Pope Francis, the Vatican, the Catholic Church and LifeSiteNews
September 15, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – Since the election of Pope Francis and especially since last year’s Synod on the Family in Rome, there has been a storm of controversy within the Catholic Church on the issues that LifeSiteNews covers – life, family and related cultural issues (which include faith). Reporting on these controversies is a crucial part of our overall mission because of the massive international influence of the Catholic Church.
All of our staff are faithful Christians, with the majority being faithful, knowledgeable Catholics. That helps to ensure that we well understand what we report related to Church matters.
LifeSite was launched in 1997 during the era of Saint Pope John Paul II, continued all throughout the Benedict XVI years and now finds itself in the far less certain years of Pope Francis. Although Pope Francis canonized John Paul II, the saint’s great teachings of Theology of the Body, The Splendour of the Truth (Veritatis Splendor) and The Gospel of Life (Evangelium Vitae) have rarely been referred to during the years of the Francis papacy. It almost seems at times that these historic treatises on sexual morality and the Natural Law have been relegated to the shelves of now irrelevant teachings.
Pope Benedict XVI provided the continuity of a high priority on these crucial issues of our time and encouragement and help to all - Catholic and non-Catholic - who fought to defend life and family against the ferocious assault of the secular globalists, world de-populationists, International Planned Parenthood and others.
Since last year’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family a firestorm of division and uncertainty in the Church has been gradually building - above all related to the sexual morality issues which St. John-Paul II's great works have already provided all the answers. We have not been able to keep up with all the developments that have needed reporting. We also could never have imagined or predicted the astonishing developments of the past year. It is leaving the most faithful Catholics bewildered, with many now fearful and deeply anxious about what is happening to their beloved Church.
LifeSite has published numerous historic, Church-related news reports in the past few months, as we have been approaching Francis’s visits to Cuba, the United Nations, the US Joint Congress, the White House, and especially the Synod on the Family. That will be followed by the globally significant United Nations COP 21 Climate Change conference from November 30 – December 11 to which Francis is giving his strong personal support.
LifeSite has not gone out of its way to look for these Church-related stories. They have been obvious, very public happenings that we could not neglect. Notably, deep divisions that have existed within the Church for several decades are finally all coming out into the open. That is the positive aspect of this storm.
There is now abundant, straightforward evidence to report, rather than the situation of many years when we knew that many bishops, religious and others were rejecting much of the Natural Laws of God’s love, but we could not provide adequate evidence of all that we knew.
Those opposed to Church moral teachings, especially related to contraception, marriage and homosexuality, now appear to have lost all fear of being held accountable for their betrayals and infidelity. If anything, they have become bullies who are prouder and more determined than ever to force dramatic changes to the teachings of two millennia.
News reporting on inside-the-Church threats to the moral culture that has protected life and family can now name names and present direct quotes and actions to verify the concerns and warnings of the faithful bishops and other Catholics.
The Extraordinary Synod of the Family was indeed extraordinary. We have never seen such provable, near reckless manipulations and dishonesty during such a high level Church event.
The question we are always asking ourselves at LifeSite is how far can we go in reporting, without violating the bounds of charity and journalistic responsibility. We certainly do not want to be a scandal sheet. Our purpose is to bring about much needed change and correction through high-quality investigative journalism. There is always a distinct, positive purpose to every LifeSite report.
Each important story related to the Catholic Church, particularly regarding bishops and cardinals and Pope Francis, is written and edited with much care. Sometimes we discuss controversial reports for hours and even days, seeking counsel from outside experts as well. Our purpose is always for the good, not to personally vent or to sensationalize. Some accuse us of that, but we totally reject the accusation because of our awareness of how we go about our journalism.
Many of the current Catholic stories are, I suppose, sensational in their own right. The facts themselves, presented without comment, are at times now shocking, disturbing, confounding – a dramatic change from the years under JPII and Benedict, excluding of course the great sex abuse scandals. However, those scandals, some now realize, are directly related to much that is being revealed now by very liberal clerics in high positions, some of whom were in influential positions during the years of the abuses.
Vatican reporter Ed Pentin is a top Vatican reporter known last year especially for his interview that exposed Cardinal Kasper’s demeaning of the fidelity of the African delegates to the synod. In one of his recent interviews, Pentin explained the responsibilities of a journalist in situations that may involve criticizing hierarchy or be perceived as criticizing them during these difficult times in the Church.
“I wrestled with whether it would be of service to the Church and beneficial to the reader. As a Catholic, one also always wants to show deference to Church leaders. But likewise that one shouldn’t treat them as untouchable or hold them unaccountable if they are considered not to be fulfilling their ministry. Catholic journalism should really do this. In fact Canon 212 of the Code of Canon Law states that the laity “have the right, indeed at times the duty” to inform the hierarchy of matters which “concern the good of the Church” while always showing respect for “the integrity of faith and morals” and “due reverence to the pastors.”
Pentin continues with an important critique about many Catholic media,
“Some Catholic news agencies chose the safer option during the synod of focusing only on “good news” out of an instinctive loyalty to the hierarchy and the papacy. That loyalty is admirable, but I think it also prevented really tackling the complaints of injustice at the synod. Unfortunately, this also meant that only one half of the debate received attention – the one held by the synod managers, which many believed was heretical.”
Ed Pentin’s approach is also LifeSite’s approach to reporting on Catholic issues and the actions of bishops. Unfortunately, most Catholic media staff do not have the freedom or the ability to do the type of investigative and totally honest reporting that LifeSite or Ed Pentin can do. Catholic media are often beholden to dioceses and local bishops. Their role is usually more of a positive public relations role for the Church, with the uncomfortable realities deliberately kept under the rug – and therefore not adequately dealt with.
LifeSite has the extra special freedom of having no strings of any kind attached to any religious organization or leader or to any major donor who might limit our reporting. That has been a blessing, but it also makes our fundraising a greater challenge. We must be self-reliant and regularly appeal to our readers. There is no sugar daddy or big organization funding to keep us going. However, you the reader, benefit from this arrangement. You always get the honest to goodness, real story every time.
We find our mission to be personally very fulfilling and worth all the challenges and burdens that we endure every day. Many days, by the end of the day, there is nothing left to give. We are spent. But, we are doing something exceptionally meaningful with our lives and the talents and inspirations that God has given to each one of us. Above all, we rely on His graces and Divine Providence to sustain us.
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