MSM and liberal view of Francis v. Benedict

The folks at Rorate got something right about Pope Francis and treatment by the slobbering mainstream media and catholics.

How the mainstream media (and many Catholics) view the papacy

“What on earth is that Hitler Youth member doing with those ridiculous red shoes? 

Hopefully, the old man fell down on his face… Wait, is he mocking the way Muslims pray?

Or is he hiding pedophiles under that rug!?”



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Benedict XVI, Biased Media Coverage, Francis, Liberals, The Last Acceptable Prejudice. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. I was noticing something similar this week. The media was always running headlines saying that Pope Benedict was being “soft” on sexual abuse. Yet, this week Pope Francis comes out and says that he will keep the same strict policies as Pope Benedict in this area and the headlines all read “Pope Francis Gets Tough on Sexual Abuse.”

    [Something along these lines? HERE]

  2. torch621 says:

    You’re not the only one who noticed that, Fr. Tunink.

  3. frjim4321 says:

    Actually, I think we should be grateful that the church is receiving some positive press lately.

    What we are seeing here is a good deal of angst on the part of those who may fear that the RotR is coasting a bit.

  4. mamajen says:

    To their credit, I have noticed a few good things on Rorate recently.

  5. It’s the black shoes and no skullcap. Makes all the difference.

  6. Katylamb says:

    Many Trads have also pitted Francis against Benedict- only in order to try to diminish Benedict. They (some, not all) do the same thing as the liberals only in reverse. Especially on that R. blog.

  7. Katylamb says:

    Very sorry. Should say in order to diminish Francis.

  8. disco says:

    Rorate quoted a writer whose name escapes my memory. Something like, “with John Paul II the cardinals elected a pope who became a saint, with Francis they elected a saint to become pope”.

    It’s garbage like that that makes me repeat to any who will listen:

    Benedict the Beloved, pope of Christian unity

  9. donato2 says:

    Someone should collect all the false contrasts that the media have made between Pope Francis and Pope Benedict. A starting point could be Rachel Donadio’s March 16, 2013 article concerning the blessing that Pope Francis gave to journalists. I’ve linked to the online version of the article.

    Donadio writes: “The pope’s remarks were a marked change in tone from those of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, who was more reserved by nature and rarely spoke of personal recollections.”

    The claim about personal recollections is simply not true. On multiple occasions I saw Pope Benedict share personal recollections. There was a very beautiful instance when a young boy asked him how Jesus could be in the Eucharist when you can’t see him there. In responding to the question Pope Benedict recounted the day he received his first Communion. (Pope Benedict’s substantive response to the boy’s question was that there are many things that we cannot see that exist – such as love and our intelligence – and these in fact are the most important things, the things that sustain the world. It was a beautiful and remarkable scene to see one the greatest theologians of modern times explain one of the Catholic Church’s most difficult dogmas to a young child in a way that the child could understand.)

    There are many other examples of Pope Benedict sharing personal recollections. The most recent of course was when he addressed the priests of Rome and shared his recollections of Vatican II.

    I don’t actually care much if the Pope does or does not share personal recollections. The point is the comparison that is so biased as to be outright false.

    In the print version of the same article, Donadio cited Pope Francis’s openness to non-believers as a point of contrast with Pope Benedict. Apparently, Donadio is unfamiliar with Pope Benedict’s “Courtyard of the Gentiles” project or his dialogue with non-believing public figures such as Marecllo Pera, Oriana Fallaci and Jurgen Hambermas. The magnitude of her apparent ignorance is astounding given that she is one of the New York Time’s principal reporters covering the Vatican.

    I could go on and on. It really exposes how severely biased the press was against Benedict. Whenever I speak about Benedict to friends or acquaintances who are not committed Catholics, I always preface my remarks by saying that if you know Benedict only through the press you don’t know him at all.

