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Catholic internet personalities and media types have a duty to bring you the entire story when relaying to you what's going on in the Church as well as the world as it relates to the Church. To cherry-pick data points and deliberately leave out other data points is dishonest. With the exception of straight-up lying, like CNN and others engage in, there is, essentially, little difference in that reporting philosophy.
Even in the legal world, there is a requirement that if the police or prosecutors come across information that weakens their case and is favorable to the defense, they have a legal obligation to hand that information over to the defense. The point is to arrive at the truth, and nowhere should that be more applicable than in so-called media circles in the Catholic world.
But too often we find straight-up commentary as well as commentary thinly disguised as news showing reckless disregard for the truth. This is especially true in what is not relayed to you. Catholic media and internet personalities quite often will support a certain person or cause and align themselves with it without sufficient vetting or research.
It's a kind of populist reporting that really isn't reporting at all, at least not in any professional sense. The recent Frank Pavone story is a classic example. Big-name conservative Catholic outfits and individuals trampled all over each other championing his cause, jumping on the bandwagon, pounding their chests as defenders of yet another "good and holy" priest.
Whether they did this as just a knee-jerk reaction, uncritically going along with it — or more calculatingly, saw it as a chance to push a narrative that makes them look good by association — we don't know. What we do know is that either of those avenues displays a woeful lack of regard for their supporters. And as it turns out, with the revelations emerging after Pavone's laicization, those outfits now have egg on their faces (and deserve to).
That's what happens when you either unthinkingly or calculatingly rush to push a cause and report only some cherry-picked information. That underlying philosophy, which is the order of the day in many Catholic media circles, undercuts their credibility. And it raises all sorts of questions about other celebrity priests or causes whose bandwagons these same internet personalities and media outfits support and push. You, the viewers, are beginning more and more to ask questions, to examine what you are being told is the story.
We know because we are seeing the "great awakening," the red-pilling now beginning regarding "reporting" in the Catholic world. We are now getting more emails and comments, not to mention having private discussions with others who are beginning to see this. For example, to give a spin on unapproved apparitions — in some cases, debunked apparitions or highly questionable apparitions or so-called mystics — and treat these like they are facts, is dishonest or completely uninformed.
It's an insult to viewers to bring so-called experts on the air and speak about these types of things as though they are simply true, without asking tough questions. But — and this is what Catholic viewers, thankfully, are beginning to awaken to — there is a desire on the part of some in Catholic media to avoid tough questions around causes or people they support because they have tied their entire enterprise to these stories:
The list of baseless claims goes on and on. And any interview, any daily news that can be seized upon that helps push their narrative is, immediately, "news." Are the alleged apparitions, for example, at Garabandal worth an honest story? Maybe, but not without also presenting everything questionable about them.
Church history is riddled with phony apparitions and mystics, and to weave these events into a narrative only serves to confuse viewers and readers, as well as so muddying the waters that the storyline eventually takes on a life of its own — as if it were true. One of the favorite yarns spread by cherry-picking media types is that the schismatic group, the Society of Saint Pius X, is pretty much cool and a viable option for Catholics fed up with the modernist crisis in the Church.
Notice how part of that narrative line is true: There is a modernist crisis in the Church and many Catholics are fed up with it. But that truth is then taken and run with as though the schismatic SSPX is a viable option or response to the crisis — it isn't.
A number of years ago, Cdl. Burke, the leading canonist on the planet and perhaps in the history of the world — hat tip, Your Eminence — was asked point blank, "Is the SSPX in schism?" Here was his answer: "Yes. Absolutely, without a doubt." I know that firsthand because I was the person who asked that question. Sidebar — he has since later publicly confirmed that the SSPX is in schism, so I'm not revealing information from a private conversation (because that information is no longer private).
For someone at the level of Cdl. Burke to openly state that seems like it should be a major story for the Catholic internet-personality industry to report on — yet not a peep. It's completely avoided, sidestepped and buried. If they were to report on that, they would begin to unravel their own narrative and, frankly, impact their bottom line.
