Critic of Pope Francis loses gig with Catholic News Service

Remember that piece in which Adam Shaw, a writer for Fox blasted Pope Francis in Evangelii gaudier? HERE  It seems he also wrote a bit for the Catholic News Service, bankrolled by the USCCB.

It seems that CNS let him go.  HERE

Criticize the Pope and you are gone?

Criticize the Pope – in that way – and you are gone?


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  1. tcreek says:

    I would suspect this action will cause an outburst of “free speech” criticism from the media. Justified or not, this is the likely response. A terrible decision. They should have waited a month or so and then found an excuse for his release.

  2. Magpie says:

    “We invite you to criticize our institutions without reserve. One is not insulted by being informed of something amiss, but rather gets an opportunity for amendment, if the information is taken in good part, without resentment.” – Plato, Laws, Bk. 1, 635a

  3. Elizabeth D says:

    Good call, CNS. His article was inappropriate and not really charitable, he approached this in a poor way (not to mention based on the slightly but significantly inaccurate English translation if I recall correctly). And sadly it was widely read, one of the top ranked articles for a while on, and sparked a lot of comment that “Conservatives are rejecting Pope Francis.”

  4. ies0716 says:

    This is consistent with the way traditionalist critics of any post-Vatican-II Popes have been treated for the last 50 years. Liberal critics of the Church are typically allowed to do or say whatever they want (except for extreme cases), while the mildest traditional/conservative critic of the Pope’s prudential judgement from the is immediately accused of being schismatic. While Mr. Shaw may have been a little over-the-top in his critique, his article mirrors what a lot of traditional-leaning Catholics have been feeling since the election of Pope Francis. We live in an age of rampant sexual immorality, the third world poor are crushed by left-leaning authoritarian regimes, and somehow capitalism is the biggest problem we face? Somewhere in the world there are priests that are “obsessed” about moral issues and constantly preach about them? I respect our Holy Father and admire his humility, but he is not beyond criticism. Those who choose to point out the contradictions and outright absurdities in his recent interviews/comments/letters shouldn’t be ostracized for it.

  5. mamajen says:

    Agree with Elizabeth.

    The pope is not just another political figure. He’s not beyond reproach, but I think criticism is a delicate matter. Souls are at stake. How many people will see criticism of such things and think that infallible Church teaching is also debatable? There are “low information” types on the left and the right. I think anyone who speaks publicly about the Church (including anyone with a blog) needs to carefully consider what they are doing.

    I think the USCCB are right not to fund such a thing, and now I shall hold my breath and wait for them to treat the liberal dissenters the same way…

  6. wmeyer says:

    Perhaps because it is Catholic News Service, and not Dissident News Service.

  7. Phil_NL says:

    I’m a bit of two minds on this one.

    On the one hand, his criticism for the pope was partially reasonable, insofar that the papal actions do paint an image that makes them look very leftish. That’s not something we want to see people fired over, even if they overcharge, undoubtedly partly due to emotion, and partly due to the honest mistake for mistaking the image for the substance (an honest mistake most likely, cause the hermeneutic of mr Shaw was clearly heavily influenced by politics, where image and substance all too often are the same).
    On the other hand, comparing His Holiness with Obama was really beyond the pale. Yet somehow I doubt that was the real reason….

  8. Woody79 says:

    Frankly, I am not pleased by most anything the USCCB does. Therefore, it does not shock me that they would do something like they did with Mr. Shaw. His op-ed piece was full of his frustration with what the Pope has been saying since he became Pope. I don’t think it was over the top or deplorable. He just said what a lot of “conservative” Catholics are thinking. I am over feeling the way Mr. Shaw feels and am now “used” to Pope Francis’ exhortations on matters that I don’t know where the good Pope is coming from or why he thinks that way. Pope Francis is not a JPII or BXVI, never will be. That does not make him a bad Pope. He seems to be A LOT different in the way he approaches the job of Pope. In fact, I’d be willing to bet that Pope Francis would tell Mr. Shaw he is not offended by his article and that the USCCB should be more tolerant with Mr. Shaw.

  9. Bosco says:

    After publishing an article critical of the Pope in ‘Il Foglio’ two Italian journalists, Mario Palmaro and Alessandro Gnocchi, were abruptly terminated by the Catholic broadcaster, Catholic ‘Radio Maria’, in September and October after having worked for a number of years with the broadcaster.

