CBS News, for shame

CBS News has just released a very slanted report regarding the Catholic Church. Apparently it was the cover story of the CBS Sunday morning broadcast.

I am starting this thread in Popular Media, because it concerns the quality of the journalism, and not the news being reported on (much of which is old.)

There are so many inaccuracies and distortions in the article, I don’t even know where to begin to criticize it. I think I would wind up writing an essay even longer than the two page article. :o

Anyways, CBS News is a major force in the US and Catholics need to be aware of this biased report

The Catholic church: A house divided?;contentBody

CBS News, the same company of the famous Killian memos.

And the noble plight of the misunderstood, renagade nun against the big bad, outdated, Catholic Church goes on…:stuck_out_tongue:

Notice that in the video they spent the most time interviewing liberal Catholics not in good standing with the church? Not good. So much for objective news :frowning:

It’s stories like this that make me want to become a journalist and lets me know I made the right decision in majoring in journalism.

However, I found it was interesting that the one canon lawyer they interviewed now speaks against the Church. That doesn’t make sense… And what exactly does a canon lawyer do anyways, I may be interested in becoming one.

**Yes, saw that first thing this morning as I prepared to attend Mass. I guess it’s what we’ve come to expect from the secular media, always leading or focusing on something negative about the Church.

Hail Mary,
Full of Grace,
The Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit
of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary,
Mother of God,
pray for us sinners now,
and at the hour of our death.

As far as I can tell from the article, the nun accepts her excommunication and has not commented publicly.

Seems to me that the real problem deals with outside parties disagreeing with the Bishop’s decision.

But I agree-----the report is terribly one-sided and biased.

I’m terribly confused. If the doctors deemed it necessary to kill the fetus in order to save the mother, lest the two of them both die… that would be wrong? :confused::confused::confused:

That indeed is the Catholic view, as it holds that the end can never ‘justify the means’. The Church’s view in my opinion is extreme, and is very widely rejected by people outside the Church, as is its view that abortion, including the ‘morning after pill’ is not justified in the case of rape. The rejection of these views extends to a great many, possibly almost all, non-catholic members of the pro-life movement (at least as I am able to judge by their published comments and the laws they advocate).

Please, can you let us non-Catholics know what the factual inaccuracies and distortions in the story are?

The story is confusing…

The Catholic nurse on the ethics committee approved the abortion, right?
Was she wrong to do so, even tho doctors said both mother and child would likely die? (Is it a rule not to do so, no matter what?)

If so, then that explains a lot…
If not…

… then the Bishop says he talked to that same nurse and she told him that the baby was not in danger at all and “what was directly intended was to kill the unborn child.”
That makes no sense. He’s unclear with what he’s saying and he admits he had “no charts” or anything.
Why would she approve the termination, and then say that to the bishop?

So…is the problem that:
… the nurse approved it wrongly?
Or is the bishop saying the doctors lied to to the nurse? (but would they then still excommunicate her?)
Or is everyone upset because she was ex-communicated? (that was too harsh, was it not? Is everyone in agreement on that?)
Or is the upset that the Bishop says the hospital can’t be Catholic anymore and that is not fair or right?
And…I don’t understand why they called up the “review” on the nuns but don’t tell them at all what is going on?..was it because of this incident? The Bishop says it’s just cause of “a decline of the number of religious ? in our country…”

(Ironically, we keep talking here on this site that fewer girls are allowed to be altar servers because the number of young men joining the priesthood has gone down…I wonder if they’ve done the same “review” in that area, too…)

As someone who works in the media, I have to tell you that it does looks like they tried to have a balanced interview line-up:

The Bishop himself
The Chief Medical Officer at the hospital
Priest specializing in church law and former Vatican employee
Prof of theology commenting on Vatican 2
A nun and prof of theology (since the nun in question would not talk)

And they did say they tried to interview several nuns, who canceled the interviews last minute. But when you do a story like this, a lot of people don’t want to talk to a reporter and it’s difficult to convince them…so you work with who you get and you are often scrambling.

They had the Bishop there himself defending his actions; the doctor defending his actions; the nun defending the nun’s actions…and then two Catholic “experts” added in the mix to comment on church law.

I must ask…who do you think they could have interviewed that would have made the story less “one-sided” and what would that person have said?

I agree the story was reasonably balanced, but it could have been clearer. I think to give the conservative Catholic view clearly the story would have had to explain that the Church has consistently held the view that you cannot directly kill a fetus even if the purpose is to save the life of the mother, and even if both would die; that this is a significant part of Catholic moral theology, that Bishops alone grant the right to use the word ‘Catholic’ within the Church, and that everyone who participates in an abortion is automatically excommunicated.

