Saturday, May 24, 2014

Deception in Catholic Websites: Caveat Emptor

I have found it very disconcerting and disheartening to see the way in which many Catholic blogs and websites report on news concerning the Catholic Church. I expect secular sites to report on events regarding the Catholic Church in a way that will suit their own agenda. However, I would think that a truly Catholic blog or website would report and comment on anything Catholic with integrity. But to believe that, unfortunately, is to live in a fantasy world.

Following is one very concrete example of the skewing that can be found on "Catholic" websites. Pewsitters.com is a Catholic news website that tends to support an ultaconservative, traditionalist Catholic viewpoint. It is modeled after Drudge Report in that it links to various websites and blogs to report on news affecting Catholics. They seem to love to link to anything that shows Catholic hierarchy, including Pope Francis, in a bad light. The latest concerns Bishop Leonardo Steiner of Brazil. This was the link, the last headline at the bottom of this screen shot, "Brazilian Catholic Bishop backs legal gay unions":


Clicking on the link leads you to a Filipino website, GMA News [HERE]. Here we are given a few quotes from an unlinked to interview with the bishop. And it doesn't sound good:
There needs to be a dialog on the rights attached to shared life between people of the same sex who decide to live together. They need legal support from society," Leonardo Steiner, the secretary general of the National Confederation of Brazilian Bishops, said in an interview with O Globo newspaper published on its website Thursday.
The Church isn't the same through the ages. It seeks answers for the present time, using the Gospel as the illuminating force of its action," the bishop said.
The Church is always seeking to read the signs of the times, to see what must or must not change. The truths of faith don't change.
I did a little internet research and found Lisa Graas, who entitles her post "False reports that the Catholic Church in Brazil supports homosexual unions".  Lisa writes:
There is some reporting (AFP via Yahoo) that the Catholic Church in Brazil now supports same-sex unions. The reports are false. They are based on remarks made by Bishop Leonardo Steiner in an interview with O Globo. Bishop Steiner refers to supporting the basic human rights of homosexual persons, such as the right to employment and the right not to be physically assaulted. He did not say that the Church supports their unions. As Pope Francis has done, he refers everyone back to the Catechism of the Catholic Church as the basic teaching we must all hold to.
Lisa then quotes directly from the original interview:
GLOBE: Recently, Pope Francis said: “Who am I to judge a homosexual who seeks God?”. Today, the Catholic Church is open to accept his homosexual believers?

Bishop Leonardo Steiner: You could say that the Pope echoes the Catechism of the Catholic Church says about the gay people: “They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Avoid it-will [ill will] towards them [and] every sign of unjust discrimination. ” We welcome with respect, compassion and sensitivity means walking and living with the homosexual person and help her understand, deepen and manage their condition. [That each is a] son and daughter of God is understood.

[...]

GLOBE: The Pope also wants to study homosexual unions to understand why some countries have chosen to legalization. This represents the beginning of a dialogue on marriage between persons of the same sex?

Bishop Leonardo Steiner: It is important to understand the unions of persons of the same sex. Is not a concern when it comes to any people. It is necessary to talk about the rights of ordinary life between persons of the same sex, who decided to live together. They need a legal support in society.
The reason this reads in such a clumsy way is because it is Google translated from the original interview, which is in Portuguese. You can find that interview link in Lisa's post and HERE.

Lisa summarizes the interview:
In other words, though the union itself cannot be supported, we must support the “rights of ordinary life” (basic rights that are natural to all human beings) that each of these two persons have a right to. They need a legal support in society in terms of their basic rights. This is not an approval of their union, but only of their individual rights even though they live together in an illegitimate union. For instance, I cannot assault a person just because I object to his being in a same-sex union. I cannot, however, show approval for that union.
Bishop Steiner is a member of the Order of Friars Minor.
As Lisa has pointed out, His Excellency is not in any way supporting same sex unions. He is pointing out that homosexuals should be protected from those who wish to do violence against them and other discriminatory practices, and reminding us that we need to treat homosexuals and all people with dignity and respect. With regard to changing Catholic doctrine, as Lisa points out, Bishop Steiner points to the the Catechism, which in no uncertain terms denounces homosexuality activity.
2357 Homosexuality refers to relations between men or between women who experience an exclusive or predominant sexual attraction toward persons of the same sex. It has taken a great variety of forms through the centuries and in different cultures. Its psychological genesis remains largely unexplained. Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that "homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered." They are contrary to the natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
2358 The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God's will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord's Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Notice that the Church separates the person from the acts. We can never accept homosexual acts, but we must always accept those with homosexual tendencies. As can be seen, Bishop Steiner was quoting exactly what we find in the Catholic Catechism. To accuse him of wanting to change church doctrine is truly disingenuous. I expect this from secular websites, but from a website that purports to be Catholic?
 
Is there any chance that Pewsitter will link to Lisa Graas? Yes, and that will be when pigs fly.

Please do not accept everything you read on the Internet on face value, no matter where you find it. Always do a little more checking. The Church is guided by the Holy Spirit. Yes, there have been and will continue to be rogue elements among the hierarchy of the Church, but be very careful when you see this kind of reporting. The Church is founded on a solid Rock, and He will always make sure that we stay on that Foundation.


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