  10. Evovae says:

    Elizabeth is right;that article’s rhetoric was over the top. He may have made some good points, but all of that was lost in the inappropriately overt politicization. We do not need anyone to provide easy excuses to push the “conservatives are rejecting Pope Francis” line.

  11. NickD says:

    But will the bishops do ANYTHING about what has been done with money given to Catholic Relief Services/Catholic Campaign for Human Development? Nooooo, not when you could just fire someone who used too much rhetoric in an editorial.

  12. Netmilsmom says:

    CNS should have had a “member in good standing” write a rebuttal to the article and then ignored it.
    I read the article and it was exactly what I was thinking about The Holy Father. Now, why isn’t there someone out there changing my mind instead of shutting down the message bearer? Hmmmm, USCCB?

  13. Quanah says:

    I agree with, Elizabeth. CNS was right to fire Mr. Shaw. While he had valid points on which to critique and challenge the Pope, he went about it very irresponsibly. A reporter at his level should have more self-control and professionalism.

    @ Netmilsmom,
    Unfortunately, CNS isn’t even close to being as widely read as Fox News. A rebuttal in CNS probably wouldn’t even reach half the people who read Shaw’s emotion ridden rant.

  14. kiwiinamerica says:

    One of the more humorous and ironic aspects of this pontificate has been watching the liberals, modernists and dissidents suddenly take up the “how dare anyone question the pope!!” mantra. It’s particularly evident over at the National “Catholic” Reporter but the USCCB also appears to have been affected.

    Insurrectionists who have spent the last 4 decades fomenting confusion, rebellion and dissent, have all of a sudden become staunch papists and want us all to fall into line behind Francis.

    Too funny.

  15. rcg says:

    I am glad CNS did it. I am Traditional, but Shaw’s article went beyond reasoned criticism and portrayed the POpe’s positions as other than what they either actually are, or might be. I am concerned about what is being reported as being in ‘Evangelii gaudier’ but think it needs to be approached in a different way entirely than as Shaw did it.

  16. Several thoughts:

    > Under the circumstances, not unfair.
    > He can’t have been too surprised.
    > Remember the passage, you can’t serve two masters? Lots of people face situations where they can see such conflicts, and they work them out. You decide which “master” is primary, and you think about whether a request from the secondary “master” will be a problem. Or, you don’t think of it, and you suffer the consequences.
    > One wonders whether he would have faced the same discipline had he written such a scathing criticism of someone of a traditional bent. We’ll never know, but I doubt it.
    > That said: life is unfair.
    > He likely landed on his feet, so not a terrible tragedy, even if unfair.
    > I hope he doesn’t learn the wrong lessons.

  17. smittyjr63 says:

    LOL, so this is just more proof of Mr. Shaw’s assertion!
    Mr. Shaw tossed on his head by the CNS for being too critical of the Pope. Kinda like if you work for Obama and criticize him, you are also tossed on your head. Mr. Shaw’s comparison list is growing…..

    Anybody should be able to criticize ANYONE! I have the utmost respect for the Pope, but he is not God, and I’m pretty sure if Jesus were here on Earth today, He’d have plenty of bones to pick with our present Pope.

  18. Magpie says:

    RCG, did you really mean to type ‘Evangelii gaudier’?

  19. Diane at Te Deum Laudamus says:

    I don’t always agree with the prudential decisions made by Pope Francis, but that article by Adam Shaw was a hit piece – period. It was full of condescending remarks about the Pope and some of it was not exactly accurate, or was missing pieces of the larger puzzle.

    It was a classic example of rash judgment.

    I’ve seen some very well written critiques on the words and actions of Pope Francis that are thoughtful and respectful. Mr. Shaw took the low road rather than put the right kind of time and though into his critique.

    Sadly, he fell prey to the same kind of thing that plagues many reporters and commentators today: The virtual deadline of “gotta get it out now.”

    I don’t always agree with CNS either, but I’m going to agree with them on this one. You can’t have someone writing for the reporting arm of the USCCB who acts like he graduated from the Moe Howard school of diplomacy.

  20. lana says:

    I think it is not what he said but how he said it, with no reverence toward his pastor, which causes scandal. Which applies to blogs and comments as well.
    Canon 212 reminder, about the laity:
    §3:?In accord with the knowledge, competence and preeminence which they possess, they have the right and even at times a duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church, and they have a right to make their opinion known to other Christian faithful, with due regard for the integrity of faith and morals and reverence toward their pastors, and with consideration for the common good and the dignity of persons.

