The media may have started to catch onto the fact that the Pope is Catholic. Yesterday Salon ran a long screed against pro-Francis media narratives, arguing that underneath the symbolism and gestures of solidarity, the Pope is just as much a “sexist homophobe” as his predecessor. Here’s just a taste:
On January 17, 2014, Politico pointed out that in an interview given by the pope in August 2013, and published in September of that year, “Pope Francis said the church did not have to talk about gay marriage and abortion all the time.” And yet, “the very next day [after the interview was published] Francis condemned abortion as ‘unjust.’” Furthermore, after the interview was given, a week before its publication, the pope excommunicated a priest from Melbourne, Australia, Greg Reynolds, for advocating for female clergy and gay marriage. Pope Francis’s seemingly understanding words about gay marriage and abortion were sandwiched in between two events that completely undermined that message.
We’ve long noted that Francis fans in the media were likely to turn against him once they realized that he was never going to change the Catholic Church’s stance on issues related to marriage, sexuality, and the family. It was only a matter of time before his “Good Friday” moment, when the adulation of the chattering classes turned to bitter hostility. Salon is not the most important media outlet around, obviously, and more influential places like NYT still seem happy to run pieces applauding Francis for things like personnel changes at the Vatican.But Salon is worth watching for indications of where narratives are going. This piece, then, is one of the first signs that the moment might be approaching when the goodwill he has so far won disappears. If anything, the coming antagonism towards this Pope may be even worse than that faced by the last: Benedict was pegged as a “reactionary” from the start, but many in the media expected great progressive acts from Francis, and has interpreted many of his words and actions as encouragement for their causes. Their disappointment is likely to be bitter indeed.