Having done so, the way would be open to point out that the woman having the abortion, if Catholic, would also have been excommunicated, that in some circumstances the Church does accept abortion if it is ‘indirect’ such as removing an entire fallopian tube, with a fetus inside in the case of an ectopic pregnancy; and that the nun in question would also have been excommunicated for prescribing, or agreeing to the prescription, of the morning-after pill in the case of rape.

That would have been more balanced and accurate. In my experience the media have trouble accepting that the Church’s view is in fact its view (because it is extreme), and they therefore try to present it as ‘one, conservative view among several in the Church’. It is in fact the official, prevailing view, and this is likely to harden further as more liberal thinkers leave the Church or are excluded.

Hoo-boy… let’s see.

Let’s look at the opening paragraph. “Its a battle between Catholic and Catholic” that has been raging for centuries. Setting aside the prose that reads like it came from Snoopy’s typewriter, what battle is the reporter referring to?

The second paragraph refers to a battle between Bishop Olmstead and St. Joseph’s hospital. However, no such battle ever took place, let alone be a ongoing battle. Bishop Olmstead set requirements which the hospital felt it was unable to meet. So Bishop Olmstead levied what sanctions he could. Although I am not sure that interaction could be described as a battle, they happened a year ago. So what battle is ongoing?

The article mentions some of the key points of the controversy regarding the abortion and Sr. Margaret’s excommunication. However, it gives the impression that Bishop Olmstead excommunicated Sr. Margaret. And it even quotes Fr Thomas Doyle describing the excommunication as “avextremely cruel act.” However, the article doesn’t make clear that Bishop Olmstead did not excommunicate Sr. Margaret. He merely confirmed that by her actions she had excommunicated herself. The difference between excommunications which are latae sententiae (where you excommunicate yourself) and ferendæ sententiæ (in which a person is formally excommunicated as a punishment) is important. Because the article did not explain the difference (one which Fr. Doyle surely understands) it gives a very misleading impression to readers.

The article then mentions, very briefly and without explanation, an obscure organization called the American Catholic Council. The organization held a conference in Detroit, which the archbishop there condemned. But how does that relate to Sr. Margaret’s case?

And how does the new translation of the Mass relate to Sr. Margaret’s case? What does the article mean when it says that the new translation of the Mass is harder to understand? From what I have heard, the new missal has been far less troublesome than some persons worried about prior to its implementation.

To me, it seems the CBS reporter was trying to gin up a story about some epic battle by linking together widely different situations which simply are not connected. And his treatment of the individual cases he mentions is shallow, incomplete and misleading.

What a horrible situation. I just can’t imagine what the mother of 4 and her family were going through. I feel so blessed that I’m far enough along now that should something happen my little guy would be able to live on his own. What would I have done should my life have been at risk, leaving 3 other children? I can’t honestly say what I would have done in this situation but I know it would be heart-wrenching. :frowning:

**The Catholic Church teaches that it is never justifiable, or necessary to “kill the fetus” (“murder the innocent baby by abortion”, is more accurate), to save the mother!

All means necessary to save a mothers life must be used, & if the baby dies as an indirect result of the mother’s life saving treatment, then no grave evil has occurred.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) teaches us; “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion.This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law:” (CCC 2271)**

“Saint Gianna Beretta Molla (October 4, 1922 – April 28, 1962) was an Italian pediatrician, wife and mother who is best known for refusing both an abortion and a hysterectomy when she was pregnant with her fourth child, despite knowing that continuing with the pregnancy could result in her death. She was canonized as a saint of the Catholic Church in 2004.”

The same principle applies to babies resulting from a rape. Abortion just causes a second violent crime that will further traumatize the rape victim. These babies are human beings who have committed no crime & deserve to live. Adoption is a viable option for those victims of rape who cannot raise the baby.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus!


“There is more truth on the label of a can of tomatoes than in your average newspaper.” This quote is by Ben Hecht, c. 1910 reporter for the Chicago Tribune, in his biography Gaily, Gaily, made way before the Truth in Labeling Act. I think the same could be said about the modern media. OIW, take with a bag of salt whatever a journalist says.

The Church teaching is that efforts should be made to save both the mother and the baby, without intentionally killing either one… since abortion is intentional killing, abortion is not permitted, in any circumstance. IF the baby dies though there was effort to save both the mother and the child, that’s different because it wasn’t intended for the baby to die. The intention is important here: no life can be taken intentionally.

Unfortunately, there are very low standards for journalists writing on church news.

I just posted about the CBS story over in “Church in the News.” I wrote a blog post on this news story. If you would like to read it, please go to:

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