Mafia

And there is one more thing: Did press hear what Pope Francis said about abortion?

And there is one more thing: Did press hear what Pope Francis said about abortion?

So Pope Francis had something to say about the theological views of one Donald Trump. You probably heard about that.

During the same in-flight presser while returning to Rome from Mexico (full transcript here), he also addressed a question about contraceptives and the Zika virus. You probably read about that, too. Maybe.

But what did he have to say about abortion, which remains a hot-button subject? Before we get to a very interesting Religion News Service commentary on that, let's flash back for a moment.

As anyone who reads elite newspapers knows, early in the Pope Francis era the mainstream press reported, over and over, that he had ordered Catholic conservatives to stand down when it came to fighting about abortion, marriage and other "culture wars" topics.

Remember that exclusive America interview? Of course you do. It is still be quoted whenever these topics come up in church discussions. Next to the out-of-context "Who am I to judge?" soundbite (that wasn't a soundbite), we are talking about some of the most popular Pope Francis language -- ever. Here's how I summed that up in a column at the time:

... The pope unleashed a media tsunami with a long, candid interview published exclusively in America and other Jesuit magazines around the world. While the pope talked about confession, sin and mercy, one quote leapt into news reports and headlines more than any other.
"We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible," he told the interviewer, a fellow Jesuit. "The teaching of the church ... is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time."

The strange thing is what happened next, right in the middle of that media storm. The pope addressed -- drawing next to zero coverage -- a gathering of Catholic gynecologists. And what did he have to say?

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Torture lost to Mafia coverage, at least in news on pope talks

If the coverage of Pope Francis this weekend was any indication, the Mafia is more interesting to mainstream journalists than torture chambers are. The reporters paid lots of attention to the pope’s anti-Mafia statement on Saturday, but hardly seemed to notice the next day when he urged all Christians to join in ending torture. Meanwhile, torture is used in 141 nations in every region of the world, according to Amnesty International. Yet when Francis focused on it in his weekly Angelus address, it got little more than a brief in some media.

The Associated Press gave the story a mere five paragraphs. And only three of them had to do with the speech:

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis is urging Christians to work together to abolish every form of torture, condemning the practice as a grave sin.

Please respect our Commenting Policy

Headline writers duck and cover when Francis improvises

It must be very hard to be a headline writer in the age of Pope Francis. I mean, the man serves up — during his off-the-cuff homilies and chats — a wealth of material that simply screams, “You must put this phrase in a headline because it sounds amazing.”

The only problem is that this pope has a way of using words that have specific doctrinal or legal content, in terms of Catholic tradition, in strange ways. He says words that make HUMAN sense, yet do not precisely say what the pope seems to be saying. Journalists quote the words accurately. Then, later, Vatican officials then have to clean up what the pope SAID, as opposed to what he did not actually mean to have said.

Headline writers get caught in the middle. Consider this case study from Reuters, care of The Washington Post:

Please respect our Commenting Policy

A sad note of Orthodox reality in Eastern Europe

It’s impossible to know precisely what is happening inside the mind of a politician when he or she is taking part in a religious ritual, whether or not listeners are hearing the voice of a believer or that of a political realist who is skilled at watching national opinion polls.

Please respect our Commenting Policy