The Press and the Pope’s Visit

Journalists don’t get religion, says Rod Dreher of his colleagues.

They don’t understand how the religious mind works, and try to impose a political understanding on it, particularly in terms of conflict (besides, American journalism thrives on exploring conflicts, often to the exclusion of ideas). Nor do they get how the Catholic mind works, and seem to believe that Catholicism is just a smellsy-bellsy version of Protestantism, which more or less makes the individual believer the locus of religious authority (to be fair, any observer of the cafeteria that is American Catholicism could be forgiven this conclusion). And they tend to interpret the Catholicism that is in terms of the Catholicism they would like to see. As I have observed in a different context, it strikes them as normative that religion would be liberalizing in this day and age, and when it fails to do so, they sense that something is wrong.

He’s riffing on a column by Peter Steinfels:

This will now be the eighth or ninth papal trip to the United States, depending on whether one counts John Paul II’s several hours of layover in Anchorage in 1981. What is surprising about every papal visit, at least after 1965, when Paul VI addressed the United Nations, is what so many people find surprising. Each time they are surprised, for example, that the pope hasn’t abandoned the notion that all human lives, even in their earliest, embryonic phases, deserve protection and that therefore abortion is wrong.