It amazes me when people are SURE FIRE about something about which they have no real means to know if it is true or not. It amazes me even more when somebody points out to ME that I am adamant about something about which I have no real means to know if it is true or not. We act on our prejudices and assumptions often unawares.
For example, a Grand Jury decided recently in a controversial police shooting that the officer was acting correctly. A huge swath of people including much of my news sources have jumped on the band wagon condemning the police officer, police departments, and the justice system none of whom were there, attended the trial, or knew the people involved. So sure, where there is smoke there is fire, but how can they be so sure in direct condemnation?
Today people have absolute ideas about the pope, what he said, what he meant, what he did, what his intentions are, and these are largely gleaned from blurbs from newspaper articles that are more interested in stirring up brouhaha than giving a fair, balanced, and full reports. It doesn’t help the matter that our diocesan newspaper does little to counterman this.
Recently, Catholics in Akron were given two deeper glimpses into what is going on with our pope. The first was Fr. Haydu, International Director of the Friends of the Vatican Museums, who said the reason many practicing Catholics are bristling at some of the things that come from the lips of our pontiff (assuming that it is being reported correctly) are missing out on the idea that they are not his audience. We are the 99 sheep that he is allowing priests, bishops, and cardinals to tend and he is going after the 1 lost sheep. That is his target audience. And we can be like the prodigal son’s brother upset with the dad not giving him the fatted calf.
The second opportunity was Mr. John Allen, senior correspondent to the Vatican for CNN. He cautioned us about the media’s focus on a rift between the pope and the American bishops. This will be exaggerated as we prepare to greet him in Philadelphia next year. While there are certainly some bishops that do not agree with Pope Francis, there have been contingencies of bishops that did not like Benedict or John Paul II or any pope in history. Today it is being highlighted and being made to seem larger or more important than it is.
Another caution he offered was buying into the “Benedict bad, Francis good” mentality. Many of the things Pope Francis is (rightly) getting great credit for was also done by Benedict (though nobody knows of it) or are initiatives begun by Benedict and being implemented by Francis.
These are just two examples (and not very flushed out owing to the limited space of a post in this blog) but they point to something about which we need to remember: Don’t believe everything you hear. Just because it is in writing does not mean that it is true. If something sounds overly controversial to you, we have means to look into it more deeply. John Allen’s articles are always considered excellently done. You may find it HERE. Or you may check out the Vatican websites themselves as well as other reputable Catholic sites.
We can be much more in the know.