  21. Bob B. says:

    The reverse can happen, too. When you work for a Catholic school and you point out that the non-Catholic staff openly belittled our Faith during a Mass and these same people openly challenge our beliefs on abortion and birth control in front of other Catholic school personnel and NOTHING is done except the Catholic making the complaint is let go, then you know how things are really run.

  22. Imrahil says:

    One of the more humorous and ironic aspects of this pontificate has been watching the liberals, modernists and dissidents suddenly take up the “how dare anyone question the pope!!” mantra.


    In fact, I have already thought that Pope Francis, consciously or unconsciously, has been teaching us not to extend the doctrine of Papal infallibility beyond what it actually says.

    If that at last becomes crystal clear, not only in theory where it is that already, but also in the faithfuls’ and the unfaithfuls’ feelings, it will be a great, great thing. I say this without the least irony.

    Thus… can orthodox Catholics filially declare they beg to differ? (Er… this is not how to do it, btw!)

    Excuse the quip: Yes, we can.

    May the World finally get that into its head.

  23. Geoffrey says:

    Sounds good to me. I’d love to see such an ax swing at other places!

  24. hockeyCEO says:

    According to the posters in here, if you write an OPINION piece, better make sure to put lots of frosting on it. God help us!

  25. RJHighland says:

    To me Shaw has just been expressing the same things I have been concerned about. When you have President Obama referencing statements by our Holy Father that help his agenda you know you have a problem. The Church and past Pope’s have spoken out about communism and socialism and now Pope Francis has taken a swipe at Free Market Capitalism, which doesn’t really exist anywhere on the planet it is just a boogie man. Socialism of some level or another is present world wide and will be the collapse of this country. If you don’t think this is a socialist nation you need to slap some cold water in your face and take another gander at the definition of socialism. Obama care was just the final notch in the belt. I think most of the Novus Ordo Bishops are socialists. Just a thought rambling around in my head, why have the bishops not used our Catholic Hosipital Network to establish a health insurance program similar to the what the Knights of Columbus have done with life insurance but set up for all the faithful in their area or a Catholic Physicians network insurance program. Subsidiarity right. Instead of having these huge insurance firms and the government taking our insurance money have the faithful paying insurance premiums to the local Catholic Hospital instead of secular organizations. First we would need to clear out all the sisters’ with-out habits and develop authentic Catholic nuns and priests to run these hospitals but that’s another story. We all need to look at what Pope Benedict XVI was talking about with subsidiarty and get the money for retirement security, welfare, education and healthcare away from the federalized systems and get that money working at a local, county or state level at most and privatize as much as possible.

  26. Lori Pieper says:

    With Fox, you have to expect a news piece (op-ed) to have a political spin. And the Pope shouldn’t be entirely above criticism.

    I am nevertheless very glad Shaw was fired. His work was unprofessional and irresponsible. Above all, he misunderstood and distorted what Pope Francis really wrote, and he apparently has very little real knowledge of Catholic social teaching in general and in particular past papal magisterium on the subject to measure this newest work against.

    What it boils down to is: he’s an incompetent journalist at least at subjects more complex than movies and video games. No Catholic publication or agency would want to maintain someone like that on their payroll.

  27. mplangley says:

    I agree with Netmilsmom. It would have been better for CNS to provide a rebuttal to the main points in Shaws argument.

    On a side note – I think there is a little too much hyperventilating going on here. Can’t one (i.e Shaw) start a discussion without a lot of name calling in response (Im thinking of you LoirPieper, Diane at Te Deum Laudamus,Quanah, Elizabeth D).

    CNS missed a good opportunity to increase its readership by providing an excellent rebuttal to Shaws main points, points many other orthodox catholics are making as well, and further CNS and missed an opportunity to provide a service in correcting any error it saw in Shaws points. Those errors (if any) now go uncorrected and all we have is a fired reporter and one more reason to not read CNS.

    For those of you thinking Shaw was uncharitable where is the charity in what CNS did. It merely shot the messenger and did nothing to counter his message (an even greater act of “un”-charity) bad move if you ask me.

  28. Shooting the messenger is not always the best idea. It is much better to correct erroneous points vs shooting the messenger. I sensed a ton of frustration in Shaw’s piece…it’s what many quietly think….although maybe not to degree to which was stated in the article.

