Is the Press Wrong About the New Pope?

Pope Francis I has been full of surprises. But even more startling has been the news media’s incredible inaccuracy as they embrace the Pontiff as a liberal, an evangelical, a renegade and one of their own.

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extraordinarily compassionate, but he still enforces church order.”

3At World Youth Day (Photo courtesy of Agência Brasil)

“Where Francis has been most antagonistic has been in his statements about liturgy and hierarchy. In his headline-making Apostolic Exhortation, an official letter to the church, released two weeks ago, for example, he took a few swipes at those who are ‘ostentatious[ly] preoccupied’ with doctrine, liturgy and prestige without an appropriate concern for how the gospel affects people’s lives – a jab at traditional Catholics who had criticized him for altering the liturgy.

“To them, Francis responded: You’re hung up on the bells and whistles, and missing what truly matters. Intra-church scuffles over liturgical innovation aren’t why Francis was nominated for Person of the Year, however.

“‘What makes this Pope so important is the speed with which he has captured the imaginations of millions who had given up on hoping for the church at all,’ Time wrote in its cover story.

“And that is true,” writes Moss. “But less than a year into his papacy, it certainly seems premature to argue that he ‘may have found a way out of the 20th century culture wars, which have left the church moribund in much of Western Europe and on the defensive from Dublin to Los Angeles.’

“The heady romance between Pope Francis and the world is still in its honeymoon period. Francis may turn out to be the religious revolutionary that Time magazine fell in love with and that right-wing pundits fear – but it is too soon to say. Perhaps the media should take a step back, take some time and get to know him.”

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Rob Kerby, Senior Editor
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