Want to read a really boring Associated Press news story?
You know, the kind of short hard-news, nothing-but-facts AP report in which an important person — Pope Francis, in this case — releases a list of appointees to some inside-baseball this or that, people who are either unknown or vaguely familiar to a dozen or so readers who are into that kind of thing?
In this case, one ends up with a boring headline — sure to appear in a few newspapers — that reads like this: “Pope renews cabinet of cardinal advisers, adds new members.” Here’s the riveting overture:
ROME (AP) — Pope Francis has renewed his cabinet of cardinal advisers from around the world, naming a handful of new members Tuesday and reconfirming others to help him run the Catholic Church.
Francis instituted the Council of Cardinals one month into his papacy, on April 13, 2013, with a primary goal of advising him on the reform of the Vatican bureaucracy. After nearly a decade of consultation, Francis issued a new blueprint for the Vatican bureaucracy last year.
Nevertheless, the Jesuit pope clearly appreciated the regular opportunities to consult with a small number of hand-picked cardinals representing the church on nearly every continent, and decided to keep the cabinet alive, albeit with some new members.
Now, would that story be a bit more interesting — “newsy” even — if it noted that one of the new members of this papal “inner ring” was a cardinal who, at this moment in time, may be the world’s most controversial prince of the church?
I mean, in this case we are talking about a cardinal who said the following, in an interview with KDA, a German news agency:
“The Church’s positions on homosexual relationships as sinful are wrong. … I believe that the sociological and scientific foundation of this doctrine is no longer correct. It is time for a fundamental revision of Church teaching, and the way in which Pope Francis has spoken of homosexuality could lead to a change in doctrine. …
“In our archdiocese, in Luxembourg, no one is fired for being homosexual, or divorced and remarried. I can’t toss them out, they would become unemployed, and how can such a thing be Christian? As for homosexual priests, there are many of these, and it would be good if they could talk about this with their bishop without his condemning them.”
Wait, this is for real? Check out this list later in that boring AP report, which is also being circulated by Religion News Service:
New members include Cardinal Juan José Omella Omella, archbishop of Barcelona, Spain; Cardinal Gérald C. Lacroix, archbishop of Quebec; Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and Cardinal Sérgio da Rocha, archbishop of São Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.
The cardinals meet every few months for two or three days at the Vatican. The next meeting is scheduled for April 24.
The potentially controversial name? That would be Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg. That’s the cardinal who has openly stated his opposition to Catholic Catechism teachings on homosexuality, as in the quotes shared above.
By the way, he also plays a strategic role in defining the agenda and reports for the Vatican’s global Synod on Synodality, which many Catholics think could be the front door to a slow-moving Vatican III.
Under normal conditions, this is precisely the kind of news that would be hailed in elite press reports as a victory for doctrinally liberal Catholics who want to see “reforms” — that’s the official press term — in centuries of Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage.
The word “heretic” has also bee applied, sort of, to Cardinal Hollerich in a recent First Things essay — “Imagining a Heretical Cardinal” — by Springfield (Ill.) Bishop Thomas Paprocki, who just happens to be the chairman-elect of the Canonical Affairs and Church Governance Committee of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
So what happens if one runs a Google News search for some relevant terms linked to Cardinal Hollerich and his doctrinal views, with Bishop Paprocki thrown into the digital mix? Here is the result.
Once again we see the pattern that I discussed in my recent post and podcast, the one that ran with this headline: “Zero elite press coverage of ‘heresy’ accusations against an American cardinal?” There is zero mainstream media coverage. This win for the Catholic left is, once again, a story that is only of interest to scribes at “conservative” and “Catholic” news outlets.
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