(CNSNews.com) – The news outlets CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times, and MSNBC do not “provide trustworthy information about religious faith,” said Philadelphia’s incoming Archbishop, Charles Chaput, at the Catholic World Youth Day ongoing this week in Madrid, Spain.
Chaput, the former Archbishop of Denver, made his remarks in an address on religious freedom to a group of more than 10,000 young pilgrims in Madrid on Wednesday. As initially reported in First Things, Chaput told the audience that, “In the United States, our battles over abortion, family life, same-sex ‘marriage,’ and other sensitive issues have led to ferocious public smears and legal threats not only against Catholics, but also against Mormons, evangelicals, and other religious believers.”
“And with relatively few exceptions,” he said, “the mass media tend to cover these disputed issues with a combination of ignorance, laziness, and bias against traditional Christian belief.”
The Archbishop continued: “We make a very serious mistake if we rely on media like the New York Times, Newsweek, CNN, or MSNBC for reliable news about religion. These news media simply don’t provide trustworthy information about religious faith -- and sometimes they can’t provide it, either because of limited resources or because of their own editorial prejudices.”
“These are secular operations focused on making a profit,” he said. “They have very little sympathy for the Catholic faith, and quite a lot of aggressive skepticism toward any religious community that claims to preach and teach God’s truth.”
Archbishop Chaput noted that the media gave a lot of coverage to the so-called “Arab Spring,” involving civil unrest in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. “But very little of that coverage has mentioned that the turmoil in Muslim countries has also created a very dangerous situation for Christians and other religious minorities across North Africa and the Middle East,” he said. “In Egypt, angry mobs have attacked Christian churches and monasteries, burning them to the ground and murdering the people inside.”
In addition, he said there has been widespread anti-Christian violence in Iraq, Syria, and Tunisia, but little news coverage of this in the U.S. media, adding that it is illegal to wear a crucifix or own a Bible in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, said the Archbishop, in Pakistan, “Christians face frequent discrimination, slander, beatings and even murder.”
Archbishop Chaput also warned that it is dangerous for democracy to force religion out of the public square.
“Forcing religious faith out of a nation’s public square and out of a country’s public debates does not serve democracy,” said the Archbishop. “It doesn’t serve real tolerance or pluralism. What it does do is impose a kind of unofficial state atheism. To put it another way, if we ban Christian Churches or other religious communities from taking an active role in our nation’s civic life, we’re really just enforcing a new kind of state-sponsored intolerance -- a religion without God.”
Archbishop Chaput was named by Pope Benedict XVI to head the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, starting on Sept. 8, 2011.