  10. mamajen says:


    That irritates me, too. Some take it to such extremes that they badmouth Benedict as well, because after all we wouldn’t have this new pope if he hadn’t resigned. I know over at Rorate there are SSPX and even sedevacantists among the commenters, so that explains a lot. Once in a while they surface here, too. The bloggers themselves seem to be pretty reasonable lately, and I’ve noticed them policing the comments a bit better. In some cases they’ve just kept them off altogether. I was pleased to see that they finally added a nice picture of Pope Francis on the sidebar. They certainly stepped in it a few weeks ago, but credit where credit is due when they do something good.

  11. BLB Oregon says:

    It’s been less than a month since he was elected. He is humble, but he is not cowardly. Let us see what Benedict XVI’s detractors are saying about Pope Francis after the honeymoon is over, and they have had too much truth from him.

  12. Mitchell NY says:

    I had hope that the Pope would not have allowed this to happen.

  13. Anchorite says:

    Thank God for Rorate Coeli blog and the amazingly hard work those faithful and dedicated Catholics do every day. I can say the same thing about the faithful Catholic running this blog, Fr. Zuhlsdorf.
    Many of us here had experienced the “wolves” that run the Post-Vatican II Church – some have fled the brothel to preserve their souls and those of their family members. Others decided to stay. My own son asked if we should be going to SSPX after seeing Francis’s actions in the past month. I urged patience.
    Please, Mamajen et al., remember WHY someone is part of SSPX or even sedevacantist. If certain popes were humble like Vicars of Christ SHOULD be, not changed around Holy Mass and acted out in front of cameras, MAYBE we would not be here, discovering “Hey, that pope is orthodox after all, we just heard a proof … “

  14. The Astronomer says:


    …..thank you

  15. mamajen says:


    I was simply pointing out that many SSPX supporters, and certainly sedevacantists, are very agenda-driven just as people at the opposite extreme are. It explains some of the very offensive comments we’ve seen. I know there are well-meaning people who have decided to go to SSPX churches for whatever reason, and there are even some who are completely unaware of their status with the Church. That said, I do believe that well-educated Catholics who know better should under no circumstances feel justified in leaving the Church, and sedevacantism is particularly indefensible. It’s definitely not my intention to paint everyone with a wide brush. There have been some very polite SSPX people here. Infighting only helps the media with their ridiculous contrasts, so we really need to try to be on the same team and be wise about which opinions we express publicly.

  16. mamajen says:

    Also @Anchorite,

    I think it’s very wrong to presume that anyone is acting for the cameras, or to speculate that his humility is fake. You want to talk about proof, well how do you prove that?! The Pope is under a microscope whether he likes it or not. You can see that it’s ridiculous for the media to draw conclusions as they have, but for some reason you can’t see that it’s just as bad to draw opposite conclusions based on nothing except your own biases. The burden of proof is on you, not him.

  17. NBW says:

    IMHO the media should be reporting other new stories instead comparing Popes. This shows they have nothing better to do.

  18. Wayward Lamb says:

    @ NBW,

    I disagree. The media are reporting on Pope Francis and comparing him to His Holiness Benedict XVI because they think there’s something there they can use to their benefit to advance a specific narrative. If it were otherwise, they would simply ignore Pope Francis altogether. Case in point, look at the lack of national media coverage in the US at the Kermit Gosnell trial in Philadelphia.

    Blessings to all on this Divine Mercy Sunday.

  19. KingofCharity says:

    SSPX and sedevacantists are Protestants. Enough said.
    They are victims of the post-modern epidemic of paranoia, dooms day prophecy, conspiracy theory, and fear.

    They saw abuse and evil in the Church and bailed. They are no different that Martin Luther or John Calvin. They didn’t stay to pray and renew. As cowards who lacked faith and trust in our Lord’s words, they jumped ship the second the bark of Peter hit the tumultuous waves of the post-Vatican II storms.

    Protestants. The whole bunch. Pray for them.

  20. Supertradmum says:

    The media and liberals are pushing the comparisons more than the trads. I have read more garbage about Benedict in the past three weeks than I would care to see. The euphoria of his visit to England has dimmed and the liberals are still jumping up and down here, as they sense they have a stake in this Pope.