  29. Mr. Green says:

    I agree with Lori Pieper and others that Shaw’s piece was irresponsible. (Nor do those criticisms constitute name-calling. It’s OK to bash the Pope but not to point out incompetence??) Besides, if they read Shaw with the same amount of care as he read Pope Francis, they would have concluded that he doesn’t care about little old ladies dying in the street as long as the stock market gains a few points, so no wonder they sacked him!

    I can understand why somebody like President Obama wants to [mis]interpret the Holy Father in light of left-wing politics. I fail to understand why some avowedly orthodox Catholics are so insistent on doing the same.

  30. Nancy D. says:

    Man is not an end in himself, nor is man a means to an end. What president Obama, president Putin, and pope Francis failed to mention is that a Government that desires to serve God, desires to serve The Common Good.

  31. PA mom says:

    Dod you figure it is because he criticized the Pope, or because he criticized the President while criticizing the Pope?

  32. jflare says:

    I cannot agree at all with the idea that CNS acted rightly with dismissing Mr. Shaw or that Mr. Shaw said something inappropriately.
    As others have commented, the simple fact of life is that Pope Francis, whatever his intentions or view may be, HAS been creating some real problems for faithful people in America. One need only read a few not quite openly gleeful articles by MSW at the Reporter to understand that. If we want to see a pontificate that can speak to America in a way that America really NEEDS, our pope will need to understand that..Americans are not Argentines and do not share the same outlook.
    It may be that eventually, the Left in this nation, will turn on Francis, but maybe not. I recall a former President who cheated on his wife in the Oval Office–and we all knew he did it–who then proceeded to turn that scandal into an asset that could be used against his political enemies.

    Mr. Shaw’s piece may have been more abrasive than strictly needed, but again, I think he reflected the concerns that we’ve all felt for some months now. It’d be nice if the Pope didn’t seem so determined to turn our world upside down without much gain.

  33. phlogiston says:

    Anyone who is suprised by this didn’t pay attention to the way the USCCB treated Judy Brown’s SON for HER criticisms. Once again, the liberal response to a difference of opinion is not more discussion, but “Shut up.” (Andrew Klavan, call your office.)

  34. trad catholic mom says:

    Speak the truth get fired, support heterodoxy get ignored. What else is new.

  35. Gretchen says:

    I read Shaw’s blunt, even harsh, assessment of the Pope’s Exhortation. I would think more charitably of the bandwagon folks here if they were able to articulately refute Shaw’s points, rather than attack him personally and applaud his firing.

    Other posters are correct in saying it is unwise to shoot the messenger. It makes CNS and the USCCB seem somewhat reactionary.

  36. mamajen says:

    A few here have very strange concepts of “personal attack” and “name-calling”, such as I’m accustomed to seeing from the left. Funny that you spring to the defense of Shaw for his criticism of Pope Francis, but nobody can criticize Shaw. I haven’t seen anything at all unreasonable from “the bandwagon”.

    Anyway…I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Pope Francis were to reach out to Shaw the way he did with Palmaro (if he catches wind of this). When’s the last time Obama did something like that?

  37. tcreek says:

    I think that all here would agree that a major problem in our country is that the main stream media reports mostly praise for their liberal political ideas while ignoring dissenting stories and views.

    I think the same could be said for Catholic publications controlled by the USCCB and the dioceses — report only the praiseworthy and ignore dissenting opions. This is a great disservice to the truth. The Church should not attempt to foreclose discussions as if correct answers are known only to the bishops and their staff.

  38. pannw says:

    Not having read Shaw’s piece, I don’t know if the firing was warranted or not, however, I do know that this just appears as another sort of hypocritical double standard coming out of the USCCB that further erodes its credibility for me, and I’m sure others. Criticize the Pope, you are anathema. Promote the murder of the unborn, sexual deviancy, etc…crickets. My husband will never convert with these people at the helm of the Church in America. God help us.

  39. Deacon Augustine says:

    I think Pope Francis has said and written some appalling things, but I like his character – he seems to enjoy creating a bit of controversy (lio) and getting a debate going. Shaw made some good points in response even if he might have gone too far in the rhetoric.

    I had struggled to understand what the Pope was getting at when he made criticism of narcissistic Renaissance Popes who were surrounded by sycophants and yes-men in their papal courts. However, thanks to a number of comments on here, I think we have perfect examples of such behaviour – ultramontane papolatry is obviously alive and well in the blogoshere. For those of you who applaud Shaw’s sacking, reflect on the fact that if the Pope means what he says, he would no doubt engage with Shaw in debate and dialogue rather than having the harsh stick of discipline waved in his direction.

  40. moon1234 says:

    It is almost without fail that ANY criticism of the Pope is reacted to very negatively by most today. St. Paul would be drummed out of the Church today for his rebukes of Peter. He would have been seen as “Uncharitable” and “Disrespectful”.

    We are searching for truth. If the Pope says things in public that confuse or do not conform with prior teaching of the Church, then he opens himself up to criticism. The mere fact that so many react in a negative fashion, I think, only points towards their own internal recognition that something is wrong in the way the current Pope is presenting his message.

    Many traditionalists have a LOT of problems with E.G. that go way beyond economic theory. We can’t even discuss those issues on the “normal” Catholic internet sites because we are immediately silenced. Apparently everything the Pope says or does is now infallible. This is not only folly, it is dangerous. Imagine the type of power those in high places can wield, either in the Church or not, when they are above criticism!

  41. Gretchen says:

    Mamajen, I clearly did refer to an articulate refutation of Shaw’s position.

    Whether or not Pope Francis reaches out to Shaw is beside the point. Is Shaw incorrect in his criticism of the Pope? The bandwagon focuses on the tone almost entirely, leaving the substance alone. This is a weakness within the so-called conservative/traditional Catholic mindset that allows opponents of the Church (whether within or without) to divide and conquer.

    While some here are applauding the CNS/USCCB’s firing of a man for what some consider to be disrespectful criticism of a pope, what will be remembered is that a man was fired at Christmas time for speaking his mind.

    Where is the reasoned refutation of his article? I hope it is forthcoming, for it may further any actual dialogue of the relevant points in Shaw’s article instead of the applause at his firing.

    If no reasoned refutation comes forth, it would certainly seem to give more credence to what Shaw wrote, if not his tone.

  42. mamajen says:

    Yes, Gretchen, of course Shaw was incorrect. Why should I, or others, spend time crafting a refutation to your liking when Father Z has spent the past several months doing a bang-up job of it himself? It should be abundantly clear to anyone who reads here regularly that to compare Pope Francis to Obama is ridiculous. As for CNS, does anyone really expect them to enter into the political fray?

    I don’t know how anyone could expect to keep a job with a (truly) Catholic news outlet after calling the pope a “disaster for the Church”. Tone matters very much.

  43. Gretchen says:

    I think the freedom to publicly applaud the sacking of Mr. Shaw should also come with a feeling of responsibility to explain that point of view, Mamajen. Tone does matter, but not at the expense of substance. While you have shared your point of view, you fail to explain it.

    Moon1234 expresses my feelings very well, in both tone and substance. ;-)

  44. excalibur says:

    This is quite disturbing if true re: Franciscans of the Immaculate. Father Z, any comments, insight into what is going on here? It has been an odd thing from the day it first happened and seems to be fulfilling Trads wildest imaginations now that several months have passed by. Of course you have some ‘connections’ that may shed another light on this. Much thanks.


  45. yzerman123 says:

    Sure, Shaw was exaggerating and over the top. But what bugs a lot of Catholics is how the USCCB gives a free pass to dissenting nuns and other garden-variety heretics. There’s an unhealthy asymmetry goin’ on. Call it selective outrage.

  46. Mr. Green says:

    Here’s the deal for everyone suggesting that open season on the Pope is fine and dandy because Paul rebuked Peter: the next time St. Paul bashes Francis, I promise I won’t complain in the least.

    As for everyone who by some stroke of misfortune happens not to be the canonised apostle: sorry, I will continue to expect you to treat our Holy Father with respect and his words with charity.

    (P.S. Ultramontanistically papolatrous conspiracies aside, note that this does not imply that everything the Pope says is infallible. If it were, then obviously I would have said, “I will expect you to treat our Holy Father with unquestioning obedience no matter what.” The astute reader will have noticed the subtle difference.)

  47. mplangley says:

    @mamajen – tone is said by analogy when it comes to the written word and often times the tone a reader hears is dependent more upon the reader than it is upon the written word. To put it bluntly I would suggest that those of you all bent out of shape by Mr Shaws tone should reread Mr Shaw’s article out loud and in a monotone and then rejoin the discussion. Or perhaps reread him in a more charitable tone and then tell us what you think about his arguments and not his tone.

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