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Catholic Misinformation

It's like Catholic QAnon.

January 27, 2023  0


Fake news — it's the bane of the culture right now and was first called out by Donald Trump in the 2016 campaign. It has obviously since become a staple of the American lexicon. Of course, since Trump took that label from the Marxist media and turned it around on them, those same media types have developed a new label, much more formal sounding: "misinformation."

Misinformation became the watchword for the wave of censorship that followed on social media accounts everywhere. Had it not been for Elon Musk's Twitter purchase, that would likely still rule the day across the board. That said, misinformation has become a problem and it is not limited to the secular realm. There is a wave of Catholic misinformation flooding social media almost daily. And for Catholics with a microphone or a platform, this borders on the unforgivable sin.

Any Catholic claiming to be faithful and speaking routinely to an audience has a duty before Almighty God to tell the truth fully to the best of his ability — period. Making an honest mistake is one thing, although even those should be far apart and few in between — and then acknowledged when they happen. But the stream of clickbait headlines and show names and talking points — just to get eyeballs — is beneath the dignity of someone who calls himself or herself "Catholic," especially in faithful, orthodox circles.

Over the past few weeks, the off-the-wall claims and discussions and pure, unsupported conjecture have been alarming:  

  • UFOs are a precursor to the end of the world  
  • Biden installed a Baphomet mirror in the White House
  • Cdl. Pell was murdered
  • George Neumayr was murdered 

The list of crazy goes on and on. There are many reasons why this is wrong and unethical, even immoral in some cases.

First, for quite some time now, the line has been blurred between actual news — meaning factual, verifiable information — and the "commentary" that inevitably follows in its wake. It's not enough for Catholic social media and internet personalities to simply grab some headline and then recklessly wax on about it, especially if it's just for clickbait. Since the line is so blurred, people who are listening oftentimes do not make the distinction between nutty commentary supported by nothing more than thoughts swirling around in a host's head and the actual data point — the piece of accurate information.

The off-the-wall claims and unsupported conjecture have been alarming.

It's irresponsible because it's not truthful. Case in point: When Church Militant's good friend and actual journalist George Neumeyer died last week, Catholic social media "experts" raced to their webcams and microphones to say he had been murdered in Africa exposing child sex trafficking. They incorrectly and carelessly pointed to a tweet George had put out about the possibility of him being murdered because of the bad stuff he was finding out about "here" (his word).

What they didn't bother to check, which took about 30 seconds, was the date of the tweet was Dec. 23 — three days before he landed in Africa. The "here" he was talking about was the United States, not Africa. Here's the huge problem with the blending of news and commentary: On various websites and Catholic podcasts, the personalities bringing you the news don't actually have any real training in news or journalism.

This is not an industry or field for those who are either not accomplished or being trained by those who are not. Verifying information can oftentimes be an arduous task — grueling even, at times. You have to cover every base and ask multiple questions: who, what, where, when, why, how, how much, to what extent? Very often, the answers to those questions bring up more questions that need further digging and vetting.

You may "go with your gut" sometimes while vetting a story, but you don't get to do that while reporting a story. And since journalism and news should always (at least for Catholics) point to the truth, it is unseemly to just turn on the camera and say whatever comes into your head without checking the facts first and even double-checking.

Those who have an audience have a moral obligation to inform them, not entertain them and tickle their fancy, especially while collecting money or emails from them. Catholic media personalities have an obligation, ultimately, to lead people to the truth — to strengthen them spiritually for spiritual combat. Likewise, there is a duty to warn people of dangers to the Faith — their faith — not try to capitalize on the news of the day by sensationalizing it.

To inform and warn, to guide and caution listeners, readers or viewers is our utmost responsibility. And along these same lines, there is a further obligation to investigate stories or information that may pose a threat to people's faith or their proper understanding of it. We'd like to share some examples of this with you that Church Militant is currently vetting. If we were not relatively certain that the information is correct, we would not be telling you, but, given the sources for these stories, we feel safe speaking in general terms — for now, at least.

One story is, we have very reliable sources that a certain archbishop, with no mandate from the Church and no diocese, is secretly ordaining men to the priesthood. This is absolutely forbidden in the Church, but he appears to be doing it anyway. In another example, a different bishop, also with no diocese, is "reordaining" men to the priesthood because he and they believe that the ordination they received was invalid because it was not done in the Old Latin Rite. Of course, no one can be "reordained," just like you cannot be "rebaptized."

Now, as responsible journalists, any Catholic media–type should be exposing these stories and discussing them and explaining to people every last detail and impact of the consequences of this stuff. It's all motivated by a wrongheaded belief that the Church is no longer the Church, and therefore "emergency measures" must be employed to save the Church.

First, you don't save the Church by denying Her or the efficacy of Her sacraments. Neither do you simply reject the proper authority — even if those who have that authority abuse it. They will answer to God for their abuse. Many great saints became saints because of their submission to the abuse of proper authority even in the hands of wicked men.

In another example of how to correctly handle a story in a truthful journalistic manner, the case of Frank Pavone is a stellar example. Church Militant was made aware of the charges that have since become public within a very short time of us reporting the story of him being laicized. We neither praised nor slammed Pavone in the wake of the Vatican's removal of him from public ministry.

Catholics have a much higher standard and need to live up to it.

We raised questions about the process — about the reports from Catholic establishment media and so forth. Many of you know: I have known Frank Pavone for almost 40 years, going back to our overlapping time in seminary in New York in the mid-1980s. So when I heard these charges, I was stunned. We investigated, checked around, called multiple sources, had extensive conversations and so forth.

Meanwhile, other Catholic personalities were automatically siding with him and singing his praises and damning the Church for the actions taken against him. That's irresponsible, and it happens because of this unthinking, uncritical knee-jerk reaction on the part of various Catholic internet-types that is not professional and certainly not Catholic — to immediately jump to conclusions without first checking things out.

Even if a bishop is a horrible man — corrupt as hell — it doesn't automatically mean that every single action he takes or decision he makes is wrong. A bad man can sometimes be right, just as a good man can sometimes be wrong. But the "Catholic QAnon" crowd, as someone has dubbed them, doesn't care about facts. They care more about a narrative, like a child who can't get the wrong jigsaw puzzle piece to fit, so he just smashes it in place, saying to himself, "close enough."

People with an audience who present themselves as Catholic don't get to act like this and engage in CNN-type tactics. The world of Catholic misinformation should not exist, and yet it does. So, unfortunately, the warning needs to be extended to faithful Catholics as well: Don't automatically accept uncritically whatever you're being told by Catholic media personalities and websites presenting themselves as faithful. It's not news if it's not accurate and complete, often requiring professional treatment and vetting.

And the commentary is worthless if it's based on that fake news, no matter how tantalizing and "clickbaity" it may be to think Biden has Black Masses in the White House basement. Faithful Catholics already get enough grief from Marxists and evil people in the world. For literally the love of God and souls, don't give them ammunition to use against us. We Catholics have a much higher standard and need to live up to it.

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