    Well, many people will be surprised both on the left and the right, but the middle, neo-cons, also are to blame for pushing the cult of personality, which is not Catholic at all.

    I shall be glad for the days when the Pope could just get on with his work as Pontiff and not have such media scrutiny.

    I have some thoughts on this, gleaned from a highly intelligent discussion among some men on these points this past week.

  21. Juergensen says:

    Katylamb says:

    “Many Trads have also pitted Francis against Benedict – only in order to try to diminish Francis. They (some, not all) do the same thing as the liberals only in reverse. Especially on that R. blog.”


    I saw much of it right here.

  22. Christopher says:

    ‘SSPX and sedevacantists are Protestants. Enough said.’

    No, they are not. Protestantism is a heresy, these are not by definition heretical. Are the Orthodox ‘Protestant’?

    Unlike sedevacantists, the SSPX are suprise… Catholic.

    God Bless.

  23. NoraLee9 says:

    It’s very easy to call SSPX attendees, and other attending Traditional Independant chapels “Protestants.”. It’s tough to “hang in there” when having to ask for a simple Traditional Baptism, and endure the weeks of rigmarole, only to be told “no,” despite belonging to a parish operating under “Ecclesia Dei.”. It’s tough to “hang in there,” when, asking for a traditional Catholic School, or even, just, transportation TO a Traditional Catholic school 30 miles from the house, being told, “just homeschool!”. I’m older than a number of people here and I actually lived through the Pontificate of Paul VI. Many of my mother’s best friends just stopped attending Mass after Epiphany ’69 altogether. The parish in my hometown actually TORE DOWN the church to put up a new, brick, sterile building with no real stained glass and über-modern statuary.

    Remember that there are many, many souls that feel, “we asked for bread and were handed a stone.”. This is Divine Mercy Sunday. Let’s imitate the Master and have some compassion.

    Thank G-d and Pope Benedict for SP.

  24. KingofCharity says:

    Yes, technically, you are correct. The SSPX are “schismatics” as defined by the Roman Catholic Church. As someone who desires to be in full union with Rome and to think in union with the Church, I should be more careful to use the proper language.
    My point was that their “mindset” was Protestant, not their canonical status. I should have clarified; hence, I was speaking language contrary to that of the Catholic Church, making me in error.
    But, as I said, they are formal schismatics with a “Protestant mindset” that is no different than the Reformers.

  25. Christopher says:

    ‘My point was that their “mindset” was Protestant’

    I do not understand, because they ‘protest’? So did the Orthodox.

    ‘But, as I said, they are formal schismatics with a “Protestant mindset” that is no different than the Reformers.’

    Except the reformers did not like anything that was Catholic. The SSPX love the Faith. If someone wants to get quite controversial about it, there are plenty of Modernists within the Church who sought to do what the Reformers of the Reformation did. Versus Ad Populum, for example, is of the mindset of The Last Supper, which the Council of Trent explicitly condemned. The Last Supper as a celebration at the Church itself is Protestant, since the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is Calvary.

    The SSPX are simply defenders of the Faith. They cannot be accused of error, for they hold the Faith, they cannot be accused of being schismatics, because they are obedient to the Holy Father the Pope. They are not comparable to the Orthodox or the Reformers, because one is schismatic, the other heretical. The only issues SSPX have seems to be over 5% of Vatican II, and hostility (not denying the validity or licity) of the N.O.

    SSPX is a unique case, with the issue of validity and licity of their sacraments.

    God Bless.

  26. Imrahil says:

    The mindset of the SSPX is not Protestant, except if judged from a mindset that equates Catholicism with doing-what-the-Pope-does. (Whether the SSPX are right is still a totally different matter.)

    There are three pillars of the Faith: Scripture, Tradition and the Magisterium. Not the Magisterium alone, and especially not without any right to distinguish between its fallible and infallible utterances.

    Nor is it schism, as the Catholic Encyclopedia implies in its article on schism:

    However, not every disobedience is a schism; in order to possess this character it must include besides the transgression of the commands of superiors, denial of their Divine right to command.

