Diary

The New York Times and The Washington Post: how the media manifest their bias

This news is somewhat old, but has been ‘rediscovered’ recently:

Senator Dick Durbin ‘not permitted to receive Holy Communion,’ Bishop says

Senator’s stance on abortion led to diocese’s decision

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM) | April 8, 2014 | Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – In a recent letter to an Illinois pro-life activist, Bishop (Thomas John) Paprocki said that “Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his Pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law. My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the Senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

Durbin was pro-life earlier in his political career. In 1989, several years before he ran for the U.S. Senate in 1996, Durbin changed his position. He has since supported pro-abortion laws. Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America give Durbin a 100 percent rating while the National Right to Life Committee gives him a zero rating.

Durbin, the Senate Majority Whip, was honored with a “Lifetime Achievement Award” by Planned Parenthood Illinois Action at a Roe vs. Wade celebration in Chicago on January 23, 2014.

Canon Law is the law utilized to govern the Catholic Church. Canon 915 states, “Those who have been excommunicated or interdicted after the imposition or declaration of the penalty and others obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to Holy Communion.”

In Durbin’s case, the “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin” apparently refers to his longstanding support for abortion laws which is contrary to Catholic teaching.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “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: You shall not kill the embryo by abortion and shall not cause the newborn to perish.” (§ 2271)

The Vatican’s Declaration on Procured Abortion states: “It must in any case be clearly understood that whatever may be laid down by civil law in this matter, man can never obey a law which is in itself immoral, and such is the case of a law which would admit in principle the liceity of abortion. Nor can he take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or vote for it. Moreover, he may not collaborate in its application. It is, for instance, inadmissible that doctors or nurses should find themselves obliged to cooperate closely in abortions and have to choose between the law of God and their professional situation.”

There’s more at the original. I have lightly edited the quoted portions, due to some poor formatting, and have added the internal hyperlinks.

The story emerged again thanks to Karen Townsend of Hot Air, and the Washington Examiner. A Google search for Durbin communion yielded 139,000 returns, but it wasn’t until the third page that I found any ‘mainstream’ sources, an Illinois-specific news site and a Chicago-local NBC station, which stated:

“Senator Durbin was informed several years ago by his pastor at Blessed Sacrament Parish here in Springfield that he was not permitted to receive Holy Communion per canon 915 of the Code of Canon Law,” Bishop Paprocki reportedly wrote in response to a pro-life activist’s query, the Illinois Review reported. “My predecessor upheld that decision and it remains in effect. It is my understanding that the senator is complying with that decision here in the Diocese of Springfield in Illinois.”

Canon 915 states that those who have been “obstinately persevering in manifest grave sin are not to be admitted to holy communion.”

The response comes after a report that the pastor of the parish, Monsignor Kevin Vann, made a “difficult decision” when he said he would not give Durbin holy communion due to his “pro-choice position.”

The Quincy Journal reports that Vann said he would instead give the senator a blessing.

Durbin began his career as a pro-life congressman and ended up as a senator who voted against banning partial birth abortion.

Getting all the way to the eighth page, I found an archived Chicago Tribune article, in which the Distinguished Gentleman from Illinois defends himself.

NYT All the NewsA site search of articles in The New York Times for Durbin communion returned articles dating back to 1941, but nothing on the denial of Holy Communion for a sitting United States Senator, while a similar site search of The Washington Post yielded only one article, which was not a Post article, but one which had a link to the Washington Examiner article. The Times primary circulation area includes three of the five most heavily Catholic states in the union (New Jersey, 44%; Connecticut 40%; and New York, 37%), while the Post specializes in coverage of Washington, DC, and the federal government; surely such a story about a very senior Democratic Senator should have gotten some coverage.

Apparently, “All the News That’s Fit to Print” does not include the Times telling its heavily Catholic readership that a (supposedly) Catholic senator has been denied Holy Communion in his local parish and diocese.

The odds that neither paper’s staff even heard the news are vanishingly small; to not have printed that news was a decision taken by some editor or group of editors. Yet that news is vitally important, and it could have led — and should have led — to bishops in other diocese in the United States to deny Holy Communion to other (supposedly) Catholic politicians.

In 2004, many were urging the pastor of (nominally) Catholic Senator John F Kerry (D-MA), the Democratic presidential nominee, to deny him communion. That effort failed, unfortunately, but at least Mr Kerry had the great privilege of remaining in the Senate rather than having to move to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue.

I rarely find something absolutely false reported in the Post, but the real bias in our mainstream media is not reflected in what they report, but the editorial decisions taken in what to report, what to emphasize, and what not to report.
_____________________________
Cross-posted on The First Street Journal.