From a recent statement sent out on behalf of Raymond Flynn, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and three-term mayor of Boston:
“News coverage about the upcoming conclave has been completely off the mark and has done a great disservice to the public. Catholic viewers deserve more than salacious controversy and scandal about this amazing moment in world history.
Surveying a number of major media outlets, there has been no insight or creative commentary. The same old questions are being asked to common critics with the same old answers given. The media spends more time trying to create controversy by interviewing the typical people who ideologically disagree with Church values, often interviewing these well-known critics to boost their ratings.
The over-exposure of critics, who are not only uninformed about the conclave, but hostile to Christian values and traditions has made it nearly impossible to develop sound and reliable sources about the Vatican. Because so much of the information they report is hearsay or down right inaccurate, the public is lacking a clear picture into one of the most important events in our lifetime. Consequently, concerned viewers get only sensational half-true stories. It’s absurd that the national media hasn’t figured out how to explain to the audience what’s about to happen.
The conclave is not a political election, a soccer match or a popularity contest—it’s much bigger than any of those. The media should spend its time trying to report on the real issues and what’s really important to the future of the more than 1.3 billion Catholics throughout the world.
The College of Cardinals is already discussing the problems and challenges facing the Church in a dramatically changing culture. Theologians and editors, as smart as they are, can’t answer those questions and they can’t figure out who will be the next Pope. But local parish priests and lay Catholics can talk about the issues. They’ll tell you what concerns parents, older Catholics and even disgruntled Catholics.”
Mr. Flynn, who is obviously wise to the ways of the world, certainly knows that there are many parts of malice mixed with ignorance and general cluelessness when it comes to news coverage of the Catholic Church and the papacy. To be fair to journalists in general, they often present much or most news in “sensational half-true stories”. And even we in the Catholic media are occasionally bitten by the sensationalistic bug. The next few weeks are going to be unusual, exciting, and filled with lots of news, rumors, and some craziness. Catholic World Report is going to be working hard to present facts, separate truth from fiction, and help our readers make sense of the events in Rome. True, it isn’t always easy to find good, trustworthy sources of news, but neither it is impossible, especially with the internet and varied sources that are now accessible to millions of readers. More on this and many related topics in the days and weeks to come!