  27. tradical says:

    As probably one of the newest Catholics to tradition, and one of the newest members of Father Z’s community, I offer my perspective on the tangential topic. I too am just a father and husband, a simple lay Catholic trying to raise my kids and protect my family. I was one of those individuals very active in the NO parish where we used to attend Mass when I “discovered” tradition (too young to remember it). I have no particular motivation to defend the SSPX per se, but I do feel compelled to offer a counter to the libel that they are “schismatic.”
    Many people new to tradition will come here and it would be a disservice for them to see some of the uncharitable and untrue comments about the SSPX without a rebuttal. For those people, and any others unaware or unsure, do not be accept broad and simple declarations about the SSPX; find out for yourself.
    That is what I did, and I came to the difficult conclusion that the SSPX are bailing water from the boat. They aren’t remotely like Reformers or Protestants. They are exactly like Roman Catholics.
    I’m not offering any links, any quotations, or regurgitating any well-worn arguments. I’m only asking that we refrain from hyperbole and statements that might mislead others who are searching for answers.

  28. mamajen says:

    I’m sorry that I seem to have helped this thread go wayyyy off topic.

  29. Christopher says:

    Mamajen (8:57am)

    Just becareful with statements like these:

    ‘I know over at Rorate there are SSPX and even sedevacantists among the commenters, so that explains a lot.’

    Even the National Schismatic Reporter mocked Pope Benedict XVI. It’s not exclusive to SSPX members.

    God Bless.

  30. EVERYONE: Go back to the top and review the actual POINT of this entry.

    Talk about the SSPX here is OVER. Rabbit hole closed.


    Your Benevolent Dictator

  31. priests wife says:

    about media coverage of the two latest popes- I think the media will continue to focus on Pope Francis’ ‘humble’ lifestyle and ignore speeches, teachings so that they can continue to hurt Benedict. If Pope Emeritus bothers with any of the coverage, I’m sure he looks to the cross and knows that the world would not treat him any better than his Master.

  32. PA mom says:

    There are other messages less extreme than these coming through, but equally biased. What I hear runs the message of old, still European,and part of the establishment (Benedict) vs fresh, exotic enough, and counter establishment (Francis).
    Remember that people were often physically reaching out towards Jesus. They needed (or even just wanted) his actual physical response in order to heal them. Some of these acts, where Pope Francis removes the physical distance between himself and those who most need him, are VERY compelling. They are simple things that uneducated (in matters of religion) members of the media can quickly absorb and write into the three minute time table.
    To clarify, I do not fault Pope Benedict by this observation AT ALL; I suspect myself to be far closer to his placement on the introversion/extroversion scale, and would never even think of doing the kind of things Francis has done.
    My guess is that if the Church is receiving positive results, that is the desire of Benedict’s heart, regardless of how he is treated in the process. It is evident how much his loves us, his Church, and wants the best for Her.

  33. Denis says:

    I appreciate both Rorate and WDTPRS; it is inevitable that there will be differences, and even some acrimony, among tradition-friendly Catholics. We’re all a little shell-shocked, and it’s not clear whether the sounds that we are hearing right now are those of more shelling to come. I guess I’m somewhere in between Father Z’s hopefulness and RC’s despair, though probably a little closer to the latter, alas.

    When it comes to the media, I have come to expect nothing good from them; what the NYT, CNN and the usual suspects have to say about the Pope, the Church, or anything else related to Catholicism registers in my consciousness as much as does the content of a TV commercial or a Britney Spears song, that is to say not at all.

    I’m far more bothered by the fact tha some “mainstream” Catholic media personalities–e.g., George Weigel–seem to be pitting Francis against Benedict, with bombastic proclamations about the dawn of a “new” evangelization that has arisen with the election of Francis; conveniently enough, Mr. Weigel had a book on that subject ready to sell at the moment of the papal election; I suppose that, in Mr. Weigel’s view, anyone replacing Benedict would have signalled a new evangelization.