One notable internet personality, in fact, just a few days ago went directly against Cdl. Burke and declared the SSPX is in full communion with Rome. Now, how could that sort of claim be made in the face of Burke — again, the leading canonist on the planet — saying quite succinctly that the SSPX is, in fact, in schism?
Either the talking heads simply don't know their stuff, which means you have to ask yourself why you're listening to them (because how much more are they popping off about what they don't know?), or they are deliberately avoiding the truth in their commentaries and story treatment, which is even more serious.
The SSPX is in schism. Pope John Paul officially declared it so in 1988, when Abp. Marcel Lefebvre broke away from the Church by illicitly consecrating four bishops, in express disobedience to Pope John Paul, who ordered him not to. Here are his words and declaration immediately following Lefebvre's actions (his words, not Church Militant's):
In itself, this act was one of disobedience to the Roman Pontiff in a very grave matter and of supreme importance for the unity of the church, such as is the ordination of bishops whereby the apostolic succession is sacramentally perpetuated. Hence such disobedience — which implies in practice the rejection of the Roman primacy — constitutes a schismatic act.
A bishop disobeying the pope and consecrating his own bishop is the textbook definition of a schism. Lefebvre was and remains excommunicated. This is virtually never mentioned by the SSPX-supporting Catholic media who keep their warm embrace of this schism largely out of public view.
They should be straight-up questioned — to publicly go on the record and state whether they support the SSPX or not. What is their editorial position? Not whether SSPX is in schism, but what is their editorial position on it? Church Militant has — our editorial position is quite clear. The popes have declared they are in schism and since Peter has said so, there is no more debate — case closed.
Then along comes Pope Benedict, who had a very soft spot for the SSPX because of his love for the Traditional Latin Mass that they offer. He bent over backwards for years, doing everything he could do to bring them back into communion. His efforts failed. The SSPX wanted nothing to do with being reunited to Rome.
In the end, for the good of the Church, Benedict was forced to rule:
"The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the Society does not have a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate ministries in the Church. ... In order to make this clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the Society has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers — even though they have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty — do not legitimately exercise any ministry in the Church."
For those of you keeping score of papal condemnations of the schismatic society, that's two. Again, none of this is ever presented to you (the viewer or listener) by multiple Catholic media types who simply choose to avoid all this. Why they choose to avoid it — we'll leave that to you to decide.
Then there is the latest: Pope Francis, who, likewise, just last year, also called the schismatic society "schismatic." He said this with regard to the previous goodwill gestures offered to the SSPX by both John Paul and Benedict. Their actions were "motivated by the desire to foster the healing of the schism with the movement of Mons. Lefebvre."
Again, for those keeping score, every pope since the illicit consecrations done in 1988 has condemned the society's actions, using the word schism. But our point here is not to revisit these "couldn't-be-more-clear" pronouncements but to present to you, Catholic faithful, how you are being deceived by popular Catholic personalities and groups who do not tell you all this.
They are not saying all this to you out of either (1) ignorance (which is a little hard to swallow) or (2) even worse, deception, which is always willful and intended, as opposed to just ignorance or a mistake. People who present themselves as knowledgeable — yet either are not or, worse, actually deceive you — are not to be trusted, no matter how much you may like them or even how right they may be on other points.
And it is not uncharitable to say this. In fact, in the media world, calling out fake news is a responsibility. How many of you listening to this cheered Donald Trump when he called out CNN as fake news? Yet in the Catholic world, somehow that is forbidden or not nice or mean? Fake is fake, no matter what is being reported — or, in most cases, not being reported.
Most people, because they are so busy with their day-to-day lives, don't have the time and often the expertise to explore all these things critically. They just tune in to personalities they like and ascribe what is sometimes an unwarranted trust and simply believe them.
Whether it's about unapproved apparitions or UFOs or famous cardinals being secretly murdered or groups being officially declared as schismatics as somehow being in full communion with Rome — it's all fake news. Why would a faithful Catholic accept so accurately and quickly the truth of fake news in the secular world, but turn such a blind eye to it happening in the Catholic world? That question needs exploring.