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http://www.getreligion.org/2010/11/vatic...day-after/

We already looked at the major inaccuracies with mainstream media coverage of Pope Benedict XVI’s comments on condoms. But there are a few other points that are worth sharing.

USA Today religion reporter Cathy Grossman nailed it. In her first post on the matter, she wrote:

Pope Benedict’s unexpected citing of a rare exception to the church’s no-condoms teaching makes no change in Catholicism’s teachings on contraception. And he reiterates his controversial comments from his visit to Africa that condoms are not the answer to combating HIV/AIDs.

I just read the Vatican spokesman’s clarifying remarks on the matter and he pretty much says just that. You can read that statement here.

But there was one angle that we didn’t really explore in yesterday’s discussion. The whole brouhaha began because L’Osservatore Romano — Vatican City’s daily newspaper — violated the embargo on the new interview book of Benedict. They published Italian-language passages, which angered many folks who have been keeping the embargo. Official launch for the book was supposed to be on Tuesday.

I think there’s probably a fascinating story about just what in the heck is going on with L’Osservatore. At best, it’s known for praising American pop culture (The Simpsons! The Blues Brothers!). But sometimes its news judgment is lacking, to say the least. In this case, part of the media firestorm was due to L’Osservatore’s flawed translation of what Benedict had said. For instance, by now everyone realizes that Benedict was apparently giving a particular statement about a male prostitute. But in L’Osservatore, they had him talking about female prostitutes. Tom Heneghan at Reuters tried to make sense of that mess in “Grammar experts needed for pope comment on condoms”:

The problem is that the pope gave the interview in his native German, which is not 100% clear on this issue. The key phrase about condom use reads in the English translation: “There may be a basis in the case of some individuals, as perhaps when a male prostitute uses a condom, where this can be the first step in the direction of a moralisation.”

He explains how different languages have different rules for gender (in the language sense). Benedict used a word with a masculine casegender. But, of course, the weirdness is that L’Osservatore translated it so as to give the impression he was singling out female prostitutes. Why does this matter?

The difference isn’t just grammatical. If Pope Benedict means only male prostitutes, he is speaking about gay sex, which cannot lead to procreation. The Church rejects artificial methods that block procreation, such as condoms and contraceptive pills. Since that doesn’t apply between two men, a condom could be condoned even though the Church thinks homosexual sex is wrong anyway.

But if he means male or female prostitutes, then he is allowing condum use for a sex act that could possibly led to pregnancy, i.e. when a male visits a female prostitute. From there, it’s only a short step to condoning it in a marriage where the man is HIV-positive. And then the question will arise, why not allow condoms for heterosexuals who aren’t infected?

Since he rules out artificial birth control in another chapter, a good grammarian would have to conclude from the context that Benedict does indeed mean masculine gender here in the sexual sense. I’m curious to see how the Vatican explains that its own newspaper used the feminine. Maybe a long essay about Italian grammar?

I’ll be posting later this week about the Vatican and press management, but it seems like the Vatican should explain just what was going on with L’Osservatore. The translation is one thing but the broken embargo is another. It’s hard to criticize the mainstream media for ignorance when L’Osservatore was the first to flout the embargo, mistranslate the Pope’s actual words, and provide no context. It’s not that — contra the implication above — L’Osservatore is “The Vatican Newspaper,” but there is a relationship between the Vatican and the paper.

In related news, one same-sex attracted GetReligion reader shared his personal experience with Catholic counseling on the issue Benedict addressed here. And here’s another interesting read about how media representation of Catholic teaching about contraception in general has been flawed for a long time. Jimmy Akin at National Catholic Register also has a post on that point.

George Weigel, who wrote the forward to the book in question, diagnoses the “false assumption(s) beneath the latest round of media condomania”: that the Church’s teaching on sexual morality is a policy position that can change, like tax rates; that all papal statements of whatever sort are equal; and that a change in Catholic teaching would ever be announced in an interview (“It will perhaps come as a blow to the self-esteem of the fourth estate to recognize an elementary fact of Catholic life, but the truth of the matter is that no pope with his wits about him would use the vehicle of an interview with a journalist to discuss a new initiative, lay out a pastoral program, or explicate a development of doctrine.”).

And the biggest problem, he says, is the media obsession with “the notion of Salvation by Latex.” He points out that in the last media maelstrom over condoms for AIDS, the media mostly forgot to discuss the efficacy of abstinence and fidelity:

What humane purpose is served by this media obsession with condoms? What happens to the press’s vaunted willingness to challenge conventional wisdom when the issue at hand is anything touching on sexual license? It seems to disappear. And one fears that a lot of people are seriously hurt — and die — as at least an indirect result. Consciences indeed need to be examined in the matter of condoms, Catholics, and AIDS. But the consciences in question are those of the press.