    I honestly don’t know what to make of the new Pope. I believe that he is a saintly man, with saintly intentions, but that does not always lead to better things in the Church. I do fear that, whatever his intentions, what he has been doing will be taken as a signal by many, many Bishops and Priests that they can safely rewind to the status quo ante BXVI, and maybe even ante JPII.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    A quote from which pope?

    Over the years, I have often repeated the summons to the new evangelization. I do so again now, especially in order to insist that we must rekindle in ourselves the impetus of the beginnings and allow ourselves to be filled with the ardour of the apostolic preaching which followed Pentecost. We must revive in ourselves the burning conviction of Paul, who cried out: “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16).

    Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter, Novo Millennio Inuente, in the year 2000.

    There has been much written on the New Evangelization for more than 10 years now, and it has been talked about many times by Pope Benedict XVI. This is not a recent development, nor is it one that has arisen with this new papacy.

  35. catholicmidwest says:

    This business about the New Evangelization is a little bit hard to grasp at first. I looked at it for ages before catching on, but what’s going on is not about Pope vs. Pope, but something else entirely: the activity of the Church serving the mission of the Church.

  36. StJude says:

    I am noticing the differences as well. Yes, I am happy with the positive press. But Pope Emeritus Benedict was a wonderful Pope and I hate him being diminished.
    My God bless both Pope Francis and Pope Benedict.

  37. Katylamb says:

    Pope Benedict was indeed a wonderful pope. I loved him and I still do. I loved him as Cardinal Ratzinger and was overjoyed when he became pope. I was sad when he stepped down.
    That said, what I’ve seen of Pope Francis is wonderful too, but in a different way. I have read every word I could by Pope Francis since he became pope. I’ve also read, where I could, his words before he became pope. I am growing to love him too. His words have affected me deeply, and I have learned from them. What would be the use to us, really, if all popes were carbon copies of each other? There would be nothing left to learn from them, would there? Please, dear fellow Catholics, don’t diminish Francis because he isn’t Benedict! Listen to him. He has something to say to us. The reform of the reform will continue, never fear. We and our children will see to that. The press is indeed pitting Pope Francis against Pope Benedict, but why should we join in? I have not seen the press speak anywhere near as badly about Pope Benedict as I have seen Catholic faithful speak badly about Pope Francis. Why does it have to be either/or? Don’t you see? He has to be who he is, just as dear Pope Benedict had to be himself. Why can’t we love them both?

  38. Joan A. says:

    It’s not either/or for me, we have to see what is revealed by Francis as he goes along. I have lived thru 7 popes. They are all different in style and personality. John Paul 2 was the most popular with the young, that was his unique appeal. But to elaborate on what another poster said – popes may come and popes may go, but (for me), a truly humble man, Benedict will always be The Beloved.

  39. Lucas Whittaker says:

    I love it! While we drink from the stream of living water and “taste with gladness the sober intoxication of the Holy Spirit” that characterizes the Roman liturgy the rest of the world continually gets it wrong because it relativises the truth. The odious negative comments that are put in the mouth of those who hate the Pope (no matter who he happens to be) point to the fact that moral relativism endangers peace. Pope Francis certainly chose his name well. And as Pope Francis said to the diplomatic corps: “There is no true peace without truth…There cannot be true peace…if everyone can always claim exclusively his own rights, without at the same time caring for the good of others…” St. Francis of Assisi, pray for us! Pope Francis, lead us to true peace in the truth of Jesus Christ.

    To those who are in the world and under the sway of the tyranny of relativism I offer the timeless words of Romano Guardini: “Understanding of Christ requires a complete conversion, not only of the will and the deed, but also of the mind…[And] to the degree that the intellect honestly attempts this right-about-face, the reality known as Jesus Christ will surrender itself. From this central reality, the doors of all other reality will swing open, and it will be lifted into the hope of the new creation” (from The Lord, final paragraph). And I believe that the words of Antonin Sertillanges could be applied to this conversion of the self to truth and therefore to Christ: “The man who sees truth and reaches for it is like the mountaineer amid rocks and glaciers. The world of ideas opens up scenes more sublime than the Alpine landscape, and they fill him with rapture.” There is nothing else like it.

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