Bishop Paprocki, Al Kresta and Teresa Tomeo weigh in.
Beware: the spin-doctors will be out in force during Pope Francis’s visit to the United States. They can’t seem to help themselves whether through wishful thinking or lack of a Catholic perspective.
Pope Francis has said nothing contrary to two thousand years of Catholic teaching, but his personal engagement with the media and his habit of leading with mercy, often leads the secular media to misinterpret his statements. If all of what they claimed he said were true, he’d be a heretic.
The “Francis effect” has even those hostile to the Church enamored with him. But the soft spot in their heart for the Pope has done little to open their minds to the truth of Catholic teaching. So, they often interpret the Pope’s words to mean what they want them to mean.
“The secular media has a tendency to pick and choose the things they are interested in and not what the Holy Father is actually saying, so people need to read or listen carefully to what he actually says,” Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, IL said in a recent interview. Bishop Paprocki will be present at all of the events during the Pope’s visit which includes meeting with President Obama, addressing a joint session of Congress, canonizing Blessed Junípero Serra, speaking before the United Nations in New York City, and speaking at the conclusion of Philadelphia’sWorld Meeting of Families (WMOF), the world’s largest Catholic gathering of families.
“The World Meeting of Families will to be a wonderful opportunity for the Catholic Church in the United States to focus on the true meaning of family life,” Bishop Paprocki said. He explained that the impact will go far beyond those who attend. “People will be influenced also by reading about it and the messages of the Holy Father himself who will be speaking there.”
Thus, getting the truth out is crucial. Yet, it’s not realistic to expect the secular media to always get it right, according to Al Kresta, author, EWTN radio talk-show host of Kresta in the Afternoon, and president and CEO of Ave Maria Radio. “There has been a lot of misreporting in the secular media,” Kresta said, “because they do not always understand Catholic doctrine and the Catholic ethos. The obvious point that the press doesn’t understand is that the Catholic Church believes the well-being of the family is the only solid building block for society.”
According to Kresta, “They don’t get our story, not because they are unkind–although they are sometimes hostile–but they just don’t understand.” So whenever headlines announce that Pope Francis is taking a sharp turn from Catholic teaching, Kresta said Catholics don’t get excited. “We know it’s not going to change,” he said.
“The World Meeting of Families is a strong example of how the Church is addressing these issues and taking seriously its mission regarding instructing the faithful on God’s design for human life,” Kresta said. “The Catholic teaching, when applied, leads to more enduring marriages and transmitting the faith to the next generation; it leads to optimum sexual experience and better citizenship,” he said. “Catholics are hoping for more clarity from Pope Francis on these issues during his upcoming visit to the U.S.”
Teresa Tomeo, author and talk show hosts for Ave Maria and EWTN said her listeners are hungry for the truth. “I’ve heard from so many listeners who are looking for encouragement and clear direction from the Pope and the upcoming Synod about how to live the truths of the Catholic faith in a world often hostile to Church teaching on family issues like marriage, divorce, gender issues, pornography and contraception,” she said. Tomeo served as a 2014 Vatican Conference delegate and speaker for the Pontifical Council for the Family and is the host of The Catholic View for Women TV Series. According to her, “Many Catholics are hoping to encouragement from the Pontiff during his visit as they work hard to raise their children in often challenging situations.”
As Pope Francis watchers wait expectantly for his words during his visit, they should not only listen carefully, but also stay close to good Catholic sources. The EWTN team will be reporting on the Pope’s entire visit here. Tomeo’s Catholic Connection radio program will be live from the WMOF, Monday through Friday and Al Kresta will offer insights and commentaries from key participant on Kresta in the Afternoon.