Action Alert!

AP puts words in the Pope's mouth

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Oct 02, 2009

 The AP story, which will run in hundreds of American newspapers and on thousands of internet sites, carries this headline:

Pope meets new US envoy, praises Obama

Go ahead: Read the whole story. Do you see where the Pope praised Obama? Neither do I.

Vatican Radio has provided the full text of the Pope's remarks to the new American ambassador. (If the Vatican Radio web site continues to balk, John Allen also has the full text.) If you read carefully, you'll notice that Obama's name is mentioned twice:

  1. The Pope says that it was nice to meet the Obama family, and sends his greetings to the American president.
  2. The Pope mentions that Obama chaired a meeting of the UN Security Council, at which the members passed a resolution favoring work toward nuclear disarmament. 

Nowhere in his talk does the Pope praise Obama. But the AP headline says he did, and millions of readers, skimming the headlines, will be left with that impression. Score another PR victory for the White House. And remind yourself always to question the accuracy of secular reporters covering Vatican news. 

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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