agree that the church should make herself more attractive to the world. The importance of holding up dogmatic truths or acknowledging that the church should always be counter-cultural seem to be scarcely raised, if at all.

During Tuesday’s discussions, there was particular surprise over what seems to be a unanimous wish to tone down the use of terms such as “living in sin”, “contraceptive mentality”, and “intrinsically disordered.”

Even more significant was that the Vatican made no mention of any criticism of such a controversial proposal from inside the synod hall.

The reason, say supporters of this synod process, is because of a wish to challenge the status quo and introduce new ideas. Everyone already knows the church’s stand on these issues, they argue. Not everyone agrees, however. “They pretend that everybody knows Catholic teaching on these issues but that’s completely false,” said John Henry Westen, editor of Lifesite News. “In reality, we’ve had virtual silence on these issues for 50 years now.”

Quoting a 1986 Vatican letter to bishops on pastoral care of homosexual persons, Westen recalled the Vatican saying that if, in making an effort to be caring and pastoral, bishops fail to tell people of the immorality of this behavior, they’re failing because they’re not giving them what they need. “It’s the only path to healing, in a physical, psychological and eternal sense,” he said. “To abandon souls for the sake of political correctness is insanity.”

Some see this synod as similar to the "Council of the Media" — during the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s — when the debates were politicized by the liberal press, making the perception of the council far different to the intentions of its participants.

But now, critics say, the situation is even worse as the media manipulation seems to be being conducted by the synod administration itself. “This had never happened, even in Vatican II,” commented the traditionalist Catholic blog, Rorate Caeli. “It is as if they took the media manipulation that happened in Vatican II, decried openly by Benedict XVI, and made it official policy.”

Others have criticized the communications strategy during this synod as resembling the media control of a dictatorial regime, or harking back to a time before the Second Vatican Council when the laity were simply meant to pray and obey and not be informed.

“It shows a lack of respect for the world’s media,” one source close to the Vatican told me.

The Vatican insists these are early days and the proposals are only being presented, not yet agreed upon. This is also only one of two synods to take place on marriage and family life, the next one will be held a year from now.

But should the perceived one-sided, liberal spin continue during this synod and beyond, expect the clamor demanding a fairer representation of the debates to increase.

Edward Pentin began reporting on the Vatican as a correspondent with Vatican Radio in 2002. He has covered the Pope and the Holy See for a number of publications, including Newsweek and The Sunday Times. Read more reports from Edward Pentin — Click Here Now.


© 2021 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

The way the Vatican is handling the media during the synod has not reassured observers, with accusations that the synod administrators are muzzling and spinning the debate.
Pope Francis, The Vatican
Thursday, 09 October 2014 08:48 AM
Newsmax Media, Inc.
Join the Newsmax Community
Read and Post Comments
Please review Community Guidelines before posting a comment.

Newsmax, Moneynews, Newsmax Health, and Independent. American. are registered trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc. Newsmax TV, and Newsmax World are trademarks of Newsmax Media, Inc.

America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved
Download the NewsmaxTV App
America's News Page
© Newsmax Media, Inc.
All Rights Reserved