Mary

Thinking about 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick and whether Pope Francis will back #BishopsToo

Thinking about 'Uncle Ted' McCarrick and whether Pope Francis will back #BishopsToo

Surely GetReligion readers are not surprised that the think piece(s) for this weekend are linked to the saga of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the horrifying three-level scandal of clergy sexual abuse of children, teens and seminarians.

Archbishop McCarrick? Bishop McCarrick? Father McCarrick? Mr. McCarrick? I'm not sure that's the proper Associated Press style at the moment.

But "Uncle Ted" is no longer a member of the College of Cardinals. That's the latest news -- with this announcement from Rome, care of the team at Crux:

ROME / NEW YORK -- After a month of mounting allegations of sexual abuse against American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Pope Francis has accepted his resignation from the College of Cardinals.

The 88-year-old retired archbishop of Washington -- who was one of the most prominent faces in the American Catholic hierarchy -- has been ordered to remain in a house “to be indicated” until the accusations against him are examined.

“Yesterday evening the Holy Father received the letter in which Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, Archbishop Emeritus of Washington (U.S.A.), presented his resignation as a member of the College of Cardinals,” said a statement released on Saturday by the Vatican’s press office.

The statement continued to say that Francis accepted McCarrick’s resignation from the cardinalate and “has ordered his suspension from the exercise of any public ministry, together with the obligation to remain in a house yet to be indicated to him, for a life of prayer and penance until the accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial.”

Ah, there is the crucial phrase -- "accusations made against him are examined in a regular canonical trial."

In other words, this scandal is about McCarrick and McCarrick alone?

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The New York Times isn't sure what to make of Pope Francis and Medjugorje

The New York Times isn't sure what to make of Pope Francis and Medjugorje

It’s been 25 years since I visited Medjugorje, the village in Bosnia and Herzegovina where six teenagers claimed the Virgin Mary began appearing to them daily. Marian appearances aren’t uncommon; look at the devotion around places like Fatima and Lourdes. But these teenagers, ages 10-16, had a late 20th century take on Mary’s purported sayings; threats of worldwide cataclysms and a sign that would appear on a local mountain.

Despite a number of hardships in the early years, they stuck to their story. I’d been following this phenomenon for several years when in May 1990, a Roman Catholic group invited me to accompany them to the site for an article I published to the Houston Post. 

Not being Catholic, there were some aspects, such as the constant praying of the Rosary by seemingly everyone there, that didn’t appeal. Of course I noticed the souvenir shops (of which there were only a few at that point) and how much they were charging for a simple Mary statue. Then again, pilgrims were tramping all over their tiny roads, vineyards and tobacco fields, making a normal life fairly difficult. Were I a local, I’d have opened up a shop and B&B too.

And then nearly 10 years to the day the apparitions began, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia, sparking a war that ravaged that part of the world. Thus, some of Mary’s purported prophecies of war were fulfilled, at least in the short term. Which is why I was interested to see the New York Times’ story about the site now that the Vatican is poised to make a ruling on the authenticity of the apparitions.

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New York Times seeks political (as opposed to pastoral) content of Wedding at Cana

New York Times seeks political (as opposed to pastoral) content of Wedding at Cana

The Pope Francis guy is still traveling around down there in South America and, gosh dang it, he keeps preaching sermons. Isn't that unkind of him?

These sermons, of course, mix commentary about Catholic teachings and life in the public square -- as if the pope was arguing that faith and life are on the same level, as opposed to real life being on the ground floor in the created order, with religious truth claims either (a) locked in a private closet or (b) mysterious things that are stored, with God, in an attic above our heads (perhaps one without a pull-down ladder, even).

Once again, I am not arguing that journalists have to believe what the pope believes. I am not arguing that they need to produce sermon summaries or evangelistic pamphlets. I am saying that, in order to accurately cover him, journalists need to understand that this man is not delivering political stump speeches as he stands at pulpits next to altars at which he will celebrate the Mass.

