Recently a listener to my radio program sent me an email. She was very upset and wanted to know why Pope Francis was suddenly telling the world that divorce was morally acceptable. This woman was beside herself because she has married children who are struggling in their relationships and she fears that the Pope was giving them just the ammunition they needed to call the divorce lawyers instead of the marriage counselors.
I wish I could say the email was unique. It still happens far too frequently, and even among people of faith. Unfortunately, despite all the studies concerning media bias and sensationalism; even when we hear about more and more Brian Williams type cases of the so- called journalists embellishing the fish tales, most folks for whatever reason, still tend to believe what they see and hear in the secular press.
Little did my listener know that Pope Francis was actually preaching the opposite. The theme of his June 24th General Audience message centered on the wounds of the family. He encouraged parents to treat one another lovingly and reminded them of how fighting and marital problems have a ripple effect that greatly impacts not only the couple, but their children. He also mentioned that sometimes in extreme circumstances a temporary separation might be necessary, but only in extreme cases where there was violence, abuse, or exploitation; and in order to protect the weaker spouse and the children. His words, of course, accurately reflect Church teaching and are a far cry from even remotely encouraging divorce, but that didn’t stop the media from running with a story that fit their agenda. When I explained this to my listener she apologized for jumping to conclusions and reacting too quickly to something she saw on the local news.
I find the same thing happening now that the Supreme Court has made so called “same-sex marriage” the law of the land. The press has abandoned any sense of balance or objectivity and has gone over to the cheerleading and propagandist camp. Another listener contacted me to tell me about how his newspaper, a major daily, was so thrilled with the SCOTUS ruling that management “popped for lunch” for the entire staff in honor of “the historic day.” Another news outlet The Patriot News/Penn Live is sticking with its special editorial policy of not printing letters that disagree with the ruling, unless those agreements have to do with the legal issues. Since same-sex marriage is legal then that must mean it’s completely moral as well, so no need for any more discussion. Case closed. Front page headlines such as “We Do” and “We are Family” that greeted the ruling show an obvious bias as opposed to even an attempt at balance. We have to really understand just the importance of accuracy and truth, or lack thereof, when it comes to the mass media.
So I may sound like a broken record, or to be more contemporary, a broken iPad, but here are some suggestions as to how we can better navigate these very tumultuous times we find ourselves in:
1) When it comes to stories, sound bites, tweets, posts, or any information regarding Church teaching and social issues that directly impact our faith and religious freedom, the source of that information has to be paramount.
2) Compile a list of reputable sources that are reliable and have a true knowledge of the Church and what it teaches. Here’s a list of solid Catholic sources for you to keep and pass along to as many people as possible:
- The National Catholic Register online
- Vatican News Agency
- Our Sunday Visitor Newsweekly
- The Catholic News Agency
- Watch The World Over with Raymond Arroyo on EWTN and EWTN News online
- Watch EWTN News Nightly, 6pm ET. You can even watch it on YouTube
- Ave Maria Radio, the home of my show Catholic Connection and Kresta in the Afternoon – Listen online or listen later to the archive or podcast. The AveMariaRadio App is excellent
- Robert Muise of the American Freedom Law Center
- Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse of the Ruth Institute
- Lewis Brown of Christ Medicus, promoting Christ-centered healthcare
- Thomas More Society is a not-for-profit, national public interest law firm based in Chicago dedicated to restoring respect in law for life, family, and religious liberty
- Dr. Monica Miller of Citizens for a Pro-Life Society
- Dr. Pia de Solenni MoralTheologian.com
- William B. May, Catholics for the Common Good & the book Getting the Marriage Conversation Right
3) Seek truth, goodness, and encouragement through positive books and other materials, such as:
- Donna-Marie Cooper O’Boyle’s lovely books
- Mother of 10 & author Patti Maguire Armstrong’s books on families, hope and inspiration
- Lisa Hendey’s book The Grace of Yes, about generous living and the ability to joyously say yes to God.
- The new inspirational book by Randy Hain Joyful Witness: How to Be an Extraordinary Catholic. It is a collection of stories about Catholics from all different backgrounds who faced challenges, but in the end made a difference and are still making a difference. It is exactly what the doctor ordered. The stories will inspire you that with God all things are possible. And who doesn’t need more joy right now?
- Also, consider spreading the beauty of Catholicism to others, especially the youth and their parents who may never have heard the true message of Christ. Programs like the GoodNews! Book Fair, developed by Catholic author Lizette Lantigua, can spread the teachings of real charity, love and compassion to churches and schools.
4) It is imperative that you deepen your relationship with Christ. This will strengthen you and allow Christ’s peace to calm the storms of fear and confusion that you may be feeling. I highly recommend these resources:
- Catholic Spiritual Direction website
- Carmelite Sisters of the Most Sacred Heart of Los Angeles who have an excellent blog, resources, and even retreats to increase your faith.
- The wonderful Servant of God Fr. John Hardon, S.J. archives at the Real Presence Association.
- EWTN’s Faith section, especially their Document and Audio libraries. The Audio library contains a vast collection of past TV and Radio shows.
Let me close by urging you to remember that Christ has conquered the evil one. Be not afraid! You must consider the source of what you read about the Church and happenings in our culture and society. Be a joyful witness and never ever let the devil steal your joy!