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Is there any award for bias in reporting?

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Mar 16, 2012

And this week’s award for spectacular bias in reporting goes to Philip Pullella of Reuters, who, in a story on the Vatican’s relations with the SSPX, lets loose a rant against the Latin Mass:

Last year, the Vatican told Catholic bishops around the world they had to allow priests to say the old-style Latin mass for traditionalist Catholics, whether they liked it or not.
Most Catholics regard the old mass as nostalgic, rigid and something that turns the clock back on the reforms of the Second Vatican Council, which many saw as bringing the Church into modern times.

Do “most” Catholics use those pejorative adjectives to describe the Extraordinary Form? We don’t have poll data here. We don’t even have the obligatory quote from a disaffected liberal Catholic. We only have the reporter’s word for it—or rather, the reporter’s words for it. Then, after the terribly original complaint about turning back the clock, the sentence concludes with a reference to “many” people. Again, there’s no polling, no quoting, no reporting to back up that assertion. This is an opinion column—and a badly argued opinion column at that—masquerading as a news story.

Now look again at the first paragraph quoted above. A fair-minded reporter would say that Summorum Pontificum gave priests the right to celebrate the traditional Mass. But on this occasion Pullella sides with the authority of the bishops, and resents the idea that priests have this freedom “whether [the bishops] like it or not.”

Oh, and by the way, Summorum Pontificum was released in 2007, which was not last year. 


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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  • Posted by: koinonia - Mar. 16, 2012 11:30 PM ET USA

    The Mass and sacraments are for the people of God- the faithful- gifts from Our Lord for the salvation of souls. These gifts elevate hearts and minds while infusing our souls with Christ's sanctifying grace by which we actually participate in His very divine life. It is this gift of Christ's undying love for us that transcends time and place. However, Summorum Pontificum did not "(give) priests the right to celebrate the traditional Mass." It merely recognized it had never been taken away.

  • Posted by: AgnesDay - Mar. 16, 2012 5:58 PM ET USA

    Yes. It's called the Pullet Surprise, which is being whacked on the head with a rubber chicken.