Vatican: Media Uses ‘Manipulation’ of Pope’s Statements to Fit Agenda

Barbara Boland | January 9, 2014 | 12:17pm EST
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Pope Francis delivers his message as he celebrates a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, to mark Epiphany, Monday, Jan. 6, 2014. The Epiphany day, is a joyous day for Catholics in which they recall the journey of the Three Kings, or Magi, to pay homage to Baby Jesus. (AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

( - The Vatican press office released a statement three days ago calling the media’s coverage of Pope Francis’ remarks about children living with same-sex parents “manipulation” and “quite obviously forced,” adding that the pope’s positions were “completely different from what some people are now trying to surreptitiously attribute to him.”

The Vatican statement was in response to media reports about informal comments by the pope that they said indicated a change, a move by the church towards accepting civil unions for homosexuals.

“I remember the case of a sad little girl who finally confided to her teacher the reason for her state of mind: ‘my mother’s girlfriend doesn’t like me,’” Pope Francis said to a gathering of the Superiors General of religious men on November 29. “The percentage of children studying in schools whose parents have separated is very high.”

“The situation in which we live now provides us with new challenges which are sometimes difficult for us to understand,” said the pope. “How can we proclaim Christ to these boys and girls? How can we proclaim Christ to a generation that is changing? We must be careful not to administer a vaccine against faith to them.”

Pope Francis’ remarks occurred during a Q & A format with the religious men about the challenges of belonging to a religious order, the challenges facing the church in general, and education.  

From the Pope’s remark, AFP ran a story with the headline, “Pope Calls for Fresh Church Approach to Children of Gay Parents.” 

The article claimed that, “Though the Church has often been in conflict with the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over its opposition to same-sex marriage and to homosexuality, Francis has drawn praise for attempts to be inclusive.”

An article with a very similar title appeared on NBC News, “Pope Calls for New Approach To Kids of Gay, Divorced Parents.”

A story with the pope’s quote also appeared in The Australian titled “The Pope’s Plea on Gay Kids” and the same theme was featured in The Hindu’s article, “Pope’s Inclusive Remarks on Homosexuality Surprise Many.”

These media outlets failed to report Pope Francis’ recent opposition to same-sex unions in Malta and his instruction to the archbishop there he was “saddened” by news that Malta was considering allowing gay couples to adopt, calling it “anthropological regression,” a phrase he had also used when he was bishop of Buenos Aires. 

Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See’s Press Office, issued an explanatory note on Jan. 6 following extensive debate in the media about the Pope’s remarks.

The statement, released to Vatican Radio, said that “several Italian media reported on this very ‘general conversation on the educational role of the Church November 29th , commented Lombardi, who noted that only ‘in recent days’ has the question been raised in the debate regarding the recognition of civil unions of same-sex couples.”

The statement continued, “Speaking of an ‘openness to gay couples’ is paradoxical, Fr. Lombardi states, ‘because the Pope's speech is overall general (in nature) and because even the small concrete example made by the Pope about (a girl who is sad because her mother’s girlfriend does not love her) alludes to the suffering of children ...”

“The Pope had ‘absolutely not expressed’ his opinions on a debate that was ignited in Italy one month later, Fr. Lombardi says, and ‘those who remember the positions he expressed earlier in Argentina during similar debates know that they were completely different from what some people are now trying surreptitiously to attribute to him.’”

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