Pope Francis is preaching. The faith elements are part of the content, not words that create an irrelevant frame for the real news, which by definition has to be about politics.

This conflicts, as I said the other day, with the "mainstream journalism Grand Unified Theory" stating that "no matter what the pope cites as his reasons for visiting a land or region, he is actually there for political reasons. He is there in an attempt to impact the lives of real people through political ideas or actions (as opposed to through sacraments, biblical truth, etc.)."

Now, to its credit, the New York Times team attempted, the other day, to cover a sermon while leaving some of the religious language intact. There is even a biblical reference in there! Here's the lede:

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God news? Pope Francis gets earthy talking about 'family;' mainstream press ignores him

God news? Pope Francis gets earthy talking about 'family;' mainstream press ignores him

I would have thought that, in the wake of the recent media storm about the Synod on the Family, almost anything that Pope Francis said in public on that topic would be big news in the mainstream press.

Turns out, that is not the case. But I will plunge on. 

What if Pope Francis -- media superstar, par excellence -- even said something blunt and controversial about the meaning of a word like "family"? What if, in said quote, he even used a typically earthy Francis term like "bastardized"? Surely that would draw coverage?

With all of that in mind, consider the top of this Vatican City report from the Catholic News Agency (as opposed to The New York Times, NPR, Comedy Central or something mainstream):
 

In an audience with members of an international Marian movement, Pope Francis warned that the sacrament of marriage has been reduced to a mere association, and urged participants to be witnesses in a secular world.

“The family is being hit, the family is being struck and the family is being bastardized,” the Pope told those in attendance at the Oct. 25 audience. He warned against the common view in society that “you can call everything family, right?”

“What is being proposed is not marriage, it's an association. But it's not marriage! It's necessary to say these things very clearly and we have to say it!” Pope Francis stressed. He lamented that there are so many “new forms” of unions which are “totally destructive and limiting the greatness of the love of marriage.”

OK, that was blunt. Did he get into any specifics?

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Dear International Business Times: What in the world is the 'Second Trinity'?

Dear International Business Times: What in the world is the 'Second Trinity'?

So here is our thought for today: It's hard for journalists to write accurate news reports about confusing religious topics without a basic knowledge of the doctrinal subject material that is being discussed and often twisted.

That said, it is with some hesitation that I ask GetReligion readers to ponder the top of the recent "Faith and Belief" feature from the International Business TImes that ran under the headline, "Pope Francis Supposedly Claimed Virgin Mary At Second Trinity, At Godhead Level -- Report."

Say what? What in the world is the "Second Trinity"? Hold that thought, because it gets worse.

However, before we plunge in, let me note that -- as someone who has walked the long path from Southern Baptist life to Eastern Orthodox Christianity -- I have had more than my share of conversations with Protestants about what the ancient churches did or did not believe about the Theodokos and her role in the Incarnation. I have also had many conversations with Roman Catholics about the differences that have developed, through the centuries, between Rome and the Eastern Orthodox churches on this topic.

Folks, this is complicated territory. It is almost impossible to write a single paragraph of factual material on this subject without expert help. So with that said, check out the top of this story.

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Protip: Immaculate Conception is not the Virgin Birth

Did you hear about the anteater that conceived a baby even though she had no male mate around? I mean, she had a mate, but he was removed from her area longer than the six months required to gestate a baby anteater. Theories for how this miracle happened include the very non-miraculous idea that the mommy anteater and daddy anteater mated through a fence and the somewhat more mysterious idea that the pregnancy was paused or that implantation was somehow delayed.

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CBS: John the Baptist was at the Crucifixion

In our discussions on the New York Times‘ whopper of an error (and weird correction), some readers pointed out that the media outlet was not alone in making a major mistake that day:

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Do Nativity scenes owe more to artists than historians?

I am blessed to be a member of an absolutely wonderful congregation. It’s a healthy mix of people who work together to keep the mission of our congregation going and thriving. Our regular focus on the Divine Service inspires all of our mission work, including a parish school and community programs.

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