So even if most readers just went for the headline and will forever be confused about the matter, the press can’t help but be aware at how many of them flubbed the story. How should they handle it now? Run corrections and clarifications on the same front-page the other stories ran? Examine their consciences, as Weigel suggests? Or what?



Are we ready to get over this now or shall we continue to  Beating a dead horse
losservatoro romano should be put out of it misery!
By tomorrow I expect to see a lot of apologies from the pope bashers.
Good Luck Ockham waiting for the Apologies
I instead expect something along the lines of the pope being wishy-washy.
(11-22-2010, 05:35 PM)Ockham Wrote: [ -> ]By tomorrow I expect to see a lot of apologies from the pope bashers.

I apologize if I bashed the Pope!! Now, may God have mercy on my soul!!!  Pray Pray Pray
I don't apologize for criticizing the Pope. Because I expect him to be prudent and to know the media, since as essentially a preacher, he should know how his messages are being promoted or detracted and he should know what spin is all about.

If he doesn't know, he needs to be educated quickly. From his track record he still doesn't seem to get how the media works and I believe that this all comes back to the irrational Vatican 2 optimism about the world.

The Fathers of V2 thought that the world, if presented with the truth of Christian teaching, would embrace it or give it a fair hearing. Of course for traditionalists we know that the world is under the influence of the Evil One and can't be trusted to be fair - basically it was a denial of original sin behind this attitude.

Well Holy Father, have you finally realized, the world can't be trusted and reasoned with? You have to simply say "yes yes and no no" and leave the rest to God.

Why do you think the Holy Fathers of the past were very restricted in their language and never published conversation books before? A pope should restrict himself to official duties as much as possible and not use his position to promote his pet theories or ideas.

Does this make me a basher?
(11-22-2010, 08:48 PM)winoblue1 Wrote: [ -> ]I don't apologize for criticizing the Pope. Because I expect him to be prudent and to know the media, since as essentially a preacher, he should know how his messages are being promoted or detracted and he should know what spin is all about.

If he doesn't know, he needs to be educated quickly. From his track record he still doesn't seem to get how the media works and I believe that this all comes back to the irrational Vatican 2 optimism about the world.
How old is he?

He does not need to be intimately aware with tabloid journalism and the habits of youtube commenters.

Quote:Does this make me a basher?
It makes you judge the Pope's actions based on how those outside the Church view him. If people did not react the way they did, you would have a different opinion. In short, I think the Pope should not be held to silence just because people will misrepresent his words. There was more written than the few things the media jumped on.
(11-22-2010, 08:48 PM)winoblue1 Wrote: [ -> ]I don't apologize for criticizing the Pope. Because I expect him to be prudent and to know the media, since as essentially a preacher, he should know how his messages are being promoted or detracted and he should know what spin is all about.

Here Here. Tip o' the hat
This is from "Creative Minority" and this blog is making the exact same point I was trying to make.

http://www.creativeminorityreport.com/20...uance.html


The Pope's Rhetorical Suicide through Nuance

Hang with me for a moment.

I went hunting this past weekend. In order to be safe from being mistaken for an animal, the prey, hunters are encouraged or even required to wear a bright orange color. This wise safety measure, of course, assumes that all the other hunters in the woods are not color blind.

Now if you know in advance that all the other hunters are color blind, you have no one else to blame but your self when you end up shot.

Translation? You don't speak French to a bunch of neanderthals and expect NOT to be clubbed.

This is what happened to the Vatican press machine this past weekend with the "Pope approves condoms" story. Actually, this is what always happens to the Vatican press machine.

Let's face it. The press getting this story wrong is the expected outcome but yet again the Vatican press office was caught flat footed. Yes, they issued a statement that, while correct, is written in the same language of nuance that got them in trouble in the first place.

I must admit that the whole thing has me scratching my head. The question I keep coming back to is "why?" Why did the Pope try to make this VERY nuanced point when it is obvious to even the most casual observer that the media would get this wrong? Did this nuanced point about male prostitutes really have to be made? I mean, have male prostitutes sworn off condoms because the Pope says they are wrong? Why? Why this point?

I cannot help but wonder if the Pope's inner egg-head got the better of him here. In a way, I feel like the Pope wandered into the woods on the first day of hunting season while trying to make a point detailing the different kinds of rods and cones involved in color-blindness. It is just not the time or place to be making this point.

And then the Holy See press office. Somebody over there coulda shoulda known what was contained in this interview and anticipated the blowup. The whole reason you have a press office is so that you can be ahead of these kind of stories rather than being reactive. Extending my lame hunting analogy, it seems that the press office tells all of the color blind hunters "Hey, I think I saw something move over there!" And then claims "How was I supposed to know?"

Doesn't anybody over at the Vatican, from the Pope on down, know how this works?

Listen up!!! The press doesn't do nuance!

When will they get this through their